Getting from A to B this morning was a hot slushy mess this morning no matter which mode of transportation you chose.
Taking pictures while trying to maneuver a bicycle down Broadway was not the easiest task to undertake. While observing pedestrians attempting grand jetes across mounds of snow and puddles I also had to keep an eye on the cars and trucks with whom I shared the road. Broadway has a protected bike lane below 59th St, but I live on the UWS which has been slower than other neighborhoods to accommodate the safety of cyclists so I had to engage in the practice of vehicular cycling. Which roughly translates into: share the road with vehicles much bigger and capable of going faster than you can and hope they don’t injure or kill you. At least the snow conditions and congestion slowed the traffic to a snail’s pace and most of the time I was pedaling at a slow but faster speed than the cars and trucks.
While the snow provides great examples of where neckdowns are possible, sometimes those (s)neckdowns make it less safe for those of us on bicycles. It’s a constant decision making process- take the lane with motor vehicles or try to ride to the side of the road and hope the piles of snow don’t cause you to lose balance and that those puddles don’t have hidden potholes.
Navigating the traffic circle at Colombus Circle is never fun. As you can see above, today it was a bit of a hope and pray moment. I usually ride in the bus lanes (to the far right) to avoid mixing with cars and trucks, but it was impossible today. At least motor vehicle traffic was fairly light at this point.
Once I navigated through Columbus Circle, it was nice to see that some Citibike members weren’t deterred by the slush and snow of the morning.
The conditions of the Broadway bike lane varied from block to block, but most of the time they were unusable. Even if they had been ‘plowed’ or shoveled, most often there was too much packed snow and ice to render then bike-able. The photo above was taken on Jan 23, but conditions were pretty similar if not worse today.
Turning east on 50th it got even worse. Usually, heat produced by cars and trucks coupled with NYC sanitation plowing efforts make the car travel lanes usable (if not ideal) for people on bicycles. For this stretch and also between 6th and 5th Avenues it was impossible to pedal
safely at all.
For the return trip home, road conditions for my route were a bit better.
(S)neckdowns also ate the useless sharrows that we never see anyway (alongside the sidewalk and entrance to Central Park) since cars are usually parked on top of them.
Though someone was nice enough to shovel the Columbus Ave bike lane (with detour) below 72nd street, it was impossible to enter it unless you wanted to lift your bike over the mound of snow at the intersection or pedal through the pedestrian island (which was shoveled).
Typical of most NYC bike lanes on snow days, it wasn’t even completely cleared. Thus, unusable.
The next block, conditions were a bit better.
Hopefully, if anyone from DOT or Sanitation happens upon this blog post, they can file it under their ‘to do’ list of things to improve the safety of people on bikes in NYC. This is only one slice of NYC’s streets but it’s obvious that more protected lanes are needed and that where protected lanes do exist, the city can do a better job at making them safe and usable for the task that they were designed for: getting people on bikes from A to B in a sustainably safe manner.
Wishing to end on a prettier note, a few pictures from last night’s snow in Central Park.
Conditions here weren’t perfect either, but it was beautiful.