Magnolia Bakery Treats Bleecker Street Bike Lane as Private Parking Lot
It happens all year long but is particularly noxious for bikers when the pavement is icy: Magnolia Bakery customers park their cars -- often unattended -- in the bike lane in front of the store, forcing bikers to swerve on icy pavement into a rushing and honking lane of traffic. This picture was taken last evening, when there were plenty of actual parking spots across the street, and on West 11th around the corner. It seems that folks in SUVs horny for cupcakes can't be bothered walking 50 feet for them. Cops come by in cars, glance out the window with blasé expressions, and drive on. And why is this Magnolia's problem?
To answer that question, let's look back to the bakery's rocky relationship with the surrounding community. Ever since it was popularized by Sex and the City, Magnolia has brought droves of the cupcake obsessed to the neighborhood; they form long, sometimes unruly lines outside the bakery, impeding pedestrians and -- since the bakery is open until midnight many nights -- disturbing dwellers in the surrounding buildings.
Much worse is the tidal wave of trash these cupcake eaters leave. As Fork in the Road reported last summer, the park diagonally across the street from Magnolia fills with customers every evening. Some simply leave boxes, wrappers, and bags (and, often, unfinished cupcakes) on the tables when they're done. Others throw their trash on the ground, or into trash cans that are already overflowing.
This, of course, attracts rats and pigeons, but also constitutes an eyesore in an otherwise pleasant neighborhood. And the park is virtually unusable for local residents. Moreover, a Sex and the City tour that prominently features the bakery uses Bleecker Park as its staging area. It's as if the bakery has been allowed to annex the park for its own uses.
Presumably responding to Fork in the Road's earlier rant, for a while Magnolia dispatched employees to bag the overflowing trash and clean up. But that only lasted a couple of months, and now the trash flows freely again. We contend that, as a business making money hand over fist partly by appropriating public facilities (i.e., the park and the sidewalks), the bakery has a responsibility to police its patrons. It would cost them so little to do so, and make such sense from a neighborhood-relations (and bicycle-safety) standpoint.