“Don’t get me wrong I love bikes…”
Brooklyn’s new bike path, Joe Bianchi
From Environment 360:
This spring, curiosity propelled me onto a New York City subway bound for Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, where a new bike path along the edge of Brooklyn’s largest park had angry residents worked up into a lather.
For those not familiar with the territory, Park Slope is one of New York City’s most prosperous and progressive neighborhoods, home to the famed Park Slope Food Cooperative and liberal U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. And yet… the creation of a simple green bike path — the kind that edges dozens of streets in Barcelona or Paris or Copenhagen — at the expense of one lane of car traffic and a few parking spaces evinced the kind of venom normally reserved here for The Tea Party.
I expected to find a diversity of opinion about the bike path, which was created last year by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. I did not. Almost everyone I interviewed began with the following introduction: “Don’t get me wrong I love bikes, I ride all the time…” and then segued into a barrage of objections: The path was a hazard for old people and mothers with baby strollers crossing to enter the park. Riders pedaled too fast. They should just ride inside the park. The loss of a lane made parking worse and traffic slower. It made it harder to stop to drop kids at school. It was unsightly.
I had spent much time over the last five years in Europe, where cyclists and bike lanes have become part of nearly every urban streetscape. If you are a European mayor, running a good bike-sharing program seems as much a barometer of success as having a good school system.