How to Write a New York Post Anti-Bike Screed

At the beginning of this week, the newsroom at the New York Post lobbed a grenade at NYC’s bike-share plans, and right on cue, the editorial staff followed up with more bike-share-bashing today.

Fact: No one has sued the District of Columbia for running a bike-share system in our nation's litigious capital. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/beyonddc/5225812426/sizes/m/##BeyondDC/Flickr##

Say what you will about the Post’s factual accuracy, they can churn out the bikelash content with mechanical efficiency. Here’s how they turned bike-share — a concept already so mainstream in American cities that USA Today ran a trend piece on it — into chum for today’s edition.

1. Mention the French.

Forget London’s successful bike-share program. Pay no mind to the 60,000-bike system in Hangzhou, China. Ignore the bike-share programs in Washington, DC, Denver, and Minneapolis. Just say bike-sharing is “a French concept” and let the mental images of beret-wearing wine-sippers work their magic.

2. Claim that New Yorkers don’t bike.

Remember the New York Post story a few days ago when New York Post reporters counted more than 7,000 cyclists in one work week at the intersection of Prince and Lafayette? Hard to forget if you pay attention to how our tabloid press covers the bike beat. But easy to ignore if you write opinions for the New York Post.

3. Make stuff up about the public engagement process.

The Post states that bike-share plans are proceeding “with very little public input.” But it says right in the city’s request for proposals that the winning bidder will “develop all materials needed for public meetings, forums, and events and present those materials when requested by NYCDOT.” There’s nothing to present yet because the city hasn’t selected the winning bid.

4. Sow fear.

New York’s density makes it an ideal urban environment for bike-sharing to thrive, and the city is looking to launch a system that generates enough use to turn a profit. Few public transportation systems ever reach that threshold. So the Post imagines another way for the city to lose money from bike-sharing: lawsuits stemming from a horror show of buses “squashing” riders and riders “flattening” pedestrians. We checked with the folks at Greater Greater Washington and with the District Department of Transportation to see if anything like this has transpired in DC after the launch of Capital Bikeshare last year. The local bloggers told us nothing of the sort has ever happened, and DDOT confirmed.

5. Watch the pageviews climb.

  • John

    Boycott the NY Post crap!!

  • Eric McClure

    Ben, I think the Post counted 7,000+ in one week, though it hardly detracts from your point.

  • Indeed. Thanks for the correction.

  • Aahronheim

    I hope that, when bike-share is a whopping success with tourists and New Yorkers alike and is seen as a boon to the city’s economy and environment, the Post’s attitude and methods are remembered.

  • G Bomber

    It’s quite a spectacle to watch the editors of the New York Post create a tabloid vendetta so thoroughly divorced from both reality and any actual wrong-doing. It is hard to imagine what could possibly be running through their heads to find so much to criticize about initiatives that are so benign and well-liked. It is amazing to see the Post marching so confidently and brazenly off toward the wrong side of history. This era of the New York Post archive will be a treasure trove for future historians. They will view the Post’s war on bikes like we now view 19th century leeching as a medical practice.

  • Toronto just launched their Bixi program, seems to be a huge hit so far, and honestly downtown Toronto is the closest thing yet to the traffic conditions in Manhattan — worse actually, as they lack any real bike lanes whatsoever and their streets are very narrow. But of course that all escaped the Post…

  • Larry Littlefield


    This era of the New York Post archive will be a treasure trove for future historians. They will view the Post’s war on bikes like we now view 19th century leeching as a medical practice.”

    Actually, it is very much like the New York Times crusade against the electrification of horse driven street cars into electric trolleys.

  • Jennifer Roberts

    Montreal is a serious biking city (even through the winter) and we all just get along (mostly). Surely NYC drivers, who, no doubt, think they are far superior to their Quebec neighbours, can figure out how to freaking SHARE the road. Honestly, people…

  • SA Hombre

    San Antonio B-Cycle was launched in March 2011 and has been a huge success. It’s available in the greater downtown area, and is currently supported by 144 bikes. It’s been great for downtown workers and residents, and tourists. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the program, we’re very proud to be the first city in Texas to have bike share!
    New York needs to realize the value of economical, quiet, and clean transportation that reduces parking needs and traffic congestion, while encouraging healthier lifestyles.

  • SA Hombre

    PS: Forgot to mention the added vibrancy, and greater interaction with ones enviroment.

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