Even though the snow stopped falling several days ago, NYC is still cleaning up the mess from the city's biggest snowstorm in years.
Various bike lanes across the city and sidewalks were still full of snow several days after the storm passed.
Some 600 snow clean-up workers, who the sanitation department hires temporarily, are out shoveling snow from street corners, pedestrians areas, and bike lanes on Sunday, according to the Department of Sanitation. The work was expected to continue into Monday.
And alternate side parking rules have been suspended through December 26th for snow removal operations, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a tweet that did not sit well with New Yorkers who want the city to focus its snow removal efforts on bike lanes and other public pedestrian areas leaving dangerous, ankle-deep snow and slush at each street corner.
The Sanitation Department said the alternate-side parking suspension will help workers catch up with clearing snow and then catch up with trash collection before being able to run a street sweeper along the streets.
"It is not easy to run the mechanical broom at a time when there are trash bags out," Sanitation spokesperson Joshua Goodman said. The department says every street in the city is plowed and 90% of bike lanes have been cleared—indicating it is "safely passable," not necessarily completely cleared of snow.
Goodman noted sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner, and some bike lanes are handled by the Department of Transportation or Parks Department.
"It depends on exact location, size, and other factors," Goodman said.
A stretch of sidewalk near Dutch Kills Playground in Queens appeared untouched since the storm last week, according to a Sunday morning photo at 28th Street between 36th and 37th Avenues shared by a resident who lives in the area.
Next door, a public school's sidewalk, which would be in front of a Department of Education property, was clear of snow. The playground is controlled by the Parks Department, which would indicate the sidewalk is also under that agency's jurisdiction.
The Parks Department is in charge of 2,000 miles of pathways around the city—commuter hubs, areas near schools, park perimeters, and greenways that run through parks, according to department spokesperson Anessa Hodgson.
"We thank New Yorkers for their patience as we work diligently to clear our park greenways, playgrounds, and interior park paths," Hodgson said.
The Dutch Kills playground was salted on Wednesday and Thursday, with some snow cleared with a snow blower. Crews started clearing pathways at the area on Sunday, according to the department.
Hodgson cited budget cuts for the snow clearance delays.
Usually, 1,300 staffers work on the department's snow response in maintenance and operations divisions. This year, there were just 700 of those staffers on-hand.
DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel said the department is overseeing 30 miles of bike lane snow clearance in four boroughs. Some in Queens and Brooklyn along Skillman Avenue, Fourth Avenue, and Flatbush Avenue had been cleared, Gastel said Sunday evening.
Streetsblog reported one Park Slope resident took to shoveling parts of the Prospect Park West bike lane himself.
Here's a sampling of some bike lanes in recent days, showing the obstacles faced by the increased number of New Yorkers trying to get around by bike during a pandemic:
Cyclist Peter Beadle documented a Friday morning bike commute along Queens Boulevard and over Kosciusko Bridge.
The Queens Boulevard bike lane itself appeared to have been plowed by Saturday, according to Beadle, but many plastic delineators were gone.
"It was a bit nerve wracking and very disappointing after being told repeatedly by the City that it had a plan, had purchased special equipment, etc.," Beadle said in a message.
Another cyclist found a pile of snow in the bike lane at Skillman Avenue at 54th Street in Queens on Saturday about 2:40 p.m. The bulk has since been cleared, but not until three days after the storm.
Greenpoint resident Noel Hidalgo caught this snow-covered bike lane near the Brooklyn Navy Yard about 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
"I saw a delivery cyclist enter the protected bike lane and was surprised to see that the protected bike lane not plowed," Hidalgo said in a message. "A majority of New Yorkers do not own cars, yet sanitation/snow plow is all geared around street snow removal. Just enraging."
A sidewalk area near a bus stop on Avenue D in Manhattan, where tens of thousands of NYCHA residents live, was also packed with snow Sunday about 12:30 p.m., according to a photo taken by a neighborhood district leader, John Blasco.
"Lots of seniors living at Riis Houses [are] trying to get on the bus stop but having difficulty doing so," Blasco told us in a message. "Some folks have had to stay standing on the streets to avoid the icy areas."
Goodman, the sanitation spokesperson, said streets are prioritized first to help move along emergency vehicles.
Then, bike lanes, pedestrian overpasses, bus stops, and crosswalks come next.
"During a snow storm, the Department first works to keep city streets passable and open for emergency vehicles," Goodman said. "After salting and plowing operations have stopped, we address snow and ice removal from bike lanes, pedestrian overpasses and step streets, bus stops and crosswalks."
"This is particularly important to us this year, as we know so many essential workers use the bike lines either to get to work, or, in the case of delivery personnel, to actually do their work," he added.
The department has about 100 smaller snow plows called skid steers to clear bike lanes, with another 600 temporary workers to shovel snow from pedestrian areas.
If you do go biking, stay safe out there, and, apparently, aim for a pile of trash if you do fall.
Any bike lanes or pedestrians areas in your neighborhood still have snow? Send us photos, the exact location, and the time the picture was taken to email@example.com.
This article has been updated with additional details about public spaces with snow and information from the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation