Greetings from Brooklyn in soggy NYC, where we are still waiting for Spring!
NYC is a great city for biking. One of the highlights of NYC is crossing the East River in the morning and seeing the sun shining on the groggy city and the glistening harbor at your feet. Or there is the “Bladerunner” experience of crossing the Manhattan Bridge at night and descending into Chinatown, gliding like a spacecraft through a mess of exotic neon signs.
An estimated 110,000 New Yorkers commute by bicycle every day, according to Transportation Alternatives, a biking advocacy group. The streets are, however, not without their perils – poor condition of roads, speeding, reckless, and other “creative” driving make it an extremely dangerous city for bikers, with 3,500 cyclists injured last year. And that’s just what’s reported!
But pressure from cyclists and advocacy groups has been bringing changes to NYC. In recent years, I’ve seen an increase in bike lanes, better sinage, and more traffic-calming measures. All of this is good, since my death wish has reduced in recent years! (I used to be a very aggressive biker.)
In August 2008, the city even instituted a car-free zone on three weekends in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, bringing increased foot traffic to local businesses. The city is planning to repeat these events in 2009. Given how enamored Americans are with their cars, this was truly an achievement!
Our mayor, Mike Bloomberg, may not have succeeded last year in passing the congestion pricing plan to reduce traffic in lower Manhattan, but it sounds like he is following the London/Parisian models, and will keep squeezing cars, little by little.
To see a current map of bike lanes in NYC, click here. To read about Transportation Alternatives “Nine Goals for NYC” in 2009, click here. They also have some great petitions you can sign to improve street conditions. If you want to improve advocacy in your city, you might find some ideas from the TA’s initiatives!
Let me know if there are things you would like to hear about in NYC!