Let the Bicycle Backlash Begin

bike joust Let the Bicycle Backlash BeginIt used to be that biking in the city fell into the domain of messengers, mad men and David Byrne. Now, thanks to the Bloomberg administration and progressive streets czarina Janette Sadik-Khan, bike lanes are all over the damn place — the city has added 250 miles of the designated paths over the past four years — and the streets are safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

Well, maybe. As the already crowded streets get more crowded, things can go wrong. Deliveries are missed, parking is harder to find, babies get left in bike lanes, joggers get impaled. (Life in New York is so hard!)

Naturally, a backlash is underway. Not in Queens or Staten Island, though, but the beating heart of boho New York. Both the East Village and Park Slope are home to relatively new bike lanes — one on First and Second avenues, the other along Prospect Park West. Apparently, some locals are not happy about the interference the new lanes are causing to their usual routine — like double parking and standing in the middle of the street while waiting to cross it — and so protests have been planned! As have counter-protests! Things could get ugly.

We’ve been here before. Last year, Councilman Alan Gerson (an elected official, for gosh sakes) led a protest of the then-new Grand Street bike lane. Which is still very much there 14 months later. Then again, a bunch of politically connected Chasidim got a lane erased in South Brooklyn, supposedly in exchange for voting for the mayor. According to an online poll from Crain’s, people are overwhelmingly in favor of bike lanes. Then again, that’s not the most scientific proof. For all anybody knows, those voting for bike lanes could just be a bunch of madmen.

mchaban [at] observer.com / @mc_nyo