This past saturday, NYC saw it’s first substantial snowfall of the season. As snowstorms go; it wasn’t that bad, with a total accumulation of 2-4 inches. It was however, enough to affect how people got from A to B no matter which mode of transportation they chose.
Heading to and from my first appointment of the day, snow was just beginning to fall. It was that moment in time where the white stuff softens your view and adds a sweet crispness to the air.
When I ventured out again a little later in the day, accumulation still wasn’t bad but it was enough to slow down your travel time, particularly in the bike lanes that had yet to be plowed.
Which makes it understandable that this Citbike rider chose to travel in the car lanes on 9th Avenue where the snow was melted away by the heat of the cars, rather than in the protected bike lane where snow accumulation may have felt ‘unsafe’ to him. It’s also entirely possible that his choice just seemed more expedient to him.
Traveling further along, conditions of the bike lanes were mixed. Some stretches were cleared of snow, others were not.
Hours later as dusk began to fall, I started to make my way home. Just past Penn Station, I stopped to ask this Citbike rider if he needed any help, since he had dismounted the bike and stood by patiently for several minutes. He assured me all was OK, he had arrived at his destination and was just waiting for the light to change so he could cross the avenue and redock his bike.
In front of the New Yorker Hotel, some drivers had a difficult time understanding that a parking protected bike lane is not a parking protected valet drop-off lane.
Which of course, makes matters difficult and dangerous to those for whom the travel lane was actually created.
There were many motor vehicles parked in and obstructing the 8th Avenue bike lane in the stretch from 34th Street to 40th Street. While it’s not excusable, as my photos illustrate it is slightly understandable. With the snow not yet cleared from the bike lane (obscuring the green paint and bike symbols) and no physical barrier in place, there is no indication that they are in a bike lane. This presents the case that NYC can do even better in the implementation of our cycling infrastructure.
This is extremely important for the safety of working cyclists in NYC, who don’t have the choice to stay home or off their bicycles in inclement weather. It’s also important since working cyclists also most likely see an increase in the number of trips they make per shift: when more people want to hibernate in the warmth and safety of their homes rather than go outside to pick up dinner themselves.
Which brings me to this news clip from Detroit’s News Channel 4: Winter weather creating tough travel for all. (I tried embedding it, but having no luck. Please do take the time to click on the link and watch it). I could make some minor quibbles on a few things, but it really is worth watching because the reporter, Paula Tutman actually does a pretty good job of highlighting the issues of utility cycling in the snow (particularly in cities where infrastructure is just being built, is insufficient or even completely no-existent) and without any hysteria.
For those who choose not to view the clip, I’d at least like to leave you with the Tutman’s closing remarks to drivers on the road:
“Just pretend it’s your daughter, or maybe your son on that bicycle in the slush and in the snow. And maybe that will help guide your attitude towards these people, riding their bikes.”
Thank you for your class and empathy, Paula Tutman. Take note mainstream media.