When I was home last August, I couldn’t help but notice all of the new bike lanes and bicyclists in the city. The friends I chatted with about it and I agreed: it’s so cool that Bloomberg and the City are making such efforts and that New York is getting more bike-friendly.
Then earlier this week, I was doubly excited to read that NY’s pilot for a shared bike program launches this summer. Woohoo! 600 bike stations south of 60th Street; memberships will be available—like the Velibs—daily, weekly or annually; and, again like the Velibs, the three-speed bikes will be uniquely designed for the city—but ours will have GPS. Sweet!
But. The reality is, the city isn’t more bike-friendly just because there are more bike lanes. In fact, as a couple articles I’ve recently read illustrate, new lanes and more bicyclists are pissing a lot of people off. The reasons are as varied as lost business, lost parking, renegade bicyclists, to the lanes being an “eyesore”.
I see both sides of the debate. Of course I’m all for more people biking—to work, for enjoyment, as a simple, healthy, efficient mode of transportation. But I also think New York is such a “concrete jungle". On some level, it is about the cars and buildings and grit and lawlessness, and that’s what we love about it. At the end of the day, it’s not supposed to be a soft, easy place to live.
But there must be a happy medium right? (Separate but related, someone on the Today Show this morning had a sign that said “happy median”. I started giggling but then I panicked and thought maybe I’ve been using the wrong phrase all these years. If Yahoo! Answers holds any cred, then I have, in fact, been saying it right. Phew.)
I’m keen to see how the “Velib” pilot program changes things. For some reason, I think I’ll be more likely to ride these bikes than I am my own Café Racer. I think there will be greater safety in numbers. And I hope drivers and pedestrians get more used to the bicyclists, making things safer and more pleasant all around.
My personal solution would be to have one avenue on the east side and one avenue on the west side closed to vehicular traffic and devoted largely to bicyclists. The other avenues would be for cars, and bicyclists would have to share (ride at their risk as they always have).
In any case, I’m thrilled that the shared bike program is coming. There’s nothing dreamier than pedaling around the city you love.