An opinion against the Bike and the ‘War on Cars’

This was published at the letters column in NYT on July 1st.

Invitation to a Dialogue: A City of Bike Clutter

To the Editor:

The horrendous bicycle congestion in Amsterdam (“The Dutch Prize Their Pedal Power, but a Sea of Bikes Swamps Their Capital,” Amsterdam Journal, June 21) portends my worst fears for New York City if Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s crusade to promote cycling at any cost is not scaled back by his successor.

In addition to the ubiquitous tombstone-like parking stands for the new bike-sharing program, Citi Bike, more and more bikes are appearing on our sidewalks, clumsily chained in bunches to anything stationary, cluttering pedestrian areas and complicating emergency services, trash collection and sanitation.

The density and vertical nature of our city mean that hundreds of cyclists could live, and park, on a single block, leaving neighborhoods with all the charm of a junkyard.

Cycling should be neither deterred nor promoted, but certainly not singled out as a privileged mode of conveyance whose operators enjoy segregated lanes, free parking and exemption from the licensing, insurance and safety precautions (like helmets) required for other two-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles.

GARY TAUSTINE
New York, June 25, 2013

Editors’ Note: We invite readers to respond by Tuesday for the Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Taustine’s rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail: letters@nytimes.com

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A very interesting article by Aaron Wiener, published on April 19th, 2013  

There Is No War on Cars, So why do we keep hearing so much about it?

If the District of Columbia is in the midst of a war on cars, then last month was its Gettysburg. Each bit of news about the city’s streets was met with a verbal assault, as predictably as a red light follows a yellow. The 1.8 million parking tickets issued last year? “A war on the 400,000 drivers who come into the city every day,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II told WTOP. A proposal to allow developers near Metro stations to build as many or few parking spaces as they wanted? “A very dangerous proposal” that “threatens the future of Washington, D.C.,” Townsend’s colleague Lon Anderson told WAMU. The city’s push to promote biking, walking, and transit? “A strategy for decay and for sending future residents and businesses to the suburbs,” D.C. political gadfly Gary Imhoff opined in his biweekly email blast. An annoying traffic jam as Washingtonian national editor Harry Jaffe tried to get downtown for a meeting? “Cars losing war for D.C. streets” was the headline on his Washington Examiner column.

The “war on cars” rhetoric has been crescendoing for months, but now it’s reached an unsustainable volume. So before things go any further, let’s break the spell and say what needs to be said.

There is no war on cars.

There is no public official who wants to take away your old Camry. There is no proposal to force you to ride the Metro or bus. There is no gang of cyclists scheming to expand bike lanes until they consume the whole road. There is no plot, no conspiracy, no plan, no war.

So why are we hearing so much about it? Continue Reading ….. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/44173/there-is-no-war-on-cars/

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