Earlier this week the Downtown Express injected some common sense into the public discussion about the value of bike lanes. With protected lanes on Ninth and Eighth Avenue now a valued safety improvement after facing some pushback at first, the paper predicted that initial complaints about the new lanes on the East Side will subside once people get used to them:
We are a huge supporter of bike lanes, simply because they make it so much safer to ride in the city and enjoy the benefits of cycling. Cycling is a healthy and liberating way to get around and commute — no one can argue with that.
But, as with anything new, there’s an adjustment period. In particular, the protected lanes — where bicyclists are separated from moving auto traffic by a lane of parked cars — are a revolutionary change to the streetscape.
Over on Staten Island, the local media has a long way to go to catch up. On the same day the Express ran its piece, the Staten Island Advance reverted to bike lane-bashing form, urging the city to erase the lane on Father Capodanno Boulevard:
The bike paths on Capodanno force cyclists and drivers to interact on a street where speeding is commonplace. The bike lanes also interfere with traffic flow, especially where turning cars have to sift through bicyclists traveling straight through on Capodanno. In some places on the road, the bike lane is also the right-turn-on-red-lane for drivers.
Not surprisingly, this has caused lots of confusion and the occasional nasty dispute between motorists and cyclists.
And frankly, except when there’s a major cycling event, there just aren’t enough cyclists who use the bike lanes on Capodanno to justify their continuation, especially under the circumstances.
Yes… If only the bike lane disappeared, motorists could speed and turn right-on-red without “sifting through” cyclists or getting confused by the fact that they’re supposed to share the road. Meredith Sladek at the Examiner has the full response:
Instead of doing away with the bike lane because it “mixes cyclists with speeding vehicles,” how about we start a dialogue on how to curb those who illegally surpass the speed limit, in order to make that heavily residential stretch of road safer for ALL users–on bicycles, in cars, and on foot? How about we ask the DOT to add to the road–add traffic calming measures… in order to curb speeding and dangerous behavior?
Instead of chalking road damage up to weather conditions, how about we also acknowledge the toll that constant motor vehicle traffic takes upon the pavement? One winter of storms did not cause all the damage; several years of traffic helped it along more than their fair share. How about a call for more widespread bus use, advocacy for more bus routes and the re-installation of the North Shore Rail?
Instead of blaming the island’s hardships on cyclists and the minute amount of space they are allotted, this borough needs to fix the problems at their source. When there are two major instances of drunk driving and excessive speeding that killed three Staten Islanders in a single week (August 28-Sept 4), more Advance space, political will, and community action needs to be devoted to curbing reckless drivers, and not taking away one of the few safe, protected bike routes that cyclists have.