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Thread: Biking in New York City

  1. #31

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    A Ride Down Hysteria Lane

    Do we want bikes to push against traffic or dignify it?

    By Alec Appelbaum
    Posted January 18, 2006

    Traffic flattens many romantic views of New York. If our streets flow and pulse, why do braking cars grate our nerves from the Palisades down to Coney Island? And a related question: why is it so hard to get around on a bike? While future planning adjustments would rectify both weaknesses, bikers remain in a precarious mess. We can begin to see how as we approach the city's great bridges.

    The Brooklyn Bridge, like many monumental sites around New York, serves thousands of citizens' practical purposes. Commuters and runners use it as an extended street. Tourists sometimes need a prompt to walk across it, not just stare at it. It connects downtown Brooklyn's plazas and boulevards to Lower Manhattan as a veiny network of little river-seeking streets. It's a gracious rush to flow between these hubs over a stretch of harbor views--that is, until your bike clangs into motorists, barriers, and manic bike messengers. And that's where sensible planning would help.

    Noah Budnick, projects director for advocacy outfit Transportation Alternatives, suggests ways the city can buffer bikes without cramming them in gutters. For low cost, he argues, the city's Department of Transportation could dedicate "on-street greenways" like those found in Montreal midblocks or in spruced up material on Berlin curbs. This would help riders define the street's current--and get around faster. Imagine navigating errands or jaunting through scenic New York with a tailwind and no fear of car-door sideswipes.

    Right now these types of excursions involve lots of stutter-stops. The standard local bike lane consists of a single stripe, narrow for riders and nettlesome to cars. Riders end up scraping each other. Budnick praises a wider bike lane on Hudson Street, on Manhattan's West Side. The bike lane is approximately five feet wide, with a white stripe buffer separating bikers and traffic by almost three feet. "Even though drivers can double-park, they don't," Budnick says. The wide stripe reminds them that cyclists need space too. A local community board recently asked the city's Department of Transportation to extend the buffer north a few miles to connect to Central Park.

    The city can contemplate such changes in part because the federal government often covers 80 cents of every transportation dollar. But Budnick perceives a different calculus. He describes transportation bigwigs as "always thinking about space they're taking away from cars." Luckily, some planning committee members think more broadly. Since 2003, zoning revisions obliged commercial developers in industrial Queens and downtown Brooklyn to provide up to 400 square feet of indoor bike parking. (These zones have seen little new construction, but presumably that'll change.) In 2005, bump-causing iron plates vanished from the Williamsburg Bridge. And the new "on-street greenway" (it's asphalt) gives riders room to pass each other en route to the Brooklyn Bridge. This is progress.

    But these are minor changes when what's really needed is a new bike-safe network. As pedestrian traffic swells in Midtown Manhattan and families clog sidewalks throughout gentrifying neighborhoods, bikers ought to find room on the street. More two-lane buffers along arteries to parks and shopping strips would make a huge difference. So would broader bike parking, which Transportation Alternatives wants the City Council to require in office buildings. For now, two-wheeled New Yorkers rely on ingenuity. "I know one person," says Budnick, "who persuaded the manager at the Empire State Building to let him bring his bike inside." Until political forces align, one aspect of the New York stereotype will propel biker's rights--perseverance.


    Motorists, barriers, and fellow riders create dangerous conditions on New York City's bikepaths.
    Photo Alec Appelbaum


    Safer conditions for bicylists can be found within the on-street greenways in Montreal.
    Courtesy Transportation Alternatives


    Berlin provides well-marked bikeways for the city's riders.
    Photo Aaron Naparstek


    The asphalt-laden "greenway" provides safer access on to the Brooklyn Bridge.
    Photo Alec Appelbaum


    New York bicyclists need more bike lanes like this one that create buffer zones from traffic.
    Courtesy Transportation Alternatives

  2. #32
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    "Even though drivers can double-park, they don't," Budnick says
    Um, come down by Houston. See how many people aren't couble parking.

    Including the US postal, UPS, DHL, Fed Ex, Fresh Direct, and just about any delivery boxcar that comes into the area.

    It is nowhere NEAR as bad as midtown or some of the more crowded avenues, but saying it is not there is an acute case of selective vision.

  3. #33

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    In my neighborhood, you get a ticket if you don't double park.

  4. #34
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Jersey City and Hudson County has taken steps on plans to put bike lanes similar to those in the pics on main throughfares throughout the city and county. About damm time!!!

  5. #35

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    February 26, 2006

    After Judge's Ruling, Fewer Are Arrested in Mass Bike Ride

    By JIM DWYER

    Jessica Rechtschaffer, who believes she holds — or at least shares — the unofficial record as the bicycle rider most often arrested at the monthly group rides known as Critical Mass, thought she might be adding to her total Friday night when police officers stopped her near 28th Street and Eighth Avenue.

    For nearly two years, arrests on minor charges — as opposed to summonses — have been among the tactics the police have used to crack down on the ride, which takes place on the last Friday of the month and which the authorities say blocks traffic and creates public hazards.

    But two weeks ago, a state judge, rejecting the city's effort to quash the ride, advised the city and the riders to de-escalate their "rhetoric and conduct." On Friday night, in the first ride since the ruling, three people were arrested, far fewer than the 20 to 40 arrested at the many of the rides in the last year.

    Among those not arrested, for a change, was Ms. Rechtschaffer. "They gave me a summons for running the red light at 28th Street and Eighth Avenue," she said. She has been arrested four times in the last two years, she said. Three of the cases were dropped, and she pleaded guilty in the other one.

    A police spokeswoman said she did not know how many summonses were issued to riders Friday night, but said the charges against the three people arrested were disorderly conduct. The police apparently did not use a charge, parading without a permit, that judges have said was either unconstitutional or wrongly applied to the Critical Mass ride, said Gideon O. Oliver, a lawyer who has represented dozens of the riders.

    Two riders serving as legal observers for the National Lawyers Guild were stopped by Assistant Chief Bruce H. Smolka and an aide. A videotape made by an observer shows that the riders, Adrienne Wheeler, 27, and Ethan Wolf, 26, rode the wrong direction up Broadway.

    On the tape, Chief Smolka and his aide, who were not in police uniforms and did not appear to display badges, grabbed the riders as they crossed West 43rd Street. Ms. Wheeler fell to the pavement — after, she says, the chief grabbed the bike chain around her waist, though that moment was not captured on the tape.

    Chief Smolka can be seen grasping the chain as she got up, and is heard saying they were riding the wrong way, before taking them to a police substation to be issued summonses.

    * Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

  6. #36
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    After Judge's Ruling, Fewer Are Arrested in Mass Bike Ride

    ... A police spokeswoman said she did not know how many summonses were issued to riders Friday night ...
    Bicyclists were being issued summons right and left. I viewed at least 3 summons being given out right below my window.

    Meanwhile taxis in my area are committing infractions all the time and I have NEVER -- in all the years I've lived here -- seen one taxi pulled over and given a summons.

  7. #37
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    It seems that the procedure for prosecuting cyclists in Scotland is somewhat different ...

    http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/sh...&postcount=196

  8. #38
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A "bicycle safety film" from 1963, "ONE GOT FAT", narrated by the venerable Edward Everett Horton ...

    About 15 minutes of weirdness ...

    Is it an homage to "Wizard of Oz"?

    Or a precursor to "Planet of the Apes" and, perhaps, even "E.T."??



    Ahhhh, if only NYC cyclists would follow these simple rules.


    The VID is here: http://www.fazed.org/video/embed/?id=79
    This is a bike safety video from 1963. It’s the sort of thing that if you watched it after taking a ten strip, you’d spend the rest of your life in a mental institute muttering about Phil Floogle and Trigby Fipps. They just don’t make safety videos like this anymore.

    Some more stills:


  9. #39
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A cool bike VID of a bike excursion down Broadway to view the exhibition of Tom Otterness sculptures:


    VID here: http://homepage.mac.com/trorb/BikeTV...heater123.html
    Outdoor Art (4 min)
    Teresa goes by bike to bring us the fantasmagorical outdoor sculptures of Tom Otterness

    http://www.tomotterness.net/exhibitions_broadway.html


  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by NewYorkYankee
    What exactly is the point that the monthly ride is trying to get across?
    I think one point being made is cars choke up the streets and environment, and are given priority over bikes, pedestrians and just about every thing else. The monthly ride is a bit of "taking back the streets." Showing the car drivers what it's like to be inconvienced.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    Bikers have the same regard for pedestrians that drivers have for bikers.
    I bike frequently, and there are no innocent parties. How often I've nearly wiped out because some stupid pedestrian isn't paying any attention to where they step. They are especially vile on the Brooklyn Bridge, where despite the fact that half the walkway is reserved for bikes, walkers frequently appropriate our side and get indignant that we want to use our half of the walkway. I've been known to clip a little close to a pedesterian to make a point (I've never hit anyone). Maybe it's not nice, but it does get very old.
    Last edited by Clarknt67; March 14th, 2006 at 06:16 PM.

  11. #41
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Blessing of the Bicycles

    Blessing of the Bicycles



    When: 22 Apr 2006 (annual)

    Where: Cathedral of St. John the Divine

    Cost: Free

    Opening Hours: 9.30am

    The Blessing of the Bicycles

    Hundreds of cyclists aim to ensure safe pedalling by attending the somewhat eccentric Blessing of the Bicycles ceremony, held at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Manhattan each spring.

    Cathedral Dean, The Very Reverend Dr James Kowalski, offers the blessing to kick off a safe cycling season, sprinkling holy water over each bike in the process. This is followed by a moment of silence to remember those who have died in cycling accidents during the past year. Bike messengers, racers, commuters, recreational bikers and, of course, children, are all invited to this colorful service.

    The event has been running since 1999 and adds to the cathedral's colourful collection of annual events and services, which include summer and winter solstice concerts as well as Halloween, Christmas, New Year and Easter happenings.

    Related Information

    Bike the Big Apple Website: http://bikethebigapple.com/

    Blessing of the Bikes Website: http://www.nycbicycleshow.com/blessing/index.html

  12. #42

    Default NYC Bike Maps

    New York City's bike lanes, bike paths, & greenways plotted on a google map.

    NYC Map:
    http://www.nycbikemaps.com

  13. #43

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    June 28, 2006
    A Path Perfect for Cyclists, Except Where It Crosses Drivers' Paths
    By THOMAS J. LUECK


    A cyclist and a jogger avoided a taxicab Tuesday on the Hudson River Park bike path at 38th Street, where a cyclist was fatally hit last week.


    A cyclist on the path Tuesday passed by David Snetman, left, and Mark Stonehill, who were measuring the speed of southbound traffic on the West Side Highway at 37th Street. The posted limit is 35 miles per hour.

    The Hudson River Park bike path is an experiment in urban planning and common self-restraint.

    The path, a narrow ribbon of pavement that separates a teeming urban waterfront from the near constant din of a major highway, opened in 2001, giving cyclists their first unimpeded access from Lower Manhattan to Midtown. And the cyclists love it — it was crowded with spinning wheels and zipping 10-speeds at noon yesterday — making the Hudson River path one of the nation's busiest.

    But for all the path's success, questions about its safety have loomed. Will cyclists who are given the luxury of an unimpeded, parklike environment put on the brakes to let vehicles pass? Will motorists, who routinely dart off the West Side Highway across the bike path, return the favor?

    Those questions have taken on new urgency since Sunday, when Dr. Carl H. Nacht, a 56-year-old physician and bicycle enthusiast, died from injuries he sustained on Thursday when he was struck by a police vehicle as he rode along the path at 38th Street.

    Yesterday, a cyclist riding the path from Chambers Street to 59th Street found several points of hazard, too commonly ignored by cyclists and drivers alike.

    On Thursday, Dr. Nacht was struck by a police tow truck that turned into the Pier 76 impound lot from the West Side Highway, crossing the bike path.

    The accident, resulting in the first fatality of a cyclist on the Hudson River path, underscores the risks to riders at more than a dozen intersections where trucks, buses, cabs and other vehicles make their way to riverfront businesses and institutions like the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and the Chelsea Piers sports complex.

    "People with vehicles simply have to realize they are entering cyclists' territory," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a cyclists' advocacy group. Although his group, parks advocates and many transportation experts have praised the design of the Hudson River Path, Mr. White said the death of Dr. Nacht demonstrated a need for more precautions to protect cyclists from vehicles.

    But the ride yesterday revealed another cause for concern. Despite traffic lights and signs at most hazardous intersections that warn cyclists of the danger of vehicles crossing the path, few of the cyclists abide by the rules.

    "Almost everybody rides through the red lights," said Bill Durgin, 35, a photographer who stopped on his bike ride from a waterfront tennis court near Houston Street to his home on North Moore Street.

    Nearby, at the entrance to Pier 40, a ramshackle parking garage at the foot of Houston Street, the state's Department of Transportation has constructed a "speed table" for cyclists. The device creates a slightly elevated speed bump for motorists driving over the bike path, but retains a level surface for cyclists.

    The state, which designed the bike path, has also installed traffic lights at the Pier 40 entrance. As elsewhere along the path, the lights flash red and green images of bicycles, leaving no doubt who is ordered to stop.

    But yesterday, almost nobody stopped unless a vehicle was about to cross. Streams of cyclists, young and old, fast and slow, blithely rode through on red.

    "There are just too many other signals that tell cyclists they are no longer part of the street network, and they are in a park," Mr. White said. "That is a good thing. They should isolate the cyclists."

    Mr. White's group, suspecting that the speed of vehicular traffic on the West Side Highway may be a culprit because it can force drivers to exit too abruptly across the bike path, dispatched researchers yesterday with radar speed guns.

    He said the researchers measured southbound traffic at 37th Street, a block south of where Dr. Nacht was struck, where the posted limit is 35 miles per hour. About 40 percent of the vehicles surveyed were speeding, Mr. White said. The worst offenders, 13.5 percent of those recorded, were driving 40 miles per hour or faster.

    Lisa Kuhner, a spokeswoman for the State Transportation Department, said yesterday that it was constantly exploring new safety measures for cyclists and motorists who cross paths on the bikeway, and was installing more speed tables, like the one at Pier 40, across from Gansevoort Street, at the 24th Street entrance to Chelsea Piers and at the 59th Street entrance to the Intrepid museum.

    Cycling advocates said the Hudson River Park path had made a huge contribution to cycling in the city because it linked to a path in Riverside Park, allowing people to ride from the Battery far into the upper reaches of the West Side of Manhattan.

    As a result, thousands of cyclists, who are drawn each day for exercise and recreation, are joined by growing numbers of commuters riding to Midtown or Lower Manhattan from the Upper West Side. The path is also used by Brooklyn residents who are willing to brave the Brooklyn Bridge and a slow slog across the congested streets near City Hall.

    Yesterday, for a rider making the trip from Brooklyn, the Hudson River Park bike path north of Chambers Street appeared like a cyclist's paradise, seeming to whisper the phrase "faster, faster" as Lower Manhattan gave way to TriBeCa, SoHo and Greenwich Village.

    But there were challenges ahead, even on an overcast Tuesday.

    Near Little West 12th Street, construction along the path funneled cyclists into a narrow passage less than eight feet wide. Chain-link fencing and a working backhoe pressed in ominously on both sides.

    At 22nd Street, the Chelsea Piers complex posed a hazardous turn, where cyclists must cut across a lane of traffic entering the complex.

    At 37th Street, a stretch of nine blocks, extending to 46th Street, seemed the most hazardous. Eight intersections, all with traffic lights for cyclists, provided access across the path to a stream of buses, taxis and trucks bound for the city's tow pound, boat terminals and the Intrepid.

    The congestion eased after 46th Street. Back near Houston Street, Mr. Durgin, the photographer, paused on his vintage Raleigh three-speed. He said he had been riding on the path about four times a week for three years. Cyclists' widespread disregard for stop signs is serious, he said, but the path itself is a valued addition to the city.

    "I'm riding my bike a lot more simply because it is here," he said.



    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  14. #44
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kris / NY TIMES
    A Path Perfect for Cyclists, Except Where It Crosses Drivers' Paths

    ... measuring the speed of southbound traffic on the West Side Highway at 37th Street. The posted limit is 35 miles per hour.

    ... researchers measured southbound traffic at 37th Street, a block south of where Dr. Nacht was struck, where the posted limit is 35 miles per hour. About 40 percent of the vehicles surveyed were speeding, Mr. White said. The worst offenders, 13.5 percent of those recorded, were driving 40 miles per hour or faster.
    Drivers treat the WSH as if it were an isolated freeway. Coud this not be easily remedied by adjusting the stop lights to keep traffic at a reasonable, legal and steady pace?

  15. #45
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    OMG!!! 40 in a 35 zone!!!!! The HORROR!!!!

    I think it is a dual problem in that if you are biking, you really do not want to stop at all the traffic lights along the way. You look to see who is coming, and if there isn't anyone coming, you go.

    this gets to be a problem when cyclists and bladers try to squeeze across when they see people waiting to make the turn or simply do not look.

    At the same time, cars traveling on the highway try to make it through the short light so they are not stuck there for another 3 minutes waiting for the next one.

    The 35 MPH speed limit has little, if anything to do with the accident. If the road itself crossed the path, then I can see where light speeders (ones who try to make the yellow) would be a problem, but unless you are in a really sweet sportster, no way in hell are you taking a corner at a light at 40.

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