Backlash responders

Here are a few opinion pieces from both sides of the bike lane.

Ben Shepard is an author, teacher and volunteer for the environmental action group Time’s Up. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Brooklyn Paper about the recent ticket blitz and safer streets in NYC.

January 14, 2011 / Perspective
Focus on making streets safer for all
By Benjamin Shepard
for The Brooklyn Paper

Time’s Up! Environmental Group has been advocating for safer streets for over two decades. We support efforts to make public spaces safer for all: pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. However, the crackdown targeting cycling announced by the NYPD will divert resources needed to address the real danger in our streets — speeding cars and red light-running motorists who kill people.

Over 200 pedestrians and cyclists killed by motor vehicles in New York City every year. Our concern is that this “ticketing blitz” which singles out cyclists will simply discourage bicycle usage.

The police do not have an encouraging track record. Hundreds of cyclists have filed civil complaints and successfully sued the NYPD over unlawful enforcement since 2004, including a lawsuit settled just a few months ago costing taxpayers nearly $1 million. Scores of police officers are issuing summonses without being properly trained on traffic laws pertaining to cyclists. Will Commissioner Kelly create yet another waste of taxpayer dollars with a new flood of cyclists fighting false tickets in traffic court?

Read more here.

During the recent snowpocolypse here in NYC, there was much hype from local residents that despite slow efforts by street plows, somehow the bike lanes got special treatment. These seem to be false claims and are responded to by another Time’s Up volunteer Barbara Ross:

Talking Point

Critics can’t roll back the progress on bike lanes

By Barbara Ross
The Villager, January 5th.
After being cooped up inside, watching the snow that blanketed the city melt from my apartment window, I grabbed the trusty bicycle I use daily for transport, eager to hit the streets again. I headed toward the First Ave. protected bike lane that I’ve become accustomed to using on all my uptown errands, only to find it still piled up with snow and unusable.

Being forced to ride with the fast-moving vehicle traffic heightened my appreciation for all the new bike lanes and other effective safety measures the Department of Transportation has put into place over the past three-and-a-half years. Although there is a small but loud anti-bike lane chorus, our City Council must resist the temptation to cater to the car-centric past and instead support healthier, lower-cost mobility with permanent protected bike lanes that help people of all ages ride safely in New York City.

Read more here.

Ok, so where is the other side you ask? Those for a citywide crackdown on cyclists and removal of recent bike infrastructure? Here is a NY Times Op-Ed from two recent NYC officials former Deputy Mayor Norman Steisel and former transportation commissioner, Iris Weinshall:

Your editorial about the problems caused by law-evading bicyclists mentions data released by the New York City Department of Transportation that purport to show that the 50 miles of bike lanes it is adding each year “calm” traffic and cut down on fatalities.

But as the rest of your editorial suggests, the connection between encouraging biking — which we also strongly support — and making our streets safer and more pleasant for all users is far from established. The D.O.T. data produce more puzzlement than enlightenment.

When new bike lanes force the same volume of cars and trucks into fewer and narrower traffic lanes, the potential for accidents between cars, trucks and pedestrians goes up rather than down. At Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, for instance, where a two-way bike lane was put in last summer, our eyewitness reports show collisions of one sort or another to be on pace to be triple the former annual rates.

Furthermore, the D.O.T. data’s lack of credibility is reinforced by our own videotapes. These show that the Prospect Park West bike lanes are used by half the number of riders the D.O.T. says, and that cyclists are not riding to commute as originally contemplated but are recreational users who could be better served by enhancing the existing lane 100 yards away in Prospect Park.

Finally, your point about the difficulty of giving tickets to cyclists who break the law is well taken. Educating bikers is a nice idea. But requiring them to be licensed like other potentially life-threatening high-speed vehicles is the only thing that will make enforcement any easier in the long run.

Louise Hainline
Norman Steisel
Iris Weinshall
Brooklyn, Dec. 17, 2010

The writers are members of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes. Ms. Hainline is its president. Mr. Steisel is a former deputy mayor and sanitation commissioner of New York City, and Ms. Weinshall is a former transportation commissioner.

The source is located here.

2 comments to Backlash responders

  • Alec

    I got trapped with another cyclist this afternoon in Central Park for slowly going through the red light on the drive. Outside of the traffic hours, very few pedestrians, but of course $270, just like a car. This is insanity, the whole point of the park drives for cyclists is to avoid having to stop–it’s a park, not a street like any other.

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