Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spike the Bike Lanes: People Speak Out Against the, "Vicious Cycle"

In yesterday's NY Post, the paper devotes its letters section to comments about Steve Cuozzo's anti-bike lane column-and the reaction is indeed vociferous: "Thank you for expressing most New Yorkers' attitudes about the dictatorial, distracting and insane changes to our avenues and streets by constructing bicycle lanes ("Strangled by Bikes," Steve Cuozzo, PostOpinion, Oct. 22). Those changes were implemented without any input from citizens, wasting money while New York City goes bankrupt. Worst of all, bike lanes paralyze commercial traffic, making life even more difficult. Mayor Bloomberg has forgotten who elected him. It was people like me, but now we have had enough of his dictatorship."

That was from Anton Loew of Manhattan. We also heard from a Brooklyn community board head who complained that Cuozzo didn't credit her board's opposition-an opposition that is futile because its powers are advisory: "I take offense at Cuozzo's comments about community boards. We at CB 15 have been advocating for public hearings before any more pedestrian islands or bike lanes are implemented. CB 15 has voted unanimously against many initiatives of the Department of Transportation, but we are only advisory. Many times, the DOT forges ahead with its plans. CB 15 is anything but anti-car." That was from Theresa Scavo, Chairperson, CB 15.

And then there's Eric Anton who inveighs against the transformation of 34th Street-voicing a concern for local retailers: "The planned 34th Street change is insane. I live in Midtown -- what a mess. When you ask the DOT where people will unload, move in and deliver fuel or inventory to retailers, there is total silence. Pathetic."

If this crazy scheme were ever put to a referendum, the results would be lopsided-and only the bikers from TA would be manning the barricades agaiunst the city's drivers and small businesses. And, as letter writer Victor Cino points out, the traffic and public safety impacts are horrendous-even though unacknowledged by DOT: "The most serious problem with new and replacement bike lanes is the constriction of traffic lanes, which has resulted in stalled traffic flow and impediments to emergency vehicles, like ambulances and fire trucks. These bike lanes clearly demonstrate a serious lack of planning, which could have allowed for a healthy balance between bikers and other vehicles. When a fire truck is delayed because of traffic congestion and citizens are killed, then Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan will wipe that grin off her face."

And, as far as Park Slope is concerned, the bikers don't represent that community-and the lanes are mostly under utilized most of the day: "I was a part of the anti-bike-lane protest on Prospect Park West, where it was reported that we were outnumbered by the bikers at their counter-rally. At 8:30 a.m. the next day, there was not a single bicycle in sight. This is the case the majority of the time, of course, but the bikers have a one-issue agenda and can summon people for a rally at the drop of a hat who may not even live in the neighborhood. In the meantime, we have to suffer the ramifications of these changes 365 days a year. I am not sure how long-time, hard-working and community-minded residents of Park Slope became unconsidered victims of a DOT that is in thrall to Transportation Alternatives." (Jasmine Melzer)

So we encourage the inimitable Transportation Chairperson Jimmy Vacca to convene a city council hearing on this issue. A full airing will give New Yorkers a glimpse of the out of control nature of the entire Sadik Khan-driven experiment. And for Pete's sake, can we get a simple environmental review of any of this?