Is The NYC Bike Lane Becoming More Dangerous For Riders And Drivers?

A blocked bike lane is dangerous

Summary & Quick Facts

  • A new report identifies hot spots for blocked bike lanes around the city.
  • To qualify as a hotspot, an area must have had at least 25 complaints within an 82-foot radius.
  • Blocked bike lanes represent a danger for both cyclists and drivers.
  • The city added a new department to its 311 complaint hotline that allows cyclists to report blocked bike lane offenses.
  • New legislation is in the works to add more protections to city bike lanes.

Bikers In NYC Are Tough…But A Blocked Bike Lane Can’t Be Beat

Biking has become very popular in New York City over the past few decades. Now, the practice is so common that bicycles sometimes outnumber cars on certain city streets during rush hour. You can see bike lane after bike lane teeming with cyclists going about their day. It’s overall great that more New Yorkers are choosing to bike. However, with more bikes on the streets, comes the increased chance for more dangerous if not fatal accidents. 


Cyclists Face Dangers On City Streets

Despite how tough NYC cyclists can be, a biker is simply no match for a car. In fact, many city streets can be very dangerous for bikers even with the growth of bike lanes available. A  recent report identified the 12 most dangerous areas for pedestrians and cyclists and shows where in the city cyclists complain the most about vehicles blocking bike lanes.

In November 2016, the city added a new department to its 311 complaint hotline that allows cyclists to report blocked bike lane offenses. The report closely analyzes 311 complaints from September 4, 2017 to September 4, 2018 to uncover blocked bike lane hots spots. The analysis determined that there were eight major hot spots for bike lane complaints over that 12-month period around the city. In total, cyclist filed 4,230 complaints, representing 1.4 percent of all parking complaints.

To qualify as a hotspot, an area must have had at least 25 complaints within an 82-foot radius. Here were the eight hot spots:


Long Island City

Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive: 72 complaints

Vernon Boulevard and 45th Road: 40 complaints


Bay Ridge

Around 220 and 221 72nd Street: 94 complaints


Downtown Brooklyn

Smith Street and Fulton Street: 38 complaints

Jay Street and Chapel Street: 36 complaints



Vernon Boulevard, between 34th and 35th avenues: 31 complaints


Battery Park City

Between 65 to 69 West Street: 30 complaints


Crown Heights

900 Bergen Street: 30 complaints


Prospect-Lefferts Gardens

Around 115 and 122 Lincoln Road: 28


Reports like this play a crucial role in identifying dangerous norms found on the road.  Moreover, they can help identify solutions to the dangers found on city streets. For example, this report, in particular, helps the city identify the most concerning areas with a “critical mass of complaints” and thus know where cyclists are more likely swerve into other traffic lanes.

Of course, the report does have a pitfall. This is due to the fact that there’s actually no true way of knowing just how many cyclists experience blocked bike paths on a regular basis. This is clearly due to the fact that making complaints for blocked bike lanes is a relatively new 311 option. There’s a big chance that some cyclists simply may not even be aware that they can file such complaints. Also, as bikers are constantly on the move, many are likely unable to call, text or email while cruising the city.


Can Legislation Protect The NYC Bike Lane? 

With all the dangers bikers face, thankfully there’s some legislation coming to city streets that may help address the problem. For example, Central Park West could soon be getting more protected bike lanes. A resolution to install the lanes was approved by Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side.

Calls for the new lanes have been growing since an Australian tourist was killed while riding a bike near West 67th Street and Central Park West in August. The tourist named Madison Jane Lyden was sadly killed by a garbage truck after swerving into the street to avoid a cab that was dangerously blocking the bike lane.

Another piece of legislation in the works seeks to protect bike lanes from construction zones as well. With the city’s current city housing boom, there’s a growing glut of construction equipment found on blocks across the city. More often than not, this equipment takes up precious street real estate. The bike lane is usually the number one victim.

To combat this growing trend, City Council Member Carlina Rivera announced plans to introduce legislation requiring construction companies to provide safe detours around the hazards created by construction. The bill would create citywide standards for bike lane detours. Here, the city would have to clearly demarcate bike lanes. In addition, bike lanes must be at least four feet wide, protected from cars by solid barriers, and separated from pedestrian traffic.

Many local residents and board members around the city say the protected bike lanes should have been installed long ago. After all, one of the best was to keep cyclist rights of way clear may be to design streets so that bike lanes are located between the parking lane and the curb.


Are bike lanes  blocked in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below!


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