Meals vs. wheels: Food carts block bike lanes, cyclists say

Inconsiderate food vendors who use Downtown bike lanes to haul their carts are recipe for disaster, concerned cyclists say.

Mobile grub slingers obstruct the Smith Street and Jay Street bike lanes and force cyclists to swerve into traffic while transporting their rolling snack shacks from a garage on Clinton Street to sidewalks near Borough Hall and Metrotech Center every day.

There’s a reason the city painted the likeness of a bicycle — not a hot dog — on the busy street, bikers claim.

“This is not what the space is intended for,” said cycling advocate Ian Dutton. “It puts other people at risk.”

The culinary-minded lane-hoggers — who can be spotted on weekday mornings hauling the carts by hand — add another hazard to an already treacherous cycling street deemed the borough’s scariest bike lane by Brooklyn Paper readers due to its frequently blocked path.

Some street vendors even block bike lanes while towing their carts by car, including one photographed by The Brooklyn Paper on Bergen Street in Gowanus.

Cart operators contend that using the bike lane is quicker than navigating crowded sidewalks — and that their meals on wheels only briefly obstruct the bike path.

“It’s only for five minutes,” said one coffee and doughnuts vendor, who declined to give his name.

But cyclists who have long fought for safer streets say lane-blocking vendors are more likely to make them eat dirt than doughnuts — and that it only takes a few second to injure or kill someone.

Bike boosters now want cops to more strictly enforce rules that bar automobiles and mobile restaurateurs alike from impeding cycling paths, saying it’s a major safety concern.

“Any time a bike lane is obstructed, it creates a hazard for cyclists,” said bicycling activist Eric McClure.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.