Despite some very bitter and ugly public battles, a majority of New Yorkers approve of bike lanes, according to a poll released this week. The Quinnipiac University poll found that 56 percent of city voters say bike lanes “are good because it’s greener and healthier for people to ride.” The biggest bike lane supporters are in Manhattan, with approval ranging from 62 to 35 percent. Only in Staten Island do voters demonize bikers, with up to 54 percent of voters agreeing that “the lanes are bad because it leaves less room for cars which increases traffic.”
That doesn’t bode well for bike-friendly Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s plan to continue building a bike lane and greenway around the South and West Shores of Staten Island. In fact, some of the biggest political opposition to bike lanes has come from Staten Island pols, such as Councilman James Oddo, who successfully lobbied to kill the bike lane of the borough’s Father Capodanno Boulevard last year.
Even though the city points to studies that say more people are biking than ever before (Check out the city’s neat Sustainable Streets Index), New Yorkers told Quinnipiac that they just don’t see that many cyclists around town. Almost half of city votes think bike lanes are not widely used, and 26 percent don’t know if people use them.
Perhaps to curb criticism that she was biased toward bikers, Sadik-Khan’s crew at the Transportation Department has recently created a series of “Don’t be a Jerk” YouTube videos, in which celebs like chef Mario Batali gently scold cyclists for not following basic traffic rules (and for scaring the heck out of drivers).
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 12, 2011