New York to Straphangers…Find Your Bike, Saddle Up and Ride

New York is, by far, America’s most transit friendly city.  It’s also America’s most bike friendly city, at least if you believe the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly ratings for 2016.

I was skeptical at first.  The last time I was in the Big Apple it was certifiably bike hostile.  But I also had heard stories about dramatic change.  I saw Gil Penalosa riding around on StreetFilms and then I went out and bought and read Janette Sadik-Kahn’s “Street Fight” so I knew that New Yorkers were serious about integrating cycling into the transportation mix.

Now this.  From this morning’s Wall Street Journal:

When the L-train tunnel closes for repairs in 2019, disrupting subway travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 225,000 daily commuters, the city will look to the lowly, human-powered bicycle to be a part of the solution.

The story goes on to talk about some new bike lanes connecting to the Williamsburg bridge, but the item that caught my eye was something about a large, protected, secure city-owned bicycle parking facility…just  like Amsterdam.  That’s apropos, after all, New York was once New Amsterdam.

This is kind of a big deal.   Let’s say 25% of the 225,000 displaced L-train straphangers decide to ride across the Williamsburg Bridge on their bicycles instead of taking a smelly old bus.  That’s 56,250 new bicyclists.  That will make the nightly news.  That will cause somebody where you live and I live to think differently.

The parking facility is especially intriguing.  Bike racks on buses and bike cars on trains work fine when five people ride bikes, but they won’t work for 50,000 people.

Bicycle Parking, Amsterdam. By Jakub Hałun (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bicycle Parking, Amsterdam. By Jakub Hałun (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

New York is a global city and like all great global cities it sets the standard that others follow.  In a sense, though, New York is simply following what works in other great cities like Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Montreal. So here’s the thing.  Your city and my city might not be able to relate to what’s happening in Berlin, but we understand New York.   Our places will see what’s working here and the smart ones will rush to incorporate it closer to home.  Increasing bicycle parking capacity at transit stations is a great place to start.

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