Today’s Headlines

  • NYMag “Bikelash” Epic Prints This Take on NYC Bike Policy: “Equivalent to What Happened on 9/11”
  • Park Slope PARK Smart Expansion Wins CB Endorsement, Takes Effect in May (Bklyn Paper)
  • Happy 200th Birthday, Manhattan Street Grid (NYT)
  • Leandra’s Law Being Enforced – Why Not Hayley and Diego’s? (News)
  • Hit-And-Run Drivers Kill Bronx Pedestrian, Critically Injure Queens Cyclist in Sunday Crashes (News)
  • Three-Car Crash Ends With Taxi in Upper West Side Phone Booth (DNAinfo)
  • In Bed-Stuy, NYPD Mace and Taser Man Over Double Parking (News)
  • More Coverage of the Pro-Bike Lane Q Poll Results (Transpo Nation, City Room)
  • PPW Bike Lane Tweaks Will “Make A Good Thing Even Better,” Says CB 6 (Bklyn Paper)
  • Odd Times Profile — What’s An “Ideological Mountain Bike”? — of London Bike Share
  • De Blasio Rallies for Made-In-New-York Taxi of Tomorrow (NY1)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    “On a blustery day this winter, ­Louise Hainline, a dean at Brooklyn College, stood on the roof deck of her Park Slope building, ­ankle-deep in fresh snow, squinting intently into the sun. Below, a lone cyclist coasted southwest along the iced edge of Prospect Park. Hainline shook her head. ‘And they say this bike lane gets a lot of traffic,’ she scoffed.”

    First the demand that the bike lane not be plowed, forcing me over to 8th Avenue. And then they say that no one is using it. That’s a lot of nerve.

    That bike lane was blocked from 7th Street south for weeks. A few days after it was clear, a snow wall was installed to block it again. I had to ride on 8th Avenue for much of the winter, which is not safe.

    More should have been made of this.

  • Doug G.

    Her central contention is that the Prospect Park West lane hasn’t delivered nearly the advantages the Department of Transportation claims and cycling supporters too readily accept. “I do know, being a psychologist, that there’s this very strong phenomenon called confirmation bias,” she says. “When we hear story evidence, anecdotes, or even data, what we tend to remember—and this is an unfortunate human trait—is the stuff we already believe anyway.”

    When you sit in an apartment at the extreme end of the bike lane and find low bike counts, stand ankle-deep in snowd and remark that no one is using the bike lane, and comb through hundreds of hours of video to find the one moment when an ambulance goes through the bike lane you are absolutely proving that only bikers are subject to confirmation bias!

  • Marty Barfowitz

    I find it somewhat mind-boggling that Jimmy Oddo, Dov Hikind and some totally random insane-sounding person named Jack Brown who compares bike commuters to Al Qaeda get quoted in a story about NYC bike and transportation policy. Yet, we never hear from a single authoritative outside expert who actually works on bike and transportation policy and can simply say: Hey, this is all kind of blown out of proportion. And, boy, what a gift to the NBBL’ers that the entire first third of a 6,000-word article is dedicated to them framing up the issue and hitting all of their main talking points. And as if that weren’t enough, one of the only people among NYC’s 8.5 million who can tell a tragic story of a family member being killed by a bike ride, gets thrown in there too. And Hainline is allowed the last word as well.

    Throughout all of that, we never see NBBL’s non-facts, misinformation and smear campaign challenged or responded to. We never see, say, a mom biking her kid to school thanks to the new bike infrastructure that makes it possible. We never hear from any authoritative, above-the-fray, outside voices or see any facts (like, say, last week’s Q Poll showing bike lanes are quite popular) to put this giant nontroversy into some reasonable perspective. Hell, I’m surprised Carl Kruger and Lew Fidler weren’t given opportunities to weigh in on DOT’s bike program.

    Matt Shaer owes New York City bike, ped and transit advocates an apology for this garbage. This is basically a tabloid “Bike Bedlam” article dressed up nicely for New York Magazine’s readership.

  • Marcia Kramer’s Eyebrow

    And where are the transportation engineers in this story? No Gridlock Sam. No retired experts. No people from planning firms. No one who does this for a living. Sheesh! That’s a big missing chunk.

  • The midpoint of the NYMag piece has this quote from Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca: “Most people in New York will never ride a bike to work. They will never ride a bike to a show. Not going to happen. Period.”

    Bullet-proof reasoning there. Does the council member know that a big majority of New Yorkers don’t drive to work? Imagine if we made all transportation policy decisions with his logic…

    “Most people in New York will never drive a car to work. They will never drive a car to a show. Not going to happen. Period.” This fantasy of designing streets to accommodate cars is out of touch with the average New Yorker.

  • Nobody makes something out of nothing quite like New York Mag.

  • TKO

    Editors at the Times let strange things slip through. Some days more then most.

  • blah

    I think it’s time to stop paying attention to this story. Is the city scrambling to cover the lawsuit? If anything, I think they’re just as if not more committed. Until someone from NBBL dynamites the bike lane, I think it’s best to just ignore them until they go away.

  • TKO

    In the New York magazine article, what is with the photo? “Only the sucker yields”? What a terrible image! At least the models are wearing helmets! Is the author or publisher in on the lawsuit against the bike lane?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Until someone from NBBL dynamites the bike lane, I think it’s best to just ignore them until they go away.”

    Well, based on the way they kept the bike lane obstructed by snow, I’m worried about glass or tacks in the summer — followed by a claim that no one is using the lane.

    In fact, I’m worried about glass regardless of NBBL. I’ve seen a few car windows smashed on PPW north of the mid-way point this winter. Back in the “This Car Has No Radio” days, that was an area where you had to leave your doors unlocked to allow the junkies to rifle the vehicle for change to discourage break ins. I hope we aren’t going back to that.

  • molly

    And if they weren’t wearing helmets, would people be justified in thinking cyclists were complicit in causing their injuries, like the Daily News seems to imply by pointing out that the cyclist now on life-support because an SUV driver didn’t want to wait at a red light wasn’t wearing a helmet?

    Like Marty said, that article is garbage.

  • Joe R.

    “Well, based on the way they kept the bike lane obstructed by snow, I’m worried about glass or tacks in the summer — followed by a claim that no one is using the lane.”

    Do what I did-try airless tires. No flats for 4400 miles and counting. In fact, the tires are easily good for another 4400 miles, if not more. And that’s the rear. The front is barely worn, should be good for perhaps 20,000 miles total. So 3 to 6 times the life of pneumatics, no worries about tacks or glass. What’s not to like?

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    NY Ragazine stopped being relevant a long time ago. They know it too. Media strategy for 2011: Ignore them, ignore the Post, ignore Channel 2, ignore the NBBL and the good guys will prevail.

  • TKO

    The helmet line was a joke Molly!

  • Josef

    So the British media (Guardian) has made an effort to support Livable Streets in the United States – http://bit.ly/hnJ4ZH – and the American media (NYT) feels the need to repay them with a swipe at an excellent, accessible and cheap form of active transportation. Maybe we’d be better off if we read the Guardian to get our local news?

  • kevd

    Shouldn’t NY Magazine be telling my which obscenely overpriced restaurant or designer is hip, not wading into actual policy debates or news of any kind? They’re really out of their journalist depth here.

    There are few publication more out of touch with the lives of the majority of New Yorkers than New York magazine.

  • kevd

    @ Joseph –
    I will be getting most of my news from the guardian as soon as the pay wall goes up.
    Though not local news….

  • EP

    In the dozens of articles and hundreds of comments I have read over the last few months, one comment that stuck with me is that ‘change is scary to some people’. It’s sad to see so many biased articles like the NYM piece. In the end, I think that once people get used to the new bikes lanes, and they become a regular part of our daily fabric, they will become a mostly non-issue.

    In terms of ‘reckless cyclists’, the more our numbers grow, the less we will see of bad behavior. It’s the same idea as applied to cars in terms of traffic calming. The more people on bikes in the bike lanes…the more difficult it becomes to cycle ‘recklessly’. Peer pressure plus density will eventually produce the same type of cycling culture that exists in other cities, Amsterdam being just one example.

    It’s also a cultural shift, from viewing a bike as a toy or a symbol of lawlessness or superiority- but rather as a valid form of transportation. I’ve been riding a bike in NYC for nearly 22 years, I’ll keep riding whether there are bike lanes or not. But for the majority of people in NYC, without protected lanes- riding a bike for commuting purposes just seems (and validly so) too dangerous. And for the present time, I will continue to enjoy the safety the protected lanes afford me (and other people on bikes) while wishing for a complete infrastructure.

  • I look at NY Mag as a bellwether. They have little influence, but they do represent a major demographic and reflect a certain stratum of opinion.

    Thus, I thought it significant that last summer NYM ran a serious, in-depth (4,000 words) and quite positive piece on Bus Rapid Transit. More recently, they had a short but smart and positive piece about the psychological value of transit countdown clocks (sorry, don’t have link). I also recall a rather good NYM life-style feature on bikes a few years ago; sure, it had the usual consumer/fetish slant, but it was bubbly and upbeat on cycling the city.

    These pieces might have pointed toward at least a decent article on the current bike-lane “controversy.” Instead, we got Matt Shaer’s 6,000-word dreck job. But rather than bash Shaer or NYM, I’m inclined to take the piece as a sign that we’ve not yet succeeded in mainstreaming NYC bicycling. It’s as if the editors briefly wrestled over which side to come down on, perhaps thought for a minute to align with the pro-bike-lane forces, but couldn’t quite break with the ancien regime. We’re almost there, but not quite.

    A telltale is that the phrase “livable streets” (as in Livable Streets Movement) didn’t appear even once. (Ditto in Grynbaum’s recent Sunday Times takedown of JSK.) For my money, the rebranding and joining (or, at least, allying) of once-separate campaigns for biking, walking, transit, public space, road pricing, fewer cars, etc., under the unified banner of Livable Streets has been nothing short of brilliant, essential, revolutionary. It transforms bicyclists from “the other” to neighbors and allies. Bravo to Streetsblog et al. for that.

    Maybe it’s tautological, but I’ll bet that any future NYT or NYM (or New Yorker magazine or NY Observer, etc.) piece that treats bicycling as part of a livable-streets vision will be, finally, a piece that accords cycling the positives it deserves.

  • When people start calling a bike path well populated by kids and families “monstrous” and “truly offensive,” and the city’s efforts to promote cycling akin to an horrific, unspeakable terrorist attack that killed 2800+ of our friends, neighbors and loved ones, it is crystal clear that the “bike backlash” has jumped the shark.

    They’ve had their 15 minutes of shame. Time to move on.

  • J

    I think Komanoff is spot on. This is a bellwether moment. The efforts made on account of cyclists absolutely must be linked to safer, better lives for everyone. I think the livable streets concept is huge, and we should make an effort to get the idea out there. I think it already is known to some extent, but clearly the media is still clinging to the outdated “fringe cyclist” notion and playing up conflict between peds and bikes.

    We need to get a feature piece about the movement as a whole, not just bike lanes and ped plazas. It should not just be about NYC, but include the national and international movement to rethink city streets as places for people and families to live rather than as machines to move and store cars. Biking is a part of that, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about the idea as a whole. It would include everything from benches, trees, street vendors, traffic calming, public plazas, parks, bike lanes, awnings, permeable storefronts, murals, etc. I’m sure there is an editor somewhere in NYC who’d be interested. It seems we’re in the spotlight, like it or not, let’s use it to get the message out in a positive way.

  • What’s wrong with the photo is what’s wrong with the caption: it’s fictitious. The photo is photoshopped; the caption is glib baloney.

    Any grain of truth in the caption is outdated, as has been much of the media’s recent take on cycling and recent developments. All over the local media, people apply old stereotypes as if they were true and relevant, with no concern for, or pause to check, whether they really are true or relevant.