It is not uncommon for parked cars or idling taxis to force cyclists to swerve into traffic causing bike lanes to become increasingly dangerous for New York cyclists. Blocked bike lanes are more than an inconvenience; they can produce personal injuries and even fatalities. In NYC there have been 17 cyclist fatalities as of August 2016, already surpassing last year's total. As fatalities climb, it is important for cyclists to know that the law is behind them.
NY traffic rules say to keep lanes clear
Taxis are one of the top offenders for blocking bike lanes in the city. When traffic is dense cabs attempt to sit in the bike lane while picking up or dropping off passengers. Taxis and ridesharing service vehicles should never block traffic or bike lanes due to NYC traffic rules. Although it is against city rules, some taxis blatantly ignore the law.
Another typical offender is a parked car in the bike lane. Many drivers would rather face a possible fine than miss their appointment. They park their car in an open bike lane, obstructing oncoming cyclists. These vehicles are parked illegally and it is important to know that the owner of a vehicle blocking the bike path can face legal action if someone is injured due to their negligence.
Parked vehicles are not the only obstacles requiring quick maneuvering in the bike lane: road construction blocks, garbage cans, and all kinds of obstructions get in the way. With increasingly dangerous bike lane conditions, keep safety measures in mind.
Staying safe when the bike lane is blocked
It is hard to avoid a distracted driver but there are some tips you can follow to reduce accidents:
- Ride with lights: wear blinking lights or reflective patches for night time riding
- Do not pass a vehicle on the right: try to stay slightly behind the car to your left rather than passing on the right
- Take the entire lane: when entering the vehicle lane try to take the whole lane if there is space. It is safer to have a whole lane to yourself rather than trying to squeeze in between cars
Taking every precaution can still result in injury when a driver is distracted. Know your rights as a cyclist and contact an experienced attorney if you are injured due to an obstructed bike lane.