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Breaking the cycle: Cyclists demand city stop USPS and other drivers from parking on new W’burg bike lane

Get out of the way!: Cyclist and pedestrian Heriberto Medina is fed up with trucks parking in the bike lane.
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These bicycle advocates are going postal!

The city must stop United States Postal Service and other vehicles from continually parking on a recently unveiled, so-called protected bike lane in Williamsburg, locals demand.

“When the cars are parked, you can’t even fit one bike in that lane,” said Heriberto Medina, a neighborhood resident who often walks by the pedalers’ path. “You have to go on the street where it’s very dangerous.”

The Department of Transportation in October installed the bike lane along Borinquen Place from S. Fourth Street to Grand Street, part of which runs beneath the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s on-and-off-ramps near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Transit officials put that part of the lane in what they claimed was “underutili­zed space,” but the location has long been a popular parking spot for the postal trucks and other four-wheelers, according to residents.

And nearly three months after officials installed the green bike pathway, the rides continue to block it, forcing cyclists to navigate the bustling streets instead, the owner of a two-wheeler said.

“I’ve seen trucks parked perpendicularly so that you can’t get past them, and having to bike around them puts you in more danger,” said Joelle Schindler, who cycles from her Park Slope home to work in Bushwick. “It’s nice DOT made a protected lane, but then a truck decides to use it as a parking spot, and there’s no enforcement.”

There’s no pattern to when vehicles will park in the lane — it’s clear sometimes, but a handful of trucks and cars park along it during others, a local cycling advocate said. And the city must install the barriers necessary to protect the path around the clock, because bike riders should not have to guess when it’s safe to take a spin, he said.

“We should not rely on people’s good will, nor enforcement, to keep bike lanes clear — we need to build infrastructure that keeps them clear,” said Transportation Alternatives member Luke Ohlson, who lives in Greenpoint. “A parking-protected bike lane is pretty much always clear, so you don’t have to think about what it is, or if so-and-so talked to USPS or the precinct or whomever. You remove a lot of the back and forth if you design it right the first time.”

The nabe’s councilman jumped on the case following locals’ complaints, blasting the transportation department for not keeping the lane vehicle-free.

“This is the scene at the newly constructed bike lane off the Williamsburg Bridge. @NYC_DOT are we serious or are we not?” Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D–Williamsbu­rg) said on Twitter on Jan. 16.

Workers at a nearby post office for years parked its fleet of trucks on the concrete now reserved for cyclists, and are now looking for a new spot to stow them, according to a rep for the federally run agency.

“Over the years, this spot met our requirements, allowing us to securely park and safely load the postal trucks that service local residents and businesses,” said Xavier Hernandez. “New parking strategies for this office will be developed to eliminate the overlap in designated bike lanes.”

And city transit officials are working with the Police Department and postal service to permanently clear the bike lane, according to a transportation-department spokeswoman.

Last December, the agency celebrated its expansion of North Brooklyn’s bike lanes — including the one along Borinquen Place near the Williamsburg Bridge — as a major step toward safely getting commuters across the East River ahead of the L-train’s looming closure, which will force more than 250,000 straphangers to find other ways to the outer borough of Manhattan when the subway’s underwater Brooklyn-to-Manhattan tube closes for 15 months in April 2019.

Transit honchos are expecting about 15,000 cyclists — nearly twice the current amount — to cross the span daily while the tunnel is closed, according to the agency.

And it’s great that officials are planning ahead, but if the city can’t keep its bike lanes clear, then the paths aren’t a viable transportation alternative, Schindler said.

“It’s a good first start, but they definitely need to step up their game,” she said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, January 30, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Homey from Crooklyn says:
Snowflakes !
Jan. 30, 7:53 am
Joe Eccolo from Midwood says:
If cyclists are taking over part of the streets then, like cars, they should register their vehicles and pay a fee. This would also enable police to enforce more effectively the traffic laws for cyclists. There is a blatant disregard for on the part of many cyclists for the law.
Jan. 30, 9:35 am
Resident from Brooklyn says:
I love that in a story about trucks parking illegally on sidewalks and non-streets, an idiot named Joe from Midwood says that cyclists are reckless, are taking over the streets and therefore should be licensed and registered. Genius.
Jan. 30, 9:39 am
Frank from Furter says:
This is not a protected bike lane. It's merely a separate bike lane. A protected bike lane requires a physical separation like a jersey barrier or a line of parked cars. Yes and cars and trucks should obey the traffic rules too including parking. When planning a bike lane didn't DOT see the usps? Planni g should include them too...
Jan. 30, 9:47 am
Person Who Lives in from Brooklyn says:
Is there any constituency or demographic group more selfish and destructive than the car owners and drivers of Kings County, New York? I can't think of any.
Jan. 30, 9:48 am
robert green from chelsea says:
Bike lanes that aren't protected or enforced aren't bike lanes. we know that drivers don't care about norms and laws (just like our president!) and given this fact, we have to respond accordingly--with infrastructure robust enough that even a trumpian car driver can't ruin it.
Jan. 30, 9:56 am
JP from LES says:
This story will no doubt attract the usual template diatribes along the lines of "If cyclists want drivers to respect their basic right to live then they should have to be registered and pay insurance" etc. I'm convinced these people are stay at home drinkers.
Jan. 30, 10:10 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
What day this year is bike rule enforcement day?
Jan. 30, 10:34 am
Jerome from Boerum Hill says:
There is a demographic group more selfish and snotty than any other: Bikers. Totally Whiney, millenial, classist, vicious. Hands down the whiniest, most arrogant constituency ever.
Jan. 30, 10:55 am
maureen from williamsburg says:
Excuse me, have we forgotten that drivers are people too? We don't leave home with the intent of committing vehicular homicide or targeting bikers. Safety for both cars and peddlers needs to be respected and practiced by BOTH. Road improvements & street enforcement cost $$$...which car owners pay dearly for (registration, inspections, insurance). While seatbelts are mandatory.. bikers feel they don't need helmets? Why aren't bikers required to carry insurance for the damage they cause or the injuries they sustain from reckless peddling? There is both blame and room for improvement on both sides. So stop demonizing drivers...
If deliveries by trucks and where they park bothers you, perhaps you should curtail your on line orders and bike to a local store! This would surely reduced the congestion on the roads we now share.
Jan. 30, 11:22 am
Esther from Fort Greene says:
The question is where can these trucks park?
We all want our deliveries and mail.
Whoever does the planning never thinks of
this. Do you think mail trucks will just disappear?
Jan. 30, 11:30 am
NN from Boerum Hill says:
NYPD needs to do a better job of enforcing parking rules, not just in bike lanes, but on sidewalks and in crosswalks too.
Jan. 30, 11:46 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Joe from Midwood is unintentionally a joke, but I can't tell if Maureen from Williamsburg is in on the joke. The second sentence about not wanting to commit homicide is jokey in its understated admission of car-based carnage. The idea that car insurance pays for street repairs or enforcement is jokey. The phrase "reckless peddling (sic)" is absolutely a joke.
Jan. 30, 11:56 am
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
The only reckless peddling I have seen is two street vendors fighting for sidewalk space. Talk about missing the forest for the parking space....
Jan. 30, 12:09 pm
Guest from NYC says:
The postal facility at that location has a parking lot. There's no excuse for this. They just want a guaranteed space for their personal vehicles, which takes up the space in the lot.
Jan. 30, 12:27 pm
Clarence from Bushwick says:
They better be careful before making threats - or otherwise the city might take their oh-so-precious bike line away!
Jan. 30, 12:55 pm
Maureen from Williamsburg says:
No Joke Mike/Mustache...it costs $$$ to maintain and own a car...which for some is a necessity as public transit is inadequate. What are bikers willing to pay to get around in this city? The least they can do is stop blaming car drivers for everything and take some responsibility for the way they conduct themselves on our roads. My point is we need to work together to see realimprovement for both drivers and bikers...and there are some who do both!
Jan. 30, 1:02 pm
Jon from Red Hook says:
We drivers should totally respect the bike lines...as much as cyclists respect the traffic laws.
Jan. 30, 1:20 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Gotta laugh at all the spandex wearing crybabies whining about bike lanes like they are the holy grail, yet have no issue speeding on sidewalks, through intersections, and right over pedestrians.
Jan. 30, 1:38 pm
Mike says:
Greenpoint and Williamsburg have terrible postal service *T*E*R*R*I*B*L*E*
Jan. 30, 2:02 pm
Zach from East Williamsburg says:
If these cars don’t start behaving,I propose we close this street to four wheel traffic! By force if we have to.
Jan. 30, 2:10 pm
Adrian from Ridgewood says:
I rarely see people in spandex riding bikes in Brooklyn.

On google maps the time estimate for commuting from my house to work is shortest if I go by bike. However, I'm not doing that now because of safety concerns. Even when I followed all the rules when I was driving a bike, I was still in danger because of vehicles blocking the bike lane. Why can't cyclists have a safe commute?
Jan. 30, 2:20 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
So Maureen is just silly, but not funny.
Jan. 30, 3:35 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
Mike Bloomberg crate a big mass, its about time to ban all bikers at the tri-state area to much trouble and nonsense people not following rules and regulations,
Jan. 30, 3:39 pm
Joe from Clinton Hill says:
Mike from Williamsburg is dangerous for society....
Jan. 30, 3:44 pm
Maureen from Williamsburg says:
If both drivers and cyclists working together is silly ... guess Joe is right about Mike...he probably is dangerous for society.
Jan. 30, 4:23 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
And still they get played! The Post Office truck is a federal vehicle - subject to NO city parking rules. (remember that part from your learners permit??)

The city causes congestion, then wants to charge you for congestion. The congestion will not go away, but it will add a tax to everything you buy,from that organic apple to the Ikea couch, because it will have to pass thru the "congestion zone." The the governor wants to add a real estate tax if you live near a subway - but wait, didn't we already pay for that infrastructure?

A FINE RACKET
Jan. 30, 4:57 pm
Frank from Furter says:
towing a post office truck by the NYPD is a federal crime....

Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 778; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(B), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2146.)
Jan. 30, 7:26 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Maureen,

I too am a car owner. But we are not paying for road improvements through registration, inspection, or insurance. Our registration fees, which have gone up quite far from when I first started driving, fund the bureaucracy of the DMV and nothing more. Inspection fees pay the mechanic, but no government entity. Insurance premiums fund the insurance company, which is a for profit corporation, not a government entity. Except there is a $5 per six month fee for law enforcement. We do, however, contribute a portion of roadway infrastructure improvements and upkeep through the gasoline tax, however the majority of DOT, both city and state, comes from the general fund, which come from taxes that every citizen pays (ie income and sales taxes), regardless of whether they drive or not.

As for a cyclist needing insurance, unlike automobiles, most homeowners or renters liability insurance actually covers injuries to others while cycling, and personal medical insurance also covers an injury to yourself while cycling, unlike while driving. So most cyclists actually do carry insurance, except for those who can't afford it. Street enforcement also comes from NYPD and State Police operating budgets, not any driver specific fees. Most likely, though, this enforcement pays for itself through fines, but no driver can complain about a fine as being a fee since I choose not to take part in them by simply following the laws while driving and any other driver can as well. It is a penalty, not a fee or tax.

But I do agree with you that there is room for improvement on both sides. However, one side is magnitudes more dangerous than the other. I'll never forget the stern conversation my grandmother had with me when I first got my license about the monumental responsibility that was on my shoulders as a driver. I wish I gave more heed to that warning then, as I do now as an adult. Not because of anything that happened, but rather what could have happened.

So as you go out driving, not intending to cause harm, please make sure your actions match your intentions and drive safely and defensively, being ever cognitive of the fact that you are driving 5-8 thousand pounds of steel that, when you make the slightest mistake, you could just unintentuonally do something that you can never take back.

Cheers.
Jan. 30, 8:51 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Frank, does that apply to traffic lights as well?
Jan. 30, 8:55 pm
JP from LES says:
The audacity of drivers as a demographic is stunning. Every year they are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of maimings in this country, even before you get into the hundreds of thousands of people who die due to cancers and respiratory problems caused by the pollution their lazymobiles cause. And yet here there are, demanding that cyclists - who don't pollute and are responsible for a handful of deaths at best - be held responsible on equal footing with them. Absolutely incredible, it just defies all logic, common sense and common decency. They should be ashamed of themselves for their ignorance.

The reason why so many drivers resent cyclists is twofold. First of all, cyclists make it harder for them to drive how they really want to - speeding, making dangerous maneuvers, making turns at speed without having to check that they're turning into a cyclist's path etc. Secondly, they see self-sufficient, fit people getting around the city faster than them by the power of their own legs, and it reminds them of how dependent and lazy they are. Denial of these facts is just pointless.
Jan. 30, 9:04 pm
JP from LES says:
And might I add, congestion pricing cannot come soon enough. It's time to hit these selfish, gas guzzling psychopaths where it hurts the most - in the pocket. Cyclists and pedestrians PREDATE motor vehicles in this city and slowly but surely, we are taking the streets back from them. The next thing we need to do is abolish ALL free parking.
Jan. 30, 9:05 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Hi Josh. The postal service takes the position that it is immune from such laws and immune from red light and speeding camera tickets but that the drivers of the trucks are personally liable for traffic violations and other violations. The federal tort claims act waives immunity for personal injuries caused by a tort.
Jan. 30, 9:15 pm
Driveways from New York City says:
And stop them and all other delivery services from blocking driveways too.

Permit their temporary stops at fire hydrants and they'll be a lot less double parking and obstruction of the publics right-of-way.
Jan. 31, 10:03 am
Ray from Williamsburg says:
I would suggest a pocket knife to flatten their tires.
Jan. 31, 10:10 am
wow from fat motorist city says:
Hahahahah, all these morbidly obese motorists call cyclists whiney and self entitled? Pot, kettle, black. The instant a light turns green, there's always some lardasss 3 cars back laying on the horn till they get to lift their tree trunk fat leg and press the gas pedal. Ham Planet.
Jan. 31, 11:27 am
Maureen from Williamsburg says:
Josh...appreciate the info...I should have checked that. Only stressing the major costs and legal responsibilities connected with driving. Not sure a lot of bikers have home insurance to cover damages they do, however.
Some of the harsh insulting statements in this feed are really very sad.
The invention of the auto brought all of us into a new century...Supplies, emergency vehicles etc. depend on good efficient traffic regs and safe roads...
JP calls all drivers psychos...or envious of those who do use bikes...For many...it is a health or age related reason...wait until JP is a frail senior or impaired then let him say how selfish drivers are! JP...like it or not we all get there..ask your granny. You decry drivers, until you need to get a lift somewhere or can afford to shell out $$ for Uber or car rentals etc. Remember they too require drivers.
It is not bikers vs drivers vs pedestrians as you would have it...it is making it better and safer for ALL...by working together, so please stop demonizing all drivers they want safe roads too.
Jan. 31, 12:22 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Cars with drivers are a relic that will not last 30 more years
Jan. 31, 12:49 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Maureen,
I am sure that there are many cyclists who do not have homeowners or renters insurance. But there are also a lot of drivers on the road who, even though required by law, do not have valid insurance or even licenses. Think about the poor kid who was jus killed by an oil truck driver who did not have a valid license (it was suspended and he knew it was suspended, but drove anyway).

Driving does have costs involved, but we can't complain that because of the fact that we need to pay for gas, and insurance, and mechanical upkeep, and parking, and for the car itself that we should get amy kind of break or that people should take that into consideration. Driving is a privilege and not a right. We, as drivers of motor vehicles, have a moral and legal obligation to keep others safe from ourselves. Just like a gun owner, or dog owner, or nuclear power plant operator.

And yes, we do all need to work together. But we drivers must concede that our convenience must never trump the safety of others. The same way that the United States must take the lead because of power, and need to be held to a higher standard than a smaller nation, we must do the same as drivers. Cyclists and pedestrians definitely have a responsibility to make life for all safer, but we, as drivers, are the superpower and, therefore, have the greatest responsibility.
Jan. 31, 2:04 pm
Jim from Midtown says:
@ Ray from Williamsburg: if this is your best solution you need help and to be checked in to a local Physician....
Jan. 31, 3:37 pm
Maureen from williiamsburg says:
Josh...driving is not always for convenience...there are many of us who cannot get around without a vehicle.

Not sure what your point is...because there are some bad people driving illegally without insurance bikers shouldn't need to be accountable for anything?

Again, don't punish the ones who follow the law. I don't expect special rights as a driver, but safety on the roads is a shared responsibility between drivers, bikers and pedestrians. ALL parties need to follow the rules and from my experience here ... too many drive, bike and walk recklessly jeopardizing themselves and those who are trying to do the right thing.
Bad actions do have consequences...period.
Jan. 31, 5:45 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Driving is always for convenience. It is inconvenient to walk a long distance, or take one bus to four others, or have someone else pick you up. Having your own mode of transportation is much much more convenient. That way, you don't have to move closer to work, or work closer to home, or see a doctor close to home. For people who can't take public transportation because they are handicapped in some way or another, the MTA provides Access-a-Ride which will take you anywhere you need to go in the city, but it is not as convenient as your own transportation because you often have to plan it in advance.

But my point is simple. Yes, everyone has a responsibility to make the roads safer. But drivers have the greatest responsibility because we have the greatest destructive power if we are less than responsible in our actions. Yes, cyclists who ride like @ssholes should stop doing that. Pedestrians who jaywalk without paying attention should stop that as well. But the greatest responsibility rests on us, the drivers of motor vehicles. So police enforcement should prioritize motor vehicles first, etc. That does not mean a police officer should ignore a cyclist riding recklessly, but if there is a choice between a police officer being assigned bike enforcement or motor vehicle enforcement, the latter should be the default. So no, I am not saying cyclists should not be accountable. I am saying that requiring cyclists to have insurance or register is an emotional, not deeply thought out response that would have zero effect on safety of anyone because cyclist accountability is already available to the extent it will ever be available.

But people often feel that such things as lowering the speed limit punish those of us drivers who follow the law. That is not the case. It is simply a safety measure put in place so that, even if we are following the law, we in vehicles do not punish those who are vulnerable just because they are not in a vehicle themselves. Laws, for all road users, should be adjusted when appropriate to increase safety for all. Not as a penalty, but for safety. If that means it takes longer to get somewhere because the speed limit is lower or there are parking protected bike lanes to make cyclists and pedestrians safer, so be it. That is not a punishment. The people who are ultimately getting punished are those who needlessly die in traffic violence. Not those of us who have to pay $37.50 to get our car inspected.
Jan. 31, 7:51 pm
maureen from williamsburg says:
Josh you live in Manhattan?...there is no/or very little bus service in other areas of this city and access a ride is sadly not a reliable fall back for many or even easily signed on to and walking not feasible...so a vehicle is not just a convenience for many.
I'm glad you realize there are bad bikers and pedestrians...as well as drivers. Let's leave it at that...but I feel they have EQUAL responsibility to do the right thing when walking, biking or driving. In the end, we are all responsible for what we do or don't do...if you're more vulnerable you should execute even more care out there.
Feb. 2, 12:30 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Maureen, it's the opposite. Those of us operating the most powerful and dangerous vehicles are the ones who must exercise the most care. Our actions can kill other people. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to not kill another human being.

Winston Churchill: "Where there is great power there is great responsibility"
Feb. 2, 7:58 pm
samir kabir from downtown says:
When cyclists start following traffic laws, then they can make demands.
Feb. 3, 6:36 am
wow from dumb and most likely morbidly obese says:
When samir kabir from downtown understands what "whataboutism" means, then he or she can join a conversation regarding public safety.
Feb. 3, 3:22 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
So all cyclists must follow the rules before making demands? Does that work for all other modes as well? So, pedestrians can only demand safer crossings, or for cyclists to not ride on the sidewalk if all pedestrians follow the traffic laws and don't jaywalk? Drivers can then only demand pot holes to be repaired, and traffic light timing to provide sensible access, or even snow to be plowed, if all drivers follow traffic laws, including obey the speed limit?

Under your logic, the government would be happy as pie, since no one could make demands.
Feb. 3, 8:41 pm
Daniel from Brooklyn says:
These motor vehicles don't have license plates and are parked on NYC streets. The law is clear, the NYC Department of sanitation must pick up them up as for shredding as abandoned vehicles within 72 hours of a complaint.

We're a "country of laws", right?
Feb. 9, 7:18 am

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