“I was swept away by the thought of what could be when I saw a million bikes in Beijing. And I see two in New York City — on a Sunday.” With these words, in November 1980 Mayor Edward Koch removed the barrier-separated bike lanes he had installed one month earlier between Greenwich Village and Central Park.
The 6- to 8-foot wide lanes ran northbound on 6th Ave. and southbound on 7th Ave., Broadway and 5th Ave. Chronically blocked by pedestrians, food vendors and trash, they were shunned by some cyclists, who found riding in traffic more efficient. Taxi and trucking interests protested taking street space for “invisible cyclists,” although DoT reported both lower accidents and increased riding on 6th Ave.
from transalt.org article about 1980s bike lanes in NYC; posted in memoriam of former Mayor Ed Koch who passed away last night
article continues: “The lanes, which were conceived and executed without consultation with the bicycling community, were the Mayor’s last move on behalf of cycling. This retreat and Koch’s escalating hostility to cyclists — culminating in the 1987 Midtown bike ban — set back NYC cycling for a decade. Future bike lane experiments must put a premium on consultation with the cycling community, enforcement of the lanes’ integrity, and patience. A one or two month transportation experiment proves nothing.”