May/June 1997, p.3
Publisher's Letter: Earth Day Bike Action
Assert Your Right to Bike
Around the world the bicycle is the symbol of environmental friendliness. Even car companies put bicycles in advertising to greenwash their gas guzzlers.
All this belies the everyday reality of NYC riding, where most of us ride alone in a sea of careening cars and trucks. The Earth Day Bike Action is a symbol of our solidarity as bicyclists-a chance to spend some time together, enjoying our strength of numbers. It is also a chance to clearly link bicycling and the environment in the public eye. To T.A. and other urban environmentalists, the fight starts with saving our cities.
Can you imagine the destruction of scarce open space and wetlands and the sheer amount of pavement 7.5 million New Yorkers scattered suburban-style would consume? The fact is, city dwellers are already doing their part by consuming less of everything, including energy and oil. The problem is that our city and many others are being destroyed in significant part by the automobile and the social dynamic it helps create. Even here, by far the least auto-dependent part of the country, motorized traffic is choking our economy, polluting our air, and crushing our neighborhoods.
Bicycling can help change that. Bicycles offer a flexible and quick form of travel that, combined with good public transit, offer a clean and economical alternative to a keeping a car. In modern cities like Copenhagen, bikes comprise about a third of trips, up from only a tenth two decades ago. This didn't happen by accident. The Danes adopted policies that made cycling easier and got people out of their cars. Here, reams of plans and lots of lip service have been dedicated to bicycling (and an occasional random venture like the Koch 6th Ave. lane). The reality on the street is that cyclists are often beleaguered by reckless motorists and find it hard to Find a safe place to park. In general, cycling is treated with contempt by the powers that be. Last fall's confiscation of the Queensboro Bridge bike lane is the latest example of cars accommodated at the expense of cyclists.
Not all is gloom and doom. Cycling continues to grow in popularity, and a giant building boom of new greenways will open upon miles of car-free routes as NYC enters the next Millennium. T.A. is here to make sure that this progress doesn't falter. Join us April 22 for some fun and camaraderie, and to give the City a push in the right direction.
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