New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-bicycle agenda reached a new high water mark today with the announcement that a cyclists-only lane is being added to the long-under-construction Second Avenue Subway. The memo, authored by Deputy Mayor for Communications Howard Wolfson, makes the case that creating the city’s first subterranean bike-lane will reduce bicycle accidents by up to 15 percent, while costing a mere $1.4 billion dollars and delaying the opening of the Second Avenue line by only ten to twenty years.
The Second Avenue Subway bike lane is the latest pro-biking measure proposed by transportation commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan. Since becoming Mayor, Bloomberg has closed much of Broadway to automobiles and has overseen the addition of 225 miles of bike lanes, many of them physically separated from the main flow of traffic. This has led to some backlash, most prominently regarding a dedicated bike lane on Prospect Park West which critics say prevents only a small number of deaths, compared to how much harder it is for Senator Charles Schumer’s wife to receive deliveries at her Prospect Park West apartment from FreshDirect, Crate and Barrel, Sherry-Lehman and Interflora.
Dana Muskowitz, spokesman for the Gotham Motorists Association, expressed bewilderment at the plan, stating “our city’s relentless promotion of a trivial hobby at the expense of drivers’ urgent needs has reached unacceptable heights. Seriously, is the Mayor in the pocket of the front-mounted basket industry?”
Wolfson acknowledged that the Second Avenue bike lane was likely to face criticism. “Bike lanes have become a third rail in the city’s politics. So isn't eighteen inches from a third rail the most natural place to put those lanes?” Continued Wolfson, “allowing underground cycling is an environmentally friendly way of moving traffic around the city, not to mention the potential to dramatically reduce the number of cyclists who are struck by lightning.”