One of the great accomplishments of the Bloomberg administration, in my mind, has been the creation of bike lanes all over the city. Some estimates claim that bike ridership has nearly doubled in the last five years. However, the roads are still confusing for bikers, drivers and pedestrians. I often bike around the City on weekends, and despite the relative calm compared to weekdays, I’ve seen everything that Borough President Stringer notes:
“We’ve got seniors who think bike lanes are walkways. We’ve got police cars using bike lanes as a quick way around town. We’ve got taxi cabs pulling up so close to the bike lanes that a passenger gets out and actually doors a cyclist.”
Or as Michael Green, the president of the Century Road Club Association, explained in the same Wall Street Journal article:
…recounting the recent comments of a friend. “Her attitude was, ‘The laws that protect cyclists are never going to be enforced, so why obey rules that aren’t going to be used to help you?'” Mr. Green said. “It’s amazing the people I see riding and not obeying traffic laws. It’s across the board, from teenagers to 65-year-old women.”
The lawlessness Mr. Green and others described is easy to find: Pedestrians who routinely jaywalk and stand in bike lanes; a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair down the protected bike lane on Broadway; a bike messenger racing through a red light on Sixth Avenue; cars that use bike lanes as passing lanes; wrong-way cycling along the protected lane on First Avenue.
That isn’t to suggest that bikers are completely innocent. Biking on the sidewalk happens much more than it should, as does biking against traffic on a busy road. To address these many problems, the Department of Transportation is unveiling a new set of campaigns according to the WSJ article:
In the next few months, DOT will unveil several campaigns for radio, television and billboards. One series of television ads will take aim at cyclists who ride on sidewalks, pedal through red lights and go against traffic.
The campaign, titled “Don’t Be a Jerk,” will feature prominent New Yorkers preaching bike etiquette. Mario Batali, the famed chef and restaurant owner, recently filmed a spot.
Lets hope the campaigns are successful, bikers, drivers and pedestrians would all be better off if everyone followed the rules.