Many fights in the city are all about space, and that's exactly what's happening on New York streets. With the surge in bike lanes and Citi Bike stations, parking spots are scarcer than ever. But just how much space are cyclists taking away from drivers? Our Michael Scotto has the answer in Part One of his new series, "No Parking Anytime."
For 13 years, Ben Bowman has taken part in a ritual all too familiar to city car owners who park on the street. Twice a week, he moves his Jeep from one side of West 68th St. to the other to make way for street cleaners.
With space at a premium, things can get ugly, such as the time another driver snuck into a spot Bowman had been waiting to take.
"I went to my truck and pulled out my tire iron and stood by his door, and I said 'You can have this spot, but you're taking a beating when you get out,'" Bowman said.
Drivers say tensions and the time it takes to find a space have been increasing since the city began eliminating parking spaces to install Citi Bike stations and dedicated bike lanes.
In Manhattan alone, the city has eliminated at least 2,330 parking spaces south of 125th St. to accommodate bike lanes and bike-sharing stations, according to city records obtained by NY1 nine months after
filing a request under the Freedom of Information Law.
Gone, for example, are 340 spots along 1st Ave, 300 spots along 2nd Ave., and 140 on Columbus Ave. just for bike lanes.
Car owners aren't alone in suffering. The growth of bike lanes has made delivery work even more challenging.
Delivery drivers routinely have to double park - in some cases, in the middle of busy avenues - because of protected bike lanes. Some are getting more parking tickets as a result.
"It's a nightmare," said Michael Myers, who delivers packages.
Officials say that with the population growing, it's essential to get people out of cars and onto bikes. The city's transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, says cars still rule the streets.
"We dedicate about 95 percent of (the streets) to automobiles," Trottenberg said, "and actually only about 5 percent to buses and cycles. And yet buses and cycles are the way we are going to carry the most people."
That's little solace to middle class residents like Valerie Perez who need a car for work and can't afford garage space. The Upper East Side resident walks with a cane and has parked in the East 80s since 1970.
The lack of parking is "worse than ever. It's been worse since they put the bike lanes in," she said.
Bicycling advocates say residents with cars need to get used to sharing the streets.
"That's a hard fact of living in the city," said Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives. "It's a hindrance to expect that's it your constitutional right to park for free on every street in New York City. That can't happen."
And that free street parking is only going to get harder to find.
One Citi Bike station on Columbus Ave. extends an entire block. It holds more than 65 bikes, but at the expense of about nine parking spots.
More of these stations are planned, as are more protected bike lanes — not only in Manhattan but more and more in the other boroughs as well.
Last year, the city added a record 18 miles of them.
The loss of street parking is one reason garage costs are soaring — in some areas, to well more than a $1,000 a month.