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“I would give you bike lanes anywhere you want them, but…”

April 18, 2012

“This is not Holland. Bicycles are wonderful. For New York City, they’re terrible.”- Alan Bortnick, Community Board 10

God Bless Bob HuDock, Gene Aronowitz, and other forward-thinking Bay Ridge residents.  Bortnick’s quote–the perfect mashup of “This isn’t Amsterdam” and “Some of My Best Friends are Bike Lanes”–explains what an uphill climb they face in their efforts to make their community safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  In fact, Bortnick sets the bar so high for bike lanes in the neighborhood that it will be a wonder if any ever meet his standards:

Bortnick, who serves on the community board with HuDock, says he has no problem with putting bike lanes on one-way residential streets. But he opposes putting them on major arteries such as Bay Ridge Parkway, where he says the proposed lane would have reduced room for cars and slowed travel in both directions. “I would give you bike lanes anywhere you want them, but not on traffic thoroughfares,” said Bortnick. “And I would not allow you to reduce parking or to move cars off the curb.”

As I’ve pointed out before, statements like Bortnick’s are simply absurd.  It would be just as ridiculous for me to say, “This is not Houston.  Automobiles are wonderful.  For New York City, they’re terrible.”  Very few people think New York City should or could become Holland and only the extremists think we should ban all cars; sensible livable streets advocates merely believe that the scales should be tipped back, however slightly, in favor of people and that the status quo no longer suits a growing and changing city.

I hope that one day we will define New York City by what it is and can still become, instead of by what it is not and will never be.

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