As Toronto fights smart planning and removes sustainable transportation infrastructure (indeed, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so), New York City Mayor Bloomberg continues to espouse how great bike lanes are. In NYC they have added a lot of miles of bike lanes and found local business get more business, neighbourhoods become nicer, and more people can get around easier than they did before!
With the release by NYC DOT this week of a report showing the economic impact of their street projects, Bloomberg wove the economic case into his speech. “Talk to merchants everywhere we’ve put protected bicycle lanes [and pedestrian plazas]… They will tell you that business is dramatically better than it was before.”
Bloomberg called New York City’s legacy of mega-highway building by former DOT Commissioner Robert Moses a “mistake” because “we bulldozed neighborhoods.”
With the mistakes of the past fading from view, Bloomberg seems to understand the direct link between how streets are used and whether or not a city succeeds. “We’re using the streets in ways they had not been used in a long time,” he said, “Cyclists and pedestrians and bus riders are as important â€” if not, I would argue more important â€” than automobile riders.”
While he acknowledged that bike lanes “are always controversial” he defended them by noting that, “more and more people are using them.”
Looking ahead, Bloomberg said he has no plans of letting naysayers or controversies stop the progress. “Transportation… it’s not sexy and it certainly invites controversy,” he said, but added, “We’ve just got to keep developing, keep building, sensibly, with some plans and community involvement; but not stopping.”
As you can probably guess from my recent series of pro-bike lane posts, I am rather embarrassed by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his archaic approach to transit. When he’s out of office we may get to see some good news coming from Toronto again.