[UPDATE BELOW] So the NYPD is now letting the New York Post control its bike lane agenda? Yesterday Murdoch's minions ran an exhaustive piece on how bicyclists are
not using misusing the bike lanes at the intersection of Lafayette and Prince Streets and wouldn't you know it, today the NYPD set up at that very intersection to ticket cyclists. Their crime? Not using the bike lane. Whether that is even illegal is besides the point.
Transportation Nation noticed the police stopping bikers on the street, at one point two at a time, and inquired about what was going on. “I was riding my bicycle … on the wrong side of the street,” biker Victor Velasquez told them, “and they gave me a ticket.”
In a statement regarding the tickets, Transportation Alternatives sort of sided with the crackdown, saying, "The law is the law and lawbreakers should be ticketed but the unusual focus on cyclist behavior seems out of step with the realities of the road. Hundreds of New Yorkers are killed or injured by cars every year—we need enforcement that will protect New Yorkers from the real dangers on our streets." But what is the law? It's this:
(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.
But the law also says that "Bicyclists may ride on either side of one-way roadways that are at least 40 feet wide" and Lafayette is certainly 40 feet wide.
Further, the thoroughfare is a tricky one on a bike as the lane runs just a few blocks and jumps across two lanes of traffic, from the right side to the left side, when Centre Street merges onto it—just two blocks south of where the police were ticketing. And as TN points out, many bikers simply don't make the dangerous jump across "if they plan to make a right turn at Houston Street or another nearby street."
So good rule of thumb if you don't want a ticket? If there's a lane, use it.
UPDATE: Michael Murphy, the Communications Director at Transportation Alternatives, sent us this statement: "We in no way 'side with the crackdown.' Transportation Alternatives has always maintained that traffic violators should receive tickets but if the lanes are blocked, the law allows cyclists to ride outside the lane and no violation has occurred. And, again, we emphasize that the recent increase in cyclist ticketing shows a need for enforcement that focuses on the real dangers to New Yorkers: the seemingly endless carnage caused by speeding cars and other auto violations."