2009-07-10 / Editorial/Opinion

The Mayor's Obsession With Bicycles

The other day, we were driving east on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 116 Street when a teen on a bicycle turned off the shopping street heading east as well. Between us was a small truck, the kind used by plumbers and electricians for their businesses. The bike was moving slowly in the middle of the lane, in what the city calls "a shared bike lane." The truck driver beeped for the bicyclist to move over. He refused, pointing instead to the markings on the street that showed that it was his lane, not the truck's. The truck attempted to pass the bike, but could not because of oncoming traffic in the other lane. A long line of traffic stretched out behind the bicycle rider, perhaps two or three blocks long. It was clear that teen was enjoying blocking traffic on the busy thoroughfare. Then, frustrated, the truck driver sped around the teen, forcing him to the sidewalk. We fear that the shared bike lane on Rockaway Beach Boulevard may soon become a tragedy, with a bike rider mowed down by an errant truck or bus. That is what comes from the mayor's obsession with bike lanes. Even as the mayor cuts hiring of police and firefighters, his Department of Traffic continues a headlong push to create 1,800 miles of bike lanes in the city, even if it means that the bicyclists have to share those lanes with motorists. We are taught from an early age to share. In this case, however, sharing is not very good and may even be deadly. We can understand that riding a bike is healthier than driving a car, and that more people should bike. Forcing cars, trucks and buses to share lanes with bicyclists on a two-lane road, however, is a recipe for disaster.

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