Sunday, October 07, 2007

How New Yorkers Ride Bikes

We went to see David Byrne talk about bikes. At Town Hall and part of the New Yorker Festival.

It was nice. Certainly a preaching-to-the-choir kind of event. But I enjoyed it.

What I liked:
That 1,200 people would pay $25 to see David Byrne talk about bikes.

Jan Gehl's spiel about biking in Copenhagen. The moral often seemed to be focused on the ability to look at cute girls while riding. Right on. But more practically, he highlighted the idea of what a city could become if only we had the will.

Jonathan Wood's deadpan commentary on pictures of bad bike-path design. See the Cycle Facility of the Month.

Seeing Calvin Trillin read about biking in NYC. I always like putting a face to a byline.

Fuseproject's bike helmets designed for bikers who don't like bike helmets but like hats. Basically it's a simple helmet that you can put a variety of hats on. It looks great. I'm so ready to buy... if only they were for sale.

Things I learned:
In Copenhagen, they paint a small little median in the middle of roads so it's easier for people to cross streets wherever they want. Brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?

In Copenhagen, they time lights for bikes going 20 km/hour, about 12.5 mph. So simple... time lights for bikes. It had never crossed my mind.

That they actually planned on a bunch of people riding their bikes to a bike event. TA provided valet bike parking. I declined. Because I like parking my bike on the street. Plus street parking is a lot faster when getting your bike back.

David Byrne sure is an awkward public speaker for a performer. It was charming and endearing to see him fiddle with his reading glasses to remember the lyrics of a song, song with a large choir of 70- and 80-year-old people (though perhaps David could have learned his lines better).

What I wanted:
Answers. To the nice man from the DOT: I believe that you like bikes and mean well. But I want to know who the bad guy is? Where is the obstruction? What are we up against? Why can't things get done? Why are bridge access lanes Jersey-barriered off at the same time the DOT says there's not enough room for bikes?


Lawrence in Astoria said...

It is still difficult for me to comprehend how a city that is so naturally unsuitable for cars can be so bike-unfriendly. And why are they trying to ban/limit pedicabs and not hummers/expeditions/escalades?

PCM said...

I too am baffled. New York isn't just bike-unfriendly. It's positively car friendly.

People, alas, don't see cars as the problem. They see congestion as the problem, but never notice that cars cause congestion. I guess all the SUVs just blend into the background. So the problem must be those damn pedicabs.

I think people who don't bike can never imagine that bikes are the answer. And if bikes aren't part of the solution, they must be part of the problem.