FOR the past two decades, New York has been an inspiration to other American cities looking to revive themselves. Yes, New York had a lot of crime, but somehow it also still had neighborhoods, and a core that had never been completely abandoned to the car. Lately, though, as far as pedestrian issues go, New York is acting more like the rest of America, and the rest of America is acting more like the once-inspiring New York.
Sullivan goes on to describe the moves being made by cities all across the U.S., from “Albuquerque, where one-way streets have become more pedestrian-friendly two-way streets, and car lanes are replaced by bike lanes, with bike racks everywhere,” to “the nation’s auto-capital, Detroit, where a new pedestrian plaza anchors downtown.”
These changes he contrasts with NYC, where the current mayor recently stated it’s up to cyclists to clear out of the way of cars (he was talking about a cyclist who was killed by a drunk driver speeding along a grade-separated Hudson River bicycle lane): “Even if they’re in the right, they are the lightweights.”
Mayor Bloomberg is wrong, (next he will rewrite the law of the sea, to say “sail better give way to steam”) but can he be blamed for his inability to stand up to the bullies on our roads? Isn’t he just stating a “truth,” more or less? Bloomberg is just spouting the Gospel of the Car Ad.
After all, it was in New York that Henry Bliss was killed in 1899, making him the first pedestrian to be killed by a car (and it was in New York city that Canadian Maher Arar was detained and shipped off for a year’s torture in a Syrian jail).
The “lightweights” in the New York system better not expect any support from the law.
On the other hand, it’s good to know that as peak oil ratchets up the cost of owning a car, people who have cars can move happily to New York City where they will have less and less distance to cover in their automobiles.
Also, it’s flat enough that pushing a car in many areas of the city will not be too onerous a burden.