02 December 2015

Metamorphosis: NYC Streets

Anybody who's been cycling in New York for a decade or more knows that riding this city's streets is much different now from how it was then. 

The most obvious changes are the bike lanes--which were all but nonexistent in the early 2000s--and, of course, Citibike.  Also, there are purely and simply more people riding--and, as I've recounted in other posts, I encounter other cyclists while riding along streets and in neighborhoods where, not so long ago, I would be the only person on a bike.

As I've also discussed in other posts, I don't think the changes have necessarily made this a better city for cyclists.  Some of the lanes are poorly designed (a few lead to nowhere) and built.  Perhaps even worse is that the building of bike lanes and installation of Citibike ports doesn't seem to have accompanied a reduction in motorized traffic.  Streets can't be made any wider, so the bike lanes that run along major streets and avenues were created by blocking off one of the traffic lanes.  That has led to more traffic congestion and greater tension between motorists and cyclists--and between cyclists themselves. 

Some riders, most of  whom wouldn't have been riding had the bike lanes not been built, are as rude and aggressive as some of the worst drivers I've seen.  Years ago, I knew--at least by sight--most of the cyclists I'd see on a given day.  Even if we didn't know each other by name, we looked out for each other:  We signaled turns.  We didn't cut each other off. We alerted each other to broken glass and other hazards. Today, it seems, a lot of the newbies are riding as if they have blinders on.  And the ones who ride motorized and electric bikes are even worse!

So, even though I enjoyed the film I am including in this post, I do not share the view of filmmaker Clarence Eckerson Jr. that this city is more bike-friendly as a result of the changes it shows.  Still, the film is interesting to watch because it visually chronicles some of the changes in the appearance as well as the rhythms of the Big Apple:



  1. Do you imagine that anyone involved with creating cycle lanes has the slightest inkling about what is involved with riding a bicycle!?Even the best lanes have features which using them a blood pressure increasing experience. Then you spend time in Holland where they do get it right and you become convinced that we are being deliberately persecuted by people who just want to cover themselves by saying that they have helped us!

  2. Coline-- Sometimes it does seem like a conspiracy against us, doesn't it?

    Sometimes I think those involved in creating cycle lanes in the US have never looked at a bike, let alone ridden one.

  3. Same problem with bike racks. Whoever installs them has no idea how they work.

  4. Anon--Tell me about it! Where I work, the bike racks are the old kind with a slot for each bike. Management claims they can hold a dozen bikes. In reality--especially because bikes need to be double-locked in what is a high-crime area--only about three or four bikes can be parked in them.