Sunday, December 09, 2007

Article From the Staten Island Advance Frames Bike Lane Fears

New York City's aggressive bike lane program has some local newspapers setting off alarms often without much supportive commentary. Residents see something new in the neighborhood and instictively fear the worst. This was exemplified perfectly in today's Staten Island Advance "Perilous Place For Bike Riders" which covered the perils of bike lanes on busy Hylan Boulevard.

Some of the arguments cited were often for our own good such as:
1 Tree branches reaching into the road will create a hazard for bikes:
  • "People on a bike are going to get hit in the head,' (Community Board 3 Vice Chair) Donohue said. 'We're going to have accidents galore. There's no doubt in my mind somebody's going to get hurt riding in those lanes."

2 - Bicyclists will be drawn in by the facilities and would be better served elsewhere
  • "The borough's thousands of acres of parkland could have bicycle paths added, to keep riders off the road, she said. "They're creating a dangerous situation on the boulevard," Ms. Bodnar said. "We're not opposed to people riding their bikes; however, I feel it's a mistake."
  • "Instead of a bike lane along such a heavily traveled and speedy main drag, the lanes should be painted along quieter residential roads, like Tennyson Drive"

The last bullet point is similar to a position some Alden Borough residents took to oppose the Bicyclists Baltimore Pike Project. They were successful in witteling down that project to a few signs.

Both the BB Pike and Hylan Boulevard corridors have no contiguous "bicycle boulevard" alternative. The BB Pike is the alternative to Route 1. Tennyson Drive is in fact two fragments and parallels a very small portion of the corridor. And proposals along those streets will generate opposition. We put bike lanes on the "big roads" because that where cyclists need to go to access jobs and services.

Some people draw parallels with Staten Island and Northeast Philadelphia; inner suburbs in the city, feeling neglected by their respective City Halls and only 61 miles apart. In the late 90's the strongest opposition to bike lanes in Philadelphia was in the Northeast voiced by members of City Council and a traffic reporter for the Northeast Times. As bike lanes got built and the world did not end the opposition faded. Expects these arguments to surface again when bike lanes are proposed for the Philadelphia suburbs.