Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Boro Prez on PPW Bike Lane: "New York Is Not Amsterdam"

Borough President Marty Markowitz, on NY1 last night, criticized Transportation Commish Janette Sadik-Khan for placement of the two way bike line on Prospect Park West, citing the potential for safety issues for kids in strollers, and its not-so-hidden agenda of making it difficult for automobile users in the City. "NYC is not Amsterdam," said Marty.  This may ultimately prove to be less of a problem for PPW (except for parking for PPW residents and the other safety issues cited by the Boro Prez) than it will for surrounding blocks as folks avoid driving down Prospect Park West. Our friend OTBKB.com noted that a study by a neighborhood advocacy group reported that PPW appears much calmer since the lane was installed. I would likely avoid it on the rare occasions that I might be driving near the Park.

In the past year, I have been driving a lot less, walking more and taking public transportation to work.  But there are times when I want to and/or need to drive my car. I am not sure if this is more of a political issue and turf war between Marty and Jan, since Marty asked that this new lane be relocated elsewhere, but Jan went ahead and put it there anyway. Even as an occasional driver, I recognize that NYC is a heavily car-oriented City, crazy in some times and places. But there are times when I don't want to take public transportation and choose to drive. And, at the same time, you have to respect the wishes of a lot of people to get around by bike.

But I don't think it is realistic to see a day when bikes and current public transportation alone will replace cars.  Perhaps even newer public transportation alternatives are needed - light rail; more, higher-volume ferry services; express dirigibles to JFK;  whatever. Remember when the Segway was the transportation alternative of the future? They aren't even legal in NYC.

But it will always come down to peoples' preferences for personal, not public, transportation - largely bike or automobile.  There is a message and a truth on both sides in this policy battle, but I think the Boro Prez and the Commish, probably with the Mayor's tacit blessing, risk further polarizing an already heated issue.  After all, there is one, unalterable fact in this situation -- in NYC, bikes and cars are here to stay.

2 comments:

  1. DITHOB,

    There's absolutely no reason to avoid Prospect Park West if you're driving in the area. Traffic flows just fine, and anyone who says otherwise is just not being honest. What has changed due to the redesign is that there's just a lot less speeding. Since I assume you're a law-abiding citizen who makes a point of obeying the speed limit, you should find PPW a pleasant place for motoring.

    As for NYC being "a heavily car-oriented City," it's not -- a minority of NYers own cars or drive. Despite MTA cuts, we still have a magnificent public-transportation system, and the rolling out of more and more bike lanes -- especially the physically protected variety like that on PPW -- make cycling an increasingly easy and enjoyable way to get around town.

    Mr. Markowitz is right about one thing, however: New York is NOT Amsterdam. It's NEW Amsterdam!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your observation. For what it's worth, wikipedia reports that 48% of New Yorkers own cars, although less than 30% use them to commute to work. While it's true that the automobile is not the first or primary choice of transportation for most New Yorkers, our City streets are, nevertheless, let's say "vehicle oriented" vis-a-vis the volume of delivery and service trucks, government and emergency services vehicles, dollar vans, cabs and car services. When you add private cars to the mix, it seems to me it can be extremely congested.

    Yes, New Amsterdam: Elvis Costello: "New Amsterdam it's become much too much/Till I have the possession of everything she touches/
    Till I step on the brakes to get out of her clutches.../
    Till I speak double dutch to a real double duchess"..

    ReplyDelete

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