New York

How to Use a Bike Lane and Not Be an Utter and Complete Shithead: A Handy Primer


Oh, bike lanes. They are complex. It’s so hard to know, for instance, where they stop and start, and how to actually use them. New Yorkers are accustomed to things being difficult, and maybe these new bike lanes are just so easy that our giant brains can’t cope with the simplicity. Or maybe we’re just a town of assholes. Either way, a new survey compiled by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer reveals that WE ARE DOING IT WRONG.

According to The Lo-Down, Stringer’s office staked out 11 locations including Grand Street and Bowery, St. Marks and 2nd Avenue, 14th Street and 2nd Avenue, and Centre and Chambers over a 3-day period in early October. They found that in 741 occurrences, pedestrians blocked bike lanes, and in 275, cars blocked bike lanes. Cyclists ran through red lights on 237 occasions. Other abuses included unmarked police cars just cutting through them whenever they felt like it, bike riders driving in the wrong direction, and people being generally oblivious jerks. What, are we all a bunch of tourists now?

In an effort to improve the situation, we’ve come up with a handy bike lane primer. Follow these instructions, and you should be alllll good.

1. Bike lanes are green. That is that color that you sometimes see on grassy knolls, or in your own complexion after a long night of carousing. The rest of the street is not green. If color-blind, move back to Des Moines.

2. If there is a pedestrian standing in the bike lane, gazing around in wonderment about all this city has to offer, plow right into them. They clearly need a wake-up call.

3. You should always ride forward in bike lanes, not backward. Nobody likes a showoff, not even if you were the state ice skating champion of 1994. Forward is the direction that your nose points in.

4. If you are a delivery truck, or a cab, or a civilian vehicle parked in a bike lane, or a person on rollerblades, everyone hates you. Know that and prepare to suffer the inevitable cosmic retribution. Because it will come.

5. If in a car, make sure to look through your window before opening a door. If someone is riding by wearing skin-tight spandex and looking superior, use your best judgment.

6. If you are the cyclist who nearly plowed into us less than 45 minutes ago when we had a pedestrian walk signal and you had a red light, we hope you get bedbugs. In fact, actually, you already have them. Hugs!

Stringer, meanwhile, is proposing a multi-pronged bike-lane-etiquette enforcement program, involving better street signs, publicity, reserved parking for deliveries, more “bike boxes” near intersections, and bike cops. But if we could all just agree to not be assholes, we feel like this problem could fix itself. Not to mention, how demoralizing is it to be designated a bike cop?

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