As hard as it may be to believe, the Prospect Park West Bike lane will soon be three years old! To celebrate, please join families of all shapes and sizes for a 3rd Anniversary Family Ride on Sunday, June 2nd from 11 AM to 2 PM.
More details to come, but there will be contests, prizes, food, and lots more. The 2011 ride was a lot of fun and this one promises to be even better now that the lane is a true fixture of the neighborhood. Please bring the kids and add your two wheels of support to the best bike lane in Brooklyn!
Narrative.ly has a feature by Daniel London titled “Cycles of Fashion” that’s an informative look at the rise and fall of the bicycle craze of the late 19th century. This passage will certainly resonate for anyone who follows the debate over cyclist behavior, the language of the tabloids, and, yes, the extreme sanctimony of some cycling advocates:
“Scorching,” or riding extremely fast, was seen as not only dangerous, but a sign of low-class loutishness. The New York Times reported that ”with the cheapening in the cost of bicycle riding in the public streets has come the abuse of that privilege by thousands of ignorant and loaferish individuals… irresponsible and reckless young men to whom a stable keeper would not entrust a saddle horse, and who are not fit to ride anything but a rail.” Several dozen cycling schools and innumerable etiquette guides were produced which would help the wheeled bourgeoisie not only learn to ride, but “ride right.”
The bicycle was a private vehicle in public space, and hence a topic of moral and political import. Opponents of the bicycle claimed that the wheel undermined morality (amongst other things, by enabling young women to venture great distances without supervision), caused noise and interfered with traffic. Conversely, bicyclists claimed that “the more ignorant, uncultured, and generally illiterate and ‘countrified’ the man is, the more bitter is his hatred of the bicycle”—and lobbied for bike-friendly legislation, paved roads and additional bicycle lanes. (Sound familiar?)
This is just a small sample of the bike traffic I saw on the Manhattan Bridge this morning. To put the video in context, I shot this after 9:00 as I rode home. The bike volume for the morning had likely peaked sometime between 8 and 9 AM.
Small set of pictures here.
Hope you had a great ride this morning.
Tom Vanderbilt has a great take on the heated reaction to bike share we’ve seen in New York lately, relating it to one of the many changes this city has seen during its esteemed history.
Insofar as they alter entrenched travel patterns, change urban landscapes, and carry people into parts of town where they previously hadn’t been carried, new transit systems by their very nature tend to be magnets for opposition. (And here it should be noted that Citi Bike is perhaps the least disruptive transit system that has ever been adopted by New York City, at least in terms of its construction and operation.) In its earliest phase, the debate over Citi Bike appeared to echo the debate over another profound change to New York City’s streetscape a half-century ago: the installation of on-street parking meters. At the time, critics declaimed them as “unconstitutional.” Lawsuits were mounted. The warnings were dire. There would be vandalism! People would try to cheat the system! The meters would only make traffic worse! Today, of course, parking meters are universally viewed as simply an irrefutable cost of driving a car in a crowded city, and the only real debate left is over how much to charge per 15 minutes.
His description of how Citi Bike fits into the taxonomy of social change is particularly astute. It’s been interesting to see New York move from the “controversial” and “progressive” stages during the PPW-era bikelash to today’s “obivious” stage with bike share.
We’ll probably backtrack a little into silliness the minute some poor schlub doesn’t read the pricing structure and gets hit with a $200 multi-hour bike share ride — “Bike Snare!” as the Post will title the story — but the inevitability of such a moment proves that Citi Bike is already an established part of the New York City landscape before it has even launched. To paraphrase Tom, the only real debate left is be over how much to charge per 45 minutes.
This Sunday, May 19th, WE Bike NYC is hosting an event in Carroll Park to introduce bike-curious moms (and dads, too!) to bicycling with kids. Volunteers and representatives from various shops, including Rolling Orange, Red Lantern, and Bikesmith, will be there with everything from Dutch bakfiets and longtails to trailers and basic bike seats to demonstrate the best way for families of all sizes to get around by bike. Oh, and apparently there will be ice cream from Uncle Louie G. You know, for the kids.
As a proud biking papa, I can personally attest that taking your child around by bike is one of life’s greatest pleasures, opening up the city in ways no stroller can. Many thanks to WE Bike for putting this event together.
I cringe at much of the cycling behavior I see on New York City streets and share some of the sentiment expressed by Sarah Goodyear in her lament in the Atlantic Cities, but I think her piece misses the mark.
Goodyear’s analysis has already inspired a spirited discussion online, with this take from Wash Cycle reflecting my own opinion that one can hope, wish, and work for better behavior while still believing that fidelity to the law should not be a prerequisite for better infrastructure.
But as someone who is very entrenched in the advocacy community, my biggest issue is with this passage:
“I am truly sick, at this late date, of people wanting to have it both ways: calling for protected bike lanes and a bike-share system, demanding that cops step up enforcement when it comes to cars, and then blithely salmoning up a major thoroughfare and expecting everyone look the other way.”
This is a straw man, and I think Goodyear undermines her point by creating it. The people who want better infrastructure and the people who “blithely” salmon “expecting everyone look the other way” are not generally the same people. Those who advocate for better infrastructure and enforcement are often among the most law-abiding and courteous cyclists in their city. However, the cyclists you see blowing through intersections filled with pedestrians are not, with some exceptions, attending community board meetings, lobbying their elected officials for “special” rights, or drooling over the mainstream cycling cultures of Copenhagen or Amsterdam. They’re just reckless assholes. Or delivery people.
Are there cyclists who want to have it both ways? People who think it’s their right to ride so close to a little old lady in a crosswalk that they can see their reflection in her walker? Sure. I just don’t think too many of them exist to warrant this type of scolding.
Here’s the corner of Dean Street and 4th Avenue before a Citi Bike station was installed:
And here’s the same corner after Park Slope’s only Citi Bike station went in on Tuesday:
I happen to love this location not only because it’s within walking distance of my apartment, but also because it brings an otherwise dead corner with a blank wall to life, activating the space for people. When I stopped by to take this picture, someone was checking out the kiosk, a dad was explaining bike share to his kids, and a few others were snapping their own photos. Of course, this initial curiosity will soon turn into the quotidian utility of accessing transportation, but the space will still be active. Jane Jacobs would approve.