How’s this for some cognitive dissonance?
Daily News columnist Denis Hamill, whose stock-in-trade is bitter nostalgia, went off yesterday on the city’s efforts to make streets safer for biking. The rant is straight out of the John Cassidy mold — basically, Hamill wants you to know that cyclists today have it easy because, unlike himself, they never built their own bikes from salvaged scrap and hauled 100-pound boxes of meat next to roaring traffic. (Roaring traffic is a thing of the past now, right folks?)
Hamill, though, apparently has a much deeper reservoir of rage to draw from:
Anyway, I was driving my car recently along Prospect Park West, once a majestic three-lane, mile-long esplanade from one war memorial to the other. Now it’s like squeezing yourself through a crinkled tube of toothpaste.
The yuppie-ki-yay bike lane, where kids dressed like hockey goalies pedal in a danger-free fantasy lane, has literally painted car traffic into two lanes.
If you hit the lottery and see 10 feet of free space in the parking lane, you can no longer use the curb to guide your parallel parking. No, the curb is reserved as a barrier reef for the Hipster Highway for Richie Rich on his $1,500 Lance Armstrong Doperacer.
Same thing in Manhattan. Sheltered, helmeted kids getting zeroes in street-smarts pedal past with a clear path through life.
News flash: Life ain’t a smooth sail, kiddos! There’s a big crash just waiting at the end of every bike lane.
So the guy who “discovered a lifelong work ethic” on his bike can’t handle parallel parking without a curb or driving on a street with two lanes instead of three? He has to take out his rage on a project that lets kids bike to Prospect Park on their own? Pathetic.
Here’s the weird thing about this bitter, bitter man. He actually gets the fact that traffic is a barrier to physical activity and a drag on public health.
Hamill was promoting this great idea last summer:
Bloomberg had no trouble banning traffic from Times Square and Herald Square, and so instead of banning big sodas, he might consider banning traffic on school streets in every neighborhood where local kids can play stickball and run their fat butts off chasing Spaldeens from dawn to dusk. There are plenty of old time stickball veterans around who would love to teach kids how to play this beautiful city game.
That’s hundreds of street closures every school day — a pretty bold street reclamation program. If your street safety/public health initiative isn’t wrapped in nostalgia, though, this guy isn’t interested.
And, by the way, it’s probably no coincidence that the Daily News is again singling out the Prospect Park West bike lane for derision. The people suing to have the lane removed have key allies on the paper’s editorial board.