Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Biking Up the Wrong Tree

Yesterday we had a commentary on the arrogance of the bike lane imposition process-and pointed out the double messages and outriight hypocrisy of the policy: "What is lacking is the very democracy that the mayor felt was lacking in all those unruly parents who protested the school closings last week. It seems that this dearth of democracy is in reality an endemic problem for the Bloombergistas. What the bike lane plans lack, is public review of their efficacy and desirability-something that any land use review process provides."

In yesterday' NY Post the paper reported on the push back the city has gotten from the Columbus Avenue bike lanes-another favorite peeve of ours: "The city Department of Transportation has agreed to change gears after its controversial bike lane on the Upper West Side came under fire from businesses and neighborhood residents. The bike lane -- a car-free strip that runs southbound along the eastern edge of Columbus Avenue from 96th to 77th streets -- has caused a series of headaches for shop owners since it opened last fall. They claim the neighborhood lost 67 parking spots, which impacted their delivery trucks. Residents have griped about snowplowing, garbage collection, confusing road signs and the lack of parking."

Of course, a great deal of this tsuris could have been avoided if there was an actual review process in place-and in our view, the amelioration falls short of the ideal: "The grievances prompted a group of elected officials, led by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, to survey business leaders and residents last fall about how to solve the bike-lane issues. The group, called the Columbus Avenue Working Group, released the survey results yesterday, along with a new model for the bike lane. Stringer said the effort has led to a breakthrough in talks with the DOT about bike lanes. "We are going to make concrete recommendations, and we are going to get results from the DOT," he said. "This is the model. This is the breakthrough moment."

What is the change sought? A long list of complicated things-such as: "Restoring parking on selected blocks by banning left-hand turns"; and, "Working with the NYPD to enhance enforcement of violations such as misuse of the new loading zone, double parking and misuse of city-issued parking placards." Plus our definite favorite: "Altering signs to reduce confusion."

Blah, blah. This is all way too complicated-and the real breakthrough would be breaking through the concrete barriers and selling them for scrap. Put simply, the lanes don't belong, and the measures are purely palliative-an example of crackpot realism that leaves the underlying irrationality of the policy unchallenged. We're with Nancy Reagen on this-Stringer should follow her example and, "Just say no!"