Some Cities Try To Be Bike-Friendly

Some cities are trying hard to be bike-friendly; New York City just got its first physically-separated bike path inside the urban core. According to the New York Times, The city is planning to remake seven blocks of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea into what officials are billing enthusiastically, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, as the street of the future. "I think it's a sneak peek at the future streets of New York," said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's transportation commissioner. "It represents the kinds of innovative ideas that we can explore to make the streets more livable." ::New York Times and ::Planetizen

In Boston, according to the Boston Globe,

Stung by national criticism and hoping to take a bite out of traffic and air pollution, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, A newly converted cyclist himself, Menino will announce today the hiring of a bike czar, former Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman, and a first phase of improvements to include 250 new bike racks across Boston and an online map system.

In the next several years, Menino said, he plans to create a network of bike lanes on roads such as Massachusetts Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay and the Fenway. Paths could also be constructed to connect the Emerald Necklace system of parks, and the mayor is looking at facilities like showers, bike storage areas, and automated bike rental systems that make wheels instantly available to anyone with a credit card.

"We need to get more people to take the bike around. It's good for their health, it's good for the environment, and there's less congestion on our streets," Menino said. "It's time for this issue to come to the forefront." ::Planetizen

Meanwhile in Toronto, Robert Oullette of Reading Toronto tangles with streetcar tracks, movie trucks and rude policemen in a posting entitled "To Serve And Protect - As Long As You Are Not A Cyclist"

As citizens and tax payers in this great city we all assume that everyone is treated equally. It is always painful then to discover that we are, in fact, not all equal. I am not talking about our famed egalitarian culture (it really is special). Nor am I discussing the equal access to a range of exotic foods from world regions a Babylonian King would have envied. No. What I'm talking about is how poorly cyclists are treated in this city. For anyone who has seen the cycling cultures of Europe - or even that perenial, so-called third-world city of Bogota, Colombia - the backwardness of this city is frustrating.

What is more frustrating is that cyclist put up with it. If ever there was a situation where the analogy of the frog in a pot of boiling water could be fairly used it is this one. You know, if a frog is put in a pot of room temperature water on a stove and the heat is gradually increased, the frog will not jump out until, well, it is too late.

Cyclists in this city are like that. In spite of the number of people who own bikes and would like to commute if they felt safe, city officials continue to dismiss us as just a bunch of disenfranchised bike couriers (no offense to bike couriers here who know exactly what I mean because they have to deal with city streets all day long). Yet we do nothing even with the potentially significant political force we represent.

In spite of the number of preventable injuries and deaths caused by policy decisions made by city hall, cyclists just sit back and take it. In spite of cyclists who get ticketed for riding the wrong way down streets they live on because traffic planners designed them for cars, not cyclists, they take it. Why? Because over time we have come to think that it can be no other way. Cars and their drivers are king or so we've come to accept.

Is it time for a serious cycling union comprised of a broad swath of the cyclists in the city from couriers to lawyers, teachers to dentists?

more from ::Reading Toronto

Tags: Bikes | Boston | Toronto