Throwback Thursday: Things People Actually Have Said About Bike Lanes

Image: NYC DOT | Flickr

Bicycle transportation is on the rise in the United States, among Americans young and old, and in cities big and small. Between 2000 and 2014, the share of Americans who commute via bike grew by 62 percent, but there are still plenty of skeptics whose hearts and minds have yet to be won.

Perhaps the most polarizing element of the two-wheeled revolution is the bike lane. Whereas people on bikes represent only a transient nuisance to skeptics, institutionalizing bicycling through the seemingly harmless practice of painting lines on pavement supposedly causes congestion and destroys businesses. Yes, seriously.

So today we’re looking back at some of the craziest things that have ever been said about bike lanes:

“You can’t pick up a piece of furniture on your bike. [Bicyclists] can come shop, but you also need to make room for the cars.” Salt Lake City merchant Amy Leininger

Despite the fact that furniture can be difficult to transport via bicycle, since the protected bike lanes were installed, sales at 300 South businesses grew at a larger rate than citywide sales.

“The recent appearance of ‘bicycle lanes’ in the middle of the right lanes of two-lane roads is a naive concession to the bicycle lobby… Give us our roads back.”Robert Rabinowitz, Stamford Advocate letter to the editor

It sounds like Mr. Rabinowitz is describing “sharrows,” which could hardly be considered a concession to the “bicycle lobby.”

“Every avenue cannot have a bike lane. They have to let people live. Bike lanes belong on side streets, not on every single avenue. The city created a mess putting these bike lanes all over. Then they go, ‘Oh, a biker got killed! A biker got killed!’ Sure a biker got killed. Not every single street has to be a bike lane. All these bike lanes doesn’t [sic] help.” Brooklyn CB1 Transportation Committee co-chair Simon Weiser

Who knew white paint was so dangerous?

“Egged on by the hardcore enthusiasts, [New York City] is spending lots of money, confiscating lots of lane-miles and basing its transportation policy on a fantasy.” — Staten Island Advance Editorial Board

If there’s any reason to get all worked up over the 1,000 miles of bike facilities (which includes sharrows and signed “bicycle routes” as well as bike lanes) on New York City’s 6,000 miles of streets, it’s because there are too few, not too many, bike lanes.

“[H]igh streets are reliant on women for business. These cycle lanes are all about men rushing here, there and everywhere.” — Helen Osman, failed Enfield, UK Council candidate

Osman has redefined not only who is meant to use bike lanes, but also what bike lanes are meant to be used for.

“When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.” Former New York Congressman and fourth runner-up in the 2013 Democratic primary race for mayor, Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner never became mayor—but he did ease up on bike lanes.

“I can’t support bike lanes… What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten. And every year we have dozens of people that get hit by cars or trucks. Well, no wonder. Roads are built for buses, cars and trucks–not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

It’s possible that Mayor Ford’s head wasn’t quite right when he said this, but Ford makes no apologies for being pro-car and anti-bike.

“In a series of unfortunate events, bike lane causes tree to fall on car.”Brooklyn Daily headline

A more accurate headline might read “Painted lines on asphalt scapegoated for exploited free parking.”

“Mostly unused bike lanes uglify neighborhoods all over town… Longer bike lanes are just what shop owners need to ruin their businesses for good.”New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo

Facts are hard.

The lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo.”  Coronado, California resident Carolyn Rogerson

“These black streets with these brilliant white lines everywhere … it takes away from your home, from your outlook on life.” — Coronado, California resident Gerry MacCartee

“It’s very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed.” Coronado, California resident Darby Monger

It was too hard to choose between the bits of testimony presented by Coronado residents at a now well-publicized City Council meeting last month. The recent uprising against bike lanes in this certified Bike-Friendly Community introduced some real gems to the treasure trove of anti-bike lane screeds.


What did we miss? Leave them in the comments below or tweet them to us at @Tri_State

3 Comments on "Throwback Thursday: Things People Actually Have Said About Bike Lanes"

  1. My favorite comment to date is from a high ranking NYSDOT employee that was made when I addressed a lack of bike lanes in Nassau County. “…meant to move cars and trucks. Not every road can be a Complete Street. Where do you propose to put in the bike lane? Remove on street parking, take a portion of someone’s front lawn or eliminate a travel lane and have a perpetual gridlock…”

  2. I have actually gone furniture shopping on my bike, with my 4-year old son on the bike seat. When you are buying big items, it’s just going to be delivered anyway, so why can’t you ride a bike if you want to?

  3. Wow! Three bikers on Plaza Street. Was this photo a set-up?

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