Bike Love…and hate, week in review.

Well NYC is getting a lot of bike love these days. Eclectic artist, musician and avid cyclist, David Bryne, wrote a piece in Sunday’s NY Times endorsing the bike sharing program coming to NYC in a month. (Citibike.)

This Is How We Ride

“This summer the city’s Department of Transportation inaugurates a new bike-share program. People who live and work in New York will be able to travel quickly and cheaply between many neighborhoods. This is major. It will make New Yorkers rethink their city and rewrite the mental maps we use to decide what is convenient, what is possible. Parks, restaurants and friends who once seemed beyond plausible commuting distance on public transportation will seem a lot closer. The possibilities aren’t limitless, but the change will be pretty impressive. “

Mr. Bryne’s essay had a simple way of highlighting the benefits of what’s coming here to NYC, by describing how he used the program in London and other cities, where bike sharing already exists:

“I’ve used bike-sharing programs in London, Ottawa, Washington, Toronto, Barcelona, Milan and Paris. In London, where they introduced a public bike program two years ago, I could enjoy a night out without having to worry about catching the last tube home or finding a no longer readily available black cab. In Paris, the Vélib program has more than 20,000 bikes and extends all the way to the city’s borders. Significantly, the banlieues, the low-income housing projects that surround that city, aren’t included, so the system reinforces a kind of economic discrimination, but maybe more coverage is coming.”

Read the full op-ed, here.

Granted, NYC’s is going to be the most expensive at $9.95 a pop, but he broke it down how to keep the trips under 30 minutes and how this program is designed to be another viable transportation option along side public transportation, not to be used for long tours of the city. He was really psyched about the transformative prospects of bike sharing in NYC.

The higher price for NYC, has already begun to alarm people such as this recent article in Gothamist. Headline: “CitiBike, NYC’s Bike Share, WIll Cost $77 For A Four-Hour Ride”. Read more, here.

Those fears were addressed in a blog posting from Scientific America:

The reason is that a bike share is not simply an automated bike-rental service. It’s a flexible option for short-distance transportation. Need to get across town to make an appointment? Grab a shared bike and go. Want to take a leisurely four-hour ride along the waterfront? You’d be better served renting a bicycle from the numerous businesses that cater to that market. Besides, if CitiBikes are anything like the heavy, utilitarian clunkers I rode in Paris, you won’t want to spend four hours in the saddle.

The overage fees that most users are likely to incur are more reasonable—$2.50 for yearlong members who ride an extra half-hour beyond their allotted 45 minutes, $4.00 for short-term members who exceed their 30 minutes by a half-hour or less—but certainly seem aimed at keeping trips short.

continued, here.

Meanwhile, D.O.T. commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was busy answering questions about which neighborhoods will be getting the bike sharing program at a recent city council meeting. This according to WNYC:

The Upper West Side of Manhattan won’t get bike share until June 2013. That’s according to New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, in testimony before the New York City Council Tuesday.

The date isn’t exactly a surprise — the city acknowledged at the launch of its Citi Bike program that some neighborhoods won’t get bike share until next spring, but the June date puts it at the outer edge of that timeline.

Read more, here.

Meanwhile, in Tuesday’s AMNY they had praise for bikes with a short piece on how businesses are specifically targeting the rising trends in cycling:

Biking business boom: More city merchants offering deals for bikers

At The Candy Rush in Crown Heights, bicyclists stop by for doughnuts and gummy bears. On the Lower East Side, they pop into Luca Lounge for beers. At Brooklyn Roasting Company, they pick up espresso shots.

These businesses are among hundreds of shops, cafes and bars trying to lure cyclists with discounts and other incentives – a trend being driven by the Bloomberg administration’s push to make New York the biking capital of the East Coast.

“Many businesses understand that bicyclists means business,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a group that tracks bike-friendly businesses. He predicts bike-friendly businesses will grow in the months ahead to 1,000 from around 250.

Continue reading here.

Now the hate…

With all this love and praise of the bikes in NYC to help transform our transportation and increase business, Cyclists continue to be harassed, especially those brave souls who participate in the monthly critical mass rides.

Here is one cyclist going through a 20 minute ticketing process for not having proper lighting on his bike, which clearly shows in the video to be FALSE.

Kind of sad when Critical Mass is celebrating it’s 20th year come September.

Artwork by Mona Caron.
More info

and there’s never a dull moment for our city legislators to look for new revenue streams in punitive ways, especially towards cyclists.

Here is new legislation being presented trying to make it mandatory for all adults to wear helmets when operating a bicycle.

From Gothamist:
Councilman Proposing Bike Helmet Law Says Not Wearing One “Worse” Than Forgoing Seatbelt
By: Christopher Robins
Published: May 31, 2012

Today City Council Member David Greenfield is introducing a law that would make wearing a helmet while riding a bike mandatory in New York City, punishable by a $25 fine. “The reality is 91% of cyclists who are killed are not wearing helmets,” Greenfield says. “Seatbelt laws don’t keep people from driving cars,” he adds. “Seatbelts save lives. In a way, not wearing a helmet is worse than not wearing a seatbelt. You’re endangering your life, your family’s lives, and the lives of those in your community.”

Yet we live in a city in which cyclists are ticketed more than truck drivers, and cyclists make up around 10% of traffic, while bike lanes make up less than 6.5% of the city’s streets. How will a helmet law change this? “There’s a reason why no major city has imposed a mandatory bike helmet law,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson says, “and that’s because the best way to protect cyclists is to avoid accidents in the first place, and you do that with more bike lanes.”

More, here.

It’s still the same ol dual edge sword here in NYC, making me skeptical of real transformation. Sure great things have happened with infrastructure, laws and soon a large scale sharing program…but that comes at a price of continual harassment and a police force who tends to always side with the motorist and corporate powers.

My hope is that all sides of NYC’s governance, get on the same page and find ways to promote biking and allow it to thrive so they can see it as the future and not just as a passing trend that needs to be clamped down on.

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