Service of Ingenuity

September 12th, 2016

Categories: City Living, Ingenuity, Traffic

Bike 1 turned

I love New Yorkers. They think of ingenious ways of making the city work for them. Sometimes, though, they are thrown a curve ball for which even the most resourceful have trouble coming up with solutions.

Bike 2 turnedFirst the resourceful. Just down from my office on 45th Street near Third Avenue is a bank of rental bikes locked into place. Pass it at lunch time and you’ll find citizens perching on and leaning against parked bicycles to eat, catch up on texts and emails, sip a soda, watch the world pass by or to simply sit in the shade in midtown during a break on a hot summer day. The price is right, there are others to chat with if you want—it works!

But it doesn’t always.

I’m a fairly street smart lifelong New Yorker and yet I still haven’t figured out a safe way to get in and out of the parking spaces cobbled out of avenues, such as First, to make it safe for bikers to travel next to the sidewalk. [I first wrote about the dangerous configuration in a post last October.] The photo below best illustrates the challenge.

I parked in one of these spots for the first time over the Labor Day weekend so there was little city traffic and yet my heart was in my throat as I backed in hoping that:

  • I was quick enough not to be hit by impatient oncoming traffic.
  • I was accurate enough when backing into the space perfectly on the first try and
  • I wouldn’t hit a bicyclist.

Parked cars 2 turnedWhen my passenger joined me he had to dash across the bicycle lane, [looking both ways as bicyclists ignore traffic rules], and into the avenue to the passenger door, open it, jump in and close it before the red light turned green for galloping oncoming traffic.

Pulling out into a pause in traffic with a sedan was another heart-stopper. I noticed most of the other cars parked there that day were SUVs. Try pulling out into parking-lot thick traffic filled with frustrated, angry drivers. One furious driver, just before I snapped the photo below, took off in the bike lane instead of waiting for someone to let him into First Avenue. He broke into traffic with the light, ahead of the cars waiting to enter the avenue on 50th Street. Clever perhaps but God help any pedestrian or bicyclist in his way. I don’t recommend this solution.

Have you noticed other resourceful ways city dwellers in New York or elsewhere have made creative use of what’s around them? Do you have suggestions for how to use these floating parking spots in safe ways?


From the right, bike lane, parking lane and First Avenue morning traffic

From the right, bike lane, parking lane and First Avenue morning traffic

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6 Responses to “Service of Ingenuity”

  1. hb Said:

    Everyone has at least some selfishness in him or her, or is it just plain thoughtlessness? New Yorkers more than most, although, in fairness, they can also be most generous.

    This bicycle business is another clear example of the sheer selfish madness of the few imposed upon the suffering many. New York is not Amsterdam. It is never going to become less congested unless a bunch of offices close and buildings vanish, and that is no time soon.

    I’m glad to see some useful purpose is now been served by those traffic-clogging bicycle racks, but the life threatening risk you must take to get into the passenger side of a car in one of those new fangled, traffic-clogging parking strips is just too much! I did it last week for the first and last time. Never again.

    As someone who was already knocked over by a “hit and run” cyclist, this was the last straw. All Manhattan should be a “bicycle-free” zone. If you want to bicycle, go live in Amsterdam or move to New Jersey, but not here.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    New York has a bad reputation for being filled with selfish people but I think many large cities with international populations like Paris and London suffer the same attitude problems. My first trip to London was eons ago and then, people stood in neat lines while waiting for a bus. A few years later there were people darting in line helter skelter. In Paris, if you knocked into someone in the day, you’d hear “pardon,” as quickly as a “God bless you” after a sneeze. Now even women of a certain age that plow into you often say nothing and look offended at what you have done to them. Sound familiar?

    I don’t know if Westchester still closes the Bronx River Parkway for a few hours on a Sunday morning so bicycles can take advantage of a safe place to peddle. Central Park should be used for this purpose as well. Best keep the midtown streets free of bicycles.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s a great city, perhaps the greatest, but has no monopoly on ingenuity. The “Show me” state** folks are sure to take offense, as will a host of equally ingenious neighbors! One gathers a great deal more respect when touting the abilities of others — unless one is running for mayor…..


  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m here, so I would only see a wonderful crop of people perched on bikes like birds on a clothes line here. I balanced the story with a not-so-easily solvable situation that NYC caused to happen here in spades with the floating parking spots.

    There are plenty of other great cities and I would love to hear about creative things their citizens make of what they are given.

  5. JM Said:

    My younger son lives in NYC w/ his wife and their 13 yr old daughter.

    Jackie, my daughter-in-law grew up in Queens & rents a City Bike instead of taking a cab to a city appointment during the day. Today she biked down from uptown to 22nd St. in downtown Manhattan & arrived in about 20 minutes. She finds the Bloomberg bike lanes so convenient.

    There is ongoing construction in NYC & today we managed to cross the street against the light with other pedestrians where a gigantic truck was parked & a cone that blocked the next lane. If you consider the direction of the traffic, it’s manageable w/out Jaywalking (Abe Beam banned Jaywalking decades ago but no tickets are given out for that anymore).

    If you live long enough in the city, there’s a way to navigate any obstacle.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Clearly many are pleased with the bicycle option or it would have died long ago.

    The subway whisks me around the city with remarkable speed. It too has its dangers–everything does. I saw a bicycle and taxi miss one another by a whisker last week as each took a left hand turn on First Avenue and 53rd Street. I feel more comfortable risking nuts who threaten to push citizens on the tracks and subway delays. Angry drivers on city streets are a menace to everyone but innocent, prudent drivers and pedestrians don’t mix with bicyclists too many of whom ignore traffic rules.

    I was born in NYC and with the exception of college and a stint as an Air Force wife, I have lived in either Manhattan or Brooklyn all my life. I don’t recall anything as screwball and poorly conceived as the floating parking places.

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