10:11 AM ET
So on a Tuesday morning in late August, local bike lovers used their bodies to protest—and protect—a particularly exposed stretch.
Along midtown Manhattan’s busy Second Avenue, volunteers from the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives linked elbows to form a chain of “human bollards,” to borrow the title of a short Streetfilms documentary that captured the moment. Grateful cyclists on their way to work high-fived the volunteer human shields, who have been pressing the city to keep its word on properly securing the high-traffic right-of-way.
“These cyclists are so happy to see friendly faces in the morning, and also to have that bumper from moving traffic,” Macartney Morris, an organizer with Transportation Alternatives, tells Clarence Eckerson, Streetfilms director.
When the New York City DOT painted a new lane on 18-block strip of Manhattan’s Second Avenue last year, it was a huge improvement on the spotty sharrows that were there before. But it was a promise only partly fulfilled: The city decided against installing the “tuff curbs”—upright barriers to physically prevent vehicle intrusion—that it had initially proposed. Now, the exposed lane is perennially blocked by trucks and parked cars.
“It’s just a permeable space,” says Chelsea Yamada*, a fellow organizer. “Anyone can go in and out at any time. Whether they’re making a delivery and stalling for more than an hour, or just temporarily unloading, it can send cyclists right into harm’s way.”