The Times Seeks a “Dialogue” About Bikes Clogging NYC Streets

Danger! Danger! NYC streets may get clogged with bikes! Photo: Doug Gordon/Brooklyn Spoke

Who can resist this tasty New York Times linkbait? Not us. The paper wants responses to this preposterous rant from reader Gary Taustine. Mr. Taustine sees Amsterdam, with its 32 percent bike mode-share and minuscule pedestrian death rate, as a cautionary tale for NYC, with its 1 percent bike mode-share and 150+ pedestrian deaths per year:

The horrendous bicycle congestion in Amsterdam (“The Dutch Prize Their Pedal Power, but a Sea of Bikes Swamps Their Capital,” Amsterdam Journal, June 21) portends my worst fears for New York City if Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s crusade to promote cycling at any cost is not scaled back by his successor.

In addition to the ubiquitous tombstone-like parking stands for the new bike-sharing program, Citi Bike, more and more bikes are appearing on our sidewalks, clumsily chained in bunches to anything stationary, cluttering pedestrian areas and complicating emergency services, trash collection and sanitation.

The density and vertical nature of our city mean that hundreds of cyclists could live, and park, on a single block, leaving neighborhoods with all the charm of a junkyard.

Cycling should be neither deterred nor promoted, but certainly not singled out as a privileged mode of conveyance whose operators enjoy segregated lanes, free parking and exemption from the licensing, insurance and safety precautions (like helmets) required for other two-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles.

One shudders to think of all the motorists who could live on a single block if we designed traffic lanes for motor vehicles, let people risk their lives by driving without a helmet, and gave away street parking for free, leaving neighborhoods with all the charm of a garage. New York would choke on traffic!

It would be even worse if we forced developers to build parking, subsidized massive garages, and let people kill other people with their cars without any consequences. Oh right, we do all of that and it causes actual problems.

The Times will publish responses to the imaginary problem of too many bikes (email letters@nytimes.com) in the Sunday paper. But it will also grant the last word to Mr. Taustine, who gets to submit a “rejoinder” to the reality-based perspectives on urban transportation planning that are heading his way. The deadline to submit is tomorrow.