Seasoned Manhattan cyclists know to expect delays along 8th Avenue in midtown, where tourists—and locals trying to get around all the tourists—routinely promenade through the bike lane like it's a verdant pedestrian plaza nestled in the heart of some sleepy Swiss skiing village. Filmmaker and cyclist Jeff Seal, however, is fed up with the situation, and he recently decided to document the absurd chaos that is the 8th Avenue bike, capturing it in all its frustrating, lawless glory.
"I've been a bike messenger on and off for a long time and have ridden my bike in Manhattan A LOT," says Seal via email. "My general philosophy is cars should yield to bikes and bikes to pedestrians. I try not to be one of those obnoxious bicyclists who clangs their little bike bells like a madman whenever someone dares to get in their way.
"But the bike lane on 8th Avenue between 42nd street and 50th street is a goddamn shitshow. I can't think of another bike lane in Manhattan that is so consistently filled with everything except bikes. I think it's probably a confluence of a bunch of factors: tourists spilling over from Times Square and its theaters, the line at Shake Shack hogging the sidewalk, and actual New Yorkers trying to get wherever they're going while staring at their phones. Whatever the reason is, people treat that bike line like it's an extension of the sidewalk and walk on it like it's the goddamn Yellow Brick Road.
"ALSO, they need to get a few city planners together to figure out how to warn pedestrians to look both ways before crossing over to the little island between the bike lane and the street. That's a problem on all bike lanes."
The DOT did not respond to an inquiry about the bike lane and whether there are any plans to improve it.