Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wild in the Streets

Here is a good article about the daily battle between motorist and cyclist on the streets of NYC.
On streets clogged by pollution-emitting cars, buses and trucks, New York City’s quest to establish reasonably safe cycling paths by adding to its roughly 300 miles of bicycle lanes has been welcomed by cyclists. But the lanes are often battlegrounds between cyclists and drivers who seem undeterred by the clearly demarcated paths.

Although city regulations forbid cars from blocking bike lanes — a violation that carries a $115 fine — those rules are routinely ignored by drivers who use the lanes as parking spots, loading zones and places to pick up passengers. Such maneuvers have enraged cyclists who say they are unlawful, rude and dangerous.

As the article points out that we are far from finding some kind of common ground between the two users of the street. Both see its function as fundamentally different (something I am looking at in my study). I think these quotes from the article demonstrate the point.

On Second Avenue, Lynn Roman, a 42-year-old construction company employee, sat behind the wheel of a gray Toyota Land Cruiser just north of St. Mark’s Place. Ms. Roman said she planned to be there only briefly while a passenger ran an errand but added that she rarely paid attention to bike lanes.

“I have other things on my mind,” she said. “This is the city. Bike lanes belong in parks.”

A few moments later, Jon Weiner, 34, a sound engineer from TriBeCa who was riding a BMX bike, said he had come to expect a cavalier attitude from drivers in bike lanes.

“A lot of them don’t seem to have any idea that they’re doing it,” he said. “And if they do they don’t care.”

Over the past few weeks I have had conversations with many cyclists and some feel that no matter how much bike infrastructure the city builds, until we can have a change in the perception of biking in the city as a good thing, changes are not going to have that great of an effect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We should share our views with Ms. Roman and others like her. Will they pay fines, Mr. Bloomberg?