Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NYC in the news again

The Washington Post has a much nicer profile of NYC bike commuters than the LA Times did a few weeks ago. This article gives a good overview, but also compares NYC to other cities.
In Washington, SmartBike DC, a self-service public bike rental program, will begin offering about 120 shared bicycles early next month. For a $40 annual fee, customers can check out bikes from racks and then return them to any of the company's other racks.

In Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley wants 5 percent of all short trips to be made by bicycle. He has fostered a vast network of bike lanes, created a station with valet parking, showers and indoor racks, and has established penalties of as much as $500 for motorists who endanger cyclists.

In Portland, Ore., bikes are so ubiquitous and cycling culture so strong that "you can't run for office in this town without being able to talk about what you intend to do for bikes," said Roger Geller, the city's bicycle coordinator.

City officials, hoping to make commutes like his less treacherous, have created a seven-block experiment of a bike lane on Ninth Avenue. Here, concrete dividers and a row of parked cars shield a bike lane from the street and its traffic. Low mini-traffic lights show when cyclists have the right of way. Bike commuters, messengers and delivery people peel down perfectly smooth paths.

Protected bike lanes, while we have one that covers six blocks, seem to be the new golden standard here. But why put them in areas that are not needed? Let's put some separated lanes along 6th Avenue from 14 Street to Central Park. That is the kind of improvement that I believe cyclists would like and use. Instead, DOT keeps doing half measures, that while helpful, do not create or change the current cycling environment.

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