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Quote for the Day

August 2, 2011

“Here’s a thought. The bicycle backlash exploded over the winter, when the lanes were rightfully empty. Now, even with the mercury passing 100 some days, more people are actually out there using the lanes and liking them. And/or as time goes by, those who were critical of the lanes increasingly realize they will not kill them. Now if only they would get out of the way.” – Matt Chaban, New York Observer, 7/28/11

I think it’s fair to say that we’ll see a bit more of the “bikelash” return this winter as ridership levels dip a bit, although I’d like to believe it won’t be as intense as it was this year.  (A man can dream, can’t he?)  My optimistic prediction is that with each passing year, with a growing bike lane network and, hopefully, more protected bike lanes, more people will become year-round riders, laying waste to the canard that New York’s weather is too extreme for bike lanes.  Cycling has grown so much in the last year alone that this winter’s ridership numbers can’t help but be higher than they’ve ever been.  Having experienced the safety, convenience, comfort, and cash savings of commuting by bike, a lot of people just won’t want to get back on the subway unless they absolutely have to.

There’s a lot of work to be done, of course, and much of it will only just be starting when a new mayor takes office, but I believe the toothpaste is out of the tube when it comes to cycling and safe streets in New York.  People are looking to other cities and seeing that change can happen, and I’m not even talking about Copenhagen or Amsterdam.  It’s in Boston, Chicago, DC, and San Francisco where people are quickly re-evaluating the car’s place in an urban environment.  Even the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance to protect cyclists from harassment by motorists, a clear sign that cities are starting to think differently about how their citizens get around and who has a right to the road.

We’ll get there.  There may be setbacks along the way and the squeaky wheels will continue to get the grease, but all of this is just the inevitable growing pains that come with any kind of change, even change that is ultimately good for everyone.

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