New York City to get 250 miles of protected bike lanes

biking on 9th avenue
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ cars and delivery bike on 9th

But not so fast, says the Mayor.

A lot of people who walk or bike in New York City have been getting killed recently by people who drive. Finally, it appears that something is actually going to be done about it. Speaker Corey Johnson proposed a bike, bus and pedestrian priority “streets master plan” that actually got approved. Johnson said it “will completely revolutionize how we share our street space and will revolutionize our quality of life.” Gersh Kuntzman of Streetsblog NYC quotes Johnson:

Seven million people in New York City don’t own a car, but for too long things have been stacked in car drivers’ favor and away from other people who need to use our city’s streets. It’s about reorienting that.

New Yorkers will have to wait a bit, though; the Mayor demanded a delay of its implementation until he is out of office. Emma Fitzsimmons of the New York Times also notes that it will face a lot of opposition, as everything in New York does, because the right to free on-street car storage is apparently in the Constitution.

The plan could face many challenges. Bike lanes have often faced fierce opposition, including lawsuits and resistance from community boards that balk at having parking spaces removed and worry about the impact on local residents and businesses. The city’s Department of Transportation would also have to move quickly to add workers and equipment to carry out so many construction projects at once.

Besides the bike lanes, there are also going to be changes that give buses priority at traffic lights, new dedicated bus lanes, and a million square feet of pedestrian space.

Don't read the comments!

A nice clean New York bike laneA nice clean New York bike lane; at least this one is protected by the Police/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I know two elderly people who were hit and seriously injured by BIKERS who don’t bother to obey traffic rules. Now I say: ban bikes.

Whenever there is an article in a New York paper about bike lanes, there are letters and comments complaining about cyclists, but after 26 cyclists were killed in the year so far, one would have thought there might be some acceptance that change is needed.

I'm sick of the city coddling bikers and totally opposed to bike lanes...UNTIL the city starts enforcing traffic laws for bikers. They are a menace to pedestrians and drivers, rarely obeying red lights, turn signals, etc.

But the comments on the New York Times article are so negative. I would not dare look at what the comments are like in the Post. Letters to the editor complaining about cyclists almost seems like a competitive sport all of its own.

Maybe the answer isn't bike lanes, it is enforcing traffic laws on bikers. They are a danger to pedestrians and themselves as they go through red lights, the wrong way on one way streets, drive without lights at night, etc.

I have written before that there are reasons that people riding bikes go through stop signs, that they are designed to manage cars, much more about speed than they are about right of way.

While we're at it, let's crack down hard on cyclists who blow through stop signs, red lights, etc. with total arrogance and no regard for pedestrians' safety.

Fifth Avenue with two way trafficEphemeral New York: Two way traffic on Fifth Avenue/via

But the design of New York City is particularly bad for people on bikes. In Manhattan, the east-west blocks are very long, and the north-south streets are all one way, making for some very long circuitous rides just to get a few blocks. The change to one-way north-south streets back in the '60s was one the worst moves the City made, making streets less safe for people who walk or bike and ruining the quality of the street by sacrificing all to the car.

This is such baloney. I have been almost run over to death by bikers because these so called green machines are also killing machines with no laws!

And the blocks are so short that when you are driving North-South on streets where the lights are timed for cars, you can be stopped at every light, at side streets where there is no traffic at all. The city is changing the light timing on some streets to be better for bikes, but of course, the drivers are complaining.

Bike fanatics who keep pushing how NYC should be more like Amsterdam are delusional. This is America and we live in a car culture.

But New York City is not a car culture. Only 45 percent of households own a car, and only 27 percent of New Yorkers commute to work by car. Many of the cars only move once a month for the street cleaners, which is why there are such battles over bike lanes vs parking. Yet the car owners dominate the discussion.

Activist Doug Gordon points to another article about traffic fatalities in New York that concludes with two lines that summarize the whole of the discussion about New York City, after describing Speaker Johnson's plans for fixing the streets. This says it all about peoples' priorities. As Gordon notes, it is "the kicker which gives away the whole game."

"This is about saving countless future lives," Johnson said. "So many of these fatalities and injuries are preventable. They are preventable by changing the way we prioritize our streets."

Critics of the plan worry the changes will increase traffic.

New York City to get 250 miles of protected bike lanes
But not so fast, says the Mayor.

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