The Limits of Bicycling in the Power Broker's New York

A 70-year-old document sheds light on the attitude of master builder Robert Moses towards bicycling.

An enterprising New York City folklorist has unearthed a 1938 memo from Robert Moses to Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, in which the former Parks Commissioner outlines the need for a network of bike paths in city parks. While Moses comes across as someone sympathetic to bicyclists, the document also shows the limitations of his belief that biking is just for recreation, while streets are only for cars. An excerpt, quoted on Streetsblog:

"The need for taking children off of public streets where they are constantly threatened with serious injury, and are themselves a hazard to motorists is imperative, and is evidenced by the increasingly numerous letters received from parents and others interested in the welfare of the youth of the city. Every motorist is aware of the hazard created by children of the adolescent age exploring the whole width of the roadway...

"Recognizing that bicycles have no place on public highways, and fully aware of the marked rise in enthusiasm and growing interest in bicycling on the part of the general public within the city limits, park executives have for some time been studying the entire park system to ascertain local unsatisfied cycling needs, and where proper facilities can be located advantageously to furnish the opportunity for bicycle riding without too long a delay and without involving large expenditures for construction."

Thanks to Ben Fried

Full Story: Moses to LaGuardia: Bikes Have No Place on the Street


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