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“New York’s cycling momentum looks unstoppable.”

June 22, 2011

On a day that bike lane hysteria is reaching a climax of sorts with Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes finally having their day in court, Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal offers a sane and funny look at what’s happening in New York as far as cycling is concerned.  A few highlights from his piece:

The revival of urban cycling in this country follows a fairly predictable pattern: nervousness and ridicule, followed by the realization that the truth never matches the fear-mongering. The supposed choice between bikes and everyone else is a bogus choice. More bikes in a city doesn’t merely benefit riders; it reduces congestion, saves money, improves quality of life, elevates the experience. No one returns from a city and says, “Oh, it was great—except for all the biking.”

The biggest mischaracterization about the infamous New York Cycling War is that there’s a war at all.

Look all around you. The bikes have won, and it’s not a terrible thing.

It’s clear that those who sue or at least sow fear and distortions are simply fighting an inevitable progression that is in full motion right now, not just here in New York, but all over the world.  In London rush-hour bike traffic now outnumbers car traffic on some of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered on a campaign process and laid down the city’s first protected bike lane, with plans for more in his first year in office than New York City has in total.  In a city known for its literal and figurative gridlock, Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare is a huge success.

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes may very well win — the very fact that they sued took the process out of the community’s hand and into a courtroom for a single person to decide makes the outcome unpredictable — but they’ve already lost in so many other ways, and Gay’s article is a positive reminder of where we are right now as a city.  Their actions have resulted in the delay, but not the destruction, of New York’s eventual and rightful place as a world-class city for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike.

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