A lot of people are concerned that Syracuse is wasting its time making the streets safe for bikes. ‘It snows here,’ they say, ‘three months of the year no one’s going to be on a bike.’ This do-nothing stance treats bikes as recreation, and it treats all the people who ride them as fitness buffs. It fails to address the reality in Syracuse, which is a lot of people don’t have access to a car, and bikes can and should be a safe, convenient way for them to get around town.
First, let’s get over this ‘no biking in winter’ thing. If we all just stopped using a transportation option because snow made it harder, then no one would drive in the winter either. The slick roads, white outs, and potholes make driving in the winter miserable, but people keep on doing it anyway. It’s not so fun biking in that weather either, but if that’s how you get to work, then you’re going to keep on biking regardless of the weather. Plenty of people on bikes aren’t out there for fun—they ride because it’s the most practical economical way to get around town. It’s more dangerous for them to do that in winter, sure, but that’s exactly why Syracuse needs more bike lanes to keep them safe.
There are people who won’t bike in winter—they weigh all their options and decide that it’s not worth the extra danger to keep biking through winter with all that snow, ice, and all those lousy drivers. How do they get around town during the winter? Not in their own personal cars, that’s for sure. If these people had a spare car lying around, it’s how they’d travel all year. No, they’ve either got to walk or ride the bus when they put the bike up.
But if there are so many bike riders making this decision, then how come we’re not doing more to make walking or riding the bus safer and more convenient in winter? Why did it take so long to plow even a few sidewalks? Why aren’t there more buses? Why aren’t the people so concerned that we not waste money on bike lanes because of ‘winter’ asking these same questions too?
It’s because they don’t really see who uses bikes and what for. These people are car drivers who might understand the idea of taking a Saturday bike ride for fun or whatever, but they’d never mix that up with the real business of getting to work or buying groceries or taking a child to school. They think Syracuse is for people in cars because everybody has one.
But plenty of people don’t have a car, and Syracuse is for them too. Those people need wider sidewalks, they need better bus service, and they also need more bike lanes—especially in the winter