Here are the latest developments in the NYPD’s crackdown on cyclists.
On my way into work today I read a fairly horrifying tweet…
Can this be? $270.00? Right in my neighborhood?
Recently, in the dead of winter, when bicycles are prevailing even with un-plowed streets and cars being abandon during the snowpocolypse, the NYPD has decided to sort through their list of priorities and issue a “fatwa” against illegal cycling.
The NY POST reported on this on the 7th of January, a news organization that has always been a champion of cyclists hate speak such as this article from Steve Cuozzo whining about how the city plowed bike lanes while certain car roadways weren’t touched. He also called us: “Mayor Bloomberg’s favorite class of commuters: maniacs and deliverymen on two wheels.” Seems fair and balanced.
Well even though the tourists love our less car centric initiatives and cycling has increased, the bikers reward seems to come with a price. According to the POST, the NYPD’s Manhattan crackdown is being extended to parts of Brooklyn, which have seen the largest increase in bicycle traffic.
The Post went onto say in this article, according to police in Williamsburg, that this is “prolonged enforcement– not a crackdown with quotas.”
Of course don’t forget the NYPD statement that came out issued in Manhattan was just 24 hours after the city had lost a major case against Critical Mass and had to pay out over $900,000. Sour grapes or a focused effort to respond to numerous complaints by NYC citizens? You decide.
Meanwhile, Gothamist reports, according to the NYPD “bicycle riders will be ticketed for often-overlooked “vehicular offenses, such as failing to obey traffic signals and signs, breaking the speed limit, tailgating, and even failure to signal before turning.” Not exactly sure how a cyclist can break the speed limit…what is the speed limit for bicycles and tailgating?
I am for enforcement of cyclists breaking the law for such things as riding on the sidewalk and going the wrong way down a one-way, but this may be a case of careful what you wish for, like asking the Hells Angels to do security at your rock concert. (Altamont)
I did get to speak out on this a bit in an interview with 1010WINZ, John Montone which can be found here.
Along with fellow bloggers Brooklyncyclist.com and brooklynbybike.com we gave a few sound bites expressing our opinions about such things as expecting bikers to stop at every red light seems a bit of a stretch, like asking people not to jaywalk.
Judging from reports coming in, it seems as if this NYPD crackdown is less concerned with the safety of the streets and more about continuing a long standing pattern of intimidation.
Streetsblog.org reported today of one such incident where a cyclists was ticketed for making a right turn on red into an auto-free Central park for his afternoon ride.
This has stirred up much debate, dividing people into two camps: those defending the changes the city has made to create space for bikers and those venting just how much they can’t stand those on two wheels.
I especially appreciate the comments left here including this one from Angel Fernandez, who discovered my blog through the 1010WINZ story:
This is simply an attempt by Bloomberg to raise more money for the city. We know the city is strapped and that precinct captains are pushing quotas for parking tickets and moving violations.
Make no mistake, if we donâ€™t respond by increasing pressure on drivers, we will suffer setbacks on the significant progress made. Its ironic this admin has really promoted bike use, only to then regulate and fine.
Drivers obstruct bike lanes, pedestrians limit the speed of travel on new designs that place bike lanes between parked cars and sidewalks.
Riding among cars and being allowed to cross on red lights is not only part of our bike culture, itâ€™s â€œAmericanâ€. I just returned from Mexico, and I can tell you the culture there is much slower because they are afraid of cars.
Whatâ€™s exceptional about New York is we are not afraid of traffic. If we give up ground, we will only make ourselves vulnerable to more and more rules â€“ defeating the purpose.”
All of this seems to emphasize a huge disconnect between Mayor Bloomberg’s DOT which has been paving the way for people to ride bikes and the NYPD who wants to “crackdown” on the ridership.
I personally believe the priority of traffic enforcement should be ordered upon the vehicles which can cause the most damage…like a 15 passenger van critically injuring a toddler in a hit and run.
Executive director of Time’s Up, Bill DiPaola, recently wrote an article for the New York Times East Village Blog.
With the massive influx of tourists to NYC is also coming a more green conscious mindset and outsiders are becoming the newest public space advocates. Out of towners are not only coming for the sights but the green infrastructure, the bike lanes, greenways and less car centric direction the city has taken.
Bill Dipaola explains:
First Person: A Cue From Tourists On Public Space
By BILL DI PAOLA, East Village
The city announced on Tuesday that a record 47.8 million tourists visited New York City in 2010 and in a lot of ways that is good news. There are a plenty of things that bring visitors to New York: a fascinating history, excellent museums, and beautiful public places like Central Park and Prospect Park.
As the city noted, tourists have helped bolster the declining local economy. During his announcement at the conservatory of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that tourists contributed $31 billion last year. They have also played another positive role that has gone largely unnoticed. Tourists, in some ways, have become the newest public space activists. New York City has always been a tough town when it comes to expanding on green infrastructure, like car-free pedestrian malls and bicycle lanes. But this car-centric city is now changing. Tourists have always loved strolling in New Yorkâ€™s gorgeous parks and gardens and now they are also enjoying other amenities like bike lanes, open walkways in Times Square and the greenways that edge the cityâ€™s rivers. Visitors love the new green infrastructure and use it heavily â€“ thus creating the demand for more.
You’d think anyone daring to ride a bike in this weather would be rewarded. Tell that to the NYPD. With fewer of us on many of the un-plowed roadways and bike lanes here in the city, the police have decided to “crackdown” on unlawful biking behavior.
Here is the latest from the Brooklyn Paper.
Bikelash! Cops to crack down on two-wheelers
By Thomas Tracy
January 5th, 2011
Call it a bikelash!
The NYPD has been ordered to begin a borough-wide crackdown that will hit renegade riders for often-overlooked â€œvehicular offensesâ€ like failing to obey traffic signals and signs, breaking the speed limit, tailgating, and even failure to signal before turning.
Several police sources said on Tuesday that the strict enforcement of safety and vehicle traffic laws â€” which apply the same to cars as they do to cycles â€” will begin in a matter of weeks, and that bicyclists caught breaking those rules will be issued a moving violation.
Two-wheelers were stunned to hear that they had risen on the list of police priorities.
Read the whole article here.
Along with a few other fellow bloggers, I may be on CBS’s 1010 WINS tomorrow sounding off about this potential crackdown. We’re meeting John Montone tomorrow right on Jay Street so we can show off all the cars parked in the bike lane and the rampant illegal u-turns.
Although Kurt Boone doesn’t ride his bike to deliver packages, he’s a walker, he’s still been a messenger for over 14 years here in NYC. He’s also a poet and an author and has a new book coming out in February.
Here is a little video promotion of his upcoming book: Asphalt Warrior
Kurt’s had an inside look at the courier culture from street racing, parties and other events and records his thoughts and observations through snappy poetry. Way to go Kurt. Can’t wait to read the book.
DESCRIPTION: The 1st annual Youth Bike Summit is a 3-day gathering geared towards students, educators, and advocates. The conference aims to inspire people from different educational disciplines to explore, network, and learn how bicycling can be a legitimate and safe form of transportation for today’s youth. With this mission in mind, the Youth Bike Summit will offer educational workshops and panel discussions on subjects ranging from how to advocate for bike lanes to basic bike maintenance. It will also provide tools and information on fundraising and best practices for schools that wish to incorporate bikes into the physical fabric of the learning environment.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit: recycleabicycle.org or contact Pasqualina Azzarello at 718.858.2972 or email@example.com
ACCOMMODATIONS: For groups traveling from out of town, we recommend Hosteling International New York for accommodations. Guests of the Youth Bike Summit can reserve rooms at a reduced rate through their website with the promotion code YBS2011. Promotion is effective January 13-19.
HISTORY: In March 2010, Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) attended the National Bike Summit with two high school interns who had completed a comprehensive job training and Earn-A-Bike program at RAB. Both participants learned they loved bicycles and expressed an interest in learning more about how bicycling fits into policy, the environment, social entrepreneurship, and community-building. Traveling to Washington DC for the first time, the 17 year old interns explore the nation’s capital by bicycle, on an 8 mile tour led by a representative of WABA (Washington Area Bicyclist Association). As we debriefed on the bus ride home, we discussed the importance of engaging youth in the national dialogue of cycling and cycling education. As a result, the idea of the Youth Bike Summit emerged. Both young advocates have been active participants in the planning of the conference thus far.
The Youth Bike Summit was made possible by generous support from The New School, Bike New York, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, REI, Bicycle Habitat & The Government of the Netherlands.
by NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn
* 10:15am – 11:30am – Workshop Session I
Youth Empowerment Through Planning & Policy
Velo City / Transportation Alternatives
How To Start a Kids Ride Club
Woodhull Hospital / NYC Department of Health / Ride Club Participants
Youth Ambassadors for Cycling & the Environment
Bikes Not Bombs – Boston, NY
Basic Bike Maintenance
* 11:45am – 1:00pm – Workshop Session II
Green Maps, Cycling & Cities Around the World
Green Map System
Our Changing Streets & You
NYC Department of Transportation
Bike to School Day in Brooklyn
Bike New York
Mentoring Best Practices
Community Bicycle Center – Biddeford, ME
Tales from Tucson: Youth Participation in a Bike Cooperative & Cycling Team
BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Art & Salvage) – Tucson, AZ
* 1:00pm – 2:15pm – Lunch & Presentation by Alliance for Climate Education
* 2:30pm – 4:00pm – Tabling / 3:00 – 3:30pm – Bike Snippets
* 4:00pm – 5:15pm – Workshop Session III
Take Action on Climate Change
Alliance for Climate Education
The Bike As a Tool: How Mountain Biking Helps Kids with Simple Life Lessons
Trips for Kids Metro New York
How To Increase Biking In Your Town
Recycled Bicycle Jewelry
Executive Directors Roundtable
Sunday January 16
* 10:00am – 1:00pm – Breakfast & Food for Thought (+ Action!)
By Aaron Short
The Brooklyn Paper
January 6th, 2011
The beloved bike messenger and cycling shop owner, who has been held in a deplorable immigration detention center in New Jersey for 10 weeks stemming from a decade-old, out-of-state theft case, was released early this morning after a New York immigration judge threw out the criminal case.
â€œHe has been released,â€ said Airaldiâ€™s attorney Stan Weber. â€œThe judge has terminated his case and his immigration troubles have ended. Heâ€™s home.â€
The decision marks the end of a turbulent few months for the 28-year-old former bike messenger, who was detained by Immigration National Services after a routine court appearance in October and faced deportation to Uruguay, where he was born.
Reporter John Nova Lomax spent time investigating the life of some old school messengers and learned there is some animosity between real couriers and those who just dress the part.
Don’t Kill the Messengers
By John Nova Lomax
Houston Press, January 5, 2011
Back in the good old days for bike messengers, every weekday
at four o’clock, the front steps of the Harris County Civil Courthouse were the
gathering spot for a happy hour for that pierced, tattooed, hedonistic horde.
Those days are as gone now as earnest talk of Monica
Lewinsky’s stained dress and jubilation over the Dome derring-do of the Killer
Bs. Today, Old Man Tim Bleakie â€” at 55, his nickname is not ironic â€” is one of
the last messengers riding. As he locks his snow-white Italian Cinelli
SuperCorsa to one of the racks out front, he remembers the days gone by fondly.
“The ’90s, oh, the ’90s, you were at the height of the
implant case, and there were no electronic filings or late filings,” he
says. “Everything had to be done by five o’clock. Four o’clock was
basically social hour at the courthouse. Attorneys would hate having to come in
there then because they would be around a bunch of sweaty bike messengers
talking about partyin’ tonight, partyin’ last night, or partyin’ next
Here are some good talking points for the holiday table for New Yorkers, especially if you are a biker and family and friends want to challenge you about the new 250 miles of bike lanes that have been installed. The New York Times has brought together five writers and advocates for livable streets who bring up excellent points about bike lanes and weather they are working or not here in NYC.
As part of the Time’s section, “Room for Debate,” first we hear from Alex Marshall who is a columnist for Governing Magazine, and author of the book: “How Cities Work.” He offers specifics of what the city can do to get more cyclists on the streets and make better relationships with motorists including eliminating one-way roads such as Kent Ave and enforcing traffic laws for drivers.
Then there is Felix Salmon, a finance writer for Reuters who recently wrote a few articles on the realities of biking in NYC. His stance is basically that were all just impatient and shouldn’t really expect the city to become Copenhagen overnight.
Read his side of the debate here.
Next at bat is Robert Sullivan who is a contributing editor for Vouge writer of the environmentally conscious blog, The Thoreau you don’t Know He also brought us a socially acceptable way to ride on the sidewalk, the schluff. He cracked some jokes about cyclists, taking the bike haters stance for the sake of comedy and then went on to advocate for increased ticketing of riders who break the law.
Next is Sam Staley, the director of urban and land use policy at Reason Foundation and the co-author of â€œMobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century.â€
He is hopeful that the controversy about bike lanes will stir up necessary debate on the practical ways to make NYC more livable. Read what he has to say here.
And finally there is Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives. She seems to have plenty of statistics on the increase of cycling due to bike lanes (maybe she can lend them to the DOT) and gives positive arguments for the lanes.
I agree with many of the points these writers and advocates bring to light. Mainly, I believe our planet is in crisis and regardless of whether you are an inconvenienced driver or a hard core year round riding bike nut, we are all in this together. It’s very interesting and at the same time frightening to watch how the debate on bike lanes has highlighted just how deep the car culture runs into our mentalities, to the point were people are willing to argue reckless driving, pollution, safety and public health vs less congestion, cleaner air and a better way of life. Sure we all bitched at the smoking ban at first and now, isn’t it nicer to drink your brains out in a bar? Let’s work for a safer, healthier and cleaner city for 2011.
Please feel free to submit your comments on points raised by these people and issues about bike lanes in general.
Dmitry Gudkov loves bikes and taking photographs.
Recently he’s been taking photos of local bikers and writing profiles on them, like Willie (shown above) who’s been living in the Bronx for over 30 years.