Monday, November 22, 2010

Bike lanes in New York: the backlash

The New York Times

Over the last four years, the streets of New York City have undergone a transformation: More than 250 miles of traffic lanes dedicated for bicycles have been created, and several laws intended to promote cycling have been passed.

The efforts by the Bloomberg administration have placed the city at the forefront of a national trend to make bicycling viable and safe even in the most urban of settings. Yet over the last year, a backlash has taken hold.

Bowing to vocal opposition from drivers and elected officials, the city last week began removing a 2.35-mile painted bike lane along Father Capodanno Boulevard on Staten Island. In Manhattan, a community board held a special hearing this month for business owners to vent about a new protected bicycle lane on Columbus Avenue — in particular, the removal of parking spaces and the difficulty of getting truck deliveries.

In Brooklyn, new bicycle lanes have led to unusual scenes of friction. Along Prospect Park West, opponents protested last month alongside supporters of the lanes. And last year, painted paths along Bedford and Kent Avenues in Williamsburg caused disagreement between cyclists and Hasidim. The lane on Bedford Avenue was later removed.

So far, the opposition to the city’s agenda on bicycles has far less organization and passion than the bicycling advocates, but it is gaining increased attention.

The City Council will hold a hearing on bicycling on Dec. 9 to address balancing the needs of cyclists with those of other road users, said Councilman James Vacca, the chairman of the Transportation Committee. The hearing will also look at how well the Transportation Department has worked with community boards to review large-scale road changes.

Police and transportation officials, meanwhile, have begun a crackdown on bicycle-related traffic violations amid complaints from some pedestrians.

Surging bike ridership has created a simmering cultural conflict between competing notions of urban transportation. Many New Yorkers object to bicycle lanes as sudden, drastic changes to their coveted concrete front yards...

Norman Steisel, a former sanitation commissioner and deputy mayor, admitted that he never noticed the proliferation of bicycle lanes, until he got stuck in traffic near his Brooklyn home over the summer.

“I was shocked; I thought there had been a big accident,” Mr. Steisel said of a back-up on Carroll Street that he later attributed to a new bike lane. “I guess I wasn’t paying attention”...

The rest of the story



At 5:52 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

Wall Street Journal had very similar article as well: stop being jerks.

And of course Toronto, hip, urban Toronto, home of Jane Jacobs (RIP) and Richard Florida, just elected Rob Ford mayor: it's their fault.

How could that have happened?

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet in San Francisco, new bike lanes go in and nobody protests. The SFBC endorsed some candidates by a members vote that from all accounts was a bit sparse - and those candidates didn't do very well - yet the consensus is that the new BOS will be completely aligned with the last - uniform in support of bike improvements citywide, as well as improvements to MUNI that will made at the expense of the private motorcar.

No mayor will be elected here that would dare try echo the inanity of Rob Ford - because no such candidate exists (aside from the author of this blog, I suppose).

And that's why we live here. Because here - you will lose. And frankly despite the tone of the (Rupert Murdoch owned Fox Street Journal) - New York City is being transformed. Forget bike lanes, they are ripping out entire streets. The only bike lane that disappeared was a cowtow to a religion that was "offended by scantily clad cyclists".

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Response to NYT's exaggeration piece.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

SF needs someone like her!

"I don't hate cars," says the commissioner, not pissed, but almost. "It's a matter of balance. Until a few years ago, our streets looked the same as they did fifty years ago. That's not good business, to not update something in fifty years! We're updating our streets to reflect the way people live now. And we're designing a city for people, not a city for vehicles."

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Nobody has protested yet, but the Bicycle Plan hasn't been completely implemented yet, including busy streets like Second Street downtown and Masonic Avenue, which apparently will be done next year.

" support of bike improvements citywide, as well as improvements to MUNI that will made at the expense of the private motorcar."

These so-called improvements benefit a minority of cyclists at the expense of the overwhelming majority that use city streets, including Muni passengers. In its brief in defense of the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, the city admitted that it would benefit primarily cyclists and that it would slow down a number of Muni lines:

"...the City determined that by implementing the Bicycle Plan, more people would chose[sic] to ride a bicycle than currently do---the idea of "mode shift" (page 26)...Nothing in the Statement[of Overriding Considerations] downplays the number or magnitude of traffic or transit impacts, or overstates the number of bicyclists, the primary beneficiaries of the Project's benefits." (pages 27 & 28, Respondent City and County San Francisco's Opposition to Petitioners' Objections to City's Return)

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"These so-called improvements benefit a minority of cyclists at the expense of the overwhelming majority that use city streets"

Who cares.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, you forgot to use the scare quotes around the word improvements after the phrase so-called.

At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! Not a Backlash!

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Rob, you forgot to use the scare quotes around the word improvements after the phrase so-called."

No, I didn't forget. You don't need to do both, since "so-called" does the job without the quotation marks.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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