Is DOT Ready to Address Dyckman Street’s Parking Management Problem?

It should go without saying that smarter parking meter rates can reduce traffic dysfunction on Dyckman. Instead, DOT might narrow the street's new bike lanes to carve out more space for people to park illegally.

DOT might trim Dyckman Street’s narrow bike lanes to make room for drivers to double-park. Seriously. Photo: Brad Aaron
DOT might trim Dyckman Street’s narrow bike lanes to make room for drivers to double-park. Seriously. Photo: Brad Aaron

At a hearing convened by Manhattan Community Board 12 last night, DOT staff said they are considering a range of options in response to electeds’ attack on the new Dyckman Street bike lanes.

There are some good ideas on the table, and some terrible ones too. The nut is whether DOT will address the street’s curb management problem or water down new traffic-calming improvements to accommodate illegal parking.

In December DOT installed parking-protected bike lanes on Dyckman, plus sidewalk extensions to shorten crosswalks and slow turning drivers. Before then, Dyckman was a chaotic and dangerous mess. Though it’s a major commercial corridor in a neighborhood where about three-fourths of households don’t own cars, there was no designated space for biking on the street. Motorists were given carte blanche to double-park. More than 300 people were injured in crashes on Dyckman between 2009 and 2017.

The redesign was implemented after nine years of advocacy work by local residents and countless public meetings. But shortly after the safety measures went in, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congressman Adriano Espaillat pressured DOT to tear them out. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the area, has since proposed replacing the existing bike lanes with a two-way bikeway on Dyckman’s north side, which would create more conflicts between bikes and motor vehicles than the current design.

Business owners are upset because drivers can’t double-park on Dyckman like they used to. Rather than pushing for higher meter rates when demand for parking is heaviest, which reduces double-parking and motor vehicle congestion, politicians have chosen to scapegoat the bike lanes.

Yesterday’s hearing featured Brewer, Rodriguez, and Espaillat, along with reps from DOT, NYPD, and FDNY, according to a source who attended.

Going full bikelash, Brewer and Espaillat blamed bike lanes for everything from impeding commerce to slowing FDNY response times, our source said, consistent with their prior statements.

Meanwhile, NYPD said the 34th Precinct issued just 71 summonses for illegal parking through April of this year, due to a shortage of paper tickets.

So the problem on Dyckman today is what it’s always been: too many motorists taking up too much space — for free or close to free — and no consequences for drivers who clog up the street by parking illegally.

DOT seemed to at least acknowledge that the agency has the capability to reduce double-parking. Answering a question from the public, DOT reps said they are “actively looking” at adjusting meter rates — currently $1 an hour — to increase turnover and reduce cruising and double-parking, according to our source. DOT staff said the agency may add or adjust hours for loading zones, and suggested tweaking signals to speed up traffic.

But DOT reps also said they might trim the width of the bike lanes, which are already narrower than optimal, to make more room for people to illegally double-park. A CB 12 member suggested narrowing sidewalks for the same purpose. Rodriguez’s proposed bi-directional bikeway is also still in play.

DOT is expected to come back to CB 12 next week. We should know then whether the city intends to finally tackle Dyckman’s chronic parking management problem.

DOT has declined to respond to multiple Streetsblog queries concerning its plans for Dyckman Street.