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Biking, But Not for the Earth

Matthew Shaer has a very well-written article in New York Magazine (albeit difficult to swallow at times) about the battle over bike lanes in New York City. It's an interesting case of NIMBYism that makes you wonder how much of it comes down to legitimate concern over the new infrastructure, versus a simple fear of change.

(from Steven Vance on Flickr)

What irks me the most is the too-common belief that bicyclists exist because they have some great ideological agenda. Consider this quote from one of the primary opponents of Park Slope's bike lanes.
We walked next door to see the camera rig, Hainline now bundled up in a boxy barn coat. “I’m not saying bikers are ignorant,” she said. “They’re just holy. They really think they’re doing work for the environment if, instead of taking the car a block, they take the bike to go to the food co-op. That’s touching, and it’s in the right direction. But it’s silly.”
I'm not saying that Hainline is ignorant, she just has no facts to back up such a claim. Bikes are transportation. I don't understand why people refuse to understand this. In a big city like New York, they're fast, efficient, affordable means of getting around. And how sad is it that it's sillier that people are riding bikes to a food co-op rather than driving a car one block to get their groceries?

If I made a list of reasons why I bike around in DC and Arlington, the benefit for the environment would be very low on my list. That's not to say that my actions are marginally better for the planet than driving a car; it's that I don't really have much faith that what I'm doing can compensate for the incredible industrial environmental damage that I have virtually no control over.

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