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Bikelash Mad Libs, Denis Hamill Edition

January 30, 2013

I don’t have much to say about Denis Hamill’s anti-bike-lane screed in the Daily News that Adam Sternbergh didn’t already describe in his brilliant “‘I Was a Teenage Cyclist,’ or How Anti-Bike-Lane Arguments Echo the Tea Party,” written in the ancient dark ages of the bikelash of 2011.

In bold are the “boilerplate” pieces Sternbergh says are part of any argument against safe streets followed by examples from Hamill’s column.  As you can see, Hamill nails the Sternberghian rules of irrational bike lane hate to a T.

Invocation of personal cycling bona fides:

When I was a kid, I built my first bike from assorted discarded parts mined from the wood bins of our tenement in Brooklyn.

It looked like Bozo the Clown’s bike. But I taught myself to ride in Prospect Park, taking several hard falls long before bike helmets were even made, never mind made mandatory.

A few scraped knees later, I was zooming along Prospect Park West from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel-Pritchard Square.

Soon I was hired as a butcher’s delivery boy, and I pushed an industrial bike with a basket sometimes filled with more than 100 pounds of meat to homes from Flatbush Ave. to Green-Wood Cemetery.

Fond nostalgia for pre-lane New York City cycling perils…
I fought for my place in my city in the clanking, horn-blaring urban traffic. We didn’t need no stinking bicycle lanes. We blazed our own trails.
coupled with implied dismissal of today’s namby-pamby cyclists:

The yuppie-ki-yay bike lane, where kids dressed like hockey goalies pedal in a danger-free fantasy lane…

Sheltered, helmeted kids getting zeroes in street-smarts pedal past with a clear path through life.
News flash: Life ain’t a smooth sail, kiddos! There’s a big crash just waiting at the end of every bike lane.

Invocation of meddling government apparatchiks:

For me, more than any other of Big Brother Bloomberg’s paternal edicts, these bike lanes are infuriating because they have disfigured the city in a logistical and aesthetic way.

Invocation of obviously repellent stereotype:

No, the curb is reserved as a barrier reef for the Hipster Highway for Richie Rich on his $1,500 Lance Armstrong Doperacer.

quick return to actual motivation:

If you hit the lottery and see 10 feet of free space in the parking lane, you can no longer use the curb to guide your parallel parking.

I find it oddly comforting that in the six years since Janette Sadik-Khan and Michael Bloomberg embarked upon their campaign to make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists, writers along the intellectual spectrum that runs from John Cassidy to Steve Cuozzo have completely failed in their efforts to develop a single new or original argument against bike lanes.  Meanwhile, the proof of these street improvements continues to grow, the fact of their efficacy in taming traffic and saving lives literally becoming cemented into the ground.

Hamill is just the latest example of a  self-appointed guardian of the “real” New York gone mad.

  1. January 30, 2013 11:47 am

    This might be one of the best anti-bike lane screeds so far, mainly because it sounds completely unhinged. Hamill – kind of like that Tal guy who trolls comments on a few sites – sounds completely off his rocker and isn’t going to appeal to anyone who’s on the fence about bike lanes.

  2. January 30, 2013 12:19 pm

    I just saw this article this morning and it was almost funny. He’s completely off, and as the comment above says isn’t going to be appealing to anyone on the fence. We don’t want to make streets safer? You want more bikes riding in the lane with you Hamil?

    Profiling bicyclists as “Richie Rich” just shines a light on how disconnected he is. New York cyclists are as diverse as the population of the city–representing people from all walks of life.

    • January 30, 2013 12:24 pm

      Agree that he’s preaching to the Daily News choir here, but the problem is that our city’s politicians and mayoral candidates desperately need the approval of the tabloids. So when the Daily News publishes garbage like this, no matter how poorly argued, it makes it harder for Quinn, de Blasio, and the rest to make declarative statements in favor of safe streets. Bill couldn’t even bring himself to emphatically support Times Square, the biggest success around. Why? Because he knows the Axis of Idiocy of the Post/Daily News/Fox 5 hates it. And he needs them more than he needs me and you.

      • January 30, 2013 12:33 pm

        Unfortunately, you’re absolutely right. It sucks to know that something like this(and the more they come), will certainly make it more difficult for those already working for and running in the city to make concrete statements on how they’ll move the city further towards safe streets. We need to see more and more positive news coming from other news sources about the state of complete streets and the hopeful future of them.

  3. Dom permalink
    January 30, 2013 2:45 pm

    Hamill is an out of touch, irrelevant idiot writing for an out of touch, increasingly irrelevant newspaper.

  4. Steve permalink
    January 30, 2013 7:49 pm

    Louise and Norman must be so proud of themselves. Meanwhile they have NO IDEA how much people are making fun of Hamill online. Or do they and they don’t care?


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