Eyes on the Street: DOT Replaces PPW Bike Lane With Parking

This is one of New York City's most famous protected bike lanes. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter
This is one of New York City’s most famous protected bike lanes on a busy August day. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter

During the warm summer months, lots of New Yorkers decide to hop on their bicycles and head for the nearest bike lane. That’s also when the city does much of its street repaving, and new asphalt is coming to Prospect Park West. But instead of maintaining the heavily used bike path with temporary materials, our bike-friendly DOT has decided that one of the city’s marquee bikeways will be erased for more than a week during one of the busiest cycling months of the year.

It’s a temporary victory for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes.

Bike riders started reporting the closure yesterday. There was no advance notice of a detour. DOT says milling was completed today. Repaving, which the agency expects to be complete within seven business days, will begin Monday. The department’s paving schedule for next week indicates that crews will be working between Union Street and 20th Street in two sections, first north of 14th Street before moving south [PDF].

Some small white signs printed on white letter paper have been taped to nearby posts. “Bike Lane Temporarily Closed,” they say. With the bike lane erased, drivers have begun parking at the curb, pushing cyclists into mixed traffic with car drivers. This is especially dangerous for northbound cyclists, who are now traveling head-on into traffic before ducking behind the street’s concrete pedestrian islands for protection.

As an alternative during construction, northbound cyclists can use Eighth Avenue. Riders looking for a route with less car traffic must detour to the more circuitous Prospect Park loop, which offers a series of inclines through the east side of the park.

This situation could have easily been prevented by installing cones or barrels after the street is milled but before new striping is installed. DOT did not answer questions about whether it considered maintaining the bikeway during this period with temporary cones.

During repaving, the Prospect Park West bike lane has been removed and replaced with parking. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter
During repaving, the Prospect Park West bike lane has been removed and replaced with parking. DOT didn’t reply to questions about putting in temporary cones to keep the lane open to bike riders. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter

“During the paving process, the block will be demarcated by work zone signs and barrels and the entire width of the roadway will be closed to vehicles, bikes, and parking. This happens block-by-block,” an agency spokesperson said. “Following the completion of the paving, markings will be put in place for the bike lane.”

That could take a while. In response to complaints from Second Avenue Sagas blogger Ben Kabak about missing bike lane markings on Bergen Street after it was repaved last year, DOT tweeted: “For crew efficiency, there may be a lag between paving and striping.”

“I understand a lag,” Kabak replied, “but it’s been about five weeks.”