Well, it happened, the mayor’s getting annoyed with the bike people:
It’s unclear whether Mayor Adams’s use of “ride your little bike” is meant to evoke Keith Maddox, and his own famous exhortation to “Ride your little bye-sickle!,” or if it’s merely a coincidence:
Either way, Keith Maddox remains without a doubt the most colorfully exuberant bike-hater of all time, and while I may find his views regarding cyclists abhorrent, I’d absolutely watch a sitcom based on him.
As for Adams, he took office on January 1st, 2022, and while he was often photographed on a bicycle with a backwards fork:
He was unabashedly pro-bike and even rode one to work:
Something New Yorkers hadn’t seen in like 50 years:
Apart from the odd photo-op, that is:
Is there anything more uncomfortable than a politician with a bike?
Awkward. So awkward:
[I was at the shop that day when he bought it, I just happened to be there buying something.]
So why the apparent change in attitude? Well, there are several possibilities:
- Burnout — New York City mayors simply can’t handle it in the age of social media, and the constant derision from all sides turns them miserable and ornery in short order. (Just look at Bill de Blasio.)
- Bike People Really Are That Annoying — Follow any advocate on Twitter for long enough and you’ll find that they’ve got an uncanny ability to turn you against them in short order, no matter how staunchly you may believe in bikes
- He’s Completely Full Of It
That last one is of course the most likely, though no doubt it’s seasoned with a bit of #1 and #2. But while advocates often cite how far behind he is on building bike lanes, and how he’s caved on some of their pet projects, we all knew the city would never pull most of that stuff off anyway. No, where he’s been most disappointing as far as transportation goes recently is the manner in which he’s failing people who ride the bus:
If you’re unfamiliar with New York, basically the city was going to build a busway on the second-busiest route in the entire city, which runs across the Bronx along Fordham Road, and he weaseled out of it because of people who drive in from the suburbs to go to the zoo or whatever. Unlike a bike lane, which is arguably speculative in that the idea is it will bring more riders who aren’t currently using the route, and which the disingenuous like to claim only serves white gentrifiers and “biker bros” or whatever, the bus riders are already there, and there are a lot of them–virtually none of whom fit the aforementioned descriptions. Moreover, these buses are barely moving–I’ve ridden this bus route, and it’s disgustingly, criminally slow; it’s no exaggeration to say it can take 20 minutes to travel a single block. And I only take the bus over there once in a blue moon, like when I have to go to traffic court to get found guilty and fined $190. But if I didn’t already have a car and I had to ride the bus along that route every day I’d certainly do whatever the hell I had to do to get one–in fact I might even get so desperate I’d ride one of those goddamn scooters like the people in the photo. (I mean yes, obviously I’d actually ride a bike, but I’m pretending I’m a normal person for the sake of argument.)
Of course, people use a lot of the the same arguments against bus lanes and busways that they do about bike lanes–they’re bad for business, blah, blah blah:
So you wind up with a bike lane here, and a bus lane there, though it’s often of limited utility because it doesn’t connect with anything which is ultimately self-defeating:
Sure, in a sensible city you could have bike lanes and bus lanes, but this is New York City, and instead of doing stuff that makes sense they put the bus stops in the fucking bike lanes:
This is how you know they’re not really committed to either. It’s like taking halva and roast beef, which are both perfectly good on their own, and making a really off-putting sandwich out of them.
The thing is, as much as I personally love bicycling, and want a nice fancy interconnected bike lane network, if the city’s going to focus on any non-car mode of transport at this point the truth is it really should be the bus. As a wise blogger once said:
Meanwhile, you keep hearing about e-bikes and how they’re going to fix everything. The whole “e-bikes will get people out of cars” thing is insulting for a few reasons:
- Bikes are great–the best wheeled thing going as far as I’m concerned–but they didn’t get people out of cars
- Now they’re selling out regular bikes for e-bikes and practically paying people to ride them based on the premise that they will get people out of cars
- The bus has a daily ridership of over a million people and actually does keep people out of cars, plus nobody could possibly argue more bus lanes only benefits white gentrifiers and “bus bros,” but all you hear about are the fucking e-bikes
The DOT estimates around 55,000 people commute by bike every day–citywide. Meanwhile, that Fordham road bus route alone sees like 85,000 daily riders.
Unfortunately, buses are boring as fuck.
Here’s how it works:
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is how all performance bike drivetrains work within the next 10-20 years. Just you wait.