Angry motorists protest bike lanes; cyclists are here to stay
Monday, October 25th, 2010
The protest occurred in the same week that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer released his report on the usage of bike lanes. According to the report, there were 1,781 bike lane infractions over 22 hours of viewing the lanes. Pedestrians in the bike lane accounted for 41.6 percent of infractions, cars blocking the lane 19.8 percent, and bikes going the wrong way 13.6 percent.
The protest was organized by Leslie Sicklick, a third generation New Yorker and Lower East Side local. Sicklick has been driving in the city for years 15 years and resents Bloomberg and his latest city planning. “I think the way they designed it was to create a lot of anger and tension between bikers and drivers,” Sicklick said. “I’m very angry with Bloomberg because I feel like he does whatever he wants.”
Mayor Bloomberg is not the only reason Sicklick is angry. She also has a problem with bikers. “A lot of them I bet are not nice,” Sicklick said. “They act like that’s their lane and they’re entitled to it.”
According to the Department of Transportation Traffic Rules, cyclists are entitled to the bike lane: “On-street bike lanes are designed for the exclusive or preferential use by cyclists. There is a $115 fine for parking, standing or driving in a bike lane.”
Besides protesting the lack of space for cars, some anger arose from how cyclists violate road rules, such as running red lights or riding the wrong way down the road, without being punished.
“I want to get rid of the bicyclists,” said Michael O’Connor, an East Village local at the protest. “Why all this bad behavior is being rewarded by the mayor is ridiculous, it’s a mystery.”
Peter Shapiro, an East Village local and avid bike rider, considers himself a safe rider. He supports the lanes, but has seen the community change. “I think there’s been a huge influx of people bike riding and they’re not aware that they have to follow laws. They think fashion is more important,” he said. Shapiro acknowledges a need for more communication by all that use the road. “I think we’re in the infancy of trying to get a conversation between pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists,” he said.
Detta Ahl, a supporter of bike lanes at the protest, said, “I think it’s a matter of everyone working together.” But by looks of the protest, cyclists won't surrender any time soon, and neither will the motorists who want their road back.
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