Editorial: Bikes and scooters everywhere: New York City must find a way to keep everyone safe on the sidewalks and streets
Citi Bike turns 10 years old this week and we will celebrate the birthday. What’s far more tenuous is the overall status of two-wheelers in the five boroughs. While it’s perfectly fine that they have flooded the streets, riders and the city have done too little to keep those streets — and sidewalks, where pedestrians should rule — safe and orderly. There’s no going back to a world where cars and trucks dictated; instead, we must go forward together to create streetscapes with peaceful coexistence and not neverending competition for limited space. It can be done.
Daily cycling in the city has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, but the bigger explosion has been the relatively recent unleashing of 65,000 delivery workers on e-bikes and electric scooters, driven by the demand of delivery-hungry customers. When stored, they’re a fire hazard. When parked, they create clutter. When moving, they zip to and fro, far too often running red lights and hogging sidewalks. Little wonder related 311 complaints jumped from under 500 in 2019 to more than double that last year.
Those who ride small vehicles, whether regular bicycles or the motorized variety, deserve to be safe from cars and trucks, which can kill them in the blink of an eye. It’s no small tragedy that cyclist fatalities have shot up since an early Vision Zero-credited decline. Part of the answer is more protected bike lanes, where those make sense in a place with many narrow streets. Mayor Adams and his transportation commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez, have laid out worthwhile plans to connect protected bike lanes. Part of the answer is reclaiming some whole streets from heavy vehicles.
Part of the answer is better enforcement and stronger rules. While pedal-assist bicycles have their place alongside normal bikes, keep throttle-based motorized vehicles out of parks. Keep all two-wheelers off sidewalks, except when there are kids behind the handlebars. And keep communicating to riders, through public education and ticketing blitzes, that red lights and other rules are not for squares and suckers.