The wheels are finally turning in favor of bicycle riders in the city — and every pedal-powered commuter has the Bloomberg Administration to thank.
In the past six months, the mayor’s Department of Transportation — which for too long treated bikers the way most motorists do (as a nuisance) — has become even more proactive in encouraging green commuting, going so far as to paint new bike lanes even in neighborhoods whose community boards had rejected them.
It happened this week in Fort Greene, and is about to happen on Ninth Street in Park Slope, a bike-friendly area whose community board has, oddly, stalled on a bike lane plan there.
Though we typically resist top-down management that shunts aside local planning boards, we applaud the DOTs drive for bike safety. (It’s not for nothing that our bike-commuting editor has a file in his computer labeled “My obit” — to be run in the event of his demise on the roads.)
The good news is that the statistics bear out the agency’s aggressive push for more bike lanes.
In the decade from 1996 to 2005, 225 bike riders were killed in crashes on city streets — yet only one death occurred on a street with a bike lane. No wonder the agency plans to lay down 50 miles of new bike lanes every year from now until 2030.
A recent survey compiled by the Department of City Planning showed that virtually all pedal-pushers support more bike lanes — and that the majority of non-bikers would bike to work if only the roads were safer.
Encouraging bicycle commuting is a crucial part of the mayor’s PlaNYC 2030 plan — the visionary strategy for dealing with an expected influx of one million more residents (and their cars) in just over two decades.
Judge Phillips is free
After last week’s guest viewpoint about the six-year odyssey of retired Judge John Phillips, our readers will no doubt be pleased to see our front page story that the respected jurist has finally been freed.
But this story is not over yet.
Phillips was declared mentally incompetent and committed to the care of court-appointed guardians in a process initiated by District Attorney Charles Hynes. The DA claimed he wanted to protect the aging judge — who once ran against him for the top prosecutor job — from those who would pilfer his multi-million-dollar real-estate fortune.
That is exactly what happened anyway — yet Hynes has not brought charges against any of the people who were supposed to be protecting Phillips, not even Phillips’s legal guardian Emani Taylor, who recently admitted that she took almost $200,000 from the retired judge.
Many have questioned whether Hynes was really trying to protect Phillips or merely having his political rival taken out of the picture. To counter that impression, Hynes must move against the guardians who ruined Phillips’s life.
This case is not over.