Bike Lane Debate in the Times

Here are some good talking points for the holiday table for New Yorkers, especially if you are a biker and family and friends want to challenge you about the new 250 miles of bike lanes that have been installed. The New York Times has brought together five writers and advocates for livable streets who bring up excellent points about bike lanes and weather they are working or not here in NYC.

As part of the Time’s section, “Room for Debate,” first we hear from Alex Marshall who is a columnist for Governing Magazine, and author of the book: “How Cities Work.” He offers specifics of what the city can do to get more cyclists on the streets and make better relationships with motorists including eliminating one-way roads such as Kent Ave and enforcing traffic laws for drivers.

Read more here.

Then there is Felix Salmon, a finance writer for Reuters who recently wrote a few articles on the realities of biking in NYC. His stance is basically that were all just impatient and shouldn’t really expect the city to become Copenhagen overnight.
Read his side of the debate here.

Next at bat is Robert Sullivan who is a contributing editor for Vouge writer of the environmentally conscious blog, The Thoreau you don’t Know He also brought us a socially acceptable way to ride on the sidewalk, the schluff. He cracked some jokes about cyclists, taking the bike haters stance for the sake of comedy and then went on to advocate for increased ticketing of riders who break the law.

Read The Car Culture’s Blind Spot.

Next is Sam Staley, the director of urban and land use policy at Reason Foundation and the co-author of “Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century.”

He is hopeful that the controversy about bike lanes will stir up necessary debate on the practical ways to make NYC more livable. Read what he has to say here.

And finally there is Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives. She seems to have plenty of statistics on the increase of cycling due to bike lanes (maybe she can lend them to the DOT) and gives positive arguments for the lanes.

Read more here.

I agree with many of the points these writers and advocates bring to light. Mainly, I believe our planet is in crisis and regardless of whether you are an inconvenienced driver or a hard core year round riding bike nut, we are all in this together. It’s very interesting and at the same time frightening to watch how the debate on bike lanes has highlighted just how deep the car culture runs into our mentalities, to the point were people are willing to argue reckless driving, pollution, safety and public health vs less congestion, cleaner air and a better way of life. Sure we all bitched at the smoking ban at first and now, isn’t it nicer to drink your brains out in a bar? Let’s work for a safer, healthier and cleaner city for 2011.

Please feel free to submit your comments on points raised by these people and issues about bike lanes in general.

3 comments to Bike Lane Debate in the Times

  • Olivia

    Just like to point out the homophonic error in the first paragraph; see: weather.

  • Waltzing Matlida

    I very nearly got into it with my brother on Christmas because he was going on and on about how dangerous it is to drive in the downtown area in our city because of things like bikes and DUI scooters. He claims that brains just aren’t wired to look for things that “aren’t supposed to be there” like bikes. I was getting ready to go slam off, but my mother literally put her hand over my mouth. Fortunately, my son – a delivery driver – spoke up and said, “Bikes aren’t a problem if you don’t have your head up your butt and are paying attention. I see a lot more stupid people breaking the law driving than I do people on bikes.”

  • Chris

    It’s “whether” not “weather.” I would rather decide whether to wear a coat or not before I go into the weather.

    I can only assume this wasn’t a typo since you did it more than once.