At today’s big bike-share press conference, most reporters seemed enthralled by the prospect of thousands of new cyclists hitting the streets and, of course, failing to follow the rules of the road (whether they were scared of that scenario or salivating over it is not clear). One reporter also told us she was “just scouting out possible angry people.” But the passersby drawn to the enormous crowd and brightly-colored bikes in front of the Flatiron Building didn’t seem worried or angry at all.
In Streetsblog’s unscientific sample of five New Yorkers who stopped to see what was happening, none was concerned about bike bedlam. Every single one of these pedestrians was excited to see bike-share come to New York.
“I knew they were doing this, but I didn’t realize they were doing it right here,” said an excited Melissa Singer, who works in the Flatiron building. When informed that the bike-share station was just for a press conference and might not end up at that very spot, Singer remained positive about the program, saying that it’ll be perfect for people who don’t want to invest in owning their own bike or want access to one all the time. “It’s one of those ‘about time’ things for the city,” she said.
Lionel Mapp III hadn’t heard of bike-share before today, but after a brief explanation said he’d definitely try it on days when there’s heavy traffic. “If people need to go a short distance, it would be better than jumping in a cab.”
Jim Morgan stopped to look while walking his dog along Broadway. He said he’d take bike-sharing for quick trips, such as from Madison Square to Central Park, especially thanks to its low cost. “For 104 bucks or less a year, you can’t beat it,” he said.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” said Geoff Jones. He saw bike-share thrive in London and thinks it would be a perfect fit for New York, especially for tourists. “If you come to New York, there’s so few bike rental options.”
There’s no doubt that from now through at least the first few months of operations for bike-share, a cacophony of complainers will have every opportunity to explain what they don’t like about bike-sharing to a receptive media. But the truth is that big majorities of New Yorkers support cycling, and people like Singer, Mapp, Morgan and Jones are always looking for an easier way to get around their city. We’ll see whether voices like theirs get the play they deserve.
One person who declined to give her name had an even simpler review of the new program: “Yay bikes.”