Francesco DeLuca

That’s the goal of a cadre of Philly cyclists who dream of turning the city into a bike-friendly paradise. In their way: one cranky Daily News columnist … and a whole lot of angry (sometimes punch-throwing) Philly drivers

Plus, he later reported, the Coalition cyclist counts that the city had leaned on to validate its plan were methodologically flawed — and thereby possibly inaccurate. (Everyone concedes the methodology wasn’t scientific, but it was believed to provide the best data available.) Bykofsky thinks the sloppy stats were beside the point, anyway — a smokescreen to justify what the city was always going to do. “If it was a campaign promise, okay, fine,” he says. “But then don’t tell me it has anything to do with anything else.”

Numbers aside, I tell him that I ride on the Pine and Spruce lanes — and you know what? It is easier. It’s great. I ride more often because of them, I say.

“More bike lanes make more happy bikers,” he says. “I don’t disagree. The question is, what is the cost to everyone else? Good for you. You represent 1.6 percent of the population.” He pauses for a millisecond before jabbing: “That’s very selfish.”

 Nobody, he continues, is speaking for the majority but him. And he doesn’t even own a car. But he lives on Spruce. And he watches, and it’s physics: “Two objects can’t be occupying the same space at the same time. When you take that many lanes out of Center City, it will create huge gridlock.” That, Bykofsky contends, will lead not to “traffic calming” but to the opposite: road rage.
 “And they’re gonna do it. So we’ll see.”

MICHAEL SANDERS SAYS he hasn’t had any trouble on the roads since The Punch. But neither he nor any of the bike guys in the sunlit bicycle shop think the incident is an anomaly. It’s just another symptom — albeit an extreme one — of the driver anger they’ve grown used to.

Sanders’s 45-year-old boss, Lee Rogers, has owned Bicycle Therapy for 20 years, and has been riding even longer. He loves it. Even his frustrations (namely, “People are assholes”) haven’t stripped him of the joy. Today he’s sitting at a counter in his shop, clicking through a series of photos from his April biking trip to Girona, Spain. “Look,” he says, pointing to a gaggle of 20 Lycra-clad cyclists pedaling in front of cars on the road. “The cars waited until we passed. There’s just this kind of courtesy there.”

Ah, the civilized shared road. Peace on the streets. Doty’s vision; Cutler’s dream. “Getting there is a question of trying to figure out what the public relations pieces are here, and the public education,” Cutler says. Doty’s group has always offered adult bike instruction and prides itself on its roaming “bike ambassadors,” who correct wayward bikers; now Cutler’s landed a grant to go into grammar schools to teach bike ed. “We’re trying to figure out how to have people be more civilized, less harried, more conscious of people and places around them,” she says.

 

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