I see that the “Curbee” bicycle footrest has come to Chicago; credit local bicycle advocate Steven Vance. I guess this shows the global nature of bicycle advocacy, that someone in Chicago can implement a refinement on a Copenhagen idea. Score one for the internet, spreading “best practices” around to people who can implement them.

The Curbee, I suppose, is a welcome to cyclists, a symbol that the city is looking out for them and trying to make their life easier in small ways. What I am looking for, however, in my bicycle ride, is TO NOT BE KILLED OR MAIMED. Got that, New York City? It’s great that Chicago can invest in a sturdy welded sidewalk bunny thing that can be used by pedestrians for hanging dry cleaning while tying shoes. But how does this help me keep from being killed or maimed?

I hate to be so existential about this kind of improvement, and I would like to be more welcoming to gestures made by municipalities toward bicyclists. Generous Me suggests, “Please, add more of these little amenities all over my route.” But as my route takes me every afternoon through the South Bronx, I am comfortable in forecasting that the Curbee will not be coming to the corner of Westchester Ave and Bronx River Ave any time soon.

In that respect, I foresee that New York City would install the Curbee somewhere near the East River bridges, where all the cool people are bicycling. Perhaps on that little stretch of protected bike lane north of Canal Street across from the entrance to the east side bikeway of the Manhattan Bridge. I’m sure that people would use the Curbee, because it seems easy to use and doesn’t require instructions. But for me, it would be useless, as I don’t go there all that often.

We can now look forward to a series of inadequately researched studies on the effect that the Curbee has on bicycling promotion. Freelance writers will soon get to gnaw on the bones of some survey like this one suggesting that people at one particular Curbee-enabled corner are now bicycling more. Of course, it’s possible to increase bicycling on individual routes with interventions such as creation of a protected lane, setting up fans to increase riders’ speed, or laying down big rolls of linoleum to reduce the friction.

What cities should be looking for are interventions that increase bicycling all over the network, not just on specific routes near the interventions. The interventions I’m talking about are ones that keep people on bicycles from GETTING KILLED OR MAIMED.

One thought on “Curbee

  1. Pingback: Wasting bicycle advocacy efforts on people who bike | Jonathan's Secret City

Comments are closed.