Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I (bike) New York

(this is not my bike, by the way)
I'd like to have ridden more this summer, but for many reasons, it didn't happen much.  C'est dommage.  Much of my reasoning is fear.  I just don't feel so comfortable on New York City streets as a commuter by bike.

But I've noticed a couple of further improvements to the biking culture of the city that should, more quickly, develop a greater population of cycling commuters and, hence, more awareness, safety and comfort (at least that's my hope).

First, the proliferation of the new bike stands along our sidewalks: I can't see how more than two bikes can reside tethered to that short pole, but it's better than what's been there in the past, which is nothing.  In its absence, there was the creative method of bike-locking, which left bikes attached to street violation poles, construction scaffolding, fences, trees, etc.  Not always so easy, and usually someone else has had the idea before you.  These new additions are going to validate cycling culture just that much more, in my opinion, and will add a few more locking locations to each block.

Second, and more importantly, is finally the announcement that New York City is going to have a true bike-sharing program.  A pilot program had quietly (all but hidden, in fact) been announced earlier this year to commence during the summer of 2011, but that never happened.  This announcement was far splashier, and so we can assume that next summer, we'll have it in place.  How it will be received is anyone's guess, but I'm going to stick with optimism, at least until the program starts or the critics get louder than the cyclists, whichever comes first. 

I'm appalled at the issues some people have with bike lanes, bike sharing programs and new bike racks along the sidewalks.  The general complaint is that we need all that space for either cars or pedestrians.  I can't believe the short-sightedness of such a viewpoint.  I am grateful for the combination of pushiness and far-sightedness of this mayoral administration which is looking to New York's future with these programs.  And I continue to look forward to venturing out, gingerly, into that future, with my bike, helmet and lock.

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