Monday, January 25, 2010

Bedford Ave Discussion

On Monday night, a discussion was held at Pete's Candy Store in Greenpoint to address the ongoing debate of the Bedford Ave bike lane, or lack thereof. Moderated by James Hook, who hosts a biweekly discussion at the venue, the panel was comprised of local Jewish bike store owner and promoter Baruch Herzfeld, Hassidic Jew and city council candidate Isaac Abraham, Transportation Alternatives bike advocate Caroline Samponaro, local bike advocate Lyla Durden, and loudmouth bike messenger/ringleader Heather Loop.

The overall message was that everybody agrees the debate really isn't a cultural issue as it is often described, but rather a safety issue (according to Abraham) or a crooked power brokered move (according to Baruch) the later with which I agree most. The debate continued as to the biggest of the current and real dangers on the street and whether or not the lane should be reinstalled. Although the risks to both bikers and pedestrians were cited to be substantial, a single resolution couldn't be met by all. Abraham seemed to be arguing alone that removal of the lane was the right decision, because adding it in the first place was a mistake. All others agreed that the bike lane was not only a necessary component of a viable bicycle transportation network, but something that promotes a positive practice in so many facets. In facing strong opposition, Abraham stated at one point, "I'm supposed to go to the people and say it's your way or the hi way?" to which Hook cleverly responded "Their way IS the hi way..."

My logic is that if you truly want to discourage cyclists, the only option is to not allow them at all. Removing a bike lane but acknowledging that bikers are still on the road is hypocritical. Furthermore, allowing them should require a lane on any street they use. That leaves two options: bikes or no bikes; lane or no lane; no middle ground. The middle ground is obviously more dangerous than having a lane, as proved by statistics stated by Caroline. Since bikes should always be allowed then they should be protected with a lane, and this is the obvious better choice compared to prohibiting them altogether. Furthermore, a protected lane is even better than a marked one.

One day the right people will either wake up or be pressured to revert Bedford Ave to its obvious safer condition. In the meantime the danger will continue to loom.

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