2 Wheels are Faster Than 4

7 Apr

I can only weigh in so much about the supposed Bikelash in NYC. As an avid cyclist, my views have a bias. There is a learning curve with the introduction of cycling infrastructure for all and I support Janette Sadik-Khan’s long-term vision. Behavioral change takes time, and that refers to an increase in cyclists as well as incorporating biking into the dance of traffic. This is especially relevant in NYC, where all modes of transportation operate outside the drawn lines. From Matthew Shaer’s Bikelash article:

In New York, aggressive walking is a point of pride. We walk with lights and against lights, but mostly we walk fast; the sidewalks, which lack the amenity of passing lanes, play host to their own version of tailgaters and reckless mergers.

This approach is also practiced by many cyclists and why not. Many of these are part of the enormous brigade of delivery people. I didn’t notice them to the same degree in previous visits. I think it’s a fantastic example of adaptation, appears to be a widespread work opportunity, and likely has benefited restaurants by providing easy, affordable, and expedient access.

Over time, bikes will become more integrated into the fabric and rhythm of cities. No doubt, cars were a much more challenging form to deal with and ultimately, city form altered to accommodate this travel mode. If the same happens with cycling, there is vast potential to improve urban form and create healthier and more enjoyable streets. Join the fun!

Still, the Ninth Avenue lane is an ideal place to experience the unfettered freedom that can come with riding a bike in New York. As any urban rider (and I am one of them) can attest, there is something infinitely joyful in putting foot to pedal, something intoxicating in not being bound by the whims of a bus driver or subway conductor or thick tangles of crosstown traffic. Whipping down the street, completely protected from the cars zooming by just a few feet away, may be the closest any New Yorker comes to flying.

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