Today the Times takes a look at the bike lane wars—the battle-scarred road behind us, the gridlocked path ahead, etc. There's not much new for those who've been following along, but the online version of the article has a couple of neat interactive features. One is a timeline showing the history of bike lanes in NYC, which dates as far back as 1894, when the city's first bike lane was installed along Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. (It's still there!) The second is a map of the city that lets you see the bike lane changes over the past decade. We've certainly come a long way, but after some big advances in bicycle infrastructure, is the tide turning back toward motorists?
It's easy to laugh off irate protesters like Leslie Sicklick, a 45-year-old dog walker and substitute teacher who organized that little East Village bike lane protest last month. Sicklick tells the Times, "[Bloomberg's] taking away my rights as a driver!" And even though her protest was greatly outnumbered by cyclists, she's hardly alone in her resentment of the city's 200+ new miles of bike lanes. The bike lane backlash has been getting a lot of media attention, and there was a feeling of foreboding http://www.flickr.com/photos/urch/274334306/">last week when the DOT started removing a long stretch of bike lane on Staten Island. The Times reminds us that no bike lane is sacred; in 1980 Mayor Koch installed dedicated bike lanes on Sixth and Seventh Avenue, but quickly removed them in the face of opposition.
That's why Transportation Alternatives and other cycling advocates are increasing pressure on the DOT to prevent any further bike lane rollbacks. Two weeks ago Transportation Alternatives delivered to Mayor Bloomberg a foot-high stack of 2,500 letters hand-written by cyclists and pedestrians, calling on the city to follow through on plans for pedestrian islands and protected bike lanes on Manhattan's First and Second Avenues. No word yet on the DOT's decision, but opposition from motorists, merchants, and pedestrians remains stiff. Someday this bike lane war's gonna end, it just might not in our lifetimes.