The Right Way to Solve Our Urban Commuting Woes
There are so many kooky futuristic ideas floating around about how to fix the MTA and the impending L-Train shutdown here in New York. There's the inflatable bridge, the East River Skyway (gondola), driverless cars, a Hyperloop, even this ridiculous idea to turn the subway tunnels into e-bike superhighways, which sounds god-awful to me. (Why would I want to ride a Segway up to Harlem through an underground tunnel? I’d much prefer to sit on a subway thanks!).
Really, the way to improve our urban commuting woes that makes the most sense is actually pretty boring, and simple. It’s just the bicycle, the boring old bicycle. The idea that will work, won’t cost that much, won’t require completely reinventing our city’s infrastructure and will have health benefits for residents as well, is just creating a culture—and road infrastructure— that supports biking. I know it’s not as dreamy as a gondola flying across the East River, or as futuristic as blasting downtown underground on a hoverboard, but it’s tried and true and it just makes sense.
How do we do it?
With bike-only streets (maybe every ten blocks in Manhattan). A bike only avenue (set Broadway free!). MORE Citi Bikes. More protected bike lanes and intersections. Bike-friendly subway cars. More electric bikes. More places to lock up bikes. By ticketing cars and trucks blocking bike lanes. And, by telling the cops to stop parking in bike lanes.
It’s actually pretty easy, especially when compared to Hyperloops, inflatable bridges, inexistent driverless car technology, and gondolas. Gondolas!
People WILL bike year round, and they WILL bike in New York. But to get more people on bikes - and not relying on subways - we need to normalize biking, just as they’ve done plenty of other places.
The solution already exists, we just need to embrace it.