Old Newspaperman Yells at Bike Lanes, Is Thoroughly Ridiculed


Yesterday, New York Daily News columnist Denis Hamill wrote a column called “I Hate Bike Lanes.”

A masterpiece of curmudgeonly Andy-Rooney grumbling, the column flashes back to Hamill’s memory of building his own first bicycle out of “assorted discarded parts mined from the wood bins of our tenement in Brooklyn.”

Learning to ride in Prospect, Hamill fell off his (all-lumber?) bicycle repeatedly, not even wearing a sissy helmet, and he took it like a man.

Here are two real actual sentences from the piece: “We didn’t need no stinking bicycle lanes. We blazed our own trails.”

O for the days when the entrepreneurial spirit of independence was the birthright of every child navigating his bicycle through heavy automobile traffic! But they are gone. Nowadays,

“Sheltered, helmeted kids getting zeroes in street-smarts pedal past with a clear path through life.

News flash: Life ain’t a smooth sail, kiddos! There’s a big crash just waiting at the end of every bike lane.”

Predictably, Hamill’s cranky nonsense hit the Internet like a rock striking a hornet’s nest.

Brooklyn Spoke called the column “Bikelash Mad Libs,” and pointed out how perfectly Hamill hewed to the formal conventions of anti-bike-lane jeremiad genre first identified by Adam Sternbergh.

Sternbergh himself weighed in with his own expert opinion:

The most devastating reaction probably came from Gothamist’s Christopher Robbins, who, after dissecting every piece of Hamill’s argument and throwing in a swipe at the columnist’s mustache for good measure, concludes, “There’s a sad Daily News anti-bike lane column at the end of every bloated journalist’s career.”

Perhaps tellingly, several years after the bike-lane battles reached their peak, the Daily News‘s own readers were almost universally disgusted by Hamill’s bullshit, expressing, pity, disappointment, disbelief, and the conviction that “Hamill, you are a disgrace to the New York Irish.”

At the end of his piece, Hamill tried to make a pivot toward city politics, calling for a mayoral candidate ready to “hit the brakes on bike lanes.”

If the popular response to his column is any indication, mayoral candidates will recognize that as a sucker’s move.