Well That Tracks…

There are certain events we all look forward to with quivering anticipation:

And People For Bikes would love you to believe that one of those is the release of their annual city ratings, which I guess just happened:

So which is the best city in America to ride around in on a hybrid while wearing half-shorts and turning your helmeted head nervously every few yards for fear of an overtaking driver in a leased crossover vehicle? Well, before we get to that, let’s look at my city. BECAUSE THIS IS MY BLOG GODDAMMIT!

So here we go:

I had no idea wat a city ranking of “55” means, so I headed to their interactive map of “high-stress and low-stress areas for bicycling in New York City:”

Unfortunately this left me even more confused. Apparently an area with a low BNA score is red, and an area with a high BNA score is blue:

But what is a BNA score? Do you want a high one or a low one? I had no idea whether I should mourn or celebrate:

I figured zooming in on my own area would be helpful, but it wasn’t at all, since it was pretty much equal parts blue and red, and in a way that made little sense to me:

So I read more about the BNA score on their site, and that wasn’t helpful either:

Like, I get it measures how useful and comfortable the bike network is or whatever, but I still had no idea how to interpret the score. I mean sure, we’re talking bike advocates here, so you can generally assume blue means good and red means bad, because that’s how their minds work. But I still couldn’t reconcile that against the actual map of the city:

If red is bad then why is Central Park and the Brooklyn waterfront red? Both are about as low-stress as it gets and connect to other areas. Yet if blue is good then how can most of interior Brooklyn and Queens be good? (Ride a bike across the length of Brooklyn or Queens. I promise you it’s not good–at least in the way the sorts of people who listen to organizations like People for Bikes would consider good.) The islands of Jamaica Bay are red, which if red is bad makes sense, since they’re just marshes and sandbars, they don’t connect to anything, and you’d only go there on a boat to dig clams. But half of City Island is red and the other half is blue, which…why?

I dunno. None of it made a lick of sense as far as I could tell.

As for that overall score of 55, I guess it puts us right in the middle:

Most people would be satisfied with that, but for New York City being in the middle is the kiss of death, so presumably this is People For Bikes’s way of subtly giving us the finger.

We are indeed number one when it comes to mediocrity:

As for the top large cities, I guess this is the podium:

I dunno, I’m afraid I can’t take any of these seriously as “large cities.” They’ve got about as many people as the Town of Hempstead on Long Island, and with the exception of San Francisco they’ve got a lower population density to boot.

As for the best cities overall, I’m afraid I can’t take those seriously on any level:

Those are not cities. This is like saying the best grocery store in America is the salt water taffy shoppe at Disneyland.

Please note this is not me feeling superior as a New Yorker; it’s quite the opposite, I can assure you, and I’m well aware I’m a dupe living in an overpriced craphole. In fact our public transit system is so pathetic they’ve given up on tracks and just drive the trains around on trucks instead:

Hey, it beats taking the bus.

And at least we’ve got wildlife:

Greatest city on Earth.

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