Cycling in New York: End of a lovely ride?

THE pitted stretch of road just north of Gramercy Park between Lexington and Fifth Avenues was recently repaved. Roads are a quintessential public good, and though New York City’s leave much to be desired, their condition has vastly improved under Michael Bloomberg, the city’s soon-to-be-departing mayor. But something was lost in this specific improvement: the painted strip of bike lane. Were Mr Bloomberg continuing in office, there is little doubt that the bike lane would be restored. It could still happen, but the fate of bike lanes and bicycling in New York is now in question with the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor.Mr Bloomberg did not enter office as an advocate of cycling. Early questions about bikes were referred to Iris Weinshall, Mr Bloomberg’s first transportation commissioner (a holdover from the Giuliani administration). The number of bike lanes increased during Ms Weinshall’s tenure, but the execution was sloppy. Even obvious problems, like routing cyclists away from the entrance to bridges, were ignored or botched. Cycling was for the brave, if not the insane.It was not until 2007, when Janette Sadik-Khan took over for Ms Weinshall (who would go on to oppose a bike lane near her home in Brooklyn), that cycling really took off in the city. The introduction of short-term rental bikes has been a spectacular success. Users range from tourists to …

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