Bike lanes interrupted by street work would become a thing of the past under a new bill before the City Council. Photo: Daniel Lobo, via flickr
Legislation would require preservation of bike lanes blocked by street construction
By Michael Garofalo
A bike lane is only safe as long as it remains intact.
It's a point so obvious as to be self-evident — but too often, cycling advocates say, street work interrupts the continuity of the city's bike lane system, forcing bikers to abruptly veer into traffic to avoid construction barricades.
A bill under consideration in the City Council seeks to address the problem by requiring that bike lane protections remain in place during street work.
The legislation, introduced this month by East Side Council Member Carlina Rivera, would require Department of Transportation work permit holders to create safe detours preserving bike lanes impacted by construction. Rivera said at an Oct. 17 press conference that the bill “is going to not just protect cyclists, it is going to protect pedestrians and the people of New York City.”
Under the bill, permit holders doing work that impedes a bike lane would be required to create a detour lane at least four feet in width (or three-quarters the width of the original lane, whichever is greater) that is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a barrier. The bill's scope encompasses any marked bike lane, included painted lanes, protected lanes and standalone bike paths in parks. Detours would be communicated to cyclists through required disclosure on DOT's website and notification to local community boards.
“There are so many obstacles when it comes to construction,” Rivera said. “We want people to know that when you are building in this city [...] you have to respect the green infrastructure that is so important to cyclists.”
Marco Conner, the deputy director of the bike advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives, hailed the bill as “a permanent solution” to “the unacceptable status quo” that imperils New Yorkers' safety on a daily basis.
“The safety of people who walk and bike is too often compromised when construction projects take up our limited public street space,” Conner said. “The city currently responds to construction projects by accommodating motor vehicles, while the vast majority of New Yorkers who do not drive bear the burden. Pedestrians lose precious sidewalk space, while bicyclists are pushed out into the street.”