Wow, sometimes my ranting gets noticed… The Biking Boom Breeds Discontent
By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF, August 30th, 2009
New York Times Green Blog
Biking is booming in New York City, with the number of daily cyclists rising to an average of 236,000 in 2009, up 26 percent from 2008, according to statistics compiled by Transportation Alternatives, a pro-biking nonprofit group.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city leaders have praised the increase in cycling for reducing congestion and pollution and making the city streets safer overall. To accommodate the surge in bike commuters, the city has installed hundreds of bike racks and roughly 200 miles of new bike lanes in the past three years, with plans for future expansion.
Yet according to a recent weeklong investigative series by Tony Aiello, a reporter with New York Cityâ€™s WCBS-TV (Channel 2), the cycling boom is breeding discontent. Titled â€œBike Bedlam,â€ the segments turned a critical eye on reckless riders who flouted traffic laws, and profiled a young father who was killed by a cyclist riding the wrong way on a one-way street in Midtown Manhattan. A former bike shop owner declared that cyclists were â€œway out of control.â€
The reaction of the New York City biking community was mixed, with some cycling bloggers decrying the series for perceived sensationalism, while others admitting that too many cyclists were, in fact, ignoring traffic laws, often flagrantly.
â€œCyclists, clean up your freaking act,â€ wrote Jen Benepe, a cycling blogger.
The Web site BikeBlogNYC urged â€œfellow cyclistsâ€ to heed the laws of the road. â€œTake those flip-flops off, put down that cellphone, put on a helmet, ride in the correct direction and pay attention,â€ read a recent post that, at the same time, mocked the WCBS series as sensationalist.
While doing research for our upcoming book: BIKE NYC, I’ve visited almost every bike shop in the 5 boroughs. Along the way I’ve meet a ton of interesting shop owners and heard their stories about how they made their journeys into the world of bike retail and repair.
I just found this in depth article which interviews one such owner, Charlie McCorkell, who along with mechanic Hal Ruzal opened Bicycle Habitat in 1977. That makes it one of the oldest shops in NYC, besides Bellitte Bicycles in Jamaica Queens, who beat them by opening in 1918, but that’s another story.
Charlie was a real pioneer in the bicycle world, not only opening up a shop back when there weren’t any around, but also becoming the executive director of Transportation Alternatives and putting an engineering degree to good use by changing a lot of what NYC was doing wrong for his fellow cyclists. He used direct action to protest too little access to the bridges and eventually worked with the city to remove stairs on the Brooklyn Bridge. He would also do DIY things like paint in his own bike lanes, long before they were doing in on Bedford Ave.
The article is from a new site called capitalnewyork.com which is culture and news stories about, “How New York works.”
Here it is: In a changed city, Soho bike mecca Bicycle Habitat grows up
by Gillian Reagan,
Aug. 31, 2010 McCorkell at his station. Photo by Erin Nicole Brown Photography.
On a summer afternoon walking up Lafayette Street toward Houston, just past Spring, youâ€™re likely to approach a cluster of characters on the sidewalk. Itâ€™s hard to tell what everyone is doing there, but they all have bikes. Theyâ€™re looking at bikes, testing bikes, locking up bikes, putting air in bike tires, sitting in storefronts nearby talking about bikes while drinking iced coffee from La Colombe cafe down the street.
Itâ€™s because of the independent bike shop, Bicycle Habitat, which has been selling bikes to everyone from hardcore messengers and utilitarian commuters to wispy Soho model types for some 33 years now.
On one such afternoon recently Hal Ruzal, the affable shaman of bike mechanics in New York, with hefty dreads hanging down past his chest, tanned arms bulging from a sleeveless T-shirt, wrestled with a frame of a track bike at the front of the room, where his work is visible from the street. Sales staffers shuffled around him, fetching bike parts or running to another mechanic’s station in the back of the room to work on other bikes.
Got a message from my good friend Nona who has started her own line of fashion for woman cyclists. She is looking for an intern so I thought I’d help out and post this request: Nona Varnado, NYC’s sustainable women’s bike fashion label is seeking an intern.
About Us: Fall/Winter 2010/2011 will be the third seasonal collection and most ambitious to date using cutting edge performance and natural fabrics, couture level garment design while establishing a stronger brand online, through events such as Interbike and select sponsorships and a strong marketing program. It’s a small DIY mentality focused on making amazing things in an ethical manner. We’re always super busy, but being in NYC means there’s always friends, drinks and shows to keep it fun + inspired.
About you: we are looking for an unpaid intern for a 2-3 month commitment of 10-25 hours per week. A longer term is possible through fashion week in February 2011 depending on fit. It is expected that an intern will have some goals (learning new skills, gaining experience, resume building or college credit) and a specific schedule will be created to make sure you’re benefiting from the experience.
Skill range: we’re looking for some one who is very interested or skilled in one or two of the following areas: production support (assistant), sales/marketing, web design.
If you know anyone in the NYC area who’d be interested in helping a small label produce a new collection, handle media and promotions and generally be a fun + positive person to hang out with, please let us know!
If interested, please send an email to Nona: projecta (AT) nonavarnado.com
An interview with Nona from Go Means Go Productions out of Seattle, from 2009, can be found here.
Got a note from Andrea who is working at a television station in Colorado. They are producing a documentary on Victorian era bicycling called: “Victorian Cycles-Wheels of Change.” They have broken up several clips into short web segments.
Bikes and Governor’s Island seem to go hand in hand. All summer long, this ice cream cone shaped, 172 acre island in New York Harbor is just waiting to be explored and the bicycle is just about the best way to do it. Bring your bikes on the ferry from either Manhattan or Brooklyn every Friday-Sunday until October 10th. Find out more information here. You can also rent bikes from Bike and Roll and on Friday’s it’s free. Dutch bike store in Brooklyn, Rolling Orange has donated special child carrier bikes, to get the whole family involved.
Here is a recent article on two dutch bike shops opening up in Manhattan, from Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
Dutch cargo bikes catch New Yorkers’ eyes
Published on : 13 August 2010 – 11:19am | By Reinout van Wagtendonk
The Dutch cargo bike, or carrier tricycle, is invading New York. Two shops have opened in Manhattan and Brooklyn specialising in Dutch city bikes and the lesser-known cargo bikes.
Brooklyn au pair Sabine Asselbergs from Amsterdam said the cargo bike was indispensable for her work. Many remarks were thrown at her by Americans unfamiliar with this type of vehicle, known as ‘bakfiets’ in the Netherlands.
“Some thought they were illegal and asked me what on earth I thought I was doing,” 28-year-old Sabine said. The cargo bike she used had been imported by the Dutch family which moved to Cobble Hill, Brooklyn about a year ago. Many New Yorkers indignantly criticized Sabine for transporting three children and herself on a bike without wearing a helmet. “And they also commented that it was unsafe because my bike could topple over if I overloaded it.”
And here is an article from the Daily news, highlighting how attendance on Governor’s Island has far surpassed expectations. Governors Island, free park in New York Harbor, breaks summer attendance record.
BY JAMES FANELLI DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Governors Island is this summer’s hottest spot.
More than 275,000 people visited the 172-acre greenspace so far this season, beating last year’s attendance record with eight weeks to spare, Mayor Bloomberg said Saturday.
“Governors Island is one of New York City’s greatest free resources, and more New Yorkers are taking advantage of it than ever before,” Bloomberg said. “We’re committed to building on the momentum we’ve generated on the island by continuing to expand the programming and creating one of the world’s great waterfront parks.”
Rapha clothing, pop-up store has lingered on past the Tour de France viewing and has been hosting some fun events. Last Thursday they invited the Bike Snob to come in and make fun of them with an evening of a slide show presentation and book signing.
Read more here, on their blog.
This Thursday, NYCvelocity.com, your source for competative road racing in NYC, is hosting a contest. The idea is to have four mechanics square off to see who is the fastest in assembling a bike.
Three contestants have already been picked:
Mike Purdy (Cadence Cycling) Read an interview here.
Jon (Signature)-not sure what that is.
and Dave from NYC Velo.
The 4th contestant is to be chosen from the website by you the readers.
Well itâ€™s that time of the month again. For the mainstream news to do some investigative news gathering and look into whatâ€™s going on with all of these people riding bicycles in NYC. Wow, youâ€™ll never guess what they discovered? That there are a lot of cyclists out there disobeying the law. CBSâ€™s news Tony Aiello did a series on bike riding in NYC and of all the things he could report on, he chose to do a â€œGOTCHAâ€ piece that got the graphics people all excited and got to package it into a nifty title: â€œBIKE BEDLAM!â€ Tonyâ€™s hard hitting investigation involved standing in a bike lane for at least 20 minutes and interviewing both cyclists and average citizens to find out what the hell is going on. He saw at least a whooping 17 people riding the wrong way down the new bike lane on 1st Ave and a dozen or more on the sidewalk. My friends, we have a real crisis on our hands!
These kind of stories are nothing new. Neither is bad cyclist behavior, nor is cops giving cyclists tickets or jaywalking. Letâ€™s face it. We all break the law. WE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, WE ALWAYS WILL, weâ€™re New YORKERS dammit and we are busy and important and donâ€™t have time for these pesky things like looking where we are going.
How many people txt while driving? Talk on Cell phones without handâ€™s free devises? How many pedestrians walk in bike lanes and when you have the right of way and give them the bell, the tell you to fuck off? How many people donâ€™t look both ways when they cross the street? We are all naughty street citizens out there. But somehow this week itâ€™s BICYCLE BEDLAM! (dum dum)
To my fellow cyclists…take those flip-flops off, put down that cell phone, put on a helmet, ride in the correct direction and pay attention.
I welcome the police cracking down on people riding the wrong way down a one way or on the sidewalk…but what does this lead to? Does the cycling behavior improve with more summonses? Hardly. And while the police are at it, why donâ€™t they ticket every car parked in the bike lane. And every car that makes an illegal turn and talks on cell phones. The last time I checked, Motor vehicle deaths against pedestrians and cyclists, far out weighed cyclists killing pedestrians. I say itâ€™s more like â€œCAR CHAOS!â€
Well, Iâ€™m a bicycle blogger so I feel compelled to post about these kind of annoying things the news does.
The New York Timeâ€™s J. David Goodman does a much better job of it then me. Check out his latest story on the story about the story. Spokes | Local News Strikes a Sour Note on Cycling
It is a pattern that repeats with predictable frequency each time a new bike lane appears. The simmering resistance to cyclists that exists in a given neighborhood erupts into loud complaints that a new lane will restrict deliveries, snarl traffic and endanger pedestrians as a swarm of rogue riders flood the streets and disrupt what would otherwise be the neat flow of traffic and predictable division between people and automobiles.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that such complaints have greeted new lanes that appeared this summer, from new protected paths along First and Second Avenues to a separated lane along Prospect Park West in Brooklyn.
But the usual sentiments sounded even louder to some cyclists this week, amplified by local news coverage that appeared to stress the worst fears about two-wheeled transit and by an effort by the New York Police Department to crack down on riders who ignore the rules of the road, especially on the Upper East Side.
Bamboo bikes are becoming more popular than ever. Don’t take my word for it, check out this article in the NY Times:
Just Donâ€™t Let a Panda Borrow Your Bicycle
By MALIA WOLLAN
Published: August 11, 2010(Photo by: Christian Hansen for The New York Times)
Photo caption: Justin Aguinaldo, a designer at the Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn, tries one of the bikes.
BAMBOO is one of the worldâ€™s fastest-growing plants, adding as much as three feet in a single day. That growth rate, along with the giant grassâ€™s sturdy hollow stalks (with a strength-to-weight ratio similar to that of steel) may explain why bamboo is being heralded by bikers, environmentalists and social entrepreneurs as a material with no carbon footprint and the potential to provide cheap wheels in poor countries. Serious spandex-clad cyclists like bamboo bicycles, as do tattooed bike messengers and thrifty Ghanaian shopkeepers.
â€œThere is something going on with bamboo bicycles,â€ said Jay Townley, a partner in the market research firm Gluskin Townley Group. â€œTheyâ€™re catching on with urban and commuting cyclists.â€
Though bicycles with bamboo frames account for only a fraction of the bicycle market, the number of bamboo bicycle start-ups is expanding. They include Boo Bicycles, with bamboo bikes available in shops like Signature Cycles in Manhattan and the Pony Shop in Chicago; Renovo Design out of Portland, Ore.; Panda Bicycles, in Fort Collins, Colo.; Organic Bikes in Wisconsin; and Calfee Design, of Santa Cruz, Calif., a pioneer in bamboo frames whose cycles sell in shops like Eco, a London store owned partly by the actor Colin Firth.