This summer New York city introduced a bike sharing program. Now, New Yorkers can feel proud as they cruise around and call themselves, “bike-friendly.” I’m a bit skeptical. New York is relatively flat, but the traffic makes riding a bike precarious. I, personally, would never trust myself to avoid getting slammed in the face by a car door. Then there are the bike drivers who feel that, because they are on two wheels instead of four, they don’t follow the flow of traffic. Yes, my bike prefers leisurely rides through the park instead of city streets.
New Yorkers persist in believing that the two-wheeled conveyance is leading a revolution. Go green! Human power! Great sentiments, I agree. That’s why I take public transportation.
Bikes aren’t quite suited to any city when you think about it. Bristol has too many hills to be a biking capital — though that doesn’t stop it from self-identifying as one. The stones of Pavia are too bumpy for easy riding. Milan is just insane, as is London. And I can imagine that getting lost in Paris on the pioneering velib’ is quite easy. It’s hard being green.
New Yorkers bike everywhere. From home in Brooklyn to work in Manhattan, out to see their friends and even, sometimes, to the grocery store or farmer’s market. They’ll strap their kids to the back and stash their bag in the front basket. A bike joyously frees you from the constraints of the subway. A bike means you’ll spend your days fighting for street space with the cars, taxis and buses.
That being said, the new bike lanes are quite nice and I love the increased space given over to pedestrians (those aren’t the green lanes, by the way). Seeing vintage bikes parked along the streets gives the city a pleasant, european aspect and makes it feel just a bit smaller and more manageable. Yes, the bikes are nice.
They can stay.
What do you think? Do you enjoy biking in large cities? Is your hometown bike-friendly?