CAN BICYCLES AND CARS ‘SHARE’ ON COLUMBUS AVENUE?


A cab parks in the “shared lane” at 69th street and Columbus, forcing the rider into the street.

We’ve noticed some early confusion about the protected bike lanes on Columbus Avenue, which are being extended from 110th street to 65th street after initially running from just 96th to 77th. In just a few minutes on Tuesday afternoon, we saw a car drive down the bike lane between 69th and 70th street, inside the row of parked cars that is supposed to provide a barrier (see photo below), and a cab park in the middle of the enhanced shared lane on 69th.

Some of the confusion should fade as concrete pedestrian islands are added, though the shared lane could prove tricky until drivers get used to it. From 69th to 65th, bikes and cars are expected to share the left-hand lane.

After 65th the Lincoln Square area gets even trickier as avenues converge. Will drivers and bicyclists be able to share a lane, given the animosity we hear about constantly? And if you’re a bicyclist, can you let us know in the comments how you plan to travel after 65th, given that the Broadway protected lane doesn’t start until 59th?

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. MS JEAN says:

      BIKE LANES ARE THE DUMBEST IDEA SINCE BLOOMBERG FOR MAYOR….. THEY WERE GIVEN ALL OF CENTRAL PARK…. INCLUDING THE CAR LANES. NOW COLUMBUS AVE….. WHATS NEXT ? ? ?

      • RickiS says:

        Agreed!! The lanes are more dangerous, not less dangerous. Huge numbers of pedestrians use this city as well as cars, buses, trucks and some bicycles. Most bike riders ignore all road rules. When trucks and buses are most active, Columbus avenue becomes one lane of moving traffic, and trecherous to cross, while the bike lane is underused or empty, and bikes are in the traffic going in whatever direction they please. Now we will have worse confusion as you article pointed out.

      • BILL says:

        MS JEAN DONT FORGET RIVERSIDE PARK….YOU CAN TRAVEL FROM THE THE TIP OF NORTHERN MANH TO THE SOUTHERN TIP OF MANH PRETTY MUCH NONSTOP

      • K8 says:

        For relatively short commutes (that’s right, some people ride their bikes for a functional purpose, not just for a joy ride), it does not make sense to travel all the way over to Central Park or to Riverside to go uptown/downtown. Getting down to the bike path on Riverside takes quite a while, actually, and both Central Park and Riverside only have so many entrances/exits for bikes (and they are not necessarily well marked, so it’s hard to tell where exactly you are in the park sometimes).

        Bike lanes are only dangerous because cars and pedestrians ignore them. Pedestrians don’t just walk right into the middle of the street where cars are driving, but they do it in bike lanes and are indignant when a cyclist is actually using the lane that is designated for him/her. Drivers are either oblivious to the bike lanes or choose to ignore them because of some misplaced sense of hierarchical importance over bikes. Bikes are significantly more environmentally friendly than cars and take up significantly less space on the road; they should be given priority over cars, not the other way around. At the very least, they should be given equal priority to cars.

        As for cyclists disobeying traffic laws (riding the wrong way, riding on sidewalks, running red lights & cutting off pedestrians in the right of way), it is a real problem! I’m am a cyclist, and it bothers me just as much as it bothers non-cyclists! Cyclists need to stop this, just as pedestrians need to stop walking into bike lanes and crossing the street & cutting off a cyclist when the cyclist has a green light.

        • Mike says:

          Bicyclists on these protected lanes tend to ignore red lights (just like in the park), so of course pedestrians are terrified. While walking the 80s I’ve had and seen a lot more close misses with bikes (which go both ways of course) than before the original lanes went up. I can only imagine how bad it’ll get in the heavily-trafficked 60s.

          The city should be made safer — not less safe — for environmentally friendly people moving at 3 mph who have to dodge the environmentally friendly objects moving five times faster than that.

          • ELJ says:

            You know who the worst offenders on Columbus Ave for not obeying traffic signals? Pedestrians crossing in the east or west direction on 86th St. Most refuse to obey the do not walk sign when cars turning off of 86th onto Columbus have a protected left turn period when the lights change. Walking across the street at this time serves only to back-up traffic and invite an accident. I see it happen every single time I am at that intersection.

      • Rachel says:

        I think Bloomberg lost the plot with the soda ban and this dangerous biking promotion otherwise he makes so much sense.

    2. Arthur White says:

      Most other bicycle friendly cities share the road with autos. I think we can learn as well. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for all his efforts and sorry he will not be able to continue this wonderful program.

    3. jerry says:

      I think the bikers have to realize they are a minority group – though by many of their actions (hostility and rudeness, for example) – you’d never know it. Just count the number of cars and trucks heading south on Columbus Avenue at, say, 8am, while also counting the number of bicycles. I stopped when it got to be over 100 cars/trucks to 1 bicycle. Point made. And that was on a sunny, warm day. When it rains and when it gets colder, the number of bikes drops dramatically. So if they have to go a little out of their way – like utilizing CPW down to 63rd…or better yet, 59th – that’s what they should do. Vehicular traffic from 73rd to Columbus Circle is a big enough torture for drivers as it is.

      • K8 says:

        The reason there are so few cyclists is that many people do not feel safe enough to ride on the streets, and going east to CPW or west to RSD is impractical for the distance they’re going. Of course there will be less cyclists than motorists and pedestrians when the culture in the city until now has been completely in-conducive to cycling as a mode of commuting. Bloomberg has been trying to change that. It will take some time and understanding. And cyclists need to stop breaking the traffic laws, that’s a given, but so do pedestrians.

    4. Dennis says:

      I live on 76th off Columbus. I think we’ll get used to it and people will adjust to looking both ways when crossing the street. Berlin is a model for how well the bike and car get along. They also have angled parking so bikers don’t have to worry about car doors opening.
      I agree that people walking in the bike lane is wrong and they usually give you the finger if you say anything. Our biggest problem as a city is that no one respect anyone but themselves.
      The cell phone texters, the baby prams and double parker .. I can go on .. but we should give the bike to work a chance to catch on and change our annoyance into compromise. Let’s all be polite for a change.

      • ELJ says:

        “Our biggest problem as a city is that no one respect anyone but themselves.
        The cell phone texters, the baby prams and double parker .. I can go on .. but we should give the bike to work a chance to catch on and change our annoyance into compromise. Let’s all be polite for a change.”

        Amen, Dennis. Rude, annoying and unsafe behavior abounds with every form of transportation in NYC and everyone is responsible for changing it.

        • Noreaster says:

          Man. Finally, someone is talking some sense around here!

          To all the Mr. and Mrs. Crankypants out there: are you part of the problem, or are you part of the solution? What have you done today to make the world a better place? Have you looked at your fellow man with compassion and an open mind? Or have you simply sat back and bellyached? When was the last time you held the door open for someone? When was the last time you took it upon yourself to pick up a piece of garbage lying on the sidewalk?

          Complaining about bikers? Have the courage to tell them directly, in a civil and non-argumentative tone, that they are breaking the law! Otherwise, stop resorting to complaining on the internet! Guess what — it accomplishes nothing!

          And, in addition, if you ever double-park or jaywalk, then your argument doesn’t have a leg to stand on, so, enough already!

          • jerry says:

            So you say. Here’s the real world. I had to drop off a client on the east side of Columbus Avenue just before 79th Street. So I necessarily went into the turning bay, but so I didn’t disrupt the turning traffic, I pulled a little into the bike lane – leaving plenty of room for a bicycle. But who shows up? This bicyclist – who, in nothing less than a spittle propulsioned rant – yells at me (I put my window down and enjoyed this dramatization with a nonplussed face) about how if this had happened two minutes later he would have crashed into my car and I would be liable for both his injuries and the damage to his bike (forgetting apparently he had the options of brakes and steering). I let him spit his vitriol twice and then powered up my window and drove off. Does this make me the coward you call me? And, in addition to avoiding a fracas, I will tell you you have managed not to understand one of the primal values of the Internet (and the West Side Rag) – to give everyone a right to express him or herself.

          • Pumpkinpie says:

            The last time I held a door open for someone was while walking behind a young mother who was pushing a bulky double pram with 2 young children in it. She was having considerable difficulty maneuvering the pram with one arm so she could open a shop door with the other and enter. Seeing her having difficulty, I went out of my way to stop and was able to open and hold the door for her so she could more easily push the pram into the store. She sailed into the store without saying anything, let alone thank you, or even acknowledging a neighbor had stopped to assist her. Back to bikes. As a long-term resident of the West Side (been here since the very early 1970s) I strongly suspect the bike lanes on Columbus will be a dangerous disaster on multiple levels (bike, auto, pedestrian, bus, weather, etc.) One cannot stereotype, but many of the bicyclists I’ve seen over the years completely scorn or ignore traffic lights, stop signs, traffic rules and pedestrian crossings. It’s somewhere between a perverse game of chicken and cheerfully running you down.

            • Noreaster says:

              Pumpkinpie: Good work on holding the door open for someone. Just because the mom with a stroller didn’t say “thank you” does not mean that all moms with strollers are ungrateful. Each such gesture makes the world a better place. I intend to keep trying to be the nicest person and best neighbor I can be; I hope others will, too.

              jerry: Perhaps you are right: there are times when personal safety trumps understanding. I did not mean to imply that you are a coward. However, I must say that (1) generalizing that one person’s behavior to all those on the same method of transportation is unfair (I had the misfortune of being on the same subway car as a drunken or high derelict a few days ago — does that mean that every single person on the subway is a drunken or high derelict?), and (2) telling us about it rather than trying to calm the person down and express your side of the matter in a civil tone really will not accomplish nearly as much. Certainly, as you say, anyone can come on the internet and vent, but what do we lose as a result of not defusing the situation when it occurs? Both parties go their separate ways and fume. Is that really the best possible outcome? What will happen in our cherished city and society if we lose the ability to defuse situations in person and resort to fighting on the internet?

    5. yoyomama says:

      I’m in the “enough with the extra bike lanes already” camp. If this was a city with an year-round summer, okay. But these things will be empty the minute it turns cold and/or snows. Speaking of snow… where are the plows going to push the snow with 2 fewer lanes? They’ll have to close down Columbus Ave entirely because the artery will be totally blocked. Did city planners fail to conceive of this?

      • K8 says:

        Might make sense to push the snow into the bike lane in the winter since few would be using it aside from the delivery guys who never obey traffic laws anyway.

    6. Yoyomamma says:

      Yo mamma so poor, when she goes to the park the ducks throw bread at her.

    7. Scooter Stan says:

      Re: #6 above:

      That’s really funny…and cleaner than one of “The Dozens” I used to hear while ‘teachering’ … viz. ‘Yo Mama so dirty she strap a mattress to her back and give curb-service!’

      B/t/w: Anyone ever figure out the meaning of “Don’t point at me; my Mama ain’t dead!” Used to hear it a lot, esp. during that one dreadful year as a junior-high-school ‘Teach’ !!

    8. Richard says:

      I live on the UWS, own a car, ride a bike and, of course, walk everywhere. So I think I have a relatively objective view about bike lanes, as I can see the “big picture”. Which, put simply, is about taking steps to make Manhattan, at least, safer and more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians. Most of us here don’t own cars; we walk and take mass transit. And more and more, we bike. Not just for recreation, not just for a fun “spin in the park,” but as transportation: to get from point A to point B quickly without having to wait and perspire on a subway platform or overpay to sit scrunched into the back of a cramped, stuffy cab. In many instances, biking is the easiest way to get somewhere.

      And bike lanes help us do that. Creating traffic congestion? Uh, that’s kinda the idea. It’s called “traffic calming”. (Ever notice the many huge trucks barreling down Columbus at 40 to 50mph?) Yes, adding a bike lane and removing (or narrowing) a car lane(s) slows down traffic. It’s all about making the city safer and easier for cyclists and pedestrians, which is what most of us who live here are.

      And yes, cyclists who ride the wrong way – or run red lights when others have the right of way – are simply wrong. THEY are the cyclists who should be ticketed. (Not racers running red lights in an empty Central Park at 5 in the morning.)

      • David says:

        Richard
        I agree with everything you wrote. As a pedestrian whose accumulated impression of cyclists is “I WANT TO KILL THEM” because when I jaywalk 1) I defer to other traffic and 2) worst case I do not inflict harm on anyone else whereas when they break the rules they 1) often do not defer to us pedestrians with the right of way, 2) pose the threat of serious bodily harm or death and 3) often use menacing tactics whereby if the pedestrians with the right of way dont get out of their way they will not be able to avoid hitting someone.
        The basic point is the threat from cyclists when considered in the context of its severity leaves the onus on cyclists. If I were a good cyclist like yourself, I would not dare defend a bike lane unless I adamantly supported enforcement efforts against those posing a danger. If good cyclists want progress, they should identify the rotten practices and lobby for effective enforcement action.

    9. jenny says:

      As a native New Yorker who does not know how to drive….really hate Bloomberg’s bike lanes and bike infrastructure, particularly on the Upper West Side. Given the intersection area – plus crosstown bus route – extending the lane to 65th Street on Columbus seems to be incredibly dangerous.

      On a daily basis, more and more instances, of cyclists nearly mowing down pedestrians. Plus cyclists chain bikes at bus stops, impeding bus exits.

      And there is something fundamentally wrong when subway and bus service has been cut and fares go up – but plenty of money for bicycling.

      It is also incredible that debates about vehicular traffic do not acknowledge that it is overdevelopment that generates much traffic – for example, the Fresh Direct, UPS, service vehicles etc. “demanded” by upscale residents.

    10. jules says:

      The only thing more absurd than having thousands of cars coming into the city is having bikes all over the city. We have subways and if the roads were less crowded, buses would function a million times more effectively. Bikes are about as dangerous to pedestrians as crowded subway platforms are to people trying to get to work.
      New-yorkers deserve some thoughtful City (an oxymoron I know!) macro oversight to make this city function safety and effectively. The overcrowding is horrendous and extremely unpleasant for everyone.