Vicious Cycle of Two-Wheeled Transportation

It’s hardly a secret that City Hall is pushing the benefits of two-wheeled, human-powered transportation. Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s Transportation Commissioner, has become one of the Bloomberg Administration’s most reviled figures because of her insistence on creating a space for cyclists on the city’s streets, in parks, and in other public venues.

As part of her vision, City Hall is attempting to implement a bike-sharing network that would allow residents to rent a bike to get from place to place. Docking stations or kiosks would be constructed to house the rental bikes.

Many cities in the U.S. already have such programs. City Hall clearly would like New York to get with the program. But local neighborhoods and elected officials, tired, perhaps, of being lectured about the benefits of cycling, have begun to push back. They want input on the location and construction of the kiosks. City Hall has agreed to consult with communities, rather than simply impose the plan. That’s a wise move.

Because the bike-sharing network would be run by a vendor, there’s some question about whether this constitutes a franchise, which requires City Council approval. But in a way, that’s irrelevant. City Hall has to listen, especially after several episodes during which top officials appeared to be out of touch with public opinion.

Transforming New York into a bicycle-friendly city may truly be a laudable, visionary idea. Future generations may well bless the memory of Ms. Sadik-Khan. But at the moment, it seems clear that the public has concerns about the nuts and bolts of the bike-sharing plan.

Those concerns are legitimate, and they deserve to be heard. City Hall should be all ears, on this project and on other big-vision plans in the final two years of the Bloomberg era.


  1. Paul says:

    ‘out of touch with public opinion’ ?  poll after poll has shown clear majority support (and rising) for bike lanes and bicycling.  isolated NIMBY opposition does not equal public opinion.

    1. FallOut says:

      The real NIMBYs are the respondents in the poll who support bike lanes in random surveys, but oppose them when they actually are planned for their neighborhoods.

      It’s like sanitation facilites. No one has a problem with them until you have one arriving on your block.

  2. Kate says:

    Written by Jared Kushner’s tea party wife and father in law?

  3. I don’t disagree with your take on this, but it’s quite a waste of editorial space. The city is already collaborating with local communities regarding infrastructure decisions and strategies, and is doing so quite successfully now. The tale of Sadik-Khan being imperious is now an old and outdated one. And the only people complaining are the few who didn’t get EVERYTHING they demanded or the ones who are deeply out-of-touch with reality. So it goes. 

    It’s my expectation that the editors at the Observer are wiser than, say, the NY Post such that they would not give a platform to the unhinged fringe and their PR monkeys, but to instead to go by the (sometimes less exciting) facts in undoctored statistics, track records and academic studies. An editorial like this – reporting much drama where there is very little – makes me think those fringes and monkeys still have too much of your attention.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The bike lanes and pedestrian plazas have made the streets safer for me, a car driver.  On roads that DOT has changed, there is a sense of order now.  Much fewer taxis swerving across multiple lanes.  Much fewer cars speeding at 40+ mph down avenues.  Left turn lanes that fairly require people to line up.  

    As a driver, I feel much safer in my car in the city.  

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s a distortion to say Sadik-Kahn “has become one of the Bloomberg Administration’s most reviled figures.” Seems to me she is at least equally as adored as hated, much like any other public figure maligned by local press.

  6. williams_college says:

    You need to do better research before you write your next op-ed.

  7. Udore says:

    I agree with the general responses here. Indeed there is widespread, overall support for the bike lanes, and they are proven to improve safety and quality of life in our city. The vicious outcries by a minority of naysayers should not be determining what is in our best interest, and while it makes a clever headline “vicious cycle”, it is out of touch with the real, less heated story.