(photo from: getoffmybikelane.com )
Alright you finally decided to ride in the bike lane and help be another person that is actually using the infrastructure that the city has provided to make biking easier in NYC. After dodging the confused cars turning into them, the pedestrians thinking it’s an extension of their cell phone communication zone sidewalks, or the joggers, or the baby strollers, or the delivery trucks parked in them, or your supposed allies (fellow biker) going the wrong way in them, or the cops parked in them giving tickets for not using the bike lanes, or that scrapper with the stolen shopping cart packed high with metal treasure…finally a little clear space. Then all of a sudden your passed by something that looks like a cross between a Vespa scooter and a bicycle with pedals that are never used on a sort of taxi looking thing straight out of Thailand or Vietnam. That’s no bicycle, it’s electric…boogie woogie woggie.
E-bikes seem to be preferred vehicle choice for food delivery but they have also ruffled more feathers of pedestrians then even us pesky cyclists. Now there are much more heat seeking missiles on the side walk, strapped with plastic bags of take out food only faster and more silent. Giving us annoying bikers even more of a bad name.
But here’s something even I just found out…they’re illegal.
Brian Lehrer on WNYC had a whole show on today (12/9/13) which takes a look at illegal E bikes with bike friendly soon to be-Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer.
One of the guests who called in was a “Steve” who no doubt was alternative transportation advocate Steve Stollman.
Steve made some really excellent points that from an environmental aspect we should be encouraging low horse power electric assisted vehicles as ways to get more people to use them and reduce carbon polluting motor vehicles.
Borough President Gale Brewer seemed to agree, only they would have to be registered with the State. This could be a slippery slope as a gateway to getting all cyclists to be registered.
I honestly don’t have a problem with them. If anything, their popularity in the food delivery world helps reduce bike theft since stolen bikes are most often turned around to the restaurants. Many of these workers have low-income and are minorities, who should be encouraged to make more money and not have to work on strengthening their quads ore practicing for alleycat races. However, with faster e-bikes, it should motivate them to ride more careful and not freak out pedestrians. No one should have to get injured because lazy New Yorkers want their General Tso’s chicken in a hurry.
Now their seems to be a crackdown on E-bikes, so it may be a good time to lay low for a while, at least till they aren’t the token quota of the moment. I mean anything to keep the NYPD busy ticketing these “broken window” offenses of rampant bad cycling behavior instead of those silly automobiles killing 9 and 12 year old pedestrians.
I remember seeing this fake commercial for an electric assist wheel in an episode of Showtime’s long running series Weeds.
Andy Botwin, a character played by Justin Kirk, was trying to go legit after the suburban drug dealing family fled to Copenhagen. This was going to be Andy’s new product.
Here is the ad that played on weeds back in 2009:
Being a tv show about a widowed house wife who shacks up with a Mexican drug cartel kingpin and evades prison and murder while cornering the weed trade, I assumed the “Copenhagen” wheel was just part of the “over-the-top” plot.
Well, it’s not fiction. This is a real product developed by MIT super bike nerds and has just gone on sale to the public (pre-order) for $700.00. Here is a preview video showing how the product works and incorporates your smart phone (of course.)
More about this product from the all things green blog, Treehugger:
Copenhagen Wheel bike booster rolls out, available for pre-order
I’ve never been able to get fully behind the electric bicycle movement. It kind of takes away the simplistic human powered reasons I love cycling. Not to mention ascetically it’s like loving snowboarding and hating those hard boot one-directional boards. Also if biking is truly a carbon neutral environment aid, why would you want to mess with AC power and non-disposable lithium batteries?
That being said, the technology behind this wheel is very innovative and it looks like the developers have done some smart things. The open source aspects, the smart phone connectivity and the sleek logistics of the central hub could make for a game changer to increase cycling. The company does have plans for making both the wheel and bike but for now this may be a big push for the more in expensive internet drop ship bikes like Public,Strada, Republic,Sole, Big Shotand Pure Fix.
There is a good FAQ page with more explanations and specs like the wheel weighs 13 lbs. (hard to carry up 5 floors in an apartment building)
The idea behind this event is to hold an alleycat messenger style race in live traffic and add an element to the checkpoints besides just having a manifest signed. Riders have to acquire food from grocery stores and delis, types of items that make up a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Those who complete all the checkpoints and gather all the food wins. This is really an “everybody Wins” event because all the food is donated to local charities for the hungry. It also makes for a less competitive race which encourages riders of all ages and skill levels and maybe gives participants an entry level of an alleycat race.
Races have already been held in Seattle: (November 23rd, 2013)
From Seattle Bikeblog: 126 Cranksgiving riders haul 1,443 lbs of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank
By: Tom Fucoloro
November 23, 2013
2013 was the year that Cranksgiving broke. Seattle’s Fourth Cranksgiving exploded in size, with a stunning 126 people biking to grocery stores and food stands all across the city, buying food for Rainier Valley Food Bank.
And Portland, Oregon. (
From bikeportland.org: Portlanders Raise $1,500 For Charity With Cranksgiving Bike Ride.
By: Michael Andersen
November 25th, 2013
Organizers Tom McTighe and Laura Recker with the afternoon’s haul.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)
In an event organizers said might be the first of a new tradition of charity-oriented bike fun in Portland, 96 cheerful people pedaled across the city Saturday to gather an assigned list of goods from the city’s grocery stores and co-ops.
The alleycat-inspired game, which was part of a 14-year-old American tradition called Cranksgiving, brought in $1,573 worth of dry goods for Outside In, a local nonprofit that helps homeless young people and other marginalized Portlanders.
NYC’s was held last Saturday (November 23rd, 2013) and hosted by the prolific bike organizer, Ken Stanek.
photo by: Sara Kinney on Flickr.
305 riders came out and raised food and money for neighborhood food pantries and hunger fighting organizations in NYC: City Harvest, NY Foundling and Nazareth House. These are very active organizations looking for more donations and volunteers especially through the holidays. You can also follow along the action on twitter using the search hashtag #feedourpeople.
How well do you know NYC? The Winter Alley cat is TrackOrDieNYC’s largest and most difficult alley cat of the year. 8 check points throughout NYC. Registration begins at 1pm at the Naumberg Bandshell-Central Park (same location as the 2012 winter alley cat), race starts at 2pm. $5 to race, numbered spoke cards will be handed out at the FINISH LINE. Prizes awarded to top 5 riders, 1st female, 1st Santa and DFL. Fixed gear/Single speed ONLY!!! Helmets are strongly suggested. After Party location TBA. Time to start studying NYC.
More great artwork courtesy of: Cordell Murray @BlankExperiment
Here is a video from last year’s race:
Besides being a super talented artist and kick ass bike mechanic, Krys Blakemore is also an all around nice person. In March of 2012, this experienced cyclist had a crash with car on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn and was seriously injured. This event was a sad reminder that this could have easily been any one of us in the cycling community of NYC. This Saturday she is hosting a benefit race to raise money for medical costs connected with her crash and recovery.
Here is more info from her facebook event page:
As riders we have to stick together. Sure, in a city like New York that’s easier said than done. But in the end we’re all one huge family, albeit a sometimes dysfunctional one.
As a family, we look out for our own. Now, one of our own needs our help. On March 15, 2012, Krys Blakemore was struck by a car on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. The accident left her with serious injuries in her right leg, and four operations later, a serious medical bill.
Now is the time for riders all over New York City to come together to show we care. Unbreakable: A Race To Benefit Krys Blakemore is an effort organized by the Do Good Crew to help alleviate some of the costs related to Krys’ injuries.
Do Good Crew will hold an alleycat race on December 7, to not only show show support and solidarity for Krys, but to also come together as a family and enjoy a great event together. There will be prizes for first, second, and third place, as well as first female rider to make it to the finish line. Registration will be $5.00, with all proceeds going towards Krys’ medical expenses. The event will be full of good people, good vibes, good times (and some holiday cheer thrown in for good measure).
MUST WEAR HELMET! – You don’t wear a helmet, you don’t race. No exceptions.
Want to get more involved in making NYC a better place for biking? Join WeBikeNYC and Transportation Alternatives for a free lecture on working with local government at TA headquarters, 127 W 26th St. (between 6th and 7th Ave.) Manhattan. 6:30pm Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Here is more:
Want to see more bike lanes, slow zones and bike parking? Want to see that pothole fixed or attitude change? Want to have your voice heard in your community? Attend this workshop to find out how!
We will look into the mechanics of NYC government, from community boards to the Mayor’s office, to shine a light on how to get involved. Meet like-minded bike advocates, and get the basic know-how on how to make some serious noise. Beer provided by Brooklyn Brewery!
Transportation Alternatives is New York City’s leading transportation advocacy organization. Jill Guidera, Field Organizing Coordinator, works with New Yorkers across the five boroughs to make their neighborhoods safer and restore a vibrant culture of street life.
Tonight I’ll be on the Bike Talk NYC radio show with Keegan and Nadette.
We’ll be talking about the book I co-authored, Bike NYC, with photographer Ed Glazar and award winning author Marci Blackman. We’ll also be talking about how it’s NOT ok to Kill cyclists or pedestrians in the wake of recent tragedies.
Since the publishing of the “Is it Ok to Kill Cyclists?” op-ed in the Sunday NY times (11/9/13) by Daniel Duane, there has been a number of responses as the article has made the rounds through bicycle blogs and other related publications.
The main point of Duane’s piece, although not entirely clear (at least not to this blogger) was to illustrate how drivers rarely face criminal charges after hitting and killing cyclists, even when the motorist is at fault. The opinion gave some vague examples but didn’t do a good job of finding details about why motorists aren’t prosecuted or if cyclist fatalities are even investigated.
In fairness to the author, Daniel Duane did appear on a radio program to clarify his position and continue to champion the cause that drivers seem to be getting away with murder.
There was also a well done NPR piece over the weekend that brought up a discussion about whether the bikes should be treated like cars in regards to current traffic laws and how cities are designed, especially with the rise in the popularity of bike sharing programs.
On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss what happens if healthcare.gov doesn’t work by Nov. 30, and whether bikes should be treated like cars.
The radio program used Duane’s piece as an example that it’s NOT, OK to kill cyclists while citing the opposite side of the coin, People who apparently think it’s perfectly fine (to kill cyclists) and uses the old argument that we deserve it because of our blatant violation of traffic laws. (laws designed for motor vehicles) Case in point, Christopher Caldwell from the Weekly Standard.
Drivers Get Rolled
Bicyclists are making unreasonable claims to the road—and winning
November 18th, 2013
Cyclists like the ones in New Hampshire, whose reckless riding and self-righteousness have earned rolled eyes nationwide and the nickname of “Lycra louts” in England, have tested the public’s willingness for compromise. As bicyclists become an ever more powerful lobby, ever more confident in the good they are doing for the environment and public health, they are discovering—to their sincere surprise—that they are provoking mistrust and even hostility among the public.
Mostly this op-ed is an excuse to continue the defensive gross generalization of cyclists being mostly rich middle age liberals who are not blue collar enough. Caldwell venomously spews:
“They are, to judge from their blogs, more aggrieved by delivery trucks parked in bike lanes than drivers are by delivery trucks parked in car lanes. This may be because proportionately fewer of them have ever met a person who drives a delivery truck.”
He does make a few points that roadways are outdated and don’t include the physical space for bicycles. Also, there are some valid points that biking is healthy for both people and the planet, but most cyclists are just too self righteous and think they own the roadways so therefore it’s Ok to run a few over.
Somehow it seems that if you choose to ride a bicycle as a form of transportation, you’re somehow expected to act like cars and be their equal, but if your hit by one, then your treated like less than equal. In an attempt to reclaim a sense of humanity, that actual lives have been lost, letters to the editor of the NY Times evoke similarities to pedestrians.
In direct response to the Daniel Duane piece…
From the Opinion pages of the NY TIMES
Caution: Danger in the Traffic Lanes
By: David Berman
November 10th, 2013
No, it is not O.K. to kill cyclists with impunity, but neither is it O.K. to kill pedestrians, which happens a couple of hundred times a year in New York City. The problem is not a cultural predisposition against bicyclists; it is that nobody obeys traffic laws anymore, and that’s at least partly because nobody is enforcing them.