NYC's DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan may be beloved by cycling enthusiasts for her radical expansion of the city's bike lanes, but to critics like Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, she's "an anti-car extremist. It's kind of easy for Ms. Sadik-Khan to be holier than thou and tell people they have no business driving. She may live down the block from the subway station—but most people don't." And John Liu, the City Council member from Queens who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, says her agenda comes with "a sense of the elite telling the everyday people what’s good for them, and that’s simply not appreciated. I think it can no longer be ignored, the demographic groups calling for these changes versus the demographic groups that protest."
Those quotes are from a terrific NY Mag feature on Sadik-Khan and the DOT's dramatic re-imagining of NYC's streets. In June, for example, two sections of Broadway in midtown will be closed to motor vehicles and transformed into pedestrian islands, as part of a pilot program that could be expanded to other parts of the main stem. In the article, Sadik-Khan explains that "midtown is basically broken. There’s just not enough space for people."
So little by little, with the help of Jon Orcutt, a former director of Transportation Alternatives, she's been giving it back to the people, telling NY Mag: "One of the good legacies of Robert Moses is that, because he paved so much, we’re able to reclaim it and reuse it. It’s sort of like Jane Jacobs’s revenge on Robert Moses." But this being New York, her vision has sparked increasing opposition from business owners in some neighborhoods who say the bike lanes are keeping deliveries and customers away. One unidentified source who's followed New York City transportation policy for years says, "I’ve been in this business a long time, and I am absolutely shocked to see how a group like Transportation Alternatives is literally writing transportation policy in the city of New York—unchecked."
Last Friday was National Bike to Work Day, and Sadik-Khan, who often rides to work from her West Village home, was out there pedaling with cycling advocates and Transportation Alternatives. The utopian Streetsblog video above shows everyone having a good time and cycling on their best behavior, in full accordance with traffic laws. Speaking of which, Transportation Alternatives has just announced a new "Biking Rules Street Code" campaign, urging riders to adopt safe practices like keeping crosswalks clear, staying off the sidewalks, and always yielding to pedestrians. Here are the DOT's regulations about cycling in NYC [pdf].