© 2020 Luke T Bush
Images from The Pepper Facebook page announcing the reopening of outdoor seating.
PLATTSBURGH, NY – 6/22/20
Outdoor restaurant seating has returned to downtown Plattsburgh City – but if you want to use the bike lanes on City Hall Place you're screwed.
Previously the concrete barriers used to block off the outdoor seating areas on both sides of the street left the bike lanes open. But this year – probably due to Covid-19 restrictions – the barriers are also blocking off the bike lanes.
As you can see from the accompanying picture posted on Facebook bicyclists are now forced to share the street with traffic. The narrower free space means that cyclists will have to be extra careful when traveling in either direction. Also it means that drivers will have to wait for a slower moving cyclists when vehicular traffic occupies both lanes – unless they want to force cycylists into the concrete barriers.
In the winter unshoveled sidewalks force pedestrians to walk in the street. This has resulted in one fatality. With the busy traffic on City Hall Place whom will be sued if someone loses life or limb?
And there's the matter of the law. Here are some excerpts pertaining to cyclists from the NYS Vehicle & Traffic site:
Highway Laws That Apply To A Bicyclist Access
§ 331. Consideration of complete street design.
For all state, county and local transportation projects that are undertaken by the department or receive both federal and state funding and are subject to department of transportation oversight, the department or agency with jurisdiction over such projects shall consider the convenient access and mobility on the road network by all users of all ages, including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users through the use of complete street design features in the planning, design, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation, but not including resurfacing, maintenance, or pavement recycling of such projects.
Complete street design features are roadway design features that accommodate and facilitate convenient access and mobility by all users, including current and projected users, particularly pedestrians, bicyclists and individuals of all ages and abilities. These features may include, but need not be limited to: sidewalks, paved shoulders suitable for use by bicyclists, lane striping, bicycle lanes, share the road signage, crosswalks, road diets, pedestrian control signalization, bus pull outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks and ramps and traffic calming measures; and recognize that the needs of users of the road network vary according to a rural, urban and suburban context.
This section shall not apply if it has been determined and set forth in publicly available documents that one of the following exists:
i. by bicyclists and pedestrians is prohibited by law, such as within interstate highway corridors; or
ii. the cost would be disproportionate to the need as determined by factors including, but not limited to, the following: land use context; current and projected traffic volumes; and population density; or
iii. demonstrated lack of need as determined by factors, including, but not limited to, land use, current and projected traffic volumes, including population density, or demonstrates lack of community support; or
iv. use of the design features would have an adverse impact on, or be contrary to, public safety.
e. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the department or agency with jurisdiction over a project to expend monies in accordance with subdivision (a) of this section that exceed the amount of state and federal funding for complete street design features.
And here's the relevant info from the NYS Complete Streets site:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Complete Streets Act (Chapter 398, Laws of New York ) on August 15, 2011, requiring state, county and local agencies to consider the convenience and mobility of all users when developing transportation projects that receive state and federal funding. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is working to ensure that its policies and procedures meet the new standards. The initiative presents an opportunity to expand upon existing programs and collaborate with bicyclists, pedestrians, people with disabilities and others to identify best practices and designs for transportation facilities.
Sounds to me outdoor seating doesn't take preference over bike lanes.
I wonder how al fresco diners will react if an unfortunate cyclist is hit by a car and flies over the barrier into their table. For some the sight of blood will ruin their appetites.