Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Wizard of NYC

Lately I have been posting about mayors in cities across the US that have been making progressive policy changes to make their cities better for cyclists. I have also argued that these changes seem to come about because these leaders are cyclist themselves. Well, if only we could be so lucky in New York City. As this NY Post article demonstrates, the rhetoric and reality are far apart when it comes to bike planning in NYC.
He oversees a bike-friendly administration, but Mayor Bloomberg thinks it makes no sense to allow the two-wheelers on the subway.The issue came up yesterday, when the mayor mentioned on his weekly WOR radio show that he had spotted someone exiting the subway with a bicycle just as he was getting on that morning for his commute to City Hall."I don't run the subway system, I don't run the MTA, but if I did - if I had total power - I guess I'd say it's too crowded for bikes," the mayor said.

Thanks to TA for the fast response, but this really makes me wonder about this so-called "bike friendly" administration (who appointed a great DOT commish). Is NYC ever going to get to a point where we have an administration, city planning department, DOT, and populous that will embrace and encourage cycling?

I am not naive, or even hopeful, enough that we will ever be Portland, Minneapolis, or even Madison when it comes to a bike infrastructure and planning. That does not mean that NYC can't make the effort and necessary changes to pursue a better cycling environment. In NYC, while we are seeing positive changes, I think we have gotten much too used to being satisfied with the scraps that are thrown our way and that are packaged as grand improvements.

For instance, the new bike entrance/exit at Grand Army Plaza and 7 blocks of a protect/separated bike lane on 9th Avenue in Manhattan are steps (scraps), but where are the fundamental changes? These changes need to include a more equitable approach to all forms of transit: dedicated bus lanes, dedicated bike network, and safe streets for everyone. In a city this large, these fundamental changes have been lacking.  Carrots are not enough, we need the stick.

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