Daily Bike Forecast — by Bike Snob NYC

May 26th, 2017: Hell Is Other People, Especially When They're Speaking at a Community Board Meeting

***The Bike Forecast will be off on Monday, May 29th in observance of Memorial Day.  See you Tuesday!***

Looks like some rain today, but overall an improvement from yesterday:

fri forecast

Friday A 40 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 74. Northwest wind 8 to 11 mph.

Friday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 58. Northwest wind 7 to 11 mph.

Sunrise: 5:30am

Sunset: 8:17pm

As for the holiday weekend, unfortunately it's shaping up to be a little less than perfect:

wknd forecast

So as far as riding, Saturday may be the best day for your beach trip to Fort Tilden, your seafood cruise to City Island, or your Lower Hudson Valley ramble as the case may be.

Moving on, please forgive any typoes or misspeallings as I had a late night, for you see I attended my local community board meeting:

Where the DOT presented their proposal improve Broadway along Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx with amenities such as bus islands, shorter crossing distances, and a protected bike lane (PDF):

242

Without going into the particulars of the proposal, I'll just say it brought tears of joy to my eyes.  See, I live more or less just out of frame here:

242 1

And Van Cortlandt Park is here:

242 2

Yet because Broadway is an overly wide de-facto speedway with blink-and-you'll-miss-it crossing times, if I want to take my kids to the park I have to literally (literally literally, not figuratively literally like the millennials use it) carry my younger child under my arm, yell "Go, go, go!!!" like a drill sergeant at the older one, and flat-out run:

run

This is how you evacuate in the event of a natural disaster, it's not how you visit the city's third-largest park.

The DOT's proposal addresses this problem.  It also addresses the abysmal bus-boarding situation and general cluster**** around the subway station, as well as provides a protected bike lane which would give us bike access to other parts of the park and a flat route to North Riverdale where my kid goes to school.

I mean sure, it would be great if we could go back to 1908 when it looked like this:

1908

But barring that the DOT's proposal is the next best thing.

Of course, I understood going in that there was some opposition to the plan.  For example, apparently some of the businesses on Broadway worried that the changes would affect their deliveries.  So I signed up to speak in order to point out that, among other things, it's a lot harder to patronize your local merchants after you've been killed trying to get there.

However, I knew it was going to be bad when at the first mention of bike lanes by the DOT a big "Boo!" rose from the crowd.  Turning to take inventory of the boo-ers, I got the sense that it had been many years since they'd felt the joys of being on a bike, or indeed experienced any kind of joy at all.  Nevertheless, the DOT made their presentation and then opened up the floor to public comment, and I was the second person to speak:

I remember the booing.  I also remember ignoring the multiple reminders that my time was up as well as the switching off of the mic.  The rest was a blur.

After that came at least 30 other speakers, and while a number of them were also in support of the plan it would seem there's definitely a correlation between hating bike lanes, being retired, and having three hours to spend at a community board meeting on a Thursday night.  Arguments against the proposal included the following:

  • Most of the 12 people who have been killed on Broadway since 2010 deserved to die;
  • 50 years ago I commuted to work in Manhattan by car and it was easy because of the way the traffic lights were timed so that's all we need to do here too;
  • This isn't Park Slope;
  • Cyclists from Ulster County (now that's random) will come down to ride on Broadway because of the bike lane, but once they get here they'll ignore the bike lane and ride in the middle of the road;
  • 50 years ago I used to ride my bike on the Grand Concourse to Yankee Stadium and if you can't ride on Broadway now without a bike lane then you're stupid;
  • Why can't we build a jughandle in the park so it's easier to turn;
  • Broadway is a disaster but this proposal won't solve [specific thing that annoys me] so let's just scrap the whole thing;
  • Bikers don't stop at lights and anyway why can't they just use the park.*

*[Where for the most part cycling isn't allowed, plus there's also the small matter of hills and forests.]

It was also fairly obvious that many of the people speaking against the proposal had never seen an actual bike lane outside of news stories like this one.  This seemed to tie in with the fierce sense of localism in the room, as certain people went out of their way to establish their neighborhood bona-fides.  (One person who spoke in favor of the proposal was heckled for being from Spuyten Duyvil, which is right nearby and represented by the same community board.)  And while certainly people's knowledge of their neighborhoods counts for a lot, there's something to be said for, you know, checking out how things are going in other parts of the city occasionally.

This may not be Park Slope, but if you don't want to replicate Prospect Park West on Broadway along Van Cortlandt Park you're kinda nuts.

On and on it went, and it does something to your soul to hear your neighbors express hostility towards something that is ultimately so vital to your (and their) well-being.  For example, it really sucks to find out the owner of the place you take your kids for pizza after the park is against the whole plan because "a bike lane won't work here."  (Do you even ride a bike?  How would you know?)  In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd even go so far as to say there are a surprising number of people who act against their own interests simply out of anger and resentment.  But that couldn't be true.  Could it?

At the same time, I also felt bad for them, since in their ignorance they don't even realize they're swatting away a lavish gift from the city that will make their neighborhood safer and more attractive and ultimately improve everybody's quality of life.

But then I remember it's my neighborhood too and I stop feeling bad for them.

Anyway, to their credit, both Council Member Andrew Cohen and State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz backed the plan.  But then the Community Board Chair Daniel Padernacht pulled a real weaselly move:

The board voted in favor of that resolution and that was that.

Hopefully in the end the DOT makes the right decision and goes ahead with this, and it's inspiring to see how tirelessly TA pushes for this stuff, but in the meantime it looks like I gotta find a new pizza place.