Enter Sadik-Khan. Under her watch, NYC put in 35 miles of protected lanes, which at the time represented a third of all protected bike lane mileage nationwide. Several crucial intra-borough protected lanes, like those on Kent Ave in Williamsburg and 9th Ave in Manhattan, were installed under her tenure. Daily bike trips, in turn, skyrocketed from 210,000 in 2007 to 380,000 in 2013, Sadik-Khan’s last year in office. New Yorkers could see that if they rode in those lanes, they’d be shielded from moving vehicles. When biking no longer felt or looked like a suicide mission, more people began doing it.
The political "bikelash"
Not everyone was pleased. Critics bemoaned the changes as elitist, undemocratic, and European. They claimed lanes would cause more traffic, more crashes, and more deaths. (All statistically false.) And what about the parking spots?
The data from test cases overwhelmingly favors protected bike lanes as a positive road feature for all road users: rich or poor, walking, riding, or even driving. But numbers are no match against headlines like “The bike-lane cancer” and “Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs?” Public opinion is a fickle beast led by loud voices, and Sadik-Khan’s changes to the city streets were loudly decried by its car drivers… and the politicians who wanted their votes.