New York is a notoriously tough town to try out anything, whether it be a Broadway play, a comedy act – or bicycle lanes.
Everybody’s a critic.
Such was the case in 2006, when the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to greatly increase the number of traffic lanes designated for bicycles instead of motor vehicles.
The decision prompted a lawsuit by some residents of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, who argued in part that bike lanes reduced space for cars; some merchants claimed that the lanes impeded truck deliveries; others grumbled generally about government overreach.
But now, six years after the city has added about 255 miles of lanes previously used only by motor vehicles, New Yorkers seem to be coming around to the idea that bike lanes aren’t so bad after all, judging from a survey published Wednesday in The New York Times.
“When asked simply whether the bike lanes were a good idea or a bad idea, 66 percent of New Yorkers said they were a good idea,” the Times reported, citing a poll conducted by the newspaper.
“A majority in all boroughs said they thought the lanes were a good idea, with support highest in Manhattan.
“Twenty-seven percent of residents called the lanes a bad idea, and 7 percent had no opinion or did not answer,” the Times said.
“The poll results suggest that residents have gradually become accustomed to bike lanes, which have been frequent targets of tabloid ire and are already emerging as a flash point in the 2013 mayoral race.”
New Yorkers who told pollsters that they favored the bike lanes “cited environmental, health and safety benefits, as well as the addition of more space for bicyclists to ride. Some respondents said they were simply happy that the lanes had encouraged bicyclists to stop riding on the sidewalk.”
The Times said the poll of 1,026 adults was conducted Aug. 10 to 15 using landline phones and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
So there you have it. To paraphrase the Frank Sinatra song “New York, New York,” if bicycle lanes can make it there, they can make it anywhere.
We hope, anyway.