Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The Bike Wars Rage On

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin takes time away from his busy schedule of pretending to be a Democrat so that his constant excoriation of the president will seem like it's coming from a place of disappointment rather than sheer partisanship to harp on one of the paper's other obsessions: bike lanes.

Here's the predictable path of the tyranny of the minority. With the city spending millions to make bike lanes for a relative handful of New Yorkers, collisions between bikes and vehicles are on a record pace. Duh.
Now that The Post has reported the carnage, you can bet the city's response will be as illogical as the lanes themselves. City Hall zealots will further restrict auto traffic, adding more congestion and emissions, and look to ticket drivers. They also will litter the airwaves with an expensive "education campaign" telling bikers to behave.
Let's save time and get next year's news now: still more accidents, higher taxpayer costs and more tickets for drivers.

Coincidentally, Awl pal Felix Salmon has penned a helpful corrective.

Did these people really think that New York would become Copenhagen overnight? The fact is that changing the fast-paced culture of New York is going to take time. As more people start making use of bike lanes, the average speed of cyclists is going to slow down, cycling is going to become safer, and both drivers and pedestrians are going to be more aware of the cyclists with whom they are increasingly sharing precious macadam. We just need to have a bit of patience.

Patience, of course, is not something the New York Post (or, frankly, some other New Yorkers we know) values highly on its list of virtues, so expect plenty more of its pro-car agenda. But Felix makes a pretty good point.

Photo by Spencer Thomas, from Flickr.

24 Comments / Post A Comment

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Balk, I enthusiastically volunteer to be your alt-text copywriter. Anything I can do to help.

jolie (#16)

Awww. Your offer helps to make up for the fact that the plaintive wail of this alt-text has totally broken my heart. Alex what if we pool our nickels and PayPal you a nap? Would that help?

zidaane (#373)

Trying to wrap my head around more bikes equating to more congestion and emissions.

Multiphasic (#411)

Because it takes so much time to pull over, get out of the car, and muscle the corpse into the trunk.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

The guy in the photo's ass is so far gone it's become his front.

Multiphasic (#411)

Incidentally, it's a well-known tenet of urban planning that increased access means increased use.

So, um, Goodwin, not to put this too strongly, but you are a fucking moron. There are more collisions between bikes and cars because there are more bikes where the cars are.

djfreshie (#875)

The sad part is that there's not a string of three words – pick any three – in the quoted text above that doesn't make him sound like a complete fucking moron. Try it! "tyranny of the minority," "City Hall zealots," and my favourite: "city spending millions!" It's paint. Takes a night. I live in Toronto, I watched them paint it on the street I take to work every day, last week. Used one vehicle, two guys. Took maybe a single day. Two guys operating one vehicle = MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!!! BECAUSE OF ALL THE STREETS???

@djf: I worked a college summer painting curbs and suicide lane arrows for the DOT. Let me tell you, they paid me a ton! The best part of the job was sprinkling the reflective fairy diamonds on the wet paint.

(Oh, maybe the high costs are due to the reflective fairy diamonds?)

Slava (#216)

Aaaah… but in Toronto the WAR ON CARS is over! So no more bikes… or streetcars… or hope for the future.

djfreshie (#875)

@CF: Oh I have no doubt it's a high wage and even if the fairy diamonds were made with actual gold dust, or the charred remains of the wrestler formerly known as Dusty Rhodes: Goldust ('Hey c'mon guys…I'm not even dead yet!' – Dusty Rhodes)it would still be a struggle to reach multiple millions of dollars. How long ago was the summer job? I mean, THE MACHINES do it for us now, it appears. I was riding behind it, it just makes the lines itself, and one guy got out and did touch ups.

@Slava: Thanks to Robbie's "war", I've decided that it's now okay to refer to any mild inconvenience as horrible human activities. Like for example, if they're out of French Fries when I order a combo, I'll say "Hey it's like a fucking French Fry Genocide in here!" or "Hey turn back to the hockey game! Stop Euthanizing the hockey game in here!" Because that's what we do now. It's a war, because bikes and construction WARWARWARWARWAR

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I have heard the "more bike lanes = more death" statistic so many times. From my dad, an avid cyclist. But he also didn't tell anyone he was having heart problems once because he couldn't afford to go to the doctor, and continues to claim that broader access to health care is unamerican, so, y'know, CREDIBLE SOURCE and all that.

melis (#1,854)

Is your dad available?

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I'll be sure to ask him this Christmas (if he hasn't keeled over from lack of medical care or been run over biking in a car lane by then).

We can put a man on the moon (sorry, Alex), but we can't come up with an international symbol of a cyclist wearing a helmet that doesn't look like a penis?

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

You… you should get that checked.

zidaane (#373)

Chinese guy falling through some breasts.

@DD: The HELMET part. Not the whole thing.

(still, going to get it checked)

Matt (#26)

This comment is a placeholder for whenever BrianVan finally decides to take the BrianVanbait.

brianvan (#149)

BITTEN? I mean, everyone in this thread is making sense so I don't really feel a need to reeducate anyone here.

As a matter of fact, unless you are crippled the only thing I'd add to this is, "Try biking more!" I think a daily one-hour bike ride would turn Alex Balk into Sam Champion. But I'm not self-righteously insistent. That won't help anyone.

Matt (#26)

It should at least turn Alex Balk into Max Power.

Jared (#1,227)

It is not obvious to me that more bicyclists will result in more bicycle accidents. In fact, I've seen statistics that show that as more New Yorkers started biking, the NUMBER of bike accidents went down. Not PERCENTAGE, I mean the absolute number. Can't find the link for New York, but here's how it works in Copenhagen. (I know, but still.)

So yeah, as usual Felix Salmon seems to be entirely correct.

I'm in favor of strictly enforced stroller lanes.

I think we can all agree that strollers are the real menace. Babies don't even pay taxes!

lbf (#2,343)

For future reference w/ everybody's asshole red-state family, here's why bikes are conservative.
(edit note: I always close my hyperlink tag before the period at the end of my sentence. Do you guys do that?)

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