An incentive to ride a bike or dangerous obstruction?

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Bruce Friedland

A bicycling buddy saw this beer truck blocking a bike lane while he was visiting in New York recently and sent me the picture, entitling it, “An Incentive to Ride a Bike.”

I'll agree there have been times on a long, hot bike ride that the mirage of a truck carrying ice-cold beers dancing before my eyes would have willed me ahead.

But the photo also records a much more dangerous problem, motor vehicles that force bicyclists into traffic by blocking the bike lanes.

It's a common problem in New York City. The Hunter College of the City University of New York recently set out to see how frequently it happens. Their results:

“During a 10-minute span of time, a New York City cyclist traveling in a bike lane will encounter a vehicle during a stretch of just five or six city blocks more than 60 percent of the time.”

Cars and trucks

The most frequent offenders are car drivers (30 percent), followed by those driving small trucks like the one above (17 percent) and taxis (13 percent), according to results of the bike lane blockage study from Hunter College.

The students who observed 492 street blocks with bike lanes in Manhattan from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a month this fall noted that most blockages occurred in the morning rush hour and lasted less than 10 minutes.

I've read that drivers can get a $115 ticket for blocking a bike lane. I suppose the tickets are handed out so infrequently that motorists think it's worth the risk.


Here's what Hunter College Sociology Professor Peter Tuckel said about his students' findings:

“Cyclists view these obstructed bike lanes as not only representing an infringement on their territory, but also posing a seroius safety hazard. In order to avoid cars and trucks parked in bike lanes, cyclists need to swerve into the regular traffic flow, thus putting their safety at risk.”

This isn't just a problem in the Big Apple. The website displays hundreds of photos of cars and trucks blocking bike lanes in cities around the world.

MyBikeLane New York just carries photos and license plates from New York City.

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