Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky â€“ who, for the record, I like â€“ got it wrong in his piece today on the new Center City bike lanes.
What's not good was expressed by neighborhood resident Scott Shandler, 33, walking his Boston bull terrier, Lexie, when he saw the press gaggle and asked what was happening. When he learned a full traffic lane of Pine and Spruce had been dedicated (surrendered?) to bicyclists, he said, "I don't like it at all" because "there's not enough room for everyone."
Scott Shandler's right, in a way: lack of space is a big issue, especially in Center City â€“ but because there are too many cars.
Yeah, I know what's coming. You know where the comment section is. But for those out there who didn't blow-torch their ears shut on this issue long ago, hear me out:
You know, perfectly well, drivers â€“ better than anyone â€“ that traffic sucks in Center City. Parking sucks. The streets are narrow; the traffic flow is byzantine.
That's not bikes' fault â€“ it's other cars that are holding you up, buddy. The roots of the problem are more than half a century old. In the glory days of super-cheap gas, we filled our cities with streets, highways, and cars, cars, cars. We built roads bigger and bigger to try and get the cars through them quicker â€“ but they just kept filling up. We built interstate highways through the hearts of our cities â€“ right through beautiful Fairmount Park in our case â€“ and those filled up, too.
Stu complains that we've given "prime real estate" over to bikes â€“ an absurd notion when you compare it with the valuable real estate â€“ virtually our entire city â€“ that we've given over to cars.
The fact that so many people have to drive every day â€“ and no one's saying that isn't the case â€“ is largely the result of half a century of building our cities around cars. We can't reverse those decisions overnight, but putting in a couple of bike lanes is a pretty cheap way to start â€“ a hell of a lot cheaper than those tax-subsidized highways we've all paid for.
Being pro-bike lanes doesn't mean being anti-cars. Hell, the fewer people driving, the less traffic for you, my automotive friend.
And as for Stu's complaint â€“ so often echoed by readers here on the Clog â€“ that bikers behave badly:
Stu: Most of the bad bikers out there are simply inexperienced and scared. Riding in traffic is scary. You want bikes to behave more consistently? Give them a lane.
Which is exactly what we did.
Last, I hereby invite Stu to ride the lanes with me. We can start by the Delaware, end at the Schuylkill, and have some cheese and crackers and talk about it.