My family and I just returned from a three city trip. We visited Las Vegas, New York City, Providence-Boston Area. I count Providence-Boston as one because we found ourselves between these cities most of this part of our journey. I found something kind of different as in, how people on foot and on bikes are treated by motorized traffic.
First let me explain how it is here, in North West Oklahoma. Cars rule. Drivers feel entitled to the complete road. There is no room for anyone or anything else. Drivers have told me that bikes and pedestrians don’t belong on the road. That is what the sidewalk is for.
Las Vegas handled the foot traffic well. They provided large sidewalks and bridges spanning the strip. Also crosswalks were jammed with people. I understand that Las Vegas is predominantly a tourist town. People need to get between casinos/hotels for lots of reasons. And Vegas accommodates them. As bikes go, I didn’t even see a one. Can I assume that they are on the parallel streets? I hope so. I felt pretty safe walking in Las Vegas.
In New York City, the walker and biker rule. Automobiles are the slowest way to get around Manhattan. We found ourselves in a sea of people walking many times. There is a give and take with foot traffic and cars. As long as each follows the rules, everyone is happy. But if someone steps off the curb before it’s time, a car,bus or truck horn is heard. That being said, most NYC drivers are very courteous. It’s like the drivers understand that they are not going anywhere fast. But for them, they enjoy their own space in comfort. Listening to their own sitting down, listening to the radio, drinking coffee, and enjoying the air conditioning. Cyclist find themselves part of the traffic. They weave in and out of the taxis and busses. Sometimes to the scorn of the drivers. Cycling NYC is simply the fastest way to travel. But it is the most wild. If a cyclist is brave, he or she can make great time. That’s even following the rules of the road by stopping at red lights. My only experience on a bike in NYC, was when we rented them at Central Park. Now we didn’t leave the park, but we did follow the marked bike paths. There were walkers, runners, bikes and cars. It all flowed well. We never felt threatened. We felt we could go anywhere in the park that we wanted to, no limitations at all. Not getting out on the streets by bike, I can’t say how safe I felt; but I felt pretty safe walking in New York City.
We stayed with family in Massachusetts. They don’t live the the ‘city’. The roads are the typical narrow winding roads with no shoulders. When my wife and I walked the roads, cars gave us the full lane. It was outstanding! They would slow a bit and move to the other lane. We generally walked against traffic unless there were sidewalks, which were few. We walked mostly during the day, and not at night. We were afraid the drivers wouldn’t see us at night. There where no street lights at all. When we were in either Boston or Providence, I saw lots of bike lanes and folks using them. We even saw families who rented bikes to tour Boston. Boston and Providence are bike friendly. Also for us walkers in the two cities, it was just like New York. But on a much smaller scale. There were lots of sidewalks and mutual respect between drivers and walkers. While in Boston’s North End, we found ourselves walking down the middle of the streets. Most because we could. The very narrow streets, sometimes single lane, had very slow moving traffic. I felt pretty safe.