In what appears to be another calculated move to piss off the city’s cyclists—one possibly precipitated by an “investigative” Post piece focusing on the intersection of Prince and Lafayette streets in Soho—the NYPD has begun handing out tickets at said intersection. But not for riding in the wrong direction, or running lights; for not riding in the bike lanes.
Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so, etc. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City even when no designated route exists.
Prince and Lafayette, both one-way streets, feature bike lanes that tend to be filled with pedestrians and sidewalk vendors on the former street, and double-parked cars and cabs on the latter street. Riding in the bike lane on Lafayette is feasible—until it all but disappears near Houston—but without swerving one would hit countless pedestrians on Prince, to say nothing of cars and vendors and so on.
Nevertheless, Transportation Nation’s Alex Goldmark wrote that on Tuesday an NYPD van was parked on Lafayette Street, wit officers pulling over cyclists (in one instance two at a time) and issuing tickets for riding “not in bike lane.”
Adding to the confusion on that stretch of street is the situation for riders coming up the Centre Street bike lane and merging onto Lafayette. As Goldmark writes:
Lafayette is a one-way avenue, northbound at this point, with the bike lane on the left hand side of the street. The lane begins just two blocks south. Cyclists riding north on Centre Street must merge onto Lafayette and end up on the right-hand side of Lafayette. They then have to cross two lanes of traffic to reach the bike lane. Many do not, especially if they plan to make a right turn at Houston St or another nearby street.
All in all more reasons than necessary to suggest that, if the NYPD’s going to make a point about cyclists’ (in)appropriate bike lane use, they could surely do so in a place where there are fewer reasons for not sticking to the lanes. They should also try not to take their bike enforcement tips from the sustainable transportation-hating New York Post.