While I, and almost anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle in any city, object to the word “war” used in any form of transportation debate, this is a great little look at the changing face of New York City streets. In a city where 80% of the public space is comprised of streets and sidewalks, making that space accessible for all is ruffling some feathers. As pointed out changes that affect daily behaviours will always be met with some resistance as everyone learns to adapt.
Needless to say, she’s got a lot of responsibility. However, this isn’t why you should know who she is. The face of New York City’s streets has been drastically changing the past few years and the person behind these changes is Janette Sadik-Khan. Public squares devoid of vehicular traffic and a rapidly growing network of bicycle-friendly infrastructure are all just part of the changes that are shaping how people interact with the “mean” streets of NYC.
In addition to the changes she’s overseeing it is equally important to consider how she is making these changes:
The real wonder here is that this is a new way of governing. In large part she learned it from Bloomberg and then set it to a fast beat. It’s about policy dictated by facts rather than interest groups. It’s about not simply cutting the red tape of bureaucracy but, if need be, finding a path entirely around it. It’s about actually taking action, now.
11 miles is just shy of 18 kms and a fairly long commute. Yet, because of constant development and political support for cycling infrastructure 90% of this journey includes streets featuring some form of cycling infrastructure.
Notice that only a small percentage of the ride is along streets with sharrows and, notice too, that NYC DOT isn’t trying to squeeze one size fits all cycling infrastructure onto a wide variety of streets.
Thinking back on my former commute, 25 kms each way and exactly 0% of my route including any form of cycling infrastructure, it’s no wonder I was often alone on two wheels. Cycling along major arterials with boulevards wide enough to play soccer on I wondered why there wasn’t a bike path there. I would cross over multi-lane bridges that themselves spanned across 400 series highways and wondered why both cyclists and pedestrians were ignored there as well.
Real cycling infrastructure influences real change. How hard is that to understand?
I cringe every time I see an expensive u-lock only holding a front wheel (with a quick release) to a bike rack. I cringe every time I see a thin coil lock being used as the only barrier between a beautiful commuter bike and a thief. If you’re not sure how to properly lock your bike (trust me, it’s simple when you know what to do) then here’s a fantastic video to help show you the best way to lock a bicycle. Do you make the grade?