Bike lanes: Cyclists say freedom comes with added scrutiny

A cyclist in the Lower East Side.

The city updated PlaNYC Thursday, a long-term agenda to make New York greener, including increasing bike lanes and decreasing pollution.

But some cyclists say that what the city gives with one hand, it takes away with the other.

Since 2007, the city has installed 205 miles of bike lanes for the 200,000 people that bike daily. But cyclists complain that in the same period, ticketing has increased, reaching a total of 34,054 last year. In 2011, the NYPD has given out 55 percent more tickets than at this time last year.

“It’s totally hypocritical,” cyclist Carl Banks, 27, told Metro. “The tickets are completely discouraging.”

Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said biking is vital to a greener city. “Bike lanes have improved air quality in the city,” she told Metro.

Bikers are fined the same as drivers — whose cars cause more deaths and more pollutants annually in the city. The NYPD told Metro the fines for moving violations — including reckless driving and running a red light — are the same whether on two wheels or four.

“I think it’s a completely mixed message,” said Brooklyn cyclist Jordan Anderson, 35, creator of RideTheCity.com. “Cyclists are scared to ride.”

Guest Editor Mark Ruffalo’s view

“I was a biker here in the city, and back then, it was very dangerous to be on a bike. Since then, the city’s opened up its door to the idea of having a real biking community, so I find it strange that their stance from a police point of view seems to be very hard on biking. [The 55 percent increase in tickets] seems a little odd for the city’s proclaimed policies of creating a pedal-friendly environment. I think it should be of note to see if casualties from cars have gone down … now that more people are on bikes.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter at @EmilyatMetro.


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