What happens when you throw 10,000 publicly available bikes into one of the most crowded, dense cities in America?
Check New York City in a few months.
The announcement earlier this year that the city (with a “y”) was partnering with Citi (with an “i”) to create a network of bike-sharing stations met with broad approval. (Except from the New York Post, which will hate anything as long as doing so generates a funny headline.) Stations will be predominantly located in Manhattan, with a few outposts just across the river in Queens and Brooklyn — though not in heavily Orthodox South Williamsburg.
This week, Bloomberg interviewed people around the city to gauge anticipated reactions to the influx of two-wheeled transport. Their prediction: “Bikelash.”
Chris Johannesen, who rides recreationally near his home in Queens, said the bike-share will succeed only if riders feel safe on the streets.
“I love to bike in the city, personally, though I feel like it’s more dangerous for some people than others,” Johannesen, 34, said on his lunch break in Times Square this week. “If people don’t feel safe riding the bikes in the city, then it may never take off.” …
Mike Ray, a manager at Ray Beauty Supply on Eighth Avenue, said he was concerned that the lanes are hurting business. They’ve cut on down on parking and hindered the ability of delivery trucks to access his storefront, he said.
“New York City was never designed for biking,” he said.
That’s true — though, of course, the city was never designed for automobiles, either.
This comment is the one that seems closest to target.
“There are 8.4 million New Yorkers, and I’ve come to believe there are 8.4 million traffic engineers,” Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the architect of the bike programs, said in a telephone interview.
At the end of the day, what Citi and the city have done is introduce 10,000 more things for people to complain about. In a town where no opportunity to moan and argue is an unwelcome one, the bikes will fit in just fine.