Is the bicycle backlash really, truly over? It hasn’t even been a year, but a new Marist poll shows two out of three New Yorkers approves of the bike lanes. Yet only one in four believes bike lanes are better for traffic, as the Bloomberg administration insists they are, while 40 percent believe they make traffic worse and 30 percent believe there is no difference—which, put another way, means 55 percent think there is no problem with the lanes.
Despite this support, the DOT has its work cut out for it if it wants to continue to expand the bike lane network. Only 27 percent believe more should be added, compared to 44 percent who think there are enough and 23 percent in the Anthony Weiner, tear-them-the-bleep-out camp. Belying the Prospect Park West fight, only 25 percent of Brooklynites want more lanes, compared to 31 percent of Bronxites and 40 percent of Manhattanites. Not surprisingly, the only area scoring lower is the combined borough of Queens/Staten Island, where 23 percent want to see more bike lanes.
Also undercutting the stereotype that cyclists are law-breaking terrors, a slight plurality believes them to be respectful of the rules of the road, with 48 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. Compare that to motorists, at 39 percent and 53 percent or, not surprisingly, cabbies, at 16 percent and 73 percent for and against. Pedestrians, those jaywalking, bike-lane-blocking scofflaws, do not rank much higher than their two-wheel brethren, with 51 percent finding them respectful compared to 44 percent disrespectful. Bus drivers get the highest marks, with 67 percent for and 28 percent against.
As for who bikes, this could all have to do with the sample, but 13 percent of the 808 respondents said they cycle regularly. This is much higher than the 500,000 New Yorkers the city’s Department of Health estimated recently, which works out to about 6 percent of New Yorkers.
Maybe it’s just the nice weather, but old New York is once again New Amsterdam.