January 28th, 2019: What Are We Doing About Blocked Bike Lanes?

A crisp, clear commuting day today:

Monday Weather

Monday Sunny, with a high near 35. Wind chill values between 20 and 30. North wind 7 to 9 mph becoming east in the afternoon.

Monday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 32. East wind around 7 mph.

Sunrise: 7:10am

Sunset: 5:09pm

Take advantage, because there could be rain and snow, tomorrow, then comes the Deep Freeze:

Rest of Week

Wondering why the city will commit to clearing the bus lanes but not the bike lanes?  Here's your answer:

The mayor's recalcitrance on the subject of keeping cars out of bike lanes has been frustrating in light of constant blockage and incidents like the death of Madison Jane Lyden.  Meanwhile, the 20th Precinct is frustrated by suggestions that they didn't do enough to bring justice:

And certainly there's no denying our laws need to change:

But in the meantime what is the city actually doing about drivers in bike lanes?  Certainly from the perspective of the saddle the answer often appears to be "pretty much nothing:"

blocked bike lane

NYPD moving violation data would appear to confirm this, as 557 bike lane summonses seems low for a single day, let alone all of 2018:



However, parking tickets are another story.  According to NYC OpenData*, here's how many bike lane parking tickets the city handed out over the past two years:

Fiscal year 2017: 83,550

Fiscal year 2018: 83,199

And parking in a bike lane carries a $115 fine:


*[Disclaimer: blogger is not a statistician, or even particularly smart, and while he thinks he's using the OpenData portal correctly you never know.]

That's well over $9 million a year in bike lane tickets alone--and while a good chunk of those probably go to big companies like UPS who then negotiate the fines down, you'd think the city could at least spring for a couple of tow trucks and a modest $1 million annual salary for the new Bike Mayor.  

Still, bike lane tickets account for a very small portion of the total number the city issues on an annual basis.  Here's what 2018 looked like in bar graph form:

Bar Graph

The top three ticketed violations are:

  • Street cleaning (1.7 million tickets)
  • Parking meter (1.2 million)
  • School zone speeding (1.1 million)

Though "general no standing" was the fourth-most ticketed violation (1 million), and it's certainly possible there were some bike lane blockers in among the miscellany.

So how to we stack up against other cities?  Well, I'm about to do math, and this probably won't end well or correctly (see above disclaimer and feel free to use the comments below to tell me everything I'm doing wrong), but 83,000 bike lane tickets a year averages out to approximately 227 a day.  The city claims a 1,200 mile bike lane network.  This means that on a daily basis the city writes approximately .18 tickets per mile.  

Meanwhile, here's how many tickets Chicago gave out in 2017:

In 2017, the city issued 3,461 tickets for blocked lanes, bringing in nearly $374,000 of revenue, Kristen Cabanban, a Department of Finance spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

That’s up 20 percent from the 2,766 tickets issued in 2016 that generated about $333,400.

Using the same dubious formula (have I mentioned I majored in English?) Chicago wrote about nine (9) bike lane tickets per day and claims 200 miles of bike lanes, which comes to .045 bike lane tickets per mile.

So basically we do bike lane ticketing better than Chicago.

Regardless of what this means (if anything), there's no doubt we do ebike confiscation better than any city in America, though it appears that Queens is safe...for now:

The person who answered the phone at the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood said she was not aware of NYPD officers from the precinct seizing e-bikes. The community affairs officer at the 108th Precinct in Long Island City referred questions to the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information (DCPI).

“None that we have been made aware of,” DCPI said in an email.

It's almost like there's a certain type of person who complains to the police about ebikes.