Last Friday, May 17, was National Bike to Work Day. Transportation Alternatives set up “fueling stations” at various commuter entry points to Manhattan’s CBD, so naturally I stopped by on the Greenway at 72nd St.
It seems the biggest topic these days is Citi Bike. Everyone wants to know how this system will work out. Personally, I’m very excited for the launch, and quite curious to witness how this changes the city. I’ve been following all the complaints about the bike share locations, but frankly it all seems like a bunch of typical NIMBYism. I even had one guy approach me at work while I was changing into my cycling clothes in the locker room to give me his opinion. Apparently the popular view is to say, “I’m all for bikes, bike lanes, and bike share, but I’m against the way they’re doing the station placement.” Give me a break! If there’s gonna be bike share, the stations need to go somewhere, and the public streets are just that, public property. The city is moving away from driving more and more these days, and to replace a car parking spot with 6-8 bike share stations seems like an excellent trade-off to me.
People also want to know how this will change NYC. Well, if other cities like London, Paris, D.C., and Boston are any indication, it will improve total traffic flow (flow of people, not just of cars), lower pedestrian and cyclist fatalities (as drivers will be forced to slow down), be a big boon to bars, clubs, and other night life establishments, and hopefully change the political dynamic for more and better bike infrastructure on NYC’s busy streets.
So back to the bike-to-work day fueling station. I got some coffee, which was a notch above the dreck served up by the Flavia single-serve machines at work. I also took a few KIND energy bars and ate some fresh orange slices, but I was disappointed they didn’t have the coconut water they advertised. I listened in to some of the other conversations going on, which, besides Citi Bike, were mostly questions about how to get around to various points in Upper Manhattan from the Greenway, which is not always obvious. The construction on the bike path at 133rd St. certainly doesn’t help things. As for the ride itself, perhaps there were a bit more cyclists out there on the Greenway that morning, but given that it was a pleasant day anyhow, I’m not sure it was any different.
Bike to work day is nice, but I don’t think it’s going to change anything. If we really want to increase the cycling mode share in NYC, it’s going to take much more than that.