Figueroa-Levin: The more bikes the better on NYC streets
A lot of people tell me that New York City is a great place to ride a bike. There are bike paths and greenways and, more and more, special lanes in the street.
A few years ago, I tried to ride my bike in one of the new bike lanes. I almost got hit by a car -- twice -- over the course of 15 minutes.
I've been terrified to ride in any setting but a car-free park ever since.
So my bicycle is sitting in my building's storage room untouched, waiting for the day when I can ride without fear of a severe injury-producing car impact.
Nevertheless, I'm excited about the new Citibike bike-share program. The name rubs me the wrong way -- I'm still angry about that prefix replacing my beloved Shea Stadium -- but I love the idea. There aren't any docking stations in my neighborhood yet (Hello? Can we get a little love uptown?), but I want more bike riders in the city.
My brave friends who are regular bikers often complain about reckless motorists and uncooperative police officers raining on their bike parade. Maybe with a growing number of cyclists on the street, motorists will be more careful and police will do a better job of investigating when accidents do occur.
More cyclists would probably lead to even more bike lanes. This is a big issue among the mayoral candidates, in fact. I know there are people who are very much against bike lanes, but why? Is it a parking thing? Screw the environment and air quality, I want my astronomically slim chances of actually finding a parking spot to be slightly better! If a car really means that much to you, go to New Jersey.
Another thing that I hope will come with more cyclists is more, and better, education on rules and safety for bikers. Forget taking driver's ed in high school; biker's ed should be offered. A class on how to avoid being hit by idiots using the bike lane to weave around cars in stalled traffic would have been a lot more helpful to me than the standard driver's ed on what traffic signs I needed to know in case I ever found myself with a need to go to New Jersey. A section in those defensive driving classes on how not to kill cyclists would also be a good idea.
All I want is to ride in a bike lane in peace -- and for the money I pay to keep my bike in storage to finally be worth it.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican, @EveryGentrifier and @ElBloombito.