Stop riding the wrong way on the bike lanes.
This should be obvious. We’ve been thrown a huge bone by the Bloomberg administration, whose bike-friendly policies have made it possible for me to take a 25-mile ride from my front door to here and back, almost entirely free of car-related worry:
Beautiful, right? Especially for the 212. And a few idiots (actually, it’s a pretty large number of idiots) are messing it all up by riding down First Avenue and up Second.
Stop it! The aggressive, prickly, get-there-at-all-costs attitude that was necessary to survive a rush hour bike ride needs to be scaled back to accommodate the kinder, gentler, more bike-friendly New York.
Think of the pedestrian. You’re one, sometimes. When you ride the wrong way up the street, pedestrians aren’t looking your way before they cross. And remember the extent to which the NYC pedestrian’s world has been rocked by the new bike lanes; the same traffic realignment that gave us better intracity riding has made things harder on the folks going about on foot. We cyclists enjoy miles of new lanes protected from moving cars by a row of parked cars, and further protected from parked cars by a buffer zone designed to prevent an unaware automobile passenger slamming a bicyclist with a car door; pedestrians are reeling from the introduction of high-speed traffic to the five or six- foot safe haven between the curb and the passenger side of the parked car.
That zone is – or in many cases now, was – the most important piece of real estate for the savvy jaywalker. That’s the spot where the New Yorker goes to get a better viewing angle, to suss out the traffic situation and plan your move in peace without putting yourself at risk. Before a good jaywalk, like Lexington Avenue in midtown, you’d get over to that space and lie in wait for your opportunity to cross. And now, in many parts of the city, those spots are gone.
And think of the novice cyclist, a key political ally if you want these bike lanes to survive the next administration (remember, Bloomberg’s gone in a couple of years, and before going out like a bitch, then-serious mayoral contender Anthony Weiner pledged to run on a tear-out-the-lanes platform, even taunting Bloomberg to that effect). And when these guys dust off their Schwinns and take their first tenuous steps onto the city streets they’re greeted by… a banshee on two wheels tearing the wrong way up the street? We’re better than that. Let’s show our junior members some love.
Only about 3% of New Yorkers (236,000, according to a recent Times survey) bike daily; add in other regular riders and this pushes the total to… 10%, maybe? While the other 90% see no immediate, direct benefit, and have to fear for their lives every moment they’re off the curb? This doesn’t seem like a sustainable state of affairs – we need to increase our numbers, and we need to earn some goodwill among the 90% for whom the new bike lanes mostly represent inconvenience and outright terror.
So pretty please, with sugar on top. Ride with traffic.
Speaking of things that are known to go upstream, here’s how you should prepare salmon. It’s a quintessential Portable Chef-compatible technique: delicious, easy, and foolproof. Thanks to Andy G for teaching me this.