It was a long year for bike riders in New York City. The bikelash got underway last fall, but it really picked up in 2011 as the Prospect Park West lane suit dragged out all summer t. The city won the suit, as well as a super majority of support for the new bike lanes, but that has not stopped cycling critics from continuing to harry two-wheeled New Yorkers. Now, it is looking like 2012 may be no better.
In an interview with the Post, Bronx Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, said he is looking at a number of new pieces of legislation that would further regulate bikes. Most are to do with commercial bikes, those used for deliveries—and a scourge not only of pedestrians but bikers, too—that would require them to wear vests with the company name and reflective materials. This would presumably make them more visible and responsible, since they could be reported and the company they work for would be held accountable.
One proposal is particularly irksome to regular riders, however, and that would be requiring master plans for new bike lanes. Not only do sidewalks and roads not require such oversight, but this would also slow down the creation of new lanes, which New Yorkers support, as polls have shown, and which also save lives.
Why so much animosity toward two-wheelers, then? We’ll let Councilman Vacca explain: “My priority is protection of the pedestrians, and my mantra is that the pedestrian is always right, even when the pedestrian is wrong. Everything I do is governed by that basic foundation.”
So even when a texting pedestrian is standing in a bike lane, say, he is doing right.
This city is adapting to the bicycle. It’s an overdue and necessary transformation. The evolution hasn’t been without conflict—cyclists are learning to co-exist with vehicles and pedestrians, and there’s too much recklessness on every street—but years from now we’ll look back and wonder why anyone thought this wasn’t progress.
And so the war of words and wheels continues.