Bike lanes may be preserved around construction sites with councilwoman’s bill

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, on Monday, explains the need for legislation that ensures bike lanes near construction sites are kept clear.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, on Monday, explains the need for legislation that ensures bike lanes near construction sites are kept clear. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Manhattan lawmaker is sick of construction sites clogging up busy bike lanes.

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera is drafting legislation to establish penalties when contractors don’t preserve established bike lanes, or create temporary new lanes, around construction sites.

“We’re going to be introducing legislation to make sure that when we have construction in our city that they are taking cyclists into account and making sure that bike lanes are opened for every single rider,” Rivera said Monday.

The co-chair of the council’s Women’s Caucus, Rivera hopes to introduce the bill  in October,  which is recognized by Citi Bike as Women’s Bike Month. Only a quarter of cyclists in the country are women and in New York, just about a third of Citi Bike’s users are women, according to the bike share’s operators, Motivate.

“When you suddenly have a construction site that’s there and there is no bike lane and you’re forced to go into some of these streets… it can be intimidating,” Rivera said. “We’re trying to get more people on a bike, especially women, and we want to make sure that… we’re doing what we can to make sure that we’re protecting the cyclists in the streets.”

Women tend to more often prioritize safety and convenience in determining whether to bike, according to a 2015 report from the NYU Rudin Center, which found that women are more likely to ride in areas that are connected to parking-protected bike lanes or greenways that are separated from traffic. When comparing trips taken by men, women also tend to ride on more residential streets with lower traffic volumes and on streets that tend to have fewer cyclist injuries.

“Some of the biggest obstacles to women’s mobility is safety — especially when our streets are constantly changing. District 2 is one of the most heavily used districts by bike but also very dense in the process of change and construction,” said Chelsea Yamada, referencing Rivera’s district. “Her bill to take a stand for cyclists’ safety even when the interim [construction] is underway is so exciting to hear.”

In addition to the legislation, Citi Bike will be partnering with the United Nations Foundation’s initiative Girl Up, to help promote cycling among young women. Each new Citi Biker can use the promotional code “GIRLUP18” to receive their first 30-minute ride for free in October. One dollar per new rider will be donated to Girl Up’s SchoolCycle Program to provide bikes to girls around the world. And through the first week of October, every 10 points earned by Citi Bike’s Bike Angels will translate to $1 donations to Girl Up.

“We feel like we can do better, and we’re committed to that,” said Lynn Fischer, the head of marketing at Citi Bike, on closing the gender gap, who noted the bicycle’s role in the women’s rights movement of the early 1900s.

“We like to say, we want you to pedal with a purpose,” she said.

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