Janette Sadik-Khan is the Transportation Commissioner for New York City. Under her leadership, the DOT has implemented a vision for New York streets that prioritizes people before automobiles. This has meant new pedestrian plazas (remember Times Square a few years ago?), traffic calming projects, and hundreds of miles of new bike lanes. The net result has been a more human, livable New York City.
None of these changes have been without controversy or push-back. Any kind of change is always hard, and any change to our streets is immediately visible and elicits immediate reactions – both positive and negative. But for every sneering tabloid op-ed, there are hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who feel their daily lives made safer and more enjoyable by improvements to our shared public space.
As bike commuting in NYC has exploded over the last few years, there has been one glaring void – the lack of a bike share program. We have watched London, Paris, Montreal, etc. implement their successful bike share systems while getting nothing here at home. This is about to change with the arrival (finally!) of Citi Bike, due to launch on May 27. These clunky blue bikes, designed for short trips from one docking station to another, will benefit New Yorkers of all stripes – even many of my skeptical cycling friends who don’t see the point and dread the introduction of less experienced riders to the streets.
Not only will bike share be a convenient, cheap, enjoyable way to make short trips around the city, I believe it will go a long way toward legitimizing cycling in the minds of many New Yorkers who still see it as a fringe activity. This is because the bike share stations are literally becoming a part of New York’s infrastructure. Within a few months they will go from curious novelty to old news – just another part of the city’s transportation network. Subway, bus, taxi, bike. You won’t have to own a bike to ride a bike, and you won’t have to be “one of those bike people” to reap the benefits of our truly bikeable city. This is my hope, anyway, and I’m personally grateful to JSK and her department for their work in getting us this far.