I was sure he was going to scream.
I’d been biking near the Washington Monument, caught in a tailwind littered with cherry blossom petals, when I nearly blew through a red light and right into his leg. By the time he lifted his eyes from my bike tire, unwrapped the two young girls he’d enveloped with fatherly concern, and tipped back his black #3 NASCAR cap, I was blushing and bracing and stuttering, “Sorry!”
He looked me in the eye and with a southern smile said, “Where can we get some of those bikes?” Speechless, I pointed towards a bike share station, and off he went, dragging his kids along for the ride.
With public bike share systems popping up in Washington D.C., Boston and a handful of other U.S. cities, more Americans, like my newfound southern friend, are discovering the joy and convenience of urban cycling. New Yorkers are next. This summer, North America’s largest public bike share system—composed of 10,000 bikes and 600 stations—will open right here.
What will those thousands of new bikers think when they venture out for the first time? Certainly, that cycling is great, but this is New York, so I’m guessing that many will ask tough questions too: Why does this bike lane suddenly end? What’s with all these drivers parking here? Why don’t the police ticket these jokers?
With the 2013 mayoral election fast approaching, those kinds of questions are a precious opportunity. Between bike share, T.A.’s huge team of Bike Ambassadors and the new website BikeNYC.org, Transportation Alternatives’ issues are positioned to be more pressing, more popular and more politically powerful than ever before. So, the next time you have a run-in with someone who’s new to their bike or interested in yours—even if they look like they’re ready to shout—be sure to tell them about Transportation Alternatives. We’re here to help, and we’re out on the streets, fighting for better biking, walking and public transit.
Paul Steely White