Bikelash? Not Everyone Swoons for City Cycles
"Hitting a Bicyclist Just Got Easier," says Justine of Greenpointers. While she says she's happy enough that North Brooklyn is getting plenty of new bike lanes from the DOT, she's angry that one planned route will run along Manhattan Avenue.
"Are they out of their fucking minds?" asks Justine. She thinks it's too crowded for that -- citing the Avenue's "two bus lines, countless double parked cars, trucks for deliveries, parking available on both sides of the street," etc.
The more she thinks about it, the madder Justine gets -- but not on behalf of the cyclists. "A driver could be stuck behind a two mile an hour cyclist all the way from Greenpoint to Nassau," she says. "Holding up traffic behind them exponentially. And don't even get me started on the fact that the bicyclists NEVER, and I mean fucking NEVER obey the traffic lights... I personally feel like hitting a bicyclist with your car should now be only ten points..."
City cyclists should get used to this sort of thing. Reliable stats are hard to come by, but judging by the overcrowded bike racks in hipster precincts, cycle use is up -- at least among the young, fit, and sometimes annoying, as may be seen by Justine's reaction of a local cyclist of a sort not uncommon: "this chick in a really bad blond wig (why?!) coasting along in her vintage Schwinn complete with basket as if she was meandering down a dirt path in a field with Ryan Gosling."
It's the price of success. Certainly City cycling has become fashionable: impeccably green and endorsed by local celebrities. And it's strongly encouraged by the Mayor, with his bike-sharing plan, car-free zone, and the aforementioned bike lane boom.
So naturally there has to be a backlash. New York magazine recently reported the full-throated anti-bike sentiments of some Central Park regulars ("We want to ram a stick through their spokes!” one dog walker said. “Or string up some trip wire across the road!”). Even one of our favorite blogs, Queens Crap, has endorsed the licensing and increased traffic oversight of bicycles, and adds that "bicyclists should pay their fair share of tolls and parking fees, as long as these fees are applicable to other motor vehicles." Any well-read blog that posts about city cycling is apt to get comments like this one from a Topix story on a biker who got run down: "The stupid bicyclists don't follow the rules of the road... That's their own fault if they get injured or killed." Or this one from Curbed on a new Manhattan bike lane: "Go back to Smallville if you want to ride your bikes safely."
Citizen cyclists, be aware: not everyone finds our carefree cruising cute. Drivers will curse our disregard of stop-signs and traffic lights; pedestrians will grumble about grown men and women comporting themselves like Pee-Wee on his Big Adventure. The best we can do is be polite and attentive, avoid being too conspicuous, and wait for a change in public temperature. The Critical Mass of history is on our side.