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Fact Checking the New York Post

October 29, 2012

Photo: NY Post

The New York Post’s Jennifer Fermino hops in her wayback machine to pen an attack on one of Brooklyn’s oldest bike routes, which she claims are causing problems for bus drivers:

The bike lanes — between 23rd and Dean streets — leave little room to avoid opened car doors or bikes that come whizzing out of nowhere, Davis said.

“Nine times out of 10, you can swerve around, but here, there’s nowhere to go,” he said.

Some of the lanes are protected — meaning they are sectioned off from regular traffic — while others are what are known as “shared paths.”

FACT CHECK: There are no protected bike lanes on 5th Avenue between 23rd and Dean streets in Brooklyn.  Instead, from 23rd Street to Carroll Street there is a class 2 bike lane, which, in fact, gives bus drivers plenty of room to avoid opened car doors.  From Carroll to Dean streets 5th Avenue has painted sharrows, which create no difference to the fundamental geometry of the street.  Complaining about the space taken up by sharrows is like saying your apartment is smaller ever since you repainted the living room.

I always find it amusing how the worst attacks on bike lanes actually make the case for their necessity.  To wit: If the 5th Avenue bike route was actually “sectioned off from regular traffic,” bus drivers wouldn’t have to worry about bikes “whizzing out of nowhere.”  Then again, is it too much to ask bus drivers to keep an eye out for cyclists on one of Brooklyn’s most heavily trafficked–and oldest–bike routes?

So take a look at that photo.  Is the problem that the man in the bright red jacket riding next to a painted bicycle symbol is taking the bus driver by surprise?  Or is it simply that of all of the obstacles slowing down buses on 5th Avenue cyclists are the easiest target for Post writers?  Fifth Avenue is indeed a “skinny thoroughfare,” but it seems as if in Fermino’s rush to trash Bloomberg she’s concluded that skinny road users are the problem.

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2 Comments
  1. maryemcd permalink
    October 30, 2012 12:44 pm

    It seems to make sense for the bikes to stay on 6th Avenue. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk in the streets, bikers should be routed to streets that are wide enough to accommodate cars, buses and bikes. Fifth Avenue is not wide enough. The rider in this picture is not in a bike lane, he is interfering with traffic on the avenue. Motorists have to follow traffic rules (ex: one way streets) it’s time for the bikers to cooperate with pedestrians and motorists. Bikers need to stop complaining and start cooperating.

    • Jesse permalink
      October 31, 2012 11:51 am

      Seems to me that 5th Avenue is plenty wide to accommodate moving traffic. Maybe the problem is all the space taken up by parked cars. These “debates” about bike lanes are never about an economy of space but about priorities. “Bikers” put up with quite a bit of nonsense. Consider your response: would anyone ever consider rerouting cars because the street just couldn’t accommodate them? The idea sounds ridiculous when applied to cars but it’s a common trope for bikes. There really is no geometric reason why 100% of the streets couldn’t accommodate bike traffic safely. And there is no just reason why the streets – again, public space – can’t work for everyone who wants to use them. The problem is simply that people who waste public space by insisting on driving and parking their private vehicles everywhere have it too good. A small number of people taking up the majority of the space with their big cars. It is next to impossible to wrench an entitlement away from people. The fact is, until 100% of streets can safely accommodate bike traffic “cooperating” is just capitulating.

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