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The Tipping Point

November 8, 2011

Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times:

New York is not Berlin or Amsterdam, but London has lately turned into a bike capital too, in conjunction with a traffic-congestion fee program for drivers of the sort that New York was wrong to reject recently. It’s now common around Sloane Square and Piccadilly Circus to find parents with children and businessmen and businesswomen commuting on bicycles. Safety in numbers, Londoners have discovered: a city reaches a tipping point when biking achieves what Ms. Sadik-Khan describes as an everyday “architecture of safety.”

This time the phrasing works.  Plus, Kimmelman has a follow-up to his excellent Critic’s Notebook piece on the Times‘ Arts Beat blog, and what he writes there nails it:

A big, brawny city like New York always sniffs at comparisons with picturesque and bike-friendly European capitals like Copenhagen or even Paris. But megalopolises from China to India to Brazil embrace biking now. The resistance of New Yorkers to new transportation ideas harks back, as Ms. Sadik-Khan likes to point out, to protests against the introduction of the IRT subway a century ago, and to the implementation of the grid street plan a century before that. Progress can be hard to accept.

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