Once again, bike blog has been asleep, or out of town or both. Lots of family obligations, weddings, and we celebrated our one year anniversary. I guess we’ll go for 2, maybe even try and make some new bikers!!
This weekend was the 3rd race of the 5 borough generals series. The mission: Survive Staten Island.
Here are the results:
Top 10: 1. Staten Island Pete Lang 2. Jersey Dan 2. Dan Beyer (S.I.N.Y. … SUUUUU represent!) 4. Crihs Shirc 5. Shisaku 6. Josh Wright (Boston) 7. Kate Freitag (S.I.N.Y.) 8. Niki Yoshi 9. Ari Kramer 10. Michael Shick
Top Women’s: 1. Annie N 2. Peaches
Top of the Hills: 1. Josh Wright 2. Prentiss 2. Jersey Dan 4. Shusaku 5. Crihs Shirc
Cavalry Honors: 1. Pablo 2. Josh Wright 3. Dave August 4. Lucas Koehler 5. Brantley Archer
A Bike Race With a Mission, Plus Cigarettes Racers competing in the Staten Island Invasion on Saturday. (Looks like Izumi and Pablo) Photo by: Oscar Hildago/NYTimes
By MANNY FERNANDEZ Published: August 20, 2007 So how do a bunch of bike messengers and their friends unwind on a weekend afternoon? With a bike manâ€™s holiday â€” a grueling race that substituted the claustrophobic corridors of Manhattan with the wide, steep boulevards of Staten Island.
Shortly before 3:30 p.m. Saturday, about 40 men and women on bicycles pedaled through the parking lot of the Staten Island Ferry terminal, having just received the dayâ€™s orders from two long-haired men drinking from tall cans of Budweiser.
The competitors had a deadline and a mission: Get their manifests signed or stamped at various spots around the island. â€œReal bike racing is a rich manâ€™s sport,â€ said Mike Dee, a messenger and an organizer of the race, called the Staten Island Invasion. â€œThis is like the bike race for the rest of us â€” people who like to drink a beer in the mornings.â€
It was the kind of race for which Pete Lang, a 25-year-old messenger, warmed up by smoking a cigarette. There was no set course, just a starting place, a finish line and about 20 checkpoints in between.
The race was designed to replicate the daily work of a messenger, with each racer using his or her speed, reflexes and instincts to find the fastest route from one checkpoint to the other, get the manifest signed and do it all as quickly as possible. This was a high-thrills, low-reward affair: a two-and-a-half-hour scramble, with the winner pedaling home not with tons of cash but with a few hard-earned points and a bag of goodies.
The Staten Island Invasion was a type of race known as an â€œalleycat,â€ a high-speed scavenger hunt that has become popular among messengers and bike enthusiasts around the country. Alleycats are like marathons for the anti-marathon set, for those who prefer showing off their tattoos instead of their spandex.
Saturdayâ€™s race was the third installment of a citywide alleycat series called 5 Boro Generals. Nearly 100 cyclists competed in the Bronx in June, and about 70 took part in the Manhattan race in July. The winner of the series â€” the one with the most overall points â€” will be awarded a custom-built bike and other prizes provided by race sponsors.
On Saturday, racers were instructed to show up at the Whitehall ferry terminal in Lower Manhattan at 1300 hours (1 p.m.). The series has a military theme â€” the poster art for the Staten Island race featured a Navy Seals-style commando on a bicycle holding a machine gun, and Mr. Dee was dressed in camouflage in the role of drill sergeant.
The competitors were former and current bike messengers and avid cyclists, most of them New Yorkers but a few from out of town. They paid the $10 registration fee, were handed their manifests and sat outside the terminal in groups, plotting their routes as they waited for the ferry.
Many of the riders had never been to Staten Island, and the manifest was filled with hard-to-find places.
Nick Katehis, 29, a former bike messenger and a race organizer, said the Staten Island competition posed numerous challenges, including hilly streets and less-than-friendly motorists. â€œManhattan is basically as bike-friendly as you can get,â€ he said. â€œYou come up to Staten Island, and itâ€™s basically hostile.â€
The winner was Mr. Lang. He might have had an advantage â€” heâ€™s from Staten Island ———————-
Special shout out to the new bike shop in town and Jeff Underwood (owner) Continuum Cycles 199 Ave B, between 12th and 13th street. Jeff hosted the pre-registration party for the S.I. Invasion. —————
the next mission is Sept. 15. Queens Riot.
August 20th, 2007 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Laurie Mittelmann, a volunteer with Timeâ€™s Up!, dressed as a movie camera and wore a copy of the U.S. Constitution at last Fridayâ€™s rally and Critical Mass ride.
Critical Mass rally focuses on proposed filming rules
By Jefferson Siegel
Fridayâ€™s monthly Critical Mass ride attracted more than just bicyclists. A rally to criticize proposed rules for filming and photographing on the streets of New York drew several hundred people, many wielding cardboard cutouts of movie cameras and an abundance of real cameras.
The hastily arranged gathering was organized in response to rules the city is proposing that would require any group of two or more people filming at one spot for 30 minutes or five or more people using a tripod for at least 10 minutes to first obtain a permit and a sizeable insurance policy.
Most at the rally saw the proposal, quietly introduced at a public hearing in June, as anathema to creativity and a potential tool to stifle dissent. A newly formed group, Picture New York, has already garnered thousands of signatures on a petition opposing the regulations. Major photo agencies, noted photographers and filmmakers are among those signing on to criticize the rule. (The petition is online at http://www.pictureny.org/.)
Beka Economopoulos, one of the rallyâ€™s organizers, was succinct in her criticism of the proposed rules: â€œI already have a permit for my camera,â€ she declared. â€œItâ€™s called the First Amendment.â€
â€œThis is micromanagement of public space taken to an absurd level,â€ said Eileen Clancy of I-Witness Video in a statement released by the group. â€œWhat are the police going to do â€” time people holding cameras? These new rules give the police another excuse to arrest anybody they donâ€™t like with a camera.â€
Several in the crowd displayed copies of the Constitution on their shirts, emblazoned with the words â€œMy/Our Permit.â€ The shirts were a familiar sight at previous rides when cyclists wore them to protest a new police regulation requiring groups of 50 or more to first obtain a permit.
Attorney Norman Siegel suggested city residentsâ€™ civil rights were at a crossroads.
â€œEvery once in a while in our lives,â€ Siegel intoned while standing on a table in front of a mass of video and still cameras, â€œthere comes a time when you have to stand up for what you believe in. The time has come for all New Yorkers to stand up.â€
The anti-consumerist performance artist Reverend Billy led the crowd in reciting the 44 words of the First Amendment, his chant backed by the voices of his red-robed Stop Shopping Choir. At last monthâ€™s Critical Mass, Reverend Billy was arrested after approaching a group of police commanders and reciting the First Amendment through a white megaphone.
As the rally concluded, a huge American flag, covering at least one-third of Union Squareâ€™s north plaza, was unfurled. As people danced to the music of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, some ran under the flag and one photographer even popped out through a hole in the middle for a better shot.
After riding his bike under the flag, cyclist Joseph Merolla, 19, a bike messenger from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took a ride on top. He was stopped by a police officer, handcuffed and arrested. With blood running down his leg from a cut he received while being grabbed, Merolla and the police were quickly surrounded by the crowd, many chanting the First Amendment. Police commanders consulted with a member of the Police Departmentâ€™s Legal Department and, minutes later, Merolla was unhandcuffed and released.
As darkness fell, riders left the plaza in small groups, pedaling in different directions. A large group met up at W. Houston St. and the Hudson River, where they proceeded to ride throughout the city into the night. ————
Dublin, Ireland is the host of this years CWMC (Cycle World Messenger Championships) Its the 15th annual event where bike messengers travel from all over the world to see who is the fastest and most skilled on their bikes. The event runs from August 3rd through the 7th, with a pre party in London and an after party in Amsterdam…oh la la.
Many New Yorkers have made the journey across the Atlantic including Kym Perfetto, (Photo by Ed Glazar)
Spin class instructor, messenger, alleycat racer. She won tickets to dublin on the track as part of the Velocity tour.
Also my friends, the band Team Spider , made up of Chris Ryan, Sam, Oscar and former messenger Ben Stewart, some how packed up their instruments and bicycles and our touring Europe along with the CWMC.
They just released their new Album…”fuck brakes”, about living the fuck brakes, freedom to ride your bike lifestyle. Here is a half hour concert of team spider in Tompkins Square park.
Here is article sent by Joe Hendry of messmedia.org “ who keeps track of media about messengers.
“Dublin Exiles `Reckless’ Biker Games to City’s Bucolic Edge
By Alex Armitage
Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) — Dublin bicycle courier Graham White says there’s nothing more exciting than weaving through heavy traffic with no helmet — and no brakes.
While White gets a thrill out of his work, the prospect of an invasion of bike messengers sends chills up drivers’ spines in the Irish capital. White says that’s one reason the 15th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships this weekend has been exiled to Phoenix Park on the northwest edge of the city.
Although the event has been held successfully in Copenhagen and New York, the Irish city whose tourism office offers visitors “one hundred thousand welcomes” is having trouble scaring up a single one for the bikers.
“They are a nuisance, they are dangerous,” says Ken Armstrong, a Dublin truck driver. He has a simple message for the visitors: “Keep out of the way.”
Organizers of the event, which will attract 500 couriers from as far away as Anchorage and Tokyo, say the championships involve two-wheeled virtuosity that can’t be replicated in a spot better known for roaming deer than urban grittiness.
Many couriers ride without brakes on so-called fixed-gear bikes, where the rear cog is fixed to the wheel so the pedals keep moving when the bike is in motion. That means that when riding on “fixies,” couriers can’t coast and must use back pressure on the pedals to slow down or stop.
“The city wasn’t sure they wanted to be associated with us,” says White, 30, a veteran courier whose crashes include “head-butting” a car’s rear window after it stopped short and landing on the windshield of a taxi. “They see us as really fast and reckless.”
White, who earns about 100 euros ($137) a day delivering packages, says he has tried office jobs but has never lasted more than three months inside a building.
“I would just look out the window and think, I’ve got to get out there,” he recalls.
The championships, which begin tomorrow, are made up of six events, including a contest where riders lock up the back wheel to create the longest skid. The current world record is about 500 feet.
Messengers can show off their skills by riding in backward circles and facing off to see who can stay upright on the bike the longest without pedaling. Championship trophies are fashioned out of used bike parts.
In June, the city’s roads department rejected a plan to hold the event around Fitzwilliam Square, a Georgian neighborhood in the city center that includes a home owned by Tony O’Reilly, the billionaire former chief executive officer of HJ Heinz Co. The bikers had spent more than six months trying to obtain approval to hold the event downtown.
The bikers have only themselves to blame for the relocation of the event, says Conrad Rennicks, an administrator at the Dublin City Council roads department.
“They had very little in the way of planning,” Rennicks says. “Traffic engineers couldn’t see a way to get the diversions to work.”
“The essence of the job is get from point A to point B as fast as you can,” says Neal Keogh, 32, one of the race organizers and a courier for seven years. “We are not lunatics. I’m starting to think there’s a conspiracy against us.”
The championships have been welcomed by lawmakers in other cities. Five years ago in Copenhagen, messengers gorged themselves at a free breakfast hosted by the mayor.
“There was just a feast,” Keogh says. And there was free beer. It made us feel really welcome.”
Oisin O’Mahony, a marketing executive in Dublin, helped line up gifts for the event from Red Bull GmbH, Groupe Danone’s Evian and Australian bike accessory company Knog Pty. Negative attitudes about bikers may have hurt chances of getting sponsorship cash for the event, he says.
The show will nevertheless go on, with the championships culminating in a contest that replicates a day’s work for a messenger. Riders will navigate a course with checkpoints and need to lock their bikes before delivering or picking up a package –otherwise the bikes will be stolen by “thieves,” giving the event a real-life flavor.
“If people come down and watch this race, they will see professional athletes,” White says. “It’s painful that it’s so hard to get people in power in Dublin to realize that we just want to show off the city.” ————————-
Looks like the location of the next championships are back in Toronto
August 3rd, 2007 | Category: General | Comments are closed
So what the hell is going on? I’ve been in NYC for 16 years. I’ve made my living in Film and video production from renegade street documentaries to high budget HBO projects that take up all the parking and shine bright lights in your windows. Despite the rampant gentrification which is making our city into a generic overpriced wasteland of ugly glass buildings and corporate chain stores…NYC is still a place for artists. Its that vibrant cross pollination of big creative dreams and those daring enough to create projects and have people even more daring to be in them. Now that the police have taken upon themselves to define what a parade is and make everyone get a permit…the city has permit fever.
If you want a good example of how permits are given out and then the next minute denied…take a look at this example of a rap show in a South Bronx community garden.
One minute the police give you a permit for sound, the next…”ah we don’t feel like it”…take it away.
One minute you want to have a huge demonstration in Central Park, “Nope, sorry, we don’t want to damage the grass.”
Again I ask, you what is going on? New York City should be a shining example of a thriving cutting edge artists community, making art, making film and being FREE. After all the terrorists hate our freedom right? Well now they can laugh at how UNFREE we really are.
Hmmmm. So if you think that the debate on permits only apply to those trying to create trouble or stage demonstrations; or if you think that these issues have a short life and won’t spread to all areas of our existance…GUESS AGAIN.
When you get bitten by the permit bug…you get the permit fever.
So now the Mayor’s Office of Film and Television wants you to get a permit if 2 or more people are shooting. This means, Photographers, cameramen, film crews, performance art and guess what? THOSE WHO DOCUMENT PROTESTS. You know like when cops shoot people 50 times or when they start a riot in a park or when they tackle people off their bikes or when the take all the bikes on 6th street or when they mace you for documenting them macing you.
Picture New York is an ad hoc coalition of working artists, filmmakers, and photographers whoâ€™ve joined together to fight the proposed rules. These rules can be seen not only as a blow against New York as a place that welcomes and inspires art-making and documentation, but are part of a broader continuum of attacks against civil liberties and free expression.
Here is an article in the NYTimes explaining more about what is going on…
Picturing Protest, Artists Organize to Fight Camera Permit Proposal By COLIN MOYNIHAN Published: July 28, 2007 Beka Economopoulos wields a cardboard prop modeled on a 16-millimeter Bolex camera, which is to be used in a demonstration.
Article: As the city considers rule changes that would require a permit to photograph and film in public places, a coalition of filmmakers and photographers is mobilizing a campaign against the rules by using the very medium they believe the regulations would constrict.
Members of a newly formed advocacy group called Picture New York gathered recently at a gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to harness their creative skills to express their opposition to the rules by planning demonstrations, including one that was set to take place yesterday in Union Square. The public comment period ends next Friday.
(read the article in the Times)
The new rules: (from an email by Independent Spirit award wining filmmaker Jem Cohen)
“The Mayorâ€™s Office of Theater, Film, and Broadcasting, which coordinates film and television production and issues permits around the five boroughs, is considering rules that could potentially severely restrict the ability of even amateur photographers and filmmakers to operate in New York City. The NY Times reports that the cityâ€™s tentative rules include requiring any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour (including setup and breakdown time) to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The regulation would also apply to any group of five or more people who would be using a tripod for more than ten minutes, including setup and breakdown time. -(Excerpted from the Gothamist)
The Mayorâ€™s Office of Film deals primarily with big film shoots (ie. commercials, features, t.v.) where permits and insurance are, understandably, a given. However, many photographers and filmmakers carry on an equally vital tradition in which spontaneous documentation of the urban environment is at the very heart of our work. Being a street photographer often means standing in a random location and waiting: for the right activity, the right light, the break in the traffic; the countless other unpredictable factors that need to fall into place to make a shot worthwhileâ€¦Permits would have to be obtained for specific dates and times and exact locations, and the insurance would be out of reach for many individuals.
The fact is that we simply CANNOT predict where, when, and how long we are going to film or photograph; we CANNOT afford expensive liability insurance policies; we occasionally NEED to work with other people or to use tripods to support our gear. (The regulations would, for example, effectively rule out a great deal of time-lapse photography which depends on tripods and cannot possibly be done with time limitations of 10 to 30 minutes, as well as the use of large format still cameras and long lenses).
Especially in the current climate, official clarification of photographerâ€™s rights could be a positive thing. (Many of us have been shut down by police or other authorities who do not seem to understand that we DO have rights to film and photograph in public places). That said, if these regulations go through, it would invite if not require police to harass or shut down both professional artists and amateurs.
Unfortunately, we believe we must see the proposed regulations not only as a blow against New York as a city that welcomes and inspires art-making (and historical documentation), but as part of a continuum of broader attacks against civil liberties and free expression.”
So if these new rules offend you and if you think this is not a priority right now when our 100 year old infrastructure is crumpling at our feet with steam pipes randomly exploding in midtown, killing people…I suggest taking action.
The Picture NY website is making it easy to get involved and voice your opinion. ————————–
More on the Demonstration in Union Square and critical mass to come…
“For over 15 years the TIME’S UP! Video Collective has been documenting positive, environmental and sustainable solutions that have affected our communities. We also have been documenting negative, destructive behavior by corporations and the police.
Video documentation has been essential in our legal cases, assisting lawyers and proving points to judges and politicians. TIME’S UP! video footage has been used in many documentaries and is also vital to press outlets. The TIME’S UP! Video Collective has also produced many videos that have been distributed on websites such as TIME’S UP!, The Glass Bead Collective, Google Video and Utube and aired on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network.”
1) Video Collective Co-ordinator of Development Do you believe in the power of video activism but don’t have a camera or know how to edit?
The TIME’S UP! Video Collective is in need of a Co-ordinator of Development. This person will administer our MNN (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) grant and assist in researching other funding opportunities to keep us going.
This is a very important position that does not require a huge amount of work, however does require a little work spread over time. The job will require attendance at our monthly meetings, which take place on the Tuesday before each critical mass bike ride as well as communication with collective members and MNN.
The position doesn’t require any particular skillsâ€¦just good organizing, the ability to write clearly, and access to a computer. If you are interested, you could also learn to shoot video and edit though you don’t have to.
2) Editor We are constantly in need of editors to edit the countless hours of footage we shoot. This is a very self-directed position- work on projects that interest you.
All levels welcome. You don’t have to be a pro.
If you are interested in helping out this very important collective please contact Sarah at email@example.com See you at Union Square this evening. — 917 685 1204 http://sarahnicolephillips.com/
July 27th, 2007 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Last month, Reverend Billy got arrested at the start of NYC critical mass in Union Square. The Reverend made the mistake of exercising his consitutional rights of free speech. Tisk tisk. The NYPD were in no mood for someone to think they could go around reciting the first amendment. shesh, what was he thinking…Doesn’t he know the police have no tolerance for this kind of behavior, especially when they have lots of bike riders to arrest and ticket.
This Friday is the NYC critical Mass and the Reverend is back with a vengeance.
CRITICAL MASS: MANHATTAN & FIRST AMENDMENT FESTIVAL Friday, July 27 Festival, 6:30 p.m. Critical Mass, 7 p.m. Union Square Park North
The people of New York have to protect and honor the First Amendment. This city already has laws against dancing, now we are facing noise ordinances, new regulations regarding film and photography and the demon parade and assembly laws that make constitutionally protected dissent almost impossible. All of these laws give the NYPD tremendous latitude for discretionary enforcement. Come to the North Side of Union Square at 6:30 with or without a bicycle. The Stop Shopping Choir will be there to sing and Reverend Billy has been working on a hot sermon since the NYPD took him to the Tombs on June 29th. Critical Mass is a monthly celebration of bicycles and other nonpolluting means of transportation, exercising our right to the road. Critical Mass is a movement, not an organization; no two riders participate for exactly the same reason. New York City’s first Critical Mass was in 1993.
We would love to see the tall bike out there so this is a call out to Black Label and Chunk 666. Come one come all to Union Square and stand up for your rights.
Here is an Op-Ed in today’s NYTimes written by David Haskell of the NY Bike share project. Last week David, set up an experiment resembling a program which is being implemented in Paris, France to make bicycles available for rental.
(a related article in the NYTimes following this posting)
The Path of Least Congestion By DAVID HASKELL Published: July 18, 2007
CONGESTION pricing came to a halt after a head-on collision with Albany on Monday. The New York State Senate decided not to take up Mayor Michael R. Bloombergâ€™s plan to charge a fee to drivers entering the busiest parts of Manhattan, causing New York City to miss a deadline to apply for federal financing that would have been essential for the program.
If Mr. Bloomberg is serious about reducing automobile congestion and carbon emissions, he has two options: discourage car trips, or encourage other trips. To date, he has embraced the first of these two solutions. Whatâ€™s more, he has very specifically modeled his vision for New Yorkâ€™s future on London, where a congestion pricing plan has operated for several years.
But now the prospects of adopting a London-style plan look bleak. If it turns out that New Yorkers are not yet prepared to embrace congestion pricing, and if Albany remains its intransigent self, Mr. Bloomberg should get over his fascination with London â€” and look instead at whatâ€™s happening in Paris.
New Yorkâ€™s subways and buses are already at capacity, and as we prepare to add one million new residents by 2030, our existing mass transit will require improvements that will take years (if not generations) to put in place. Mr. Bloomberg has fewer than 1,000 days left as mayor. His best chance at securing an environmentalist legacy is to embrace bike-sharing.
Sure, the mayor could start with a small and inexpensive bike-share program as early as next summer (say, on Governors Island). But really, whatâ€™s that going to achieve? Shouldnâ€™t our mayor, a man who is supposed to be above politics, act more boldly? Once the Paris program demonstrates that bike-sharing can get people out of their cars and off the transit grid, Mr. Bloomberg should grab a page from the Parisian playbook and transform New York into the most bike-friendly metropolis in America.
Take Manhattan south of 86th Street (the exact parameters of the proposed congestion pricing zone). Imagine introducing 10,000 bikes, with stations at every avenue and every four streets. Now imagine taking a bike, at virtually no cost, from the Metropolitan Museum to the Metropolitan Opera, from Union Square to Chelsea Piers, from the Upper East Side to Wall Street, or from Times Square to Battery Park City.
Even a program as extensive as this would be much less expensive than any other transportation alternative on the table. One industry expert suggests that the cost to manufacture, install and maintain a program for 10 years comes to about $8,000 a bike. The program described above would cost New York about $8 million a year (which could be reduced depending on whether the city would be willing to allow advertising on the bicycles). In perspective: thatâ€™s a minuscule fraction of the estimated $2.1 billion cost of the 7 line subway extension now under way.
Keep in mind, too, that New York City travel is uniquely suited to such a program: most automobile trips in the city are under five miles, well within reach of even out-of-shape New Yorkers.
Of course, if New York were to add thousands of bikes to its streets, it would also need to create hundreds of new bike lanes. But this is not a financial or engineering challenge â€” just a political one. All thatâ€™s needed is to reallocate one automobile lane on each avenue and most cross-town streets, and the mayor can do that without having to win Albanyâ€™s approval.
For a mayor whose disdain for cars is already on record â€” and an administration already committed to adding new bike lanes â€” this shouldnâ€™t be any more daring to introduce than congestion pricing.
Last week, I organized an experimental bike-share program in SoHo, with the Storefront for Art and Architecture. We offered free, 30-minute bike rentals to any adult with valid identification. Over five days, hundreds of people expressed their support. These werenâ€™t just cycling activists â€” in fact, the most excitement came from people who didnâ€™t even own bikes because they couldnâ€™t stand the hassle of trying to store one in the city.
This small experiment seemed to me to be a clear sign that the ridership for a bike-share program is ready and waiting; all thatâ€™s needed is some mayoral leadership. With the London model all but dead, Mr. Bloomberg would do well to pay a visit to Paris. —————————
One thing to keep in mind is David’s program was sponsered by Clear Channel which brings up the question, can a program like this exist and be sucessful without advertising dollars. How much are we willing to loose form corporations who pollute our mental space in order to reduce pollution? Clear Channel is the type of corporation with a political agenda which supports the Bush administration and his war agenda and seeks to destroy the important diversity of our airwaves. In all the debate about reducing emissions in NYC and decreasing the effects of global warming and bad quality air, nothing is done in the world of advertising. Such things as Hummers, double decker busses, fleets of motorcycles, roving billboards and those vehicles from resturaunts like Jeckell and Hydes do nothihng but pollute and serve no other purpose but to advertise. Is any of this necessary? The program in Paris is extremely positive but also made possible by advertising kiosks. I don’t want to be one of those people that just points out the negative aspects of a good merited program but this should be part of the debate. ——————— Paris Journal A New French Revolutionâ€™s Creed: Let Them Ride Bikes By KATRIN BENNHOLD Published: July 16, 2007
hese were not the leading riders of the Tour de France racing toward the finish line, but American tourists testing this cityâ€™s new communal bike program.
â€œIâ€™m never taking the subway again,â€ said a beaming Justin Hill, 47, a real estate broker from Santa Barbara, Calif.
More than 10,600 of the hefty gray bicycles became available for modest rental prices on Sunday at 750 self-service docking stations that provide access in eight languages. The number is to grow to 20,600 by the end of the year.
â€œThis is about revolutionizing urban culture,â€ said Pierre Aidenbaum, mayor of Parisâ€™s trendy third district, which opened 15 docking stations on Sunday. â€œFor a long time cars were associated with freedom of movement and flexibility. What we want to show people is that in many ways bicycles fulfill this role much more today.â€
Users can rent a bike online or at any of the stations, using a credit or debit card and leave them at any other station.
A one-day pass costs 1 euro ($1.38), a weekly pass 5 euros ($6.90) and a yearly subscription 29 euros ($40), with no additional charges as long as each bike ride does not exceed 30 minutes. (Beyond that, there is an incremental surcharge, to make sure that as many bikes as possible stay in the rotation.)
The outdoor advertising company J. C. Decaux is paying for the bicycles, docking stations and maintenance in return for exclusive use of 1,628 urban billboards owned by the city. The city receives the rental income, and city officials say they are hoping the program will bring in millions of euros.
Jean-Luc Dumesnil, who is an adviser in City Hall on cycling policy, said that while the number of bicycles on the streets increased by 50 percent in the last six years, the number of cycling accidents remained stable.
â€œItâ€™s the cycling paths, but itâ€™s also a question of critical mass,â€ Mr. Dumesnil said. â€œThe more bikes there are, the more car drivers get used to them and the more care they take.â€
Still, only about 40,000 of the 2.5 million Parisians say they use their bicycles regularly. Mr. DelanoÃ« would like to raise that number to 250,000 by the end of the year.
City Hall is hoping to draw on the experience of smaller-scale rental programs in other cities like Berlin and Stockholm to address concerns about theft and financial viability that ended an experimental program in Amsterdam in the 1960s.
The key, Mr. Aidenbaum said, is to make it easy. â€œWhat this initiative does is to take away some of the inconveniences of owning a bike in Paris,â€ he said, â€œthe lack of storage space in Paris buildings, the issue of theft and the hassle of maintenance.â€
First indications are positive. Even before the docking stations opened, 13,000 people had bought annual subscriptions online. On Sunday, some docking stations were so popular that they temporarily ran out of bikes.
â€œIt used to be stressful and dangerous to cycle in Paris, but the city has changed, and this could change it even more,â€ Mr. Bocquet said.
Some residents are skeptical about how long the shiny new fleet of rental bikes will survive unscathed. â€œThere is a lot of gratuitous vandalism that could harm this initiative in this area,â€ said Marylise Dutoit, 37, a primary school teacher.
By 2:30, Mr. Hill, his wife, Megan, and their two teenagers were at the Arc de Triomphe, on their third set of bicycles.
â€œBut when weâ€™re done here we might get one more bike to go back to the hotel and swing by the Eiffel Tower on the way,â€ Ms. Hill said as her son Tommy, 17, rolled his eyes. â€œThis is fun. I never realized Paris was so small!â€
July 15th, a day after the French Revolution anniversary, Paris will launch a program with over 10,000 rentable bicycles making it the first city of its kind to have a cheap set of emission free wheels no more thn 900 feet away.
So while we here in NYC try to figure out how to tax people for driving with Bloomberg’s congestion pricing, Paris does the logical thing and provides people another way of getting around…the bicycle.
No surprise there, just check out Michael Moore’s new documentary, “Sicko” and see how advanced France is in caring for people instead of trying to find ways to make profit.
French revolution: Rentable bikes every 900 feet By Robert Marquand, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Paris – The socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand DelanoÃ«, has seen the future and it’s got two wheels, three speeds, an adjustable seat, indestructible tires, a basket, and a bell. It’s 50 pounds of ecofriendly handlebars, comin’ at ya.
The French are turning Paris into a bicycle zone, pretty much overnight. Even now, astride small alleys and behind boulangeries, paving stones are being ripped to fit 750 bicycle rent “stations.”
The concept is computerized and credit card driven. Each station has a large ATM-sized panel that gives instructions in French, German, English, and Chinese. Riders buy in for a day (1 rules), a week (5 rules), or a year (29 euro). The panel issues a card that can be swiped over a small locking pod to release the bike.
It is also a concept designed mainly for commuters, not tourists seeking a languid ride along the Seine. Riders have 30 minutes to get to their destination before any charge is made. After 30 minutes, the cost is 1 euro ($1.36). The bike is 2 rules for 1.5 hours, and 4 euro for 2 hours. “We hope each bike is used 10 to 14 times a day,” says Pierson, who notes that the stations are open 24/7.
A rider who arrives to find no locking pods available, checks in, and is given another free 15 minutes and directions to the closest space. Need to stop for a baguette? The bike has a lock.
Yet there’s also some personal responsibility tied up with bicycle freedom. To avoid problems found in Lyon â€“ nearly half of its 1,000 bikes disappeared or were destroyed in the first year â€“ initial membership in the Paris program puts a 150 euros hold on the credit card. People are charged for bikes that aren’t returned, placing an emphasis on rider care and oversight. Should a bike not be returned, an alarm inside the bike will go off.
Today, Lyon’s program seems to have lost its training wheels; it now has 4,000 bikes that get ridden 20,000 times a day, more than 40 percent of which are used by office workers.
For all the Tour de France glam and a general rise in bicycle culture in France, Paris has not been a bike town. A rising tide of bikers, though, are notorious for riding on sidewalks, ignoring traffic signals, and biking the wrong way on all those one-way streets.
So I missed another Critical Mass and am embarassed to be reporting on this now…
June’s Critical Mass was meet with the same repression…tons of cops occupying union square, videotaping the 100 or so participants of the ride.
Street preformer Reverend Billy decided to lend a hand by reciting the first amendment in Union Square:
Here is a bit of what happened-
New York, NY (July 2, 2007) – On Friday, June 29, the NYPD arrested and detained Reverend Billy, also known as Bill Talen, for reciting the First Amendment in Union Square. Talen was charged with two counts of harassment in the second degree and held overnight in The Tombs. The police were gathered in force at Union Square in preparation for the monthly bicycle ride known as Critical Mass, which draws attention to environmental issues and bicycle safety.
here is a video of the arrest from the Glass Bead Collective:
Apparently despite the ridiculous arrest for someone speaking in public…50-75 managed to form a critical mass and ride around NYC, cop free.