On his commute to work on January 6, Tom Huzij came upon a 120-foot-long wooden streetery lined with a row of arched doorways that open into what’s supposed to be a protected bike lane. On January 11, he tweeted a video of himself riding past the structure, placed along East 29th Street: an anxiety-inducing, 14-second clip that would make any New York City biker cringe in fear of getting doored several times by what Huzij describes as an “Open Medieval Dungeon.” The streetery in question sits in front of the midtown location of Scarpetta, a high-end Italian restaurant that has featured the setup on Instagram. A recent post shows the arched doors swung open to reveal a table set with flowers and lanterns. The caption reads, “A peek inside one of the private dining bays in our Scarpetta Chalet.” Shooting the photo — or opening the doors for any purpose — would block the bike lane completely.
The structure was built right on top of the three-foot buffer that was built to prevent cars from parking there. However, the city’s Open Restaurants guidance specifies that “roadway seating may not be placed in a … bike lane” or a “designated buffer zone (area with white markings separating a bike or parking lane from a travel lane).” Still, the restaurant said through a spokesperson that the structure was “compliant with the regulations and has been inspected and approved.”
“I don’t feel safe biking through here anymore because of the narrow conditions,” said Huzij, who submitted a 311 complaint on Monday. “I never thought I would have to worry about getting doored by a building.”