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Bike lane was…gone with the wind

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Warning about high winds Upstate on Friday, Governor Cuomo ordered a vaccination center in Rochester closed for the day. But he probably didn’t foresee this particular scenario in the East Village. …

In the early evening, around 7:30 p.m., cyclists zipping downtown in the Second Ave. bike lane found the lane pinched closed at E. 11th St. by large plastic construction barriers. At a distance before the lane narrowed, an opening had been created — like a door swung open — to let the cyclists detour onto the avenue amid the car traffic.

Without warning, the bike lane suddenly came to an end. (Photo by The Village Sun)

It was a dangerous situation, presenting various ways cyclists could get hurt. The bikers could smash into the closed-off end of the bike lane. They could get into an accident — or worse — when merging into car traffic. Or, as happened to one cyclist as The Village Sun was watching, they could make the turn for the temporary opening too late and too fast and wipe out.

What tha?… Being forced to merge into moving car traffic — exactly what bike lanes are supposed to prevent. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Julie R., 31, a teacher at Murry Bergtraum High School down by City Hall, didn’t quite make a clean enough turn through the sudden detour point and hit a concrete Jersey barrier that, along with the plastic barriers, was also there. The impact rammed her bike into the side of her groin, and she fell off of her ride, luckily not being hit by oncoming car traffic.

She was coming from her friend’s exercise class, heading to the Williamsburg Bridge on her way back home to Williamsburg.

An ad hoc detour created a dangerous situation. (Photo by The Village Sun)

“This wasn’t like that last Friday,” she said, with frustration, referring to the dead-ended bike lane, as she stood bent over, recovering from the spill. She declined to have her photo taken.

Though sore from her fall, she eventually gamely got back in the saddle and pedaled off.

This jerry-rigged setup was definitely not out of the Vision Zero handbook. (Photo by The Village Sun)

At first glance, one might assume that the restaurant at the spot, Numero 28 Pizzeria, had greedily expanded its outdoor dining area by pushing it into the bike lane, literally creating the conditions for an accident waiting to happen.

Some might say they blew it. … Numero 28 Pizzeria’s staff battled heavy winds that kept blowing the barriers into the bike lane. (Photo by The Village Sun)

But two waitresses told The Village Sun that they had been battling the high wind all day, which had been pushing the plastic barriers to the west and into the bike lane.

“The wind pulled it,” one of them said, saying she had tried to straighten out the barriers before. “I’ll do it right now.”

After a waitress mostly straightened out the modular wall, opening up the bike lane once again, a parked white moped was still partially blocking the bike lane. The waitress said she didn’t know to whom it belonged.

As a reporter watched, she shoved the interlocking modular barriers back to the east, opening up the closed bike lane once again. After she had finished, another waitress ran out to further explain the situation.

“I just try to fix 10 times,” she said. “It’s because of the wind.”

The barriers are there — creating a protected bike lane away from the curb — because there is a construction project just to the north.

A reporter tried to move one of the barriers and they were surprisingly light; a nudge with a knee moved them. So the waitresses’ story seemed plausible.

So, in this case, it was true…as Bob Dylan sang, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

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