Ninth Street Earns Its Stripes

The debate is over, and as of today the Ninth St. bike lanes are swiftly becoming a reality.

Photo: Courtesy Zoe Ryder White

  • Hey look! It’s a bike lane in the door zone.

  • Chris in Sacramento

    Here we have six-foot wide bike lanes; that helps with door zone concerns.

    Is that narrow space to the left of the bike lane designated for a buffer of sorts? If so, most bicyclists will be reasonably safe and comfortable riding towards the left side of the bike lane, in nearly the same location that a bicyclist “taking” the present rightmost traffic lane would ride.

  • Eric

    The DOT plan calls for a five-foot-wide bike lane and an adjacent three-foot-wide buffer, so cyclists should have room to ride and avoid dooring at the same time.

  • question

    Question: In the event of dooring, who is liable, the driver or the bicylist? I witnessed a livery driver door a delivery biker and then scream at him that it was his fault. We of course all screamed at the driver, who drove away indignant. Never really knew what the law was though..

  • it is the driver’s responsibility to open their car door with caution
    just as they would have to pull out with caution

    it is the cyclist objective to always put themselves where the will be most safe

  • moocow

    It is the driver’s responsibility when their passengers are exiting the vehicle.

  • Regardless of who is legally responsible, dooring is one of those problems that is unlikely to really improve without a more structural change (i.e., physically separated lanes). No matter how careful they may be, drivers and passengers will inevitably open their doors without looking for or noticing bicyclists — bikes are too small and quiet for this to be avoided.

    In the meantime, biking is kind of like skiing — avoid the downhill skiier. In this case, watch out for flying doors!

  • ddartley

    Re: dooring, here’s a little cause I encourage any and all to join me in:

    July 3, 2007

    Commissioner Matthew W. Daus
    Taxi & Limousine Commission
    40 Rector Street
    New York, NY 10006

    Dear Commissioner Daus:

    Please require all NYC yellow taxis to play automated audio messages reminding passengers to look behind them before opening the taxi door. The rare, optional appearance of similar written warnings in taxis has produced tragically deficient results.

    [deletion for brevity…]

    Many years ago, the City (or perhaps the T&LC of its own volition) found the resources and will to make all taxis play “buckle your seatbelt” audio messages for every new fare. When the public grew tired of them, the messages were, very easily, removed. Both the appearance and the removal of those messages suggest that it would be easy to implement a similar, but I content more important, automated warning system.

    [deletion for brevity]

    Please, for the safety of New Yorkers, for the T&LC’s own protection [from lawsuits by injured cyclists], and to help spread word of a safer practice to all New Yorkers, implement a system of automated audio messages that warn passengers about to exit taxis, “look behind you before you open the door!”


    P.S. The “buckle your seatbelt” announcements were fiercely disliked because their attempted cuteness and use of celebrity voices annoyed people. The “Look behind you before opening the door” announcement need not contain any such fatal flaw: it should be short and businesslike.

  • ddartley

    Oops, I mean, “contend,” not “content.” Once again, proofreading beats spell-check. Too bad I sent it to the Commissioner that way.

  • Too bad taxis don’t come equipped with sliding doors, mini-van style. That would sure help with the dooring problem.

  • Damn it Aaron, that is a brilliant idea.

  • pa

    ALL new cars should one day be required to have sliding doors. that would prevent countless accidents. but that will never happen. imagine trying to get congress to try to get auto makers to do this as a law?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Some taxis are minivans with sliding doors. Another reason to prefer them over Lexus SUV taxis.

  • ddartley

    Too right, pa, so I think getting these announcements into NYC taxis would be a lot easier.

  • Steve

    One point on Class II lanes in the dooring zone–they are not suited to high-speed bicycle traffic. If you are bicycling at ~15MPH+, your ability to stop in time to avoid dooring, jaywalking pedestrians and other hazards in the bike lane is diminished, rendering the bike lane unsafe. In that case, you will probably find it “reasonably necessary” to “take” the traffic lane to avoid the unsafe conditions, which the NYC laws allow you to do:

    “34 RCNY § 4-12(p) Bicycles.
    (1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes. Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:

    (i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.”

    I know many motorists (and NYPD) don’t understand that the bike lane is optional in these circumstances, and I would expect particularly little sympathy for bicyclists in the sole remaining traffic lane on 9th Street given the history of this project, but at least for westbound trips (down the slope at higher speeds), bicyclists should consider using the traffic lane.

    By the way, congrats and thanks for all who worked so hard to get these bike lanes in. There are few things more satisfying than traveling a familiar route and discovering fresh bike lane markings on it!

  • Psynick

    To DDartley:

    No, No, No! A thousand times no! No recordings of any kind in Taxis ever again! They won’t change anyone’s behavior and they will drive both passengers and drivers nuts.

    May you be consigned to spend eternity in the presence of Christopher Lynn should such a horrible policy come to pass.

  • ddartley

    Psynick: You think

    “Look behind you before opening the door”

    is ANYTHING like

    “Hi, this is Mary Wilson of The Supremes reminding you to ‘Stop! In the name of safety!’ New York City reminds all of you to blah blah blah blah blah, and have a pleasant trip”


    No comparison. Have you ever been doored? (an honest question, not a “gotcha” question, so don’t take it as an attack.)

  • Psynick

    I think any announcement is annoying and pointless. The announcement comes on at the moment when the rider is trying to pay the fare, gather up belongings/children, get bearings, etc. So, it’s just some random noise that distracts you from important business, at best. At (likely) worst, it’s some garbled piece of distortion shrieking through a bad intercom.

    Passengers will not glean anything intelligble from any announcement. Drivers will hear the same damn thing dozens of times a day and be driven batty by it. This is exactly what happened with every prior version of taxi announcements, no matter what form.

    Yes, I have been doored. Obviously, I’m in favor of doing things that might prevent this, but I do not think that what you are proposing will have any positive effect.

  • Bernard J. Sandman

    This new bike lane is still extremely dangerous to bicycles. A bicyclist using this bike lane is still greatly risking his life or risking a serious injury. A car or van door could suddenly open at any time still forcing the bicylist to 1) Collide with the door and fall. The bicyclist can still get a serious head injury by either hitting the door or hitting his head on the pavement after falling. In addition a parked car may suddenly pull out into the bike lane without warning and collide with the biclist because most drivers check for vehiclar traffic but fail to pay attention to bicycle traffic when pulling out of the parked parking spaces. Instead, parking crosses should be painted 12 feet from the curb to 7 feet from the curb to warn bicylists not to ride in this door zone region or initial pullout region. If I were riding a bicycle on Ninth Street, I will be riding it in the right third of the buffer zone with the direction of traffic and not in the bike lane. I will still be about two or three feet from the white skip line. Most drivers will readily see bicyclists in this region.


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