New York Bike Lane Generates Confusion

A compromise road diet with “flex lanes” falls short of its promise.

2 minute read

October 30, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Google Maps street view of McGuinness Boulevard, four-lane road in Brooklyn with green sign for I-278W to BQE and Staten Island.

Conditions on McGuinness Boulevard prior to the redesign. | Google Maps / McGuinness Boulevard

A newly installed New York City bike lane “seems to be a matter of interpretation,” writes Clio Chang in Curbed. “Riding the route on a Tuesday in late October, I watched as bikes, mopeds, scooters, and cars all vied for space in the freshly painted lane, all of them maneuvering around the half a dozen vehicles that had decided to use it as parking.”

Chang explains that the city proposed a road diet for the dangerous stretch of McGuinness Boulevard in May. “The idea was to cut four lanes of traffic down to two and add bike lanes that would be protected by a parking lane–slash–pedestrian island. That was, until local businesses — led by the powerful Argento film-production family — launched a well-financed campaign they called ‘Keep McGuinness Moving.’”

The redesign that was implemented includes two “flex lanes” that turn into parking lanes at night, the proposed loading zones are gone, and the former parking lane serves as a bike lane—though Chang observed multiple cars parked in it. “While there were already a mix of barriers installed between the bike and traffic lanes, there was still space for cars to park.” The Department of Transportation says they are installing more barriers to prevent cars from using the bike lane.

Chang points out that this isn't the first time Mayor Adams has caved to pressure on road safety issues. The mayor, writes Chang, “has walked back a number of street-safety plans in the past year, such as the scrapped offset bus lanes in the Bronx and, more recently, the nearly completed redesign on Underhill, now allegedly paused.”

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