2008-11-21 / Editorial/Opinion

Shared Bike Lanes: Bring Out The Body Bags

Just when you believe that you've seen everything there is to see, the city comes up with a new twist that defines the old saw, "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." We were angered when the city painted out the right-hand lanes on both sides of Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 126 Street to Beach 149 Street. We thought that was a pretty dumb idea until we saw the "shared bike lanes" that run eastward from Beach 126 Street all the way to Beach 108 Street. Get the body bags ready. Shared bike lanes have come to Rockaway, and it's going to get bloody pretty quickly. What are shared bike lanes? Lanes that are designed to be shared equally by buses, trucks, cars and bicycles. You heard that right. Teenagers on bikes are now going to share a dedicated bike lane with van drivers and MTA buses. The DOT says that the shared lanes are "a smart addition to the DOT's toolbox and will help grow the city's bike network, making our city more inviting to biking." See, that is the crux of the deal. Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised his bike-loving friends that the city would install umpteen thousand miles of new bike lanes, and he is going to do that even though there is no room on many city streets for the lanes to be painted. The executive director of Transportation Alternatives, one of Bloomberg's best buddies, said recently. "The new markings and signs are intended to make both bicyclists and motorists aware of the single lane, to which both users have equal access. With these designs, the DOT is encouraging bicyclists to ride assertively outside of the 'door zone' and expecting motorists to be patient and pass bikes only with ample clearance and at a modest speed." Take a look at Rockaway Beach Boulevard around Beach 116 Street and you will quickly realize what a bonehead plan this really is. There is hardly room for two cars driving in opposite directions to pass each other, especially when somebody is double-parked on the northern side of the street or is illegally parked on the southern side of the street. Add some teenager riding his or her bike in that same lane, and you have a ticket for disaster. We urge the city to rethink its "shared bike lane" policy. Bike lanes are fun when they are in a proper setting. A major thoroughfare where there is no room for bikes to co-exist with cars buses and trucks is not the proper setting in which to place a kid on a bike.

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