Here's an alternative title for this post: nasty neighbors and mean people you meet in the street. But that would just be bile and silliness and bitterness and not addressing myself to the real obstacles to social and environmental change which are at play, which are important to understand.
Because what's happened is that a neighbor has threatened to have the police remove one of our rickshaws from the sidewalk where we park it. She says it makes the street look untidy, and the implication is that it brings the neighborhood downmarket.
And the thing is, the way that bikes are parked in New York City is kind of untidy. There is little dedicated space to park them so we New Yorkers lock bikes to lampposts and street signs and parking meters and scaffolds and railings and anything else we can find.
That's cultural barrier number one: that the infrastructure does not exist to support change.
One of the biggest barriers to people turning to biking in NYC is the fear that their bikes will get stolen--nowhere safe to leave them. The good news is that new planning regulations will soon require every new building to provide indoor bike parking.
But cultural barrier number two is attitudinal. That is to say, it is true that, at the moment, bike parking in New York uglies up the pretty blocks. Look at the picture above. Dedicated bike parking would improve that in a second.
But here's the thing, what people don't see is the possibility of a hundred bikes replacing a hundred much more untidy cars. Look at the picture below. If the cars are do not ugly up the city, I don't know what does.
People don't think of how much space and tidiness we'd get if we just replace the cars with bikes. Not to mention all the pollutants and carbon gas we'd save, too.
How do we get people past the limitations of the old ideas to see the possibility of the new?