In case you missed it, there’s a controversy brewing over some proposed new bike lanes connecting Westville to Downtown.
Yes, that’s right. Controversy. On bike lanes. On Edgewood Avenue.
Seems like a bit of a no brainer, right? After all, if you’ve ever rode a bike on Edgewood or Whalley Ave to Westville, it’s not the safest, most convenient ride. So building a protected bike lane, with cones and everything, has to be a great idea, right? We encourage economic activity, exercise, climate-safe transportation!
So what’s the problem?
The Eternal Parking Struggle
Listen, I get it. Most people in New Haven have cars. And they need to park those cars. Forget sunsets and puppy love — real beauty is an open spot right in front of your house.
But we can’t halt progress towards a more bike-friendly city to save a few parking spots. Sorry. But that’s ridiculous.
Over at Edgewood School and Deja Brew, they’re worried about losing those precious spots. I mean, imagine the horrors if someone had to walk 10, maybe 20 feet to their apartment? The exercise! The strain of effort! The terrible enjoyment of one’s city!
You might even have to say hi to your neighbor, which any proper New Englander knows, is bullshit.
I understand the worry about losing spots in front of a coffee shop, but you know who likes coffee? People who ride bikes.
For instance, this guy. I ride bikes. I love coffee. I’d stop and get a coffee on a bike ride. There may be more like me. Dozens of us, maybe!
But What About those Pesky Bike Elites?
If you didn’t have the pleasure of reading the toxic comments section of the article in the New Haven Independent, you missed some truly ridiculous stuff.
One of my favorites was someone saying, “I find it offensive that a handful of bike elites think they have a right to just take over city streets and demand, not one, but two bike lanes.”
What’s a bike elite? Apparently it’s some idiot who actually chooses to ride a bike and then demands that infrastructure is build to accommodate their form of transportation. Kind of like if the city spent millions of dollars building roads and traffic signals for people who drive cars?
Yeah, Heaven forbid we give up a few parking spots to provide a safe ride for bicyclists on one single road in Westville. What are these car drivers supposed to do now, drive slower on Edgewood Avenue? Drive on Chapel Street like some kind of peasant?!
(Obviously nobody is going to drive on Whalley Ave on purpose unless you’re just super into traffic lights and slamming on your brakes when local residents dart into traffic, almost daring you to hit them.)
You’d think that people actually choosing to ride bikes instead of driving would be a good thing. It’s better for the environment, better for health, easier to maintain infrastructure, and also looks extremely cool. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Building a More Bike-Friendly City
I love riding my bike and I’m kind of an idiot, so I’ll ride it just about anywhere. But many of my friends, being more cautious individuals who cherish their own lives, worry about riding on the streets of New Haven.
Dedicated bike lanes are fantastic for this. It’s significantly safer and more encouraging, and will only increase traffic on Edgewood Avenue. For instance, in Salt Lake City, they found that removing parking and using protected bike lanes actually increased retail sales in the area.
Edgewood Avenue is also a great place for it, because it’s scenic, but also not meant as a main automotive thoroughfare like Chapel Street or Whalley Avenue.
Obviously, this isn’t going to magically make Westville the coolest place ever. Cause I don’t live there so like… not sure how that’s going to work.
But it’s already the dopest brunch place and what’s better than eating a giant brunch with a Bloody Mary or two and then riding back downtown in the sunshine?
Nothing, dear reader. The answer is nothing.
Perhaps a Compromise?
During the town meeting two weeks ago, some folks floated a compromise — instead of two dedicated bike lanes, just make one and preserve some parking. So let me say — I don’t love it. I don’t think this is a place where we need to compromise.
I do think compromise is important when it comes to local politics, but I think this is one of those things we should get right the first time. It’s okay to sacrifice a few parking spots to build something for the future of the city.
The Edgewood area ain’t downtown. There’s parking. Maybe you’ll have to park a block away. I know it sucks but this is classic NIMBY-ism in New England. Everybody wants progress until it slightly inconveniences them.
Well, sorry car drivers — but if New Haven is going to grow as a city, it’s going to have to be friendly not only to drivers, but to bicyclists and pedestrians as well.
Bring on the bike lanes.