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Some of My Best Friends are Bike Lanes

June 14, 2011

In April, the New York Times quoted New York City Council Member Dominic Recchia after he successfully stopped an on-street bike lane from being painted on Bay Ridge Parkway:

I’m not against bike lanes,” he said. “I believe there’s a place for them. But when we place them, we have to have input from the community boards, from people in the community.”

Streetsblog noted that there are few east-west bike routes in Recchia’s district and suggested that “if he really believes there’s a place for bike lanes, he should say where and make his case.”

Until he does that, Recchia can’t have it both ways. He can’t claim he’s not against bike lanes as long as his only public statement on the issue is to crow about killing a plan for the only east-west bike lane in the area. He can’t say there’s a place for bike lanes without even hinting at where that might be.

Even though he’s been named a “full-fledged captain of the bikelash,” Recchia is in good company when it comes to this doublespeak.  In no particular order, here’s a small collection of quotes from politicians and community leaders who all know one thing: if you want to be against bike lanes, you have to let everyone know you’re for bike lanes.

Eric Ulrich, New York City Council Member:

“I’m not against cycling.  I think it’s environmentally friendly. But they share the roads with drivers and pedestrians and they have a responsibility to follow the same laws.”

Tony Juliano, president and chairperson of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce:

We’re not opposed to bicycle lanes — however, not the way they’ve been implemented in this city,” he said.

Jim Walden, the pro bono attorney for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, describing his clients.

“This is consistent with DOT’s decision to enlist an individual (the ‘Blogger’) to wage a viral campaign against critics of the PPW configuration, many of whom support bike lanes generally, including on Prospect Park West.”

Former Deputy Mayor and Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes member Norman Steisel:

We’re not opposed to bike lanes. We’re opposed to this one and the way it was done.”

Jaguar-driving New Yorker writer John Cassidy:

“I don’t have anything against bikes. As a student, I lived in the middle of Oxford, where cycling is the predominant mode of transport, and I cycled everywhere.”

Marty Markowitz in his State of the Borough Address earlier this year:

“I hope you understand that I am not against bicycles. I’m not even against bike lanes. I’ve supported their creation around Brooklyn, including 9th street near Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Greenway that runs from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.”

Leslie Lewis, president of Brooklyn’s 84th Precinct Community Council:

I’m not anti-bike, but I follow police statistics: About 90 percent of the bicyclists killed in this city died, in part, because they were not following the rules of the road.

Po-ling Ng, quoted on the subject of the Grand Street bike lane:

We are not against bike lanes,” said Po-ling Ng, the director of Project Open Door Senior Citizens Center of the Chinese-American Planning Council Inc. She was accompanied by a dozen senior residents. “There are a lot of senior citizens, public schools and day cares in this area and children get hurt.”

Sean Sweeney, director of the SoHo Alliance:

I’m not against bike lanes per se — just the way D.O.T. handles them.”

Sweeney’s quote may be the bike lane hating quote par excellence, one that artfully encompasses all other irrational bike backlash sentiment into a concise, thirteen-word statement.  He isn’t opposed to bike lanes at all – he’s merely opposed to the way the agency that is charged with studying and installing them studies and installs them.

If you have other examples, please leave them in the comments below.

UPDATE 3/15/16:

Here’s Marty Markowitz, back to tell you how much he loves bike lanes, so long as they’re nowhere near his home:

Outside the courtroom, Markowitz told us that there’s no inconsistency between the work his office does using bike infrastructure as a selling pointfor tourists and his opposition to an amenity his old neighborhood has largely embraced.

“I don’t oppose all bike lanes, just this particular one,” he explained, describing his position on the bike lanes on Kent Avenue and the West Side Highway: “Love love love it.”


Janet Street-Porter, The Independent, “Cyclists and their powerful backers are destroying London for the rest of us.”

There’s a modern assumption that cycling is fantastic, that we should all want to do it, that people who cycle are the salt of the earth, closer to God or a higher power. I don’t doubt that cycling (in the countryside, away from fumes) is a great way to keep fit. I do it myself sometimes. 


Stu Bykovsky, Philadelphia Daily News, “Bike Lane ‘Upgrade’ Coming.”

“We don’t object to bike lanes,” Broh said, “it’s the protected bike lanes we have concerns about.”

Me too.


Queens Times-Ledger, “Mayor overrides CB 4 to allow bike lanes in Queens Blvd. plan.”

“A lot of you think I don’t like bikes, but I do,” Walker said. “But I don’t think Queens Boulevard is necessarily the place for a bike lane. Put it on Woodside Avenue or Grand Avenue. This is not a park, this is a very heavily traveled vehicular roadway.”


Marilyn Katz, Chicago Tribune: “Make bicyclists accountable to the same rules as motorists.”

I understand the city’s love affair with bikes — lowering the cost of transportation for many and polishing Chicago’s image as a place where hipsters and hippies alike can find community. I greet the annual Bike the Drive event with pleasure and greatly enjoyed watching the nude bicycle ride in Lakeview last Saturday. But I also have empathy for motorists for whom a drive down Clybourn Avenue or Elston Avenue now takes twice as long as former two-lane arterial streets have been reduced to one to accommodate bike lanes and where traffic is fraught as cyclists weave in and out for advantage.

  1. June 14, 2011 9:24 am

    MIMBYism! “I support this! Just not here. (In my backyard)”

  2. krstrois permalink
    June 14, 2011 10:01 am

    I love how if you google “I’m not against bike lanes” basically all the hits are NYC, with one or two in London. New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down . . .

  3. Oliver permalink
    June 14, 2011 11:32 am

    Marty Markowitz says this every time he jabbers about bike lanes – –

    “I’m not against bike lanes all around New York City, but I do believe you and I as the public have right to have a word and have a say in where bike lanes should go.”

  4. June 14, 2011 11:42 am

    =v= Um, Leslie Lewis? Police statistics have observer and reporter bias, but even so they do NOT say 90% at-fault. I guess you “follow” them but you don’t actually bother reading them.

  5. June 14, 2011 8:32 pm

    You should come to an 84th Precinct Community Meeting some time. It’s like having your nails pulled out one by one.

  6. Scoozan permalink
    June 15, 2011 10:10 am

    The most obvious one is staring you right in the face…


    A group that is suing to remove a bike lane and would go away completely if they won never to bother worrying about another bike lane…yep, they are totally not against bike lanes.

  7. IvoryJive permalink
    June 15, 2011 10:46 am

    “But Some of My Best Friends are Bike Lanes” is a great title to illustrate the bias. Just replace “bike lanes” or “cyclists” in these comments with “blacks” or “gays” and it sounds just like biased rhetoric from anti-segregationists or gay marriage oppositionists. As soon as someone has to qualify what they’re about to say with a statement explaining that they are not prejudiced, it’s probably because the exact opposite is true and their words or actions are revealing that. It would be much more honest if these folks could openly admit that they have general objections to bikes and/or bike lanes in most cases, yet there may be times or places that they are open to them (out of their sight, typically). But trying to masquerade as supporting bike lanes just makes you look like a liar.

  8. June 15, 2011 1:22 pm

    I am not against Brooklyn Spoke…..

  9. June 15, 2011 4:30 pm

    A reader forwarded me one more that fits the bill.

    “Since we support the installation of smart, safe, bike lanes, we want to find alternative designs that work for everyone: pedestrians — including seniors and the disabled — as well as drivers and cyclists.”

    Louise Hainline, NBBL president

  10. lalaland permalink
    June 21, 2011 12:47 pm

    “We are not against bike lanes,” said Po-ling Ng, the director of Project Open Door Senior Citizens Center of the Chinese-American Planning Council Inc. She was accompanied by a dozen senior residents. “There are a lot of senior citizens, public schools and day cares in this area and children get hurt.”

    That’s actually 100% accurate because that’s who I always see walking in the Grand Street bike lane.

  11. June 25, 2011 6:21 pm

    The latest quote from Toronto’s bike lane meltdown–flip-flop-on-bike-lane-freezes-1m-jarvis-makeover.
    “Tim Costigam, president of the Moore Park Resident’s Association, was delighted by Thursday’s vote.(To remove bike lanes on Jarvis St.)

    ‘We are strong advocates for better bike lanes in the city, in the right location,” Costigam said, adding that, based on his observations during daily commutes up and down Jarvis, the city’s estimates on commuting delay and bike traffic are “hard to believe.'”


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