DETROIT—I decided to take a detour on my way to work this morning to research the current state of bike lanes on Third Street.
The requisite garbage, glass, potholes and elevated manhole covers were there as expected, but when I reached the intersection of Martin Luther King and Third I noticed a row of cars parked in the bike lane on the north bound side of the road as you can see in the image above.
I have seen cars driving in bike lanes, but oddly, I had not seen cars parked in them to date thus far, and the lanes I've ridden in were not next to the curb. This particular lane was curb-side with no parking lane. And while there was a parking lot immediately behind the condos the cars were parked in front of, these drivers chose to park in the bike lane anyway, even though a sign stated they were in fact, in a bike lane.
A check of the windshields revealed no tickets, so I decided I'd call Detroit's Municipal Parking Department to ask if they ticket cars parked in bike lanes.
A very nice man who shall remain nameless, informed me immediately that there is no ordinance in the city against parking in bike lanes.
"No ma'am, we don't ticket people who park in bike lanes, 'cuz there ain't no ordinance," he said.
"So there is no ordinance and that means anyone can park in a bike lane?" I said.
"Well, if there is a sign, then they can't park there," he said.
"There is a sign, it's says 'Bike Lane'," I said.
"There has to be a no parking sign," he said.
"OK, so let me get this straight. There is no ordinance preventing people from parking in bike lanes, so unless there is a sign that says 'No Parking in Bike Lane,' they can't get tickets?" I was surprised by that, given one thing Detroit is really good at is giving out parking tickets. This seemed like an obvious way to do that.
"Yes ma'am. But usually there is a parking lane and then the bike lane. Isn't there a parking lane?"
Nope. I said there wasn't a parking lane, just the bike lane and the traffic lane. He thanked me for telling him and said he'd "get someone out there to check it out."
I find it troubling that the city is installing bike lanes without ensuring the safety of the travelers down those lanes by prohibiting bike parking. Surely, an ordinance is required.
Given the potential revenue stream, we shall see how quickly we can get some signs installed.
I put a call into Detroit Public Works Traffic Engineering Division to find out what it would take to install a No Parking sign there.
Stay tuned on the response.
Correction: I mistook Third for Second so all references to Second Street were changed to Third Street.
Should Detroit pass an ordinance prohibiting parking in bike lanes? TAKE OUR POLL