The Bicycle Mandate
Posted by Matthew Brian Hersh on July 31, 2009
New York City Council approved a measure, the Bicycle Access Bill, that requires buildings with freight elevators to allow for bicycle access. The measure, which was overwhelmingly passed, is just another example of New York City government taking aggressive action that, on the surface, is good for traffic reduction, lessens the burden of local transportation infrastructure, but also encourages a particular way of life.
In New York, while it’s a miracle that the mass transit system is largely functional day in and day out, laws encouraging alternate forms of transportation are essential.
A few months ago, I pointed to my sprawling New Jersey existence, and how it’s neither physically or economically feasible to take mass transit to work, but if you live in a city, particularly one like New York, mass transit is a way of life. That said, cycling conditions in the once-hostile city climate, are improving. There are more bike lanes, and a recent zoning change — part of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 proposal — requiring bicycle parking for selected new residential and commercial development provides a huge incentive for potential bike commuters.
According to the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, who, along with pushing for transit-friendly legislation, also host myriad rides and other transit-related events every year, bicycling is the fastest-growing mode of transportation in New York City. The group is currently pursuing a campaign to double cycling in the city by 2011.
But what’s interesting is that reading Transportation Alternatives’ official statement on the passage of the Bicycle Access Bill (“Encouraging bike commuting not only supports a more sustainable New York City, it also improves the health of New Yorkers”) you can also see that the legislation was also about lifestyle.
About the author more ¬Ľ
Matthew Brian Hersh proudly served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics. He displays many of the trappings of a New Jersey sports fan: dispirited Mets fan, former Nets fan before they left the state, and normally satisfied Giants fan. Hersh lives in Highland Park, NJ with his wife and two children.