Anti-bike lane protest

I left my apartment on Friday to find a small, yet very concerned group of bicycle protestors standing on the sidewalk of 14th and 1st.  On the other side was an equally sized mass of bicyclists.  Since I was without my bike at the time, it was easy enough to blend into the two opposing groups.. I quickly learned that the protest was organized by a woman named Leslie Sicklick and the supporters of the protest all carried an anti-Bloomberg mentality.  The first man I spoke to complained to me about being hit by a bicyclist three times and having his dog run over by a bike once as well.  To this, I bluntly replied that its better than being run over by a bus. He wasnt amused, so I moved on.

There seem to be a number of issues at hand.

  1. Why is Bloomberg spending millions of dollars a year on bike lanes that only help the minority of bicycle riders in NYC?
  2. Why don’t bicycle riders use the bike lanes after they are built?
  3. Is it okay for bicyclists to break traffic laws?

The first issue is by far the most important, and the most difficult to answer.  The fact is bike riders are a minority in NY, but this doesnt mean we don’t deserve the same amount of respect and safety measures as cars or pedestrians.  Imagine if the city got rid of the crosswalk signals.  It would be utter chaos.  Just as pedestrians need some sort of precautionary mechanism to tell them when to walk or not, bicyclists need some protection from vehicles.  And being a minority should have no impact on the decisions to build these bike lanes.  We are all equal under the law.  This is no exception.

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This leads us to the next issue, why dont we use the bike lanes?  Put simply, they are still not safe.  Cab drivers still dont look out when they turn, residential cars think its fine to double park, and trucks are temporarily stationed to load and unload goods.  With all of this happening in the bike lane, its obviously much safer sometimes to ride in the car lane where we can be seen in between traffic.

The solution to this, as one lady on the scene told me, is Value Priced Parking.  We need to limit the parking of residential cars on any street.  The aim here is to have not more than 85% of spots taken at all times.  Prices would be adjusted accordingly so that only drivers who are willing to pay will park.  This will prevent idling traffic and help loading and unloading for commercial vehicles.

One final point.  It’s not really okay for bicycle riders to break traffic laws.  The problem is we are not the only ones breaking the laws. Cars run yellow/red lights and pedestrians cross when they are not supposed too.  There will have to be equal effort amongst all parties to keep the roads safe.  Until then we’ll just have to fend for ourselves.  Ride on!

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3 responses to “Anti-bike lane protest

  1. Leslie Sicklick

    Hi I met you at the Protest I put together on October 15, 2010 my name is Leslie Sicklick. The Protest was supposed to have many drivers, seniors, handicapped who are angry with what is happening. Many drivers don’t hit pedestrians and are very careful.

    The view you have that pedestrians should be careful well welcome to the world of drivers. The reason why drivers are angry is they have lost many spots to park by bike lanes against the curbside. Also many bikers I have seen and drivers deal with are bikers going against traffic, through red lights, and riding up against cars.

    The Protest is against Mayor Bloomberg who should be called King because he does what he wants. Many New Yorkers hate the Mayor and what he has done. Many New Yorkers don’t appreciate Mayor Bloomberg designing new bike lanes at the cost of 65 million dollars that could have been better spent.

    Also many New Yorkers voted for term limits for only two terms and Mayor Bloomberg made that go away. I know millions of New Yorkers feel that many of the New Yorker that have lived here there whole life are being screwed by Mayor Bloombereg. The feelings are Mayor Bloomberg building bike lanes for people who have just moved to the city.

  2. “Many” is a funny word. Its thrown around in many (ha ha) discussions, but doesn’t really mean anything. How many is many? Most? Almost all? More than 2? How many drivers are angry? Some? Most? How many don’t hit pedestrians? Hopefully almost all.

    If you’re angry, you can protest. State your position, get people out, and affect change. That’s a good thing. I’m a cyclist, and I’m happy you’re out there fighting your fight.

    Understand some things, though:

    1) Just because you’re angry doesn’t mean everybody is.
    2) Just because people agree with you when you talk to them doesn’t mean they really agree with you. To be honest, judging from what you’ve written, if you were telling me this in person, I’d probably nod and say “yeah, you’re right on”. Then excuse myself.
    3) Even if everybody wants something, it doesn’t mean its a good decision. Most people would like to eat donuts and not pay taxes, but that’s not a long term strategy.

    Riding a bike is good for everybody involved, except the people “angry” about it. Right? In fact, if it keeps a car from being on the street, its even good for you angry people. One more parking spot, one less obstacle in traffic.

    Most of your arguments about stores losing money and all that are anecdotal at best, and you use them just to prop up your fundamental dislike of anything making your driving experience less awesome. As for lifelong NY resident, many (again, ha ha. See how useful that word is) use a bike to get around town. Also, I’m sure the Native Americans would like to throw in a word about residency.

    As a former smoker, I was pretty pissed when King B decreed that I couldn’t smoke in bars. As a former smoker, I’m really glad he did. Adding bike lanes is a far cry from suspending habeas corpus, though, so I wouldn’t get too worked up just yet. Its funny how when people don’t like a politician they throw mud when they don’t do anything, and when they do, its suddenly rule by fiat.

    Sorry if this wasn’t well organized. Should be doing work right now.

  3. Leslie, while I understand car owners’ frustration of losing parking spaces, it is important to realize that the majority of people living in New York City do not own a car and approximately three-fourths of Manhattan residents do not own one. Thus, car owners are a minority in NYC. We don’t need more parking spaces – we need more room for everyone else.

    There may be cyclists who break traffic laws, such as going against traffic, but bike lanes can only help to reduce this problem. If we had bike lanes on every street in New York, cyclists weaving through cars would be a rarity. Perhaps time would be better spent educating cyclists about traffic laws and enforcing them, rather than protesting the few bike lanes we have in the city and agitating those of us who do use them.

    And though “many” New Yorkers may hate Mayor Bloomberg, the fact he was reelected makes it apparent that many more New Yorkers think he’s been doing a fine job.

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