Opinion: I Love Whoopie Goldberg Even Though She Hates Bike Lanes

whoopi-lead
Whoopie Goldberg telling New York Mayor Bill de Blasio how she feels about bike lanes.

Whoopie Goldberg is fed up with bike lanes — and I still love her.

Yesterday on The View (video) she chewed out New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for narrowing one of the streets she where drives to work.

“You know what’s really pissing me off?” she asked the mayor. “You’ve added 83 miles of protected bike lanes… and I don’t think you understand the impact of taking 10th Avenue from six lanes to two-and-a-half.”

As an advocate for better walking, better biking and better transit, it would be easy for me to shame Goldberg. “What an old curmudgeon, she just doesn’t get it,” I might say.

But how could I hate on the star of Sister Act?

And is it her fault that the term ‘livable streets’ isn’t on the tip of her tongue?

Slowing down traffic is a part of the New York’s Vision Zero program, de Blasio replied, which has successfully reduced the number of traffic fatalities to the lowest level since 1910, when horses outnumbered cars on New York Streets. (Denver’s traffic fatalities have risen despite its Vision Zero plan.)

Goldberg and the rest of The View’s panel looked as if they had never heard of Vision Zero. And what I see in her is probably true of a majority of Denverites. Like most normal people, she doesn’t know a lot about urban planning. But the movement for sustainable transportation needs normal people on board.

Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan already includes campaigns that educate people to drive more safely. But there’s nothing in it to sell the public on why the plan is essential. Even if people have heard the term Vision Zero, they may not understand one of its most critical parts: the vision to achieve zero traffic fatalities in each city.

And as Denver finalizes a planning process that will shape the design of its streets for the next two decades, more people should know that making room for bikes and buses can move greater numbers of people, which ultimately would reduce traffic.

Whether people are Hollywood stars or members of the general public, they should not be blamed for what they do not know about street design. To make visionary ideas for livable streets happen, we must share ideas, we must win hearts and minds, and we need to bring people to our side —even those who drive.

Streetsblog welcomes tips, story ideas and reader-submitted editorials. E-mail andy@streetsblog.org.

  • TakeFive

    Yuge props for Whoopie Love.

  • Sarah

    Generous of you, and I partially agree. Still, a lot of people of my generation (Whoopie and I are contemporaries) hate change, and Whoopie is apparently one of them.

  • TM

    “Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan already includes campaigns that educate people to drive more safely. But there’s nothing in it to sell the public on why the plan is essential. ”

    This is important. Education campaigns that just tell people to drive safely don’t accomplish much of anything. But an actual campaign that taught people what things like Vision Zero are, how street design can put us in danger or make us safer, could really do some good. We’d get a lot more support from the general public on things like bike lanes and transit lanes if people understood a little more about how these things work.

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