New York City / New York / USA
Some new protected lane infrastructure announcements are more significant than others because they represent a ‘step change’ whereby an old ‘impossible’ barrier is smashed.
New York City was often in the advocacy headlines between 2002 and 2013 during the term of previous Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who oversaw the ‘reclaiming’ of Times Square, the launch of America’s largest bikeshare scheme Citibike and a dramatic increase in both protected bike lanes and cycling mode share city wide.
Things have slowed down under current Mayor Bill de Blasio who loudly beat the drum about ‘Vision Zero’ (meaning no traffic fatalities) at the start of his first term but has shown little political courage to turn his fine words into bold action since then. More infrastructure has been steadily built, but key links have stayed in the ‘too hard basket’ and well over one thousand cyclists and pedestrians have died during his incumbency.
Because mayors are now limited to two terms, Mayor de Blasio must step down once elections are held later this year. Perhaps a combination of no longer having to worry about re-election and wanting to leave a legacy has given him motivation to make the boldest announcement to date of his almost eight year incumbency.
In his final State of the City major annual speech on Thursday 28th January Mayor de Blasio announced that both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Queensborough Bridge would see one car lane converted to a dedicated bike lane.
To an outsider, this might not sound like much, but anyone who has used these bridges, either by car or bike would know how incredibly busy they are. The current shared footpath / cycleways on both bridges are grossly over-crowded and the roadways often see long traffic jams.
Therefore, removing a car lane from each bridge will certainly be unpopular with a loud minority, egged on by the usual popularist media antagonists.
“Converting car lanes into bike lanes on two of our most important bridges is a giant leap forward for New York City,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives one of the largest advocacy groups in NYC.
The quote from this article was first published in the New York Times.