Crain’s Asks: Should Manhattan Give Up on Bike Lanes?

This poll on the Crain’s site has been tearing through the Twitterverse rather ferociously this afternoon:


I dunno. Should NYC call it quits after a few successful years of trying something new on the streets? Should the city give up on policies that are reducing injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists? With bike traffic into downtown Manhattan booming after a safe, connected bike network has started to emerge below 34th Street, should we throw up our hands and leave the job half done? Should we disregard the recommendations of the public health community and toss out one of the main transportation strategies in the city’s sustainability plan? Tough one here.

Another note about this: The media has really wrested the narrative about Scott Stringer’s bike lane report away from Scott Stringer. The report [PDF] mainly calls for NYPD to keep bike lanes clear and observes that protected lanes — the ones that have the press so ginned up — work better than the painted lanes which have been around for a while:

…locations with protected bike lanes were found to be half as likely to be blocked by motor vehicles and, on average, had about 30 fewer infractions.  These findings indicate that protected lanes may provide a safer cycling experience.

On the Crain’s poll page, that conclusion is nowhere to be found:

In recent years, the Bloomberg administration has aggressively rolled out bike lanes all across the city, snatching away lanes from cars and trucks and handing them over to cyclists. A new report by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, however, found that the lanes in his borough aren’t living up to hopes — with motorists parking in them, pedestrians walking in them, and cyclists riding the wrong way in them.

  • as of 8pm… it’s 132 votes (10%) against bike lanes, 1144 votes (90%) in favor. this poll is asinine. There’s no way people should be fearing a human powered 200 pound mass moving at 10mph more than a motor powered 4000 pound mass moving at 60mph.

  • hi

    as of 20:27-
    154 10%
    to 1392 90%

  • BicyclesOnly

    The real story here is that the NYC cycling community is becoming well-organized. This blog and a few others, along with the #bikenyc hashtag on Twitter, have made it possible to reach and evoke a aresponse from a thousand or so cyclists within a few hours. That will serve us well as the infrastructure we’ve fought so hard to win over the last few years comes increasingly under assault. I think its pretty clear now that the assault started when Deputy Mayor Goldsmith arrived last spring and scuttled plans for the East Side Bikeway north of 34th Street.

    Please mark your calendars and try to come to one or more of these events:

    *Oct 18 6:30 pm 250. W.87th CB7 Meeting on “Cyclist Must Dismount” signs on Greenway Connector Routes at 67th, 72nd Streets. Parks should not be permitted to demap significant portions of a marked greenway route without notice and an opportunity to comment from cyclists.

    *Oct 20 noon City Hall Rally for extension of First/Second Ave. Bike paths north to 125th Street. Hekp extend pedestrian and cycling improvements to East Harlem, a community beset by traffic violence and other public health problems that could be addressed by improved active transportation options.

    *Oct 21 8 am Prospect Park West/GAP Rally in support of PPW bike path. Push back against the influential folks who are trying to remove this important new bike facility, which appear to include the former NYC transportation commissioner/wife of Senator Schumer Iris Weinshall and her daughter.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Correction: the October 18 meeting mentioned above is at 7 pm, not 6:30.

  • Peter Engel

    The typical Crain’s poll gets 200-300 respondents — coincidentally about the number of people in current one (10%) who want the bike lanes removed.

    So the conclusion that we cyclists have been ginning the results is correct. And my answer? So what, that’s advocacy.

    Crain’s got what it wanted from this – outrage and attention. Let them bask in that a little longer, and then we should move on to more important things.

  • J:Lai

    you know, I like to complain about the bike lines — they are often full of hazards like parked cars and trucks, wrong-way riders, stray walkers/joggers, and I’m sure the road surface will deteriorate into dangerous potholes after a couple winters.
    However, on balance, riding a bike is so much safer and more pleasant in the bike lines (separated lanes – the other kind are of marginal value). I am even willing to give a few minutes by taking a slightly longer route, or dealing with slower bike traffic, in order to ride in them.
    I think the 9:1 ratio in favor of bike lines with over 2,000 responses is a strong statement. I also think they will only get more support over time as
    1) more peeple begin to bike due to better conditions
    2) more miles of bike lanes are added (hopefully)
    3) drivers get used to both bike lanes and bike riders

  • David

    Is anyone addressing the new bikes that are battery powered? They kinda fall between bikes and motorbikes. I often see them in bike lanes going very fast. (sometimes the wrong way) Just curious.

    I find the first ave bike lane from houston to 14th very scary to ride in. People coming from all directions at once.

  • BicyclesOnly


    It’s fair to say that the cycling community is split over bikes with electric motors (“ebikes”). Some feel they hold the promise of rapidly growing the cycling population and the overall bike mode share, and want to eliminate barriers to ebike use. Others feel they are more dangerous than human-powered bikes, prone to abuse, and (if allowed in bike paths and lanes) pose the threat of discouraging human-powered cyclists and in that way reducing overall bike mode share.

    A consensus might be achieved in support of allowing commercial operators only–pedicab and delivery cyclists–to use ebikes under a stricter regulation.

    At present, virtually all of the ebikes you see on the street are illegal, although an ebike which requires the operator to pedal in order to activate the motor–a true “electric assist” bicycle–probably falls within the definition of a “bicycle” and is legal.

    In any event, NYPD shows little interest in identifying and ticketing the illegal ebikes out on the street, which from my observations are the majority of the ebikes one sees.