The Chainlink

New York as a Biking City? It Could Happen. And It Should.

A new report proposes 425 miles of interconnected bike lanes across the five boroughs. Another sees new car-free bridges into Manhattan from Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

If not change, then glimmers of it. Maybe.

Before the pandemic, New York City bus advocates had to plead with City Hall for more dedicated busways. Now City Hall is trumpeting a plan for five new ones. It used to take months, and cost a king’s ransom, for restaurants to get a sidewalk cafe permit. The other weekend, to help the struggling industry, the city waived the whole process for thousands of businesses.

And it has opened miles of streets to pedestrians and cyclists — albeit only temporarily, with erratic enforcement. I’m looking out my window right now at an avenue that was supposed to be closed to cars. The sawhorses are pushed aside. It’s traffic as usual.

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Just as with the "future without cars" thread, a big trouble is that a lot of this doesn't scale without a catastrophe, and catastrophe isn't sustainable.  And even then it does't work, because these bridges and new infrastructure cost money, and catastrophe isn't a winning economic model either:

To say this differently, the only way a lot of this works is if everything else doesn't, and then the reasons to be in NY or to go anywhere, on a bike or otherwise, fade away for hundreds of thousands of people.  

Meanwhile, bike/pedestrian bridge could be pretty cool, but NY's problem right now isn't where to ride a bike, it's to be alive and have a place to go and an income to have some money to spend on the bike or where ever someone is going.  Nationally, 58,000 NEW covid cases were reported yesterday, almost a thousand of those in Illinois.

Thanks to an economic catastrophe, there are lots of places to ride a bike in Flint, Cleveland, or Gary.  Miles and miles where you'll rarely see a car, or at least one that's running.


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