Dinosaurs: We Have Nothing Against Bikes, Just Get Out Of Our Way (Weekly Chatter)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s weekly chatter blew-up on me and is dominated by a bike-lane debate in New York City. There are links to other items of interest below.
If you read the New York Times or follow other cycling blogs, you likely know about the current bike-lane debate heard around the world (The Guardian). Apparently a well-connected group is suing New York City (NYTimes) over the installation of a new bike lane in Prospect Park in Brooklyn . The high-profile of the location and opposition is attracting more attention than is likely warranted (Google News Search: Prospect Park Bike Lane). However, it may have a lot to say about the future discussion about all of our public spaces and mobility issues: are cities for cars, or people.
The personal issue is caught up in an ideological debate between the previous NYC transportation commissioner (and his proponents) and the current commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (and that she rides a bike) whose leadership is credited with a 45% increase in commutes by bicycle since 2006 (NYCDOT). Sadik-Khan celebrates the direction of The City and is often celebrated herself; she made New York Magazine’s top reasons to love New York list back in 2007 (NY Magazine).
At this week’s Bike Summit in Washington D.C. she defended her vision by pointing out how bicycling infrastructure benefits everyone:
When we put down a painted bike lane, there’s a 50-percent reduction in fatalities for all users of that street: cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. So when you put these bike lanes down, you are improving the safety of everyone that uses that street.”
(Source: Bike Portland)
The debate is instructive because the big city political scene differs only in scale and glitz to what other communities are going through. It has begun to attract opinions from national pundits (The New Yorker) claiming that cyclists are “poaching on our territory” (The Economist) and even Nobel Laureates chipping into the debate (NYTIMES, Krugmnan blog) who see the insanity of attacking bipeds (Reuters). The rhetoric has led to city cyclists being placed in “a strange purgatory” (Wall Street Journal).
There are lessons to be learned as the NIMBYs make very predictable arguments (NYTimes). Their argumentative template matches up well with Traverse City’s own celebrity opposition to bike-lanes (TC Business News). Points like, “I was a teenage cyclist, but then I grew up” are the norm. As written before, this blogger also grew-up and realized it’s stupid to drive a mile for a gallon of milk (MyWHaT).
The Guardian sums up the importance of the story well:
How New York – the city that still has a uniquely low level of car ownership and use – manages its transport planning in the 21st century matters for the whole world: it is the template. If cycling is pushed back into the margins of that future, rather than promoted, along with efficient mass public transit and safe, pleasant pedestrianism, as a key part of that future, the consequences will be grave and grim.
And, a final link to this well discussed debate, where the writer takes us to 2025 when his daughter asks, “Why did New Yorkers fight so much about bike lanes when I was a baby?” (The Naparstek Post).
Good question, no matter where you live.
If you still have the energy..
- “The Tire Iron and the Tamale”: a lesson of the social commons.
- It’s not just Traverse City that sees opposition to sidewalks. (WSJ)
- Money for biking? A lovely idea. (Urban Country)
- Grand Rapids MyGRCity rewards program.
- The economics of walkability. (Walk It)
- Make it walkable, or we’re taking our law-firm elsewhere! letter to D-Town from a young professional. (via M-Bike)
- “That’s one of the problems. The park already fails because you can’t see it.”
- Rethinking Taxes: a higher gas tax to reducing vulnerability (The Economist)
- RT (@johntunger) There is no excuse for mediocrity. Mediocrity is *NOT* the same as democratic design.
Whew….Have a Weekend.