Several officials from NYC’s boroughs (Brooklyn, the Bronx, etc.) have spoken out against Mayor Bloomberg’s and Department of Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan’s plans to overhaul NYC’s traditional mass transportation in order to promote a more cyclo-centric culture. Since 2007, several bike routes have been constructed throughout the city to make cycling more convenient and safe, promoting Bloomberg’s greener sustainability plan for the city. Since that time, cycling has more than doubled in popularity.
The recent construction of a bike lane along Prospect West Park in Brooklyn, however, ignited the fury of several Brooklyn residents and community leaders. The dialogue seems to illuminate a certain feeling of resentment amongst Brooklyners for Manhattan-dwellers. “Nobody who lives in Canarsie is going to get on a bicycle and commute all the way to Manhattan,” said one Brooklyn resident. “It’s a flight of fancy…it’s Manhattan-centric people looking at the world from Manhattan-centric points of view.”
Others contend that the expansion of bike lanes means less space on streets for traffic, parking, and deliveries. The space issue is a big point of contention for those who insist that New Yorkers from the boroughs are not going to stop driving and start cycling just because of the new bike routes.
A recently built bike lane along Prospect Park West in Brooklyn is currently causing controversy. An online survey found wide support for the lane; however, detractors say that online surveys tend to be skewed instead of portraying a representative sample of the population.
The bike lane decreased the number of vehicle lanes from three to two.
The controversy over this specific lane is a microcosm of the controversy that has existed over the last four years. Business owners say the bike lanes remove parking spaces and increase the difficulty of getting deliveries. New Yorkers are also not happy with the loss of their “concrete front yards.” (quote from second link below)
Cyclists and anti-bike lane groups are each mobilizing. In reaction, NYC has both created and removed bike lanes.
There is so much to be said about this. In addition to the points made by mle and fea, I think a big source of contention is also the didactic views of both law-makers and law enforcers. Creating more bike lines alludes to an attempt to get more people to bike, thus cutting the cars on the road. However, being a Brooklyn biker myself, I can vouch for the fact that it really doesn’t instill any comfort on the road. Drivers use the bike lane to pass other drivers and double-park, forcing bikers into traffic. And while law enforcement should be cracking down on this, it seems like they’ve taken a defeatist attitude and have instead started ticketing bikers for petty (and expensive) violations, such as running read lights, or riding the wrong way. While these enforcements are supposed to contribute to cutting bicycle-car accidents, bicyclists can’t help but feel singled-out, because sure, we would follow vehicular laws completely if we thought that cars considered us vehicles…but they don’t, and it starts with them. They’re fined a small amount for throwing open a car door without looking, while bikers pay dearly every year.
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