GREAT MOMENTS IN MUNICIPAL IDIOCY: Southside Style

clusterfuckTHUMBYesterday morning I was alerted by a neighbor of mine that, in their infinite wisdom, the Department of Transportation has removed the “dismount” signs from the Pulaski Bridge. I have yet to verify this in person (I will) but this struck me as being yet another indicator of our fair city’s cow-towing to a bicyclist agenda at the expense of pedestrians. What’s more, it is just plain stupid to have bicyclists (who are apparently now legally sanctioned to go full speed ahead) and people on foot sharing a “pathway” which is eight to (at best) ten feet in width. This is a nasty accident waiting to happen— white lines or not.

I spent a fair amount of my morning fuming over this. In fact, I racked my brain to think of anything our city has perpetrated/inflicted on its citizens (traffic-wise) that could begin to compare to what they have done to the Pulaski Bridge. I came up empty.

Then I took a walk on the Southside. Methinks I may very well have found something worse.

Many of you, dear readers, are aware that I spend a significant amount of time looking down. This may seem to some to be an odd practice but I assure you it has a purpose: to avoid stepping in dog shit. As time has gone on I have found a number of other interesting things on our city’s sidewalks. I have documented them on this web site often.

sidewalk

In the case of Marcy Avenue I present to you this.

sidewalk2

These.

sidewalk3

And these.

Why does this irritate me so, you ask? Well, for starters:

  1. This “bicycle lane” is on a public sidewalk. Bikes do not belong on sidewalks, people do.
  2. If my memory serves me correctly one can get ticketed for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk.
  3. As you can see above the city has sanctioned the use of a public sidewalk for use by bicyclists. Somewhere I hear Franz Kafka and George Orwell cackling their respective asses off.

Follows is a map of the intersection in question to further elucidate my point.

map

I have highlighted the bike lane in question (which is located on South 3rd Street) in yellow. The sidewalk cum bike lane (on Marcy Avenue) is highlighted in green. The more eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that someone walking towards South 3rd Street on Marcy Avenue would have a limited/obstructed view of oncoming traffic (be it petroleum-fueled or man-powered) from South 3rd Street. Here’s a street level view to drive the point home.

south3street

I am not a Southside resident, but I do walk around there pretty frequently. Who do I see walking along this stretch of Marcy Avenue most frequently, you ask? I’ll tell you:

  1. A large number of elderly people. Many of whom are pushing carts laden groceries, some of whom have limited mobility.
  2. Young women pushing strollers or accompanying small children.
  3. Hipsters who have turned on and tuned into their i-Pods.

In a nutshell, people whose ability to dodge an oncoming bicycle— for reasons of their own choosing or otherwise— is compromised. I do not know who thought up this “solution” to the bicycling problem but it is one of the WORST examples of municipal “planning” I have ever seen.

yieldtopeds

In fact, if this didn’t pose a serious public safety issue I’d find the above image downright hilarious. But it is a safety issue. And it is no laughing matter.

I have often been accused of being “anti-bicycle”. I am not. What I am becoming increasingly fed up with is this “have your cake and eat it too” mode of operation our city is espousing. Bikes neither belong on sidewalks nor any other pedestrian walkway. They belong on the streets. Safely. To make this happen entails making tough choices. Choices clearly the leaders of this city are unwilling to make (presumably because they will piss off motorists).

This is a farce.

Miss Heather

UPDATE, 10/30/09 2:00 p.m.: Sure enough, the dismount signs have been removed from the Pulaski Bridge.

nosigns

pulaski2

pulaski1

Comments

15 Comments on GREAT MOMENTS IN MUNICIPAL IDIOCY: Southside Style

  1. no no on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 7:54 am
  2. I would like to find the citizen (not DOT employee) with that crappy bicycle and arrow template , and take it to his Mom’s house in Wisconsin. I would paint the piss out of her house with it in safety orange.

  3. nycthebarreview on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 9:07 am
  4. Yep. This is true. I nearly get run over at least once a day on my way to or from the 7. The signs are gone (not that anyone cared in the first place!). I like biking just as much as the next person but i also like to walk! Most of the cyclist are considerate and let you know they’re approaching, but the few who do not extend this courtesy leave a bad taste in the mouth of all the pedestrians who nearly get clipped by them on a daily basis on this bridge. I’m also pretty sure it’s less than 8′ wide! :-p

  5. biztsar on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 9:11 am
  6. How are you so sure that the city put them there? Are you sure that is an official marking?

    It might be from one of the street artists that you continually pimp for on your site. I believe that this is the case, as nowhere in the world do bicyclists feel that they are saving the world more than in our fair Burg. With such thinking comes feelings of self righteousness which can definitely lead to actions such as these.

    Also, you are off the mark with the removal of the “dismount” sign on the Pulaski. The markings clearly show that peds and bicylists are supposed to share the space. Which, for the most part, they do. I ride across the Pulaski almost every day and am always cautious of the pedestrians on the bridge.

    A sign merely creates the aura of enforceability. The government cannot be the parent that you so obviously desire.

    All of that said, I love you site :-). I merely disagree with you on both of your points.

  7. Diamond Joe on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 1:21 pm
  8. They have these things on the sidewalk on Sands Street at the Manhattan Bridge approach. I’ve also seen them going right through City Hall Park and on Broadway through Herald Square. They seem to work ok to me – I’ve experienced all those locations both on foot and bike. Cyclists seem to ride slower and more respectful when they are clearly guests in a pedestrian space. Maybe I’m being naive – I haven’t walked that stretch of Marcy since those markings went down – but is it really that big a deal? Bicycles and pedestrians share spaces all over the world.

    When I Google Street View that location, the first thing I see is two cyclists riding in the street the wrong way exactly in the direction of the markings on the sidewalk. Looking at the city’s bike map, it looks like they are trying to get people from Williamsburg on South 3rd Street to the bike lane on Grand Street that will go all the way out to Queens. This is like a 50-foot section of this lane that has to go on the sidewalk, on a block with no building entrances – just a vacant lot. Granted I would rather them put a two-way lane in the street, but is it really “one of the WORST examples of municipal “planning”” you’ve ever seen? I think it would be worse to have a 4+ mile bike lane interrupted for 50 feet by oncoming vehicle traffic.

  9. Diamond Joe on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 1:34 pm
  10. And the infuriating thing about the Pulaski Bidge photo is looking at the cars feasting on all that open roadway while bikes and peds are fighting for scraps.

  11. pablitostar on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 2:13 pm
  12. Hey Miss Heather,

    Regarding the Pulaski, you might recall I contacted you in May with a flyer for a walk-bike event to garner some awareness for the issue there. Earlier this week there was a kick-off meeting to start a more formal Pulaski Bridge Coalition. Read about it here: http://www.greenpointnews.com/news/pulling-the-pulaski-in-a-new-direction

    I hope we can rely on your support!

    Note, a pathway is only as wide as its narrowest point, and that’s about 4 1/2 feet on the Pulaski Bridge!

  13. dobozban on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 3:01 pm
  14. Dear Miss Heather,

    The dismount sign was originally put in place because the teeth on the drawbridge can trap tires and are dangerous for cyclists, not to reduce ped/bike conflicts. The DOT removed them after they painted the teeth yellow, and ostensibly put up a warning sign (I haven’t been there since, so I’m not sure if these installments have happened). In reality, this is actually the safest part of the bridge for cyclists to ride past peds because there is no downhill available to gain speed. DOT was also supposed to relocate the garbage cans so that they would not cause narrow-downs. Not sure if that happened either. That said, it is ridiculous that bikes and peds have to share such a narrow scrap of a space when cars get three lanes in each direction, especially when one of those lanes ends promptly on the Brooklyn side.
    As for the white markings, I am not sure if they are official for NYC, but I do know they are official for other places, such as Portland, which uses them to designate on-street bicycle boulevards. I would say that the existence of the sign probably indicates that it was installed by the city. I used to live right off Marcy and rode my bike frequently. This location on Borinquen is rough. Cyclists coming down 3rd have the poor decision of hassling pedestrians, facing the psychos racing down Borinquen, or crossing midblock, hopping the median and popping out onto the other side of Borinquen. I always chose the median crossing because I have a mountain bike, but for others that is no option. An obvious solution would be to paint a crosswalk over Borinquen, with a ramp on the other side, which would allow cyclists to get into that parking area and then ride down to Marcy in the median.
    Of course, the sidewalk part is fairly short, and your street view picture is a bit misleading because it makes it look like you need to be watching for cyclists coming from around that little corner, when in fact they come from 3rd. The area with sight distance issues is in your second
    photo with the red arrows, at the end of the block where that building blocks. I’m not necessarily in favor – I’d prefer a better solution. Pedestrians really shouldn’t have to peak around to make sure some asshole isn’t racing down the sidewalk. They have enough to worry about with all the cars not paying attention or caring. But bikers who don’t like being killed by speeding garbage trucks will take that way regardless and this way, at least pedestrians are more aware that there might be a bike.

    @nycthebarreview
    Pedestrians who get “a bad taste” for all cyclists because of a few jerks need to realize that they live in a big city that contains a huge number of total assholes. Some of these assholes are on bikes, some are in cars, and some are on foot. I spend a lot of time on bike and if I got a bad taste in my mouth for pedestrians every time some jackass and his friends walk side by side down the bike lane, forcing me into traffic, or steps out in front of me, or crowds the intersection, I would be punching people all day long.

  15. missheather on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 3:32 pm
  16. Diamond Joe wrote: And the infuriating thing about the Pulaski Bidge photo is looking at the cars feasting on all that open roadway while bikes and peds are fighting for scraps.

    EXACTLY!

  17. missheather on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 3:33 pm
  18. Pablitostar: a good friend of mine attended that meeting this week!

  19. SpillConspirator on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 4:33 pm
  20. The dismount signs were never put up to protect cycle wheels. Back in the days when biking was legal on sidewalks, the dismount signs were added to protect pedestrians. Back then I frequently cycled over the bridge with my 6 kids. When the dismount signs went up, we all understood the need and respected the rights of pedestrians. The teeth where the bridge draw meets, had a thick rubbery covering on it, that has since come off. That was there to protect pedestrians from getting there feet stuck between the teeth. Yes, that has happened.
    Since the shared lanes appeared on the bridge, cyclist, skateboarders, moped riders, skaters have been zooming over like a freeway. It’s ridiculous. I’ve been attending those Pulaski Bridge meetings. I think the group is slowly getting to the same page. I believe bikers should be respecting what I refer to as “common sense” and giving the pedestrian the “right of way”.
    That other situation on Marcy is totally crazy. We all need to get together and insist that bike paths be added to the Pulaski roadway, stat! The Queens CB is against reducing the car lanes.

  21. mikki on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 5:01 pm
  22. Honestly I feel like for most cyclists “respecting pedestrians” means “yelling at them to get out of the way instead of completely bowling them over.”

    I know, it’s a mean generalization based on frustration but, especially these days when I am partially disabled, the bikers are seriously scary.

  23. missheather on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 5:10 pm
  24. Manners aside what seems to have been lost here is this: a plan. I believe bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians should ALL have avenues (pardon the pun) open to them to get around safely and efficiently. This is not what I am seeing in north Brooklyn. Rather, it would appear that our fair city is more interested in achieving a certain quantity of bike lanes over the quality of said lanes.

    In addition, I cannot help but feel this push is little more than yet another tool for the Bloomberg campaign to get votes. Plain and simple.

  25. mikki on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 7:43 pm
  26. I don’t see how it would be getting him votes–it alienates core voters. bikers tend to be young, young ppl tend to not vote, esp in off-year elections

  27. no no on Sat, 31st Oct 2009 10:07 am
  28. I think it has curb appeal to core voters because it smells like progress. Even if there have been a few humdingers of sloppy implementation of the bike lanes; it appears as if the mayor is attempting to “get the bicycles under control”. Something most pedestrians and motorists crave. Order and safety. NYers realize bikes are not a fad that is going away anytime soon, if ever. The lanes are a good thing, anyway you slice it. As hot a topic as it may be to people that the lanes directly impact on a daily basis and have some negative feelings about; there are twice as many voters that are tacitly “for” the bike lanes because they represent progress and/or they aren’t experiencing negative side effects from bicycles or lanes. Add in the votes he has bought in the Hasidic community (that have been told to shut up about Kent avenue) and there you have a bonus with the bike lanes I pray that the Mayor and his Miss Janette would spend a sizable amount of next years budget to start education for bike safety rules and awareness; and that the City Council addresses regulation and legislation that holds bicyclists to the same standards that other vehicles are required to maintain.

  29. dobozban on Thu, 5th Nov 2009 8:45 pm
  30. The story about the teeth is what was told by the DOT. It could very well have been put up to protect pedestrians, but if so, it was an incredibly illogical placement. It is wider than most other parts of the walkway that did not have the restriction. These other parts are also downhill stretches where cyclists can pose a much more significant threat than on flat sections. So it would not make sense to restrict cyclists on the safest part of the bridge, but not on the rest. I certainly do not dismount and walk. If I did that, I might as well take the bus. But I do go slowly, ring my bell when approaching pedestrians and slow even further when passing them. Unfortunately many of the people on bikes right now are the same type who would drive their car through the neighborhood at 45 mph, if they had one. Sorry about those guys. However, the discussion needs to be about getting separated bike facilities onto the bridge, not on restricting bikes. This discussion is good, but I have heard plenty of people in other arenas expending plenty of energy rallying against bikes on the walk, which is a waste of time.

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