New LaGuardia Bike Policy Blames Cyclists for Ruining Drivers’ Lives

Cyclists can still use 94th Street at LaGuardia. Photo: Aazam Otero
Cyclists can still use 94th Street at LaGuardia. Photo: Aazam Otero
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The Port Authority has crafted a new, and profoundly anti-cyclist, riding policy for LaGuardia airport that not only puts most roadways off limits to cyclists, but requires them to wear protective gear not mandated by state law — and even blames them for ruining the lives of drivers when they are run over by cars.

It’s all in a just-posted new policy statement from the airport agency that was issued last month and took effect on Nov. 19.

The very wording makes it clear that the agency considers bikes a nuisance.

“We allow for the use of bicycles and scooters on airport property,” the statement begins before blaming cyclists for the coming crackdown. “However, in 2018, the New York City DOT reported 5,502 crashes involving motor vehicles and bicycles, resulting in 4,304 bicyclist injuries and 10 bicyclist fatalities.”

But if you were expecting new rules to govern the automobiles, you were gravely mistaken. Instead, the agency unveiled new restrictions for two-wheelers:

  • Bikes are now prohibited from all airport roads except Marine Terminal Road (which feeds Terminal A) and 94th Street to Terminal B.
  • Bicyclists and scooter riders are “prohibited from all other airport roads.”
  • All riders must wear a helmet and a “high-visibility outer garment,” the rules state, even though adults are not required under New York State law to wear either protective device.

new laguardia bike map“Failure to comply with these regulations may result in a fine and/or summons,” the rules state. “Further, the only thing worse than being injured while riding a bicycle is being the driver of a vehicle that strikes a person on a bicycle or scooter.” [Editor’s note: Nah, we’re pretty sure it sucks more to be the person hit by the driver than to be the uninjured operator of the 3,000-pound machine.]

Streetsblog reached out to the Port Authority, which said the new policy was not motivated by any recent increase in injuries or crashes at the airport, but simply because “city bicycle use is on the rise,” said spokeswoman Alana Calmi. “We have seen an uptick in bicycle and scooter use on airport and with frequent roadway changes due to ongoing construction, we wanted to clarify how cyclists can access the airport safely.”

Calmi said if passengers or airport workers want to get to Terminals C and D on the far eastern side of the airport complex, they should “utilize bicycle parking at the Marine Air Terminal and Terminal B and then take the free shuttle bus.”

That advice did not please one airport worker.

“Take a bus from Terminal B or Terminal A? It’s bullshit,” the worker said. “You can’t even lock your bike over by 102nd and Ditmars and walk since there is now no way to walk. Plus, the bike rack at Terminal B is usually very crowded.”

The worker also raised the question of whether the Port Authority can even do what it’s doing.

“The City of New York owns the airport and leases the land to the Port,” the worker said. “I don’t know the legality of the Port Authority making up its own laws that supersede state and city law on its roadways. I don’t think it works like that.”

Jon Orcutt, a former city DOT official who now advocates at Bike New York, also questioned the legality.

“Since the Port Authority rents the airport land from the city, I wonder if they can impose different rules for cyclists than apply to city streets,” he said.

The airport worker also thought that the new policy was due to the ongoing construction of approach roads and terminals as part of the $4-billion transformation of LaGuardia from an airport once derided as “Third World” by former Vice President Joe Biden into a first-class airfield.

“I’m sure it is because of the construction,” the worker said. “It probably make sense from a safety point of view only because the PA has given no thought to bikes and peds and therefore it is incredibly dangerous. They had to ban these things as a result of their car obsessed design. You can’t even walk to Terminal C and D anymore.

“Funny, they have these Paris climate goals but don’t seem to allow the one form of transportation that is carbon-neutral,” the worker added. “It shows that the Port Authority has no clue about any form of ground transportation besides cars and that their leadership sees the world through their windshield and their parking placards.”

Calmi said no tickets have been issued since the policy went into effect.

It’s not the first time the Port Authority has been under fire for being anti-cyclist. Its current policy at the World Trade Center is to keep bikes on the periphery, citing a security risk. Even Citi Bikes docks are banished.

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