The war against the car is getting more heated.
|Aug 21||Public post|| 1|
Work crews began setting up a protected bike lane along Central Park West, which eliminated about 200 parking spaces in an almost mile-long stretch.
The next day, a luxury Central Park West condo went to court to block the bike lane. In many cities there is a battle between bicyclists and motorists for precious space on city streets.
The problem is that the streets are too narrow to accommodate delivery trucks, cars, pedestrians and bicycle lanes. If a city gets more dedicated bike lanes, then there is less street parking, less lanes for traffic, or narrower sidewalks.
In this struggle between drivers and bicyclists, both sides use emotive phrases to persuade the public, the planners and the politicians that they are being hard done by.
Narrowing roads to eliminate street parking or to remove a traffic lane is called “road diets” by commuters who hate the idea of making their drive even more difficult.
One pro-car activist said that she had seen people cross the street while they were talking on their cellphones: “You know what? They deserve to get run over.”
On the other side, the arguments are equally questionable. “It’s only a little more than 100 years ago, with the rise of the automobile, that we started to give over to this one mode of transportation,” said one planner.
(Don’t people understand that cars & trucks replaced horse-drawn carriages and wagons?)
“What we’re seeing now is a counterrevolution” that involves “recognizing that streets and sidewalks are part of the public domain.” That has turned streets and sidewalks into “contested terrain,” especially as more people commute by bicycles.
(Part of the public domain? Have motorists ever said that city streets weren’t public spaces?)
Relegated to the margins
In this war of words, it is claimed that pedestrians are relegated to the margins (sidewalks).
These are examples of the loaded language being used:
• road diets
• War on the Car
• public domain
• contested terrain
• regulated to the margins
With phrases like these, both sides are using clever slogans to justify their positions. This makes compromise much harder to achieve.
Yet this is a serious issue. Bicycles must be physically separated from motor vehicles. It is too dangerous to have them use the same lanes as it is always the bicyclists that get hurt or killed.
How this is done, and how much society is willing to pay to make it happen are questions that we need answered.