NEW YORK (CBS 2) — No bicycle? No problem.
New York may flood the city streets with thousands of inexpensive rental bikes, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
Supporters say pedal power will improve the environment and riders’ health, but others fear it’ll add to the “bike bedlam” in the Big Apple.
Imagine a plan to add almost 50,000 additional bikes to New York City.
“Well, if there’s less cars – I think people would like it,” one resident said.
“Oh, I think it would be a great plan – for idiots,” said another.
Well, some very smart people think it would be brilliant. The Bloomberg administration is looking at a plan to bring a “bike share” program to the five boroughs.
Denver, Colo., rolled out it’s bike share in April, with 400 bikes. You can pick one up at a kiosk in one part of the Mile High City, ride to your heart’s content, and then drop it off at any other kiosk – and all for just $5 a day.
The New York City bike share proposal would begin with 10,500 bikes, and quickly expand to 49,000 two-wheelers.
“It’s going to create more havoc!” a New Yorker who opposed the plan said.
“Get people out of cars, onto the streets and onto bikes,” said a supporter.
For all the complaints about rogue bike riders, the city says the dramatic reshaping of roads to accommodate riders is calming traffic.
“We are doing everything we can to design safer, better-performing streets,” NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.
Sadik-Khan said what’s happened in the Bowery is typical. After a car lane was eliminated and travel lanes for bicycles were added near Allen and Delancey streets, pedestrian injuries dropped 54 percent compared to the six prior years.
“If you ride the bike on the sidewalk, you can hit a kid or an old person or somebody – that’s just not fair,” Prospect Park resident Michael Regent said. “It’s fair to bikers that they give us our own lane. I live by bike.”
Critics see the biking expansion, though, and wonder: where’s the enforcement?
“This is a public safety issue – cut and dried – and it’s being ignored,” Jack Brown, of the Coalition Against Rogue Riding, said.
It was ignored Thursday morning, when CBS 2 saw four bikers going against traffic, rolling right past NYPD officers in the Bowery.
Wednesday night in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, a wrong-way rider hit a pedestrian.
“I saw the guy bleeding like crazy,” Williamsburg resident Shia Klein said. “It was awful to see it.”
Seven minutes later, a second wrong-way rider hit a second pedestrian.
Rolling down Bedford Avenue, CBS 2 saw a delivery rider who was supposed to be wearing a helmet. He, too, was riding the wrong way.
The driver’s manager, Sam Weiss, told CBS 2 that he’ll double-check DOT rules, and tell his delivery riders to follow them.
With the city working hard to further expand biking, critics wish it would also further expand enforcement – and education.
The city says despite quality complaints about rogue bike riders, New York City streets have never been safer. Annual traffic deaths are down 35 percent since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office.