That controversial Grand Street bike lane, beloved by cyclists and loathed by some business owners because it makes receiving deliveries onerous, now has a new enemy: Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. The comptroller was in Chinatown doing some
campaigning yesterday when he announced that, if elected, he would tear up that dedicated bike lane, which is buffered from traffic by a row of motor vehicle parking. Thompson told voters, "I'm in favor of bike lanes but you can't put bike lanes in without speaking to the community. You can't put bike lanes that are doing damage to local businesses."
Of course, Streetsblog was like, Did he really just say that? The local community board approved the Grand Street bike lane project 33 to 1! We all know truth is the first casualty of campaigning, but it's interesting to see the city comptroller paint bike lanes as bogeymans stymieing economic prosperity.
It may be the Grand Street bike lane inconvenienced some critics, but has the "damage to local businesses" really been confirmed or quantified? What has been quantified is its impact on safety; as Streetsblog notes, "The Grand Street bike lane has about a year of service under its belt, and the safety record is clear: Injuries are down nearly 30 percent since the bike lane was installed. Thompson has basically pledged to make streets more dangerous under his mayoralty."
Will Thompson's bike lane demagoguery affect your vote? Before you rush to judgement, check out his new TV ad, in which a narrator intones, "After eight years of everything going to the rich and powerful, we need a mayor who cares about us." But who will care for the poor, innocent bike lanes?