Photo: NYTimes, John Marshall Mantel
If any of you have been reading the news lately, you're sure to have seen the piece in the NY Times about the closing of major streets in New York City this August.
On three Saturdays in August, 9, 16, and 23, from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m., the route will run from Lower Manhattan to East 72nd Street via Centre Street, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue and Park Avenue, according to the NYTimes.
"Major crosstown routes — including Chambers, Canal, East Houston, 14th, 23rd and 59th Streets — will remain open to traffic. Buses that ride along the 6.9-mile route will be rerouted during the street closings," said the report.
Well, it's not exactly "Ciclo-Crazy" as I say in the title, but the plan brings New York one step closer--a mini-step--to Bike Nirvana. Right now using a range of 1 to 10 with 1 being "least bike friendly" and 10 being "most," I rank New York perhaps a 4.
But with the current regime of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and his commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Kahn, all things bicycle related are starting to pick up.
In a follow up article in the Times, the writer Javier Hernandez compares New York's plan with the 70-mile cycling pathway that originated in Bogota, Colombia 32 years ago.
Let's talk about what would make New York a 5, or even a 7 in terms of bike friendliness (not necessarily in order of priority):
(1) Bike parking on every block or in every garage;
(2) Or, bikes allowed in every building, not through the freaking back door either, like delivery people and turn of the 19th century indentured servants, but through the front door;
(3) Shared bike program throughout the city at strategic locations--hey we have one of those now downtown thanks to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, so we're inching closer!
(4) Connecting paths and bridges at all major river crossings. That means for example, the same dedication to on and off ease that is currently made for motorists on the George Washington Bridge, to be afforded to cyclists. What do we have now? Meandering, unsafe, through back street, and across road "connections" or should we say "misconnections."
(5) Showers in every business building or garage to accommodate cyclists going to work and arriving sweaty;
(6) A well-publicized bike ID program run by the NYPD for stolen bikes so they can be retrieved easily;
(7) Bike paths and bike lanes that do not run RIGHT NEXT TO car door openings;
(8) Consistent ticketing of the freaking scofflaws that park right in the bike lanes. This week I counted about 60 cars parked in the bike lanes when traveling from 168th st. to 110th St. Disgusting. The biggest scofflaws are private vehicle owners, mostly SUV's and Gypsy cabs, followed by CHURCHGOERS, especially on 143rd Street, and then police officers, who despite being told NOT to park in the bike lanes, now have the noses of their cars parked halfway in the bike lanes; Oh! Let me take this opportunity to mention, KUDOS go to the delivery vans such as UPS and other delivery companies who are parking OUTSIDE the bike lane. Somehow, they got the message and are complying: why aren't the others?;
(9) A fully closed Avenue to cars, such as Park Ave., or Broadway, ALL weekend, EVERY weekend, from head to toe;
(10) Safe places to park your bike when you are using a trailer to transport items, children or animals;
(11) SAFE bike lanes and other bikeways to accommodate the aforementioned trailers. In other words, other than the two Greenways, East and West, is it safe to ride with either a child or animal in tow. NO! Come on New York, this should be a real goal!
Hey, right now I can't think of any more. But I know that Tiggy would put no. 11 at the top of the list. I mean, how many times did I have to leave the poor dog at home because this city--supposed to be the best in the world--can't accommodate cyclists safely who have children and animals in tow? (Hey, even adults aren't safe riding bikes).
Please send me more items for the list: I know I have missed a few.
Next week: What would make New York a REAL "10"?