Friday, December 31, 2010

New York's bike lanes discussed on Market Place

From yesterday's NPR radio program Market Place, New Yorkers debate over increasing number of bike lanes:
Janette Sadik-Khan: We've put down 250 miles of on-street bike lanes in the last three years. We've put down thousands of new bike racks to make it friendlier for people to get around by bike.

And the city just announced it's preparing to install a bike share program with 10,000 bicycles.

In some communities, the commissioner is revered. Carol Coletta, president of CEOs for Cities, calls her a goddess.

Carol Coletta: She has made these transformations in New York with speed that would be breathtaking for a small start-up, to say nothing of a bureaucracy like a city of this size.

But for some, the changes feel like a punch in the gut. One of those people is Marty Markowitz, the borough president of Brooklyn. Markowitz thinks a two-way bike lane along Prospect Park goes too far, because it takes space away from cars and gives it to bikes. Here's how he describes the commissioner.

Marty Markowitz: She is a zealot. She wants to make it hard for those that choose to own their automobiles. She wants to make it difficult, their life difficult. I really believe that.

For Markowitz, it's about defending mom-and-pop shops, and middle-class workers who use their cars to get to work.

But supporters have shouted back. And, it turns out, one survey shows three-quarters of Brooklynites support that bike lane.

For some New York businessmen, being able to attract international companies is key. Janno Lieber is president of World Trade Center Properties. He's overseeing the construction of 10 million square feet of office space to replace the Twin Towers. He says being able to bike to work is important to his tenants.

Janno Lieber: It also makes us more familiar and attractive to some of the European and international companies because otherwise people are going to go to lower cost locations.

Lieber says in New York, bike lanes have cache with the creative class.

Lieber: Well, because, the kind of employees who bike, those are the kinds of workers that companies really want to have, and they want to hold on to.

And Lieber says, that's who will build New York's economy.

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