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David Byrne on Bicycling in NYC

12:00 PM EDT on June 28, 2007


Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick and David Byrne prior to the Manhattan Borough President's "Manhattan on the Move" conference, October 2006.

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne writes about his 30 years of cycling in New York City on his website.  Byrne is an avid bicyclist, and an alternative transportation advocate:

I have been riding a bicycle in New York City for almost 30 years!For transport, not for sport. At first there were only a few of us.Loners, losers, maniacs and nerds. Some of the members of Talking Headsused to make fun of me and say I was going to turn into Pee Wee Herman.

Over the decades things have improved in New York for cyclists — a little. Now there is a wonderful bike path up the Hudsonthat runs almost the entire length of Manhattan. I use it to commute toand from work. Now there are markings on some streets indicatingimaginary bike lanes (imaginary because the traffic and pedestriansoften ignore the markings) but they are there in spirit, at least.Someday they will be taken seriously, I have no doubt — when gas hits$10 a gallon.

Now Paris is embarking on a bicycle plan that should make New Yorkenvious. A collaboration between business and civic affairs than mayjust work, as both the city and Deceaux can benefit. Bikes as a meansof local transport has worked elsewhere; the mayor of Bogota, EnriquePeñalosa, relieved traffic congestion AND made his city more livable byconverting streets to bike/pedestrian use and by adding dedicated buslanes. Of bike lanes he said, “If an eight year old kid can’t ride onit safely then it isn’t a bike lane.” I don’t remember Paris havingvery many bike lanes, and the drivers adopt a “survival of thepushiest” approach, as I recall, but that may be changing.

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