Taking a big city in the slow lane.

Cycling through Chelsea in New York. Credit Wikipedia.

We’ve talked before about the miles and miles of bike lanes being prioritized in some of the world’s largest cities.  Los Angeles intends to establish a 1700-mile network of bike lanes. Likewise, Boston, London, Sydney and San Francisco are attempting to encourage increased bike ridership by making bike trips safer and more convenient.  Cities are finally realizing that it makes economic sense to accommodate bikes over cars to the extent that they can.  Washington D.C. intends to quintuple the number of bike riders to its Metro stations, acknowledging that the construction of a single car park runs about USD$25,000 while the cost of a secure space for bike parking runs about USD$1000.

I came across this New York Times article today and thought it was a perfectly nice love letter to the journeys we experience on two wheels.  “On a bike time bends.  Space expands and contracts.”  Yeah.  You’ve felt that right?  The trip you’ve taken a hundred times by car or bus is suddenly more colorful, more detailed, more rich.  Like, life is being fulfilled with every single pedal push.

I thought the article was also a great reminder that cultivating love is never easy.  New York is another one of those cities pushing bike lanes into its chaotic web of roads.  The very culture of New York is shifting with the imposition of new protected lanes.  Some people are incensed.  Cars have been shut out of Times Square.  Pedestrians, cyclists and cars have to negotiate new intersections.  But, everyone will learn.  And, ultimately, that’s my favorite bit about this article.  Just like love is sometimes not very convenient, neither is change.  But that doesn’t mean that neither should be pursued.

In the 70s, after a decaying elevated freeway collapsed, New York almost dropped a replacement freeway right into the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods of SoHo and the West Village.  Sound familiar?  Luckily, it was stopped and now those neighborhoods thrive.  So much so that one of the cheapest– and most interesting and romantic and enthralling and memorable– ways to experience them now is by bike.



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