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Babies, Bike Lanes, and Bitches

November 23rd, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  1 Comment

realdadwagon

Out of our goddamn way!

If you live in New York City, you probably wish every day could be like yesterday: cool but warm, sunny but tinged with fall colors, decelerating as Thanksgiving approaches. For me, though, it held a bittersweet quality: I can’t imagine there will be that many more such days this year when I can bike over the Manhattan Bridge—in shirtsleeves!—to pick Sasha up from preschool.

That’s partly because, according to some local paper, there is a growing backlash against bicyclists here. “More than 250 miles of traffic lanes dedicated for bicycles have been created” in the past four years, says the story, and some people are not at all happy about it. Most of those people, strangely enough, drive cars:

“He’s taking away my rights as a driver,” Leslie Sicklick, 45, said of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Ms. Sicklick, a dog walker and substitute teacher, grew up driving with her father around the Lower East Side, where she still lives.

Sorry, I should translate for those of you unfamiliar with New York:

“He’s taking away my rights as a driver,” whined Leslie Sicklick, an entitled 45-year-old with a really crappy job who insists on owning and driving a large vehicle in one of the densest urban zones in America.

Obviously, as an official Kings County-certified hipster, I have to come down on the bike side of things. In the past several months, I’ve become addicted to tooling around my neighborhood and the city on two wheels, often with the kid riding on my handlebars. (Not literally, of course.) And at the same time, I’ve learned to rail against the many indignities visited upon us cyclists: cars parked in bike lanes! unmaintained bike lanes! people on crosswalks! inadequate bike parking!

Oddly, this parallels the feelings I have as a pedestrian—I’ll walk where I damn well please, and these cars better not fucking hit me!—and as an occasional rental-car driver: Who the fuck are these people crossing the street and whizzing at me on their Schwinns?

Which is to say: My basic rule is, Stay outta my goddamn way! Getting around New York, whether by foot, by bike, or by car, has always been an every-man-for-himself race, a form of semi-organized chaos that, every once in a while, works beautifully. Jon Stewart, I remember, once called the merging of traffic at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel a sign that human beings can function together peacefully. But not everywhere is the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. In fact, most places are like what the Wall Street Journal recently described:

Pedestrians who routinely jaywalk and stand in bike lanes; a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair down the protected bike lane on Broadway; a bike messenger racing through a red light on Sixth Avenue; cars that use bike lanes as passing lanes; wrong-way cycling along the protected lane on First Avenue.

All that said, the anti-cyclists remind me of the anti-child people in general—railing at an imposition that’s really not much of an imposition at all. And I have news for all of them: If biking becomes a big problem here, I’m going to have to take Sasha on our overburdened, overcrowded, unmaintained subway system a hell of a lot more often, and nobody will be happy. If you want peace of mind, you’ll improve the bike lanes, drive carefully, and, when you see a poorly painted Bianchi speeding through lower Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn, a toddler on its handlebars singing “Old MacDonald,” you’ll Get. Out. Of. My. Goddamn way!


Responses

  1. Pauline F says:

    November 23rd, 2010at 9:15 am(#)

    Great blog and totally agree!

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