Night of the Living Bikelash
While the New York City bikelash has been dead for quite some time, there are outbreaks every now and then, like some sort of horror-movie zombie that refuses to stop crawling long after the hero has hacked it to bits with a machete. The most recent has been the mini — and it is very mini — hysteria over the pending Citi Bike expansion on the Upper West Side. Ben Yakas at Gothamist has a good rundown of some of the more ridiculous claims:
“Our street is a very narrow one,” Joanne Aidala argued about a dock slated to be placed at West 78th Street near Columbus Avenue. “There are mothers with strollers, and there are young children walking around.”
Tom Valenzuela, who lives near a proposed site on Central Park West between 67th and 68th Streets, hit upon the core of the complaints: “There are so many safety concerns here,” he said of that location. “I have witnessed many near-misses between bike riders and pedestrians in that area. There will be way too much combat between Citi Bike riders and pedestrians.”
These kinds of arguments were completely ridiculous in the spring of 2013 just before Citi Bike’s launch. Now, with millions of trips logged since then, they’re absolutely absurd. Think about it: in the two years since bike sharing began in New York, hundreds of people have been killed on city streets… by drivers. Thousands more were injured. Those weren’t near-misses, they were actual hits.
All of that is a long way of saying that while it may seem worthwhile to ignore some of the more fanciful or ignorant claims about bike share, highlighting them does provide a valuable lesson, should the powers that be care to learn from it. Citi Bike is Kryptonite to bikelash. It renders it completely powerless, and exposes anti-bike sentiment as nothing more than a paper tiger.
So come on, DOT. Get stuff on the ground. And stop worrying about the haters. There’s nothing you can do to stop the tabloids from squeezing a little more blood from the bikelash stone.