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.