Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bike Lanes to Nowhere

The streets of Manhattan are full of smiling white yuppies riding their Citibank bikes, blue lights flashing as they sail through midtown traffic. But the great rack of bike share bikes planted next to a housing project is filled with its cargo of blue vehicles. No one is checking them out here. Instead black kids sit on the locked bikes, occasionally fitfully pedaling them, going nowhere.

The contrast is an apt metaphor for the city. The smiling kids who could just as easily be cashing checks from their parents and working at an ad agency while trying to pay off their student debts in Portland, San Francisco or Seattle. They happen to be doing it in New York City and they expect the same social amenities, the retro bars, the craft beers, the obscure bands and the bike lanes.

The street ahead has been dug up and water has been turned off to half the block. The operation has no other purpose than to turn two lanes of traffic into some kind of complex curved sidewalk on a street where there is hardly any foot traffic and you can wait two minutes to see a single pedestrian during the daylight hours.

Such street planning assaults are happening all over the city as traffic lanes are torn out and eliminated to make way for impromptu sidewalk cafes and expanded sidewalks that often no one needs or wants. And then there are the ubiquitous bike and bus lanes which see about 1 percent of the traffic of the street and the sidewalk, but are approaching equal billing in terms of space.

When I wrote about Bloomberg's bike share program back a few months ago, I was attacked by the New York Times' Paul Krugman, Gawker, New York Mag and the New York Observer. It's easy to see what unites these outlets. They are the voices of the upscale city that doesn't drive to work, but is driven. The one that thinks the city is only a few bike lanes away from being properly European.

Krugman and Co. assumed that I was against bike shares because conservatives hate sharing. I don't claim to speak for conservatives, but most of them, I suspect, like me, are concerned about the political hijacking of urban spaces by a small elite. They are concerned that the new technocracy that men like Krugman and Bloomberg embody, are destroying the country for shallow and silly reasons.

Bikes passionately divide New Yorkers in ways that more commonplace national social issues like guns and abortion fail to do. Most social issues are really a form of class identification. When Obama sneered about poor Pennsylvania whites bitterly clinging to their guns and bibles at a San Fran fundraiser, he was really talking about class.

Gun control is a sharp divide between the regimented urban environment and the rural culture. Abortion is also about class as defined by the stark choices between family or career. They are about the new America and the old. The America of the gun and the gun pop tart. The America of the aborted baby and the replacement illegal alien. The America of the car and of the bike.

The America where everyone is jammed up by space and government and the one where you make your own boundaries.

To many New Yorkers, the bike is a nuisance. To others it's an identity. The issue isn't two wheels over four in some vehicular hodgepodge of animal farm. It's about control of the streets. The city is not its buildings. It is its streets. The buildings house people, but the streets define the purpose of the city. A city with streets full of cars is a working city. A city with streets full of bikes is a leisure city.

The gentrification blitzkrieg is as much social as it is environmental. It's no secret that Bloomberg hates cars. Or that the yuppies or yuckies who have transformed corners of the city into tiny slices of Portland hate them even more. The new bikeshare program is as much about displacing people as it is about placing them. It's about the kind of city that they want to see.

The old loud New York City is being made smooth and quiet. Old noisy bars are making way for fake retro establishments that look like they date back a hundred years ago, but weren't even there last week. Car lanes are giving way to bike lanes. On one side overgrown children gleefully pedal their Citibank bikes, a habit they will abandon when winter sets in. On the other, the grandchildren of factory workers and the children of postal workers, watch them go by.

There are rural parts of the country where walkers are suspect. A man who walks down the street, rather than drives, is suspected of being a bum or a criminal. Solid citizens own cars and drive them to work or to the mall. Indigents walk. The urban centers however are swinging the other way. It's the drivers who are suspect and the bike riders who are the solid citizens of the recyclable state.

Social standing is often a function of wealth signified by leisure. Fat was in when food was scarce and having a rotund belly meant having wealth and freedom from work Now that everyone can eat, fat is out. The mark of the wealthy leisure class is the time to spend on exercise programs that transform their bodies into some ever-shifting ideal. And the peak of that leisure class is Hollywood.

Bikes, once associated with a wealthy leisure class who had the time to pursue their interest in nature and healthy activities, became universal when nearly every child could have one. Now bikes have been priced up into expensive adult toys. Cities are full of grown men and women who spend fortunes on expensive bikes that they hardly ever use except on the weekends, but hang prominently by their doors so that everyone can see.

The car owner is more likely to be a working man, while a bike communicates membership in a leisure class. Like an exercise programs, it says that the owner has the time and the money to take it slow, to not worry about timelines and deadlines, to do his own thing. The biking adult cares, which is the chief hobby of the leisure class. The more someone cares, the less he works. Caring is a full time job for people who don't have full time jobs.

The new elite cares. Its claim to caring is also its claim to power. They claim, therefore they rule. America doesn't really make things anymore. It cares. It cares so much that it invades other countries to change their governments. It cares so much that it squanders fortunes on foreign aid. It cares so much that it goes deep into debt to fund social services and then promote them. It cares so much that it bans salt, cars and large sodas while insisting that everyone ride bikes.

Millennials are less likely to drive than any other previous generation. The American Dream in the new Yuckie outposts is compacting down from a home and car to a bike and an apartment just big enough to keep it in, a Netflix account and a small gig at a non-profit to pay down student loans. It's all very European and all very doomed.

"A European country is — like Germany, France, England — those countries are between 60 and 80 million people," Bill Maher told CNN. "We have those 60, 80 million smart people . . . but we just have more people. There’s a great, smart European country in America; it’s just surrounded by a bunch of rednecks."

It would be hard to come up with a more accurate mission statement for the new technocracy than that. Focus on that core few million who can be persuaded to ride bikes to work and get into debt obtaining degrees in useless fields and get rid of the rest. The street lanes being torn up and replaced with sidewalks and bike lanes are the physical embodiment of that philosophy. Europe is only another million miles of bike lanes away.

And that's probably true. But it's not the rational Europe where everything is neat, clean and tidy. Where everything works and no one gets hung up on nationalism or religion. That place only exists in the wishful thinking of American leftists who still carry around an inferiority complex for a mother country that they never knew.

The Europe that they biking toward is a place sharply divided between the unemployed minority youth who burn cars and the unemployed overeducated natives who have six advanced degrees and nothing to do but demand that the government lower university rates further. It's a place where some things are neat and clean, but other things are on fire. Where the only people who believe in nationalism or religion are immigrants and the nationalism and religion they believe in are of their own home countries.

Cities like New York are scurrying to attract the young urban elite with bike lanes and sidewalk cafes, with craft beer and organic food, and confidence that the only thing that can save them is transitioning to a knowledge economy in which people won't drive to work on a 9-to-5 schedule, but will instead leisurely bike around while contemplating some breakthrough social media app that will change everything.

That sometimes happens, but you can't run a city on that. Not even if you get rid of Maher's other 200 million non-Europeans who drive cars or who just sit on the racks full of bicycles and push the pedals while going nowhere.

Europe is a dead end. Its national societies and economics are in a state of deep insecurity and decline. The technocracy dreaming of a United States run to European Socialist standards is riding
a bike lane to nowhere.


mindRider said...

Nope, they are not leisure cities in Europe where bicycles are a very important means of transportation, neither Amsterdam nor Kopenhagen nor the many other cities that discovered cycling. People work there. it's plain OK to use bicycles in compact (up to 6 -8 miles max to cover) high population density area with not more than modest incline & decline, especially in cities both well covered by public transport and enough taxi's as an alternative means of transportation under adverse weather conditions. The only disadvantage is if parking in the city is made impossible or extremely expensive as than many shoppers shall seek out shops in areas that do accomodate cars which affects city-shop turnover. The above written by someone who for 30 years cycled to work from the suburbs into Amsterdam 5miles+ under all weather-conditions. Way more pleasant than driving a car into morning rush hour which I did for six years before cycling.

Empress Trudy said...

Addison and Steele are reborn, sir.

L Larsen said...

You are getting this one wrong I sense.
NO we are not a dead end. Am visiting the states from Copenhagen and all rides bicycles to work there as habit. We would have it no way other than this. Children drive bicycles to school and parents to their work. It works very well.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

As far as bikes go, I'm talking about American life, not European life.

fizziks said...

It is ridiculous to complain about under utilization. The NYC bikeshare program is only a few weeks old, and the bike lanes have only been there starting a few years ago.

As we have learned throughout American history, first you have to make investments in infrastructure for a form of transportation, then that form will boom. It happened with canals, railroads, and highways. Now it is time, in the major urban centers, for bicycles.

In case you haven't noticed, traffic is really terrible in NYC, SF, LA, Washington, Chicago, and so on. The automobile had its day in these cities but now it is an inefficient means to get around there. Cities like NYC are smart to makes the bicycle infrastructure investments that they are making. Give it 10 years and the people in the housing project, and everywhere else, will be using the bikeshares.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

bike infrastructure is a street. Marginalizing popular forms of transportation for ones that are structurally unpopular is a political choice

Empress Trudy said...

NYC has 3 seasons: Winter, Rain and August. Not conducive to regular and extensive bike usage. It makes sense in theory where for example there's an out-doors-y ethic, say in Portland, OR and where no one really cares very much about the drizzle. At least not conducive as a mode of transport to and fro actual work.

Edward Cline said...

Listen to Daniel, people. He lives in NYC. He has to put up with the arrogance of bikers and Bloomberg's fascist "social management" blather. He's talking about the absence of the American character in all those Yuppies and Yuckies who look to the State for safety and privilege. And what is that American character? Self-reliance and being offended by the least, unsolicited patronization by the State. We're facing a whole generation (and perhaps a generation and a half) of Americans who don't want to be American but European, and who would probably take it as a compliment if told that. And that would end any conversation I might have with them. I've more or less disinherited my own generation because it opted out for safety and security over freedom. I have nothing in common with virtually the whole new generation. To hell with them.

Anonymous said...

I don't work in the Big Apple anymore but my recollection was that the only bicycle riders were males between the ages of 18-28 carrying messenger pouches and dodging delivery trucks on their single-speed track bikes.

They always looked bruised and battered.

Do "regular" people actually ride bikes there these days?


patrick k. said...

They don't want to be real Europeans though, like the people who built the Parthenon and Notre Dame Cathedral, invented the scientific method, colonized the world, and so forth. That Europe died at the Somme in 1916, but they're happy to associate themselves with it. Their version of Europe though hasn't built much besides Muslim community centers and relies on "redneck America" for military protection.

Anonymous said...

I have no real issue with anyone who would rather bike to work than drive but Daniel is spot on about the political end of things. I suspect, in the future, the vast majority of people will be biking in the cities because gasoline will become so obscenely priced, they will have no choice. Of course, the wealthy and privileged will then give up their bikes and snub their noses at the "unwashed" as they drive by in their gas guzzlers or a new form of transportation that is even less dangerous to their precious planet. Egoes. Money. Power. That's what politicians and their bank rollers are about. The description as servants never enters their minds.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Their idea of Europe dates back to some post-war notion of an orderly Socialist cradle-to-grave nanny state.

Conservative Language Institute of America said...

I wonder if the bike elitists would care to hear that they are hypocritical cultural chauvinists... not that they'd believe it, of course. In the streets of every major Asian city, there are hundreds of thousands of "scooters". The use of gasoline is miniscule compared to cars, and they carry anything & everything you could think of during all types of weather.

But as Daniel says, this is not really about the ecosystem or being green, this is really all about arrogance, elitism, egos, privilege, the enforcement of the overbearing nanny state, yet more arrogance, and always always always power.

Anonymous said...

Mindrider has said "Way more pleasant than driving a car into morning rush hour which I did for six years before cycling."
I hope the bicycles are a success for the city far better than clogged streets of autos

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that car-oriented Phoenix (and neighboring towns in the valley) all have ample bike lanes and wide sidewalks with few pedestrians. Heat apart (this time of year), it's a cyclist's paradise!

As for New York, well, I know this is easy for me to say, but — get out. Leave. Now. Your cost of living will go way, way down and your quality of life will improve immensely. (Whether or not you ever get on a bike.)

Anonymous said...

I find it humerous to think back to 1960's China, when the only transport available to the "proletariat" was bicycles, and the photos of millions of Chinese bicycling to and fro with bicycle traffic jams and all. We used to make fun of them for it. One particular political cartoons that I remember depicted hundreds of bicyclist hauling a nuclear bomb up a hill.

Now we have our elites endevoring to recreate that exact same scenario here in our major American cities and telling us how great it is, how good for the Earth it is, how healthy it is. The real knee slapper is how many college "educated" people are buying it, hook, line and sinker.

Meanwhile in China, the second an individual or family can afford a car, which until recently has been an ever increasing percentage of their populous, they are smart enough to give up the bicycle for the more efficient means of transportation.


Anonymous said...

So because blacks don't ride the bikes they are wrong? They can learn to love them.
So many comments calling cyclists egotists, snobs and elitist. Those judgmental commentators are the real elitists.

Margo Butterfield said...

Cline maybe this generation says to hell with you also.

AWG said...

I am one of those daily commuter bicyclists in a traffic congested city who has absolutely no desire to see what is the left of this nation become like Europe or "1960's China". I don't ride as a member of Critical Mass, not a soldier of the environment, poseur, idealistic college grad interning at a NPO nor training for the Tour d'France. I have no cause, noble agenda or tribe. I just need exercise and found that combining a ride with a commute actually freed up more of my day and gave me time to explore my head and avoid accumulating traffic citations.

I don't recommend the practice to anyone since it requires shower facilities at both ends, humping your gear, food and clothing, and able to smile and deal with both 110+F heat and freezing rain while being hated by half the driving population. In my case, this is 25+ miles each day with lots of elevation change, hours before rush-hour traffic to avoid certain death from a culture that is over medicated, asleep, or texting while occupying the space behind the wheel.

I am convinced that in the world outside of the Idealists, bicycling is a horrible idea in terms of this present culture, demographic and urban structure. The last thing I want to hear at the office is about how some precious snowflake who bicycles in for the first time is so special because of some Cause.

The Idealists envision the entire world as a 19th century European hamlet with perfect weather and ample time, the other 95% of us just want our transportation to be a mobile extension of the living room.

FWIW, the [Idiot] Philosopher Kings of Austin decreed that the city needed the stereotype Bicycle Czar and in her budget they included a city-paid car.

Wabano said...

I hate that bunch of faggots...they are tearing the sidewalk in front of my home for a goddam bicycle path taking half the street while nobody ride a bike in our village but bloody civil servant parasites on vacation...

That's it, I'm putting a ten wheeler 150 decibel air horn on my Subaru and my Ford Econoline and next bicyclist riding the middle of the road in a fag pack get the full blast!

I hope to make a bunch flip and spent their vacation in the hospital instead of annoying the people as they do all year long!

Naresh Krishnamoorti said...

I've always argued that HOV lanes increase pollution because they unnecessarily create stop-and-go traffic, which exponentially increases exhaust emissions. Even if HOV lanes reduce the number of cars by 25% (highly doubtful, as the lanes are oftentimes empty), the traffic back-up (the constant acceleration) increases exhaust by 400% as compared to free flowing traffic.

Why do we have HOV lanes? It's not for the environment. It's so the rich, who have drivers, can get anywhere they want unencumbered by traffic.

Edward Cline said...

Margo Butterfield: Having had strained conversations with arrogant, snooty Yuppies and Yuckies, I guess they said to hell with me, too. I'm a Howard Roark, and they are all usually Peter Keatings and brainless second-handers, and they know it. I fight battles they dare not even contemplate. Further, I've more or less disowned my own generation. It sold out for a mess of pottage.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not an either/or situation. I'm a recreational biker who rides over 100 miles a week, loves craft beer, shoots rifles and pistols competitively and is politically hard core conservative leaning libertarian.

Anonymous said...

Greenfield... your a F-ing d-bag. Way to try and pit the workers against the elite. Did you forget, the US exported it's factory jobs to China and India. Riding a bike to work is not leisure. It's called transportation. Walking is called transportation or exercise. You know, the thing you don't have to pay for if you get off your ass and out of a gym and move your NYC ass. You prick.

Anonymous said...

"Uh-huh. Also, cars, once associated with a wealthy leisure class, became universal when nearly every schmuck went into debt to own one. Cities are full of grown men and women who spend fortunes on expensive cars that they hardly ever use except on the weekends, and park prominently by the curb so that everyone can see." Bike Snob NYC owns you on this one.

mikeweb said...

Daniel, I wonder if you're aware of the fact that much of the parkway infrastructure in and around your fantasy version of New York City was designed and built by a man named Robert Moses, for the express purpose of driving as a leisure activity:

"Contrary to popular belief, Moses knew how to drive an automobile, but he did not have a valid drivers license. Instead, he used limosines to go virtually everywhere. Moses' view of the automobile harkened back to the 1920s, when the car was seen as a vehicle more for pleasure than for the business of life. Moses's highways in the first half of the 20th century were parkways, curving, landscaped 'ribbon parks,' intended to be pleasures to drive in and 'lungs for the city".

I've been using bicycles as transportation to and from work, shops, etc. for the last 25 years, both in the suburbs and for the last 17 years in New York City. And yes, I also do ride often for pleasure and for the health benefits -both physical and mental. And guess what: I also drive when driving makes sense and of course walk when that does. The health and environmental benefits of cycling are well known, but so are the practical benefits of getting around by bicycle. Very often it's faster than car or mass transit travel, parking is much easier and it's very inexpensive. Think of transportation as a toolbox with many solutions depending on the nature of the job at hand.

But by all means, cling tenaciously to your mostly fantasy version of the status quo.

careyrowland said...

Dear Sultan
I always learn when reading your stuff, and more times than not I agree with your analyses, but I feel you have misplaced your priorities on this situation.
Your profundity and legible verbosity is best spent on identifying the misdeeds and misdirections of the nanny welfare state, not on young people who are making individual choices to stay physical fit while commuting to work.
I live in a "redneck" area of a southern state, in a midsize town in a mountainous area. I love driving my Vespa the two miles to my job five days a week, but I wish there were a bike lane for me and the cyclists so that we could get into to town to make a livin without being run down by big honkin pickups and suvs.

jsk_online said...

This a very sad place. I ride a bike and wish I had the amount of time it took me to read through this drivel back so I could go outside and enjoy myself with it.

jsk_online said...

interesting ... you approve comments from people who call others faggots?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

"Cities are full of grown men and women who spend fortunes on expensive cars that they hardly ever use except on the weekends, and park prominently by the curb so that everyone can see."

And if that was the chief function of cars, the point would stand.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

BTW to regular readers, this article was more about the "bike culture" in New York, which is very much a political issue and you're seeing a snapshot of that now in the comments

Anonymous said...

This is part of Bloomberg's war on the middle class. Somehow bike's are making progress but he disappears in the outer boroughs after hurricanes and snowstorms.

These bikes only work for people who can afford to live in riding distance to their jobs in expensive places in the city. They are relegated to Manhattan and the trust fund babies of Brooklyn. None of these people are creating jobs. If they were building businesses NY would be gaining workers and not losing them. Instead we are getting people living off their parent's wealth from all over the world.

Bikes do nothing to help commutes from the outer boroughs into Manhattan. It does nothing to help families get by. They don't produce jobs but are just a convenience for people who can afford a lifestyle. These bike riders have access to subways and buses and have many of the same political leanings tell us we need to use public transportation. Now they get a fashionable out from using it themselves and bring nothing to the rest of us.

Sad part is NYC will get worse after Bloomberg and its not because he is so good.

LFMayor said...

That's okay. We haven't played cowboys (rednecks) vs. bike culturists yet.
Haven't played cowboys vs. alternate lifestylists yet.
Haven't played cowboys vs. inner city leeches yet.
Haven't played cowboys vs. political class leeches yet.

But we will. All of us morlocks are licking our lips and waiting.

See you at the races.

Matt said...

Social posturing is very much a key function of automobiles, otherwise we'd all be driving Fiestas. Funny how a simple, cheap, accessible, efficient, self-reliant form of transportation like the bicycle can engender such hatred.

Anonymous said...

"Europe is a dead end. Its national societies and economics are in a state of deep insecurity and decline."

Well, I´m german, from Munich, and everything´s fine, thank you.

Oh, and in BMW´s city, a LOT of people use bicycles to go to work. Even BMW engineers... As a matter of fact, BMW recently bought hundreds of bicycles for its employees to get around more easily.

But maybe you consider Germans as a lazy, leisure, non productive nation.

Mr Greenfield, you are so end of the 20th century...

Anonymous said...

Europe is doing pretty well, bicycles and all.

theweeklynabe said...

I could only make it this far:

"I don't claim to speak for conservatives, but most of them, I suspect, like me, are concerned about the political hijacking of urban spaces by a small elite."

Our city's "urban spaces" were "hijacked" for a "small elite" (23% of Manhattan households own cars) a long time ago, starting with Robert Moses. Many of us - a number that is growing, by the way - are trying to return our public space to a more-balanced distribution.

My taxpayer dollars subsidize this automobile fetish through below-market-cost parking and legislative cash-grabs to fill infrastructure shortfalls. I believe you and other conservatives refer to this sort of thing as "socialism".

Anonymous said...

you need a hug

NO BS said...

Yet again people can't see the difference between a romantic ideal and a practical reality. Why is everyone a stinking hipster?

Yes it's nice sometimes to ride a bike, just like it's nice sometimes to wear raggedy looking clothes or drink ale. But TRY HAVING NO CHOICE. Try having no option but riding a bike, will a bike keep you dry and warm after having worked PHYSICALLY HARD all day? Will it carry a package you had delivered home from work? Will it help you move your stuff if you have to change your living situation in an emergency? Will it drive a friend to the ER? No it won't do any of these things because it's just an option for the hypocritical hippy middle classes (yes you ARE middle class) who think the olden days are great but would never, ever be without their cars or their electricity based conveniences.

People who go on about retro stuff and chemicals in food and "nature" as if it's some sort of religious icon don't hate the modern world and it's conveniences, they hate the people that use them. That's why on the outside they talk as if they live in various points in history from the last 200 years, but try to find one of them living with no pension still riding their bike to work in the rain at 60. You won't because their alternative lifestyle is a hypocritical and insulting hobby that would, if it were consistantly practiced, be a lot more sustainable, but as it's just a copy of some elements of the past plastered on top of a modern western lifestyle, it simply adds on extra resources as if it were taking up the room of another person.

And that's the putrid irony of this whole thing. That the leisure-consumption lifestyle of the urban middle class has become so unbelievably massive that not only can they can basically live a whole extra life on top of what 30 years ago would be normal life, in terms of material wealth, so they can have their car and their mortgage and their 2 holidays etc, and they can also shop organically (note also, not instead of) and also sometimes ride a bike and also buy a wardrobe from the 19th century. Not only that, but they then believe, they ACTUALLY believe that this alternative life counts INSTEAD of their normal one, not as well as, but instead of. If they truly did live the alternative lifestyle (that some actually do but they don't live in urban conurbations mostly) then they would be consuming less but they would have to give up a lot and they won't so they go on believing that their normal lifestyle that their hippy hobby is based on somehow doesn't count.

It's like thinking that a bit of salad by the side of a pizza makes the meal healthy. It doesn't. Salad is heathy, pizza isn't healthy. Pizza with salad isn't healthy, in fact it has more calories.

And yet the final stop in this merry-go-round of the humam condition is the fact that true innate selfishness of man is only toppled by it's deluded hypocritical selfishness. That there are millions of people who actually believe that they are better than everyone else, that the rules don't apply to them, and that THEY are going to show the world this by buying an alternative lifestyle with the spoils of their selfishness, put it on show, and convince the world and themselves that this veneer is the reality, while all time the reality is a big fat greedy western lifestyle SO TWISTED that it thinks it can buy it's way out of existance.

The rules apply hippies. They always have. Goodnight.

Anonymous said...

The anger has subsided for now, til the next article that someone cranks out for the purpose of being divisive and bike bashing, bike rider bashing etc.
I commute from Bay Ridge to Midtown when I am in the office and not doing compliance inspections for a bank broker-dealer. If I don't ride, it's the R + D trains in, X27 "express" bus home (I work too late for the X37).
I stay out of everyone's way, gave up yelling at entitled, ignorant I-pod Zombie willfully blind pedestrians. It's faster than the bus and train, replaces gym time, does not hold me to the wait times for mass transit (petri dishes of germs that they are), and is a much more enjoyable way to get around.
I have a car, ... madness to take it into NYC. People riding wrecklessly are bad for everyone. There is no need to categorize everyone in NYC who rides a bicycle to work as all the pejoratives you have. With the density that is NYC, cycling makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. But which generation will be sending the other to the death panels?

Anonymous said...

For those in power, it IS an either/or situation. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

Get a clue Mike. For today's elites, the toolbox has no room for (privately-owned) automobiles.

Dont take it so personally. You by-choice cyclists should take a breath and realize that Daniel wasn't taking a shot at you, but at the knowitalls in power who feel entitled to impose "sharing" on everyone (but who also decried the "imposing of democracy" on the mideast).

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, jsk. You're not a f*ggot. Just a fool.

Anonymous said...

Half right. Social posturing is a key function of human nature and always will be, regardless of transportation. The point here is that there is also a lot of condescending *moral* posturing going on here. Such as your comment. Oh yeah -- and many people ARE driving Fiestas and the like because that's all they can afford, due in part to Bloomberg-style progressive projects driving up the cost of living and/or driving the poor out.

Anonymous said...

Translate your comment into Turkish or Arabic and it might be more accurate. Everything is fine on your civization's bike trail to extinction.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, you struck more nerves with this essay than you usually do. Thank you! The negative comments you 're receiving just reinforce your line about how social issues are really class identification issues.

Visit the website, folks, and you can read about item #61on the list: Bicycles!

El Cid said...

Great article.

Anonymous said...

In North Central Washington, tree fruit/wheat country, there are bicycles, and I don't mind them if they'll just keep their rumps on the edge of the road so I can drive by them without getting into a head-on with a harvest truck.

I'm wondering if the attitude is the same in Europe.


Bob Williams said...

You sound fat.

leroy said...

The problem with your post on bicycles is that you take some subjective impressions, assert them as facts, and use them to justify stale observations about class and liberal elites.

I was born in NYC, lived here most of my life and have ridden here for fun, for exerise, for commuting for many years. I am no longer young by any stretch of the imagination, but still ride in NYC year round. I commute mostly on an inexpensive street bike, but also ride long distances for fun on a more expensive model. I am the grandson of urban factory workers for whom you express concern and yet I've used Citibikes for running errands and commuting and expect to do so in the future.

I am hardly a rabid bike advocate. When not cycling, I use the subway or drive to get around. Cycling is just one piece of our urban transportation infrastructure. That I enjoy it more than trying to park in NYC or sweating on a subway platform is just an added bonus.

All this background is simply to explain that my problem with your post is that I am a NYer who happens to ride a bike and my years of experience leave me with the impression that the facts don't support your thesis.

Of course, we may both be akin to two blind-folded folks trying to describe an elephant by touch. Our descriptions will differ based on where we stand. If that's the case, I got the end that eats.

I note from your bio that you're an Orwell fan (or at least like to quote him). Me too. I think you may misunderstood the context of the quote you've lifted from his critique of Bertrand Russell's book. It's not an exhortation to justify whatever you feel like saying by calling it a restatement of the obvious.

No matter. When it comes to bikes, you seem to find only what you're looking for. That is your prerogative of course.

But that isn't serious social commentary. And given how much your observations seem to differ from my experience, I wonder how much you really know about New York. I assume you would at least concede you don't have much experience actually riding a bike here.

So three friendly suggestions: get out more, this is an amazingly diverse city; add Caro's "Power Broker" to your summer reading list; and consider James Joyce's homily to "wipe your glosses with what you know."

Anonymous said...

In an urban environment a bicycle equals freedom. I thought American-style "conservatives" were rather fond of that concept? No car payments, avoid gas taxes and don't have to pay to park AND get to your destination swiftly and efficiently. Frankly the sniveling about elitism from what passes for the political right makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

Another anonymous comment, but from a person who used to live in Manhattan and still works there. With the rising price of public transportation, it costs me MORE to take trains to work--forget the 15 minute walk after I land and the waits on hot platforms--and I LOSE 45 minutes daily by commuting that way vs. driving in, paying for gas and insurance, paying the ridiculous tolls and for a parking garage.$10 a day more to commute the clean, efficient way.

What does it have to do with bikes? They create a false virtue, then institute control, then price it up and squeeze. Many of the bikes I share the road with don't follow road laws or lights. They'll sneak into any gap they see, so they are not always seen, since they don't take their lane and cut in and out and on sidewalks, etc. They're dangerous to pedestrians, especially older ones in a city of walker-shoppers. Maybe this will get better with congestion, but I haven't seen any impetus like writing tix against "blocking the box" as they do for cars.

So biking will be the virtuous choice of enlightnened folk, and NYC will continue its descent into tourist hamlet. It's too expensive to work in Disneyland daily, and what's so great about this park is that there's plenty of stinking garbage on the streets and the resurgence of typhoid. But by all means, let's feel superior and continue telling the working class they aren't welcome.

I think people who haven't visited or spent time may not realize how hostile the NYC mindset (which never means the other boros, just Manahattan and now half of Brooklyn) is to working-class people and lifelong residents who don't have doormen and drivers. They just keep squeezing.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Anon, that is indeed exactly the point I was trying to make.

Anonymous said...

Your stereotype of the biking elite misses a very important mark. First: Do you know how expensive it is to maintain and own a car in New York? Not to mention how impractical? I ride a bike every day to work, rain, shine, snow, cold, hot, every day. There were less than 10 days in the last 3 years that I didn't ride to work due to extreme weather conditions. In that three years, do you know how many thousands of dollars I've saved in monthly subway fare alone? I spend about $100-200 on annual maintenance on a bike I purchased for $300 two years ago. Even this nominal amount could be erased in the annual $95 membership to citibike. What really irks me is that the people who complain the most about the biking elite clearly don't ride. In my daily rides I see people of all races and ages taking to the streets. Most appear to be commuting and not joyriding. Ridership has increased exponentially since they've made transportation improvements. There's also been less pedestrian deaths, calmer traffic, and less speeding on lanes in which bike lanes and traffic calming patterns have been introduced. Get off your wrongheadded ideals long enough to see that you're arguing against something that is truly a sustainable and affordable method of transportation. If you're truly angry about the wealthy takeover of New York, something I'd tend to agree with, why don't you argue for lower public transportation costs and better bus service. Something that really affects the people you claim to care about.

Anonymous said...

Commuter biking is great. It's the most efficient and fun way to get around. And NYC is ideal for it.

Get on a bike and see what you're missing!

Anonymous said...

Straw Man alert above!

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