Doug Gordon is a concerned citizen who rides a bike, he noticed this going on tonight in Prospect Park…
“I went for my usual after-work bike ride tonight at about 7:15, waiting as I always do until Prospect Park is supposed to be closed to vehicular traffic. I was aware, however, that the New York Philharmonic would be giving a concert in the park tonight, so I was prepared for a slower ride, what with all the people such a concert would attract.
Sure enough, the park was more crowded than usual, as people strode to the concert site carrying beach chairs, blankets and picnic blankets. No surprise.
What was surprising, however, was the long line of cars waiting to get into the park and the even longer line of cars already parked along the west drive of Prospect Park’s inner loop. At first I thought this was just handicapped parking, which would have been alright by anyone’s standards. (Surely people with physical disabilities should be allowed to drive into the park on a night such as tonight.) But when I saw a number of cars without handicapped plates or decals, I was even more surprised.
I asked a nice Parks Department officer if the parking was open to everyone. It was, she said. While there was a special section for the handicapped (the lot near the Picnic House, I believe), ANYONE with a car was allowed to drive into and park inside Prospect Park tonight.
I witnessed near misses between cyclists and motorists trying to squeeze into a tiny opening at 3rd Street. I saw a young family, kids on a bike with training wheels, come within inches of being sideswiped by a car going about 10 miles per hour. A woman running with a baby jogger had to move out of the way to let a car go by her. I left the park after one lap. I can only imagine what a scene it will be tonight when thousands of people try to walk out of the park in near darkness while hundreds of drivers make a simultaneous exit. Even with guidance from police and park officials, it’s not a good mix.
Since the concert site is so accessible by public transportation, why anyone would need to drive into Prospect Park tonight is beyond me. (The F is only two blocks away, the 2/3 about seven blocks away, a bus runs regularly down Prospect Park West, plus there are ample pay lots for cars in and around Park Slope.) That the Parks Department would allow able-bodied people to drive into the park is even more bewildering. We must make accommodations for those for whom walking is difficult or impossible, but does a nice night of classical music in the park also have to be an automotive free-for-all?
I know more concerts are scheduled for Prospect Park this summer and the Philharmonic has more shows in Central Park. I hope this practice can be publicized so it can be discouraged, if not abandoned altogether, in the future.
After a five year tenure with the Department of Transportation, the Director of the Bicycle Program, Andrew Vesselenovitch has left the building… one of only two pictures of Andrew if you do an image search on google He says that Commisioner Iris Weinshall and her top deputy for traffic operations, Michael Primeggia have burdened the city with unnecessary law suits and stymied the progress of the city’s bicycle programs.
There is a more indepth story on streetsblog.org Entitled-”Bridges Burning at DOT Outgoing Bike Program Director Rips Agency Bosses”
The blog entry, like many on Streetsblog, is written by Aaron Naparstek. Aaron is a journalist, author and community organizer working on urban environmental issues in New York City. He works for the Open Planning Project where he runs a blog covering New York Cityâ€™s Livable Streets Movement. He is the author of Honku: The Zen Antidote for Road Rage, a book of humorous haiku poetry inspired by the unique brand of motorist sociopathy observed from his apartment window in Brooklyn. Naparstek lives in Park Slope with his wife and son where he is a founder of the Park Slope Neighbors community group.
This blog entry also has the email Andrew sent to the DOT explaining many of the issues he was most fustrated about.
Hmmm…how does one get to be head of the Bicycle Department for the DOT? Sounds like they have an opening. Wouldn’t it be fun to come up with all kinds of great plans for cycling and create infustructure only to have your bosses tell you to butt out and ignore problems like when people are getting seriously injured on the Williamsburg Bridge with poorly designed projects.
Still, these are important positions that we in the cycling community should try and fill…kind of like that thing about making change by running for local office.
The city’s bicycle boss quit in a huff last week – lashing out at Transportation Department brass for not making the streets safer for cyclists, the Daily News has learned.
In an angry e-mail sent on his last day Friday, former Bicycle Program Director Andrew Vesselinovitch blamed the DOT for installing dangerous bumps on the Williamsburg Bridge bike path and for failing to build more bike lanes.
The bumps – actually 2-inch, raised expansion-joint covers – were removed in December 2005 after The News chronicled $10 million in lawsuits brought by severely injured cyclists.
“We could have saved the city settlements for lawsuits [and residents injuries] resulting from the puzzling addition of unusually high expansion joint covers on the Williamsburg Bridge,” Vesselinovitch wrote in the e-mail, which was posted yesterday to StreetsBlog.com.
“I brought this to [the Division of] Bridges’ attention in 2003 and was told by [DOT Deputy Commissioner] Michael Primeggia [to] butt out,” he added in the hastily typed message sent to Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione and other colleagues
Attorney Adam White, who represents eight cyclists injured on the bumps, called the e-mail a “smoking gun.”
“It’s shocking evidence that within the department they knew these were inappropriate and extremely dangerous from the beginning and they did nothing about it for years.”
Vesselinovitch also took aim at DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall.
In the past two years, only 15 miles of bike lanes were added, he wrote, when the DOT “could have produced plans for 40-50 miles of workable bike lanes each year.
“I waited for a long time for the direction from the commissioner’s office to change, or for the commissioner to be changed,” wrote Vesselinovitch, who is leaving to study architecture. “I hope that you won’t have to wait much longer.”
In June, three cyclists were killed in the city. Last year, 24 died, making it one of the most deadly years for cyclists in the past 10 years, advocates charge.
A DOT spokeswoman declined to comment on Vesselinovitch’s e-mail, but pointed to the new Eighth Ave. bike lane and other projects, and noted that bike fatalities are down 50% over the same period last year.
July 11th, 2006 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Ticket Blitz in Central Park scheduled for Tuesday 7/11!!
I am hearing that NYPD and Central Park Enforcement Patrol (whoever that is) will be organizing a large-scale ticket blitz in Central Park tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11. I don’t know exactly where they will be or what times, but they will be issuing tickets for SPEEDING (they will be using radar guns on cars AND BIKES) and other traffic violations, including BIKES THAT RUN RED LIGHTS!!
The speed limit is 25 mph, so I don’t have to worry about that one. But is that the speed limit for the cars as well? If so, maybe we should get out our radar guns and check for selective enforcement.
6 international college students thought it would be a great idea this summer to ride across the country on their bikes and raise money for Cancer. They are currently in Austin Neveda resting after grueling heat, angry locals and grasshopper attacks.
“This summer, our Cross Country for Cancer team will be cycling across the North American continent, from San Francisco to Baltimore, to raise donations and awareness for cancer research. We are a bunch of college students from the United States and England with a big idea and lack of any realistic sense of what is possible. This ride is going to be challenge, but we are going to get it done and we want your support. As we cycle across America in July and August, you can track our progress through pictures and experiences. So join us, spread the word, contribute, and together letâ€™s make a difference in the fight against cancer!”
July 9th, 2006 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Picture of Lucas Brunelle riding his bike underwater… So the Bike Film Festival is in Minneapolis and yesterday they showed the Warriors the bike ride…good to see that video keeps going. Congradulations to Brendt Barbur and all those making the festival happen.
It runs from July 6-8th and it looks like a fun party for all. ————————————————— There is a race series starting in Prospect Park.
Here is some info:
Incase you havenâ€™t heard, a new race series is getting started in Prospect Parkâ€¦ Prospect Park Summer Slam!
This is an 8-week, fixed gear only race series. The series will be run similar to Autumn Attack, only this time, the races are prescheduled and you are encouraged to come with a team on the nights of team races.
Here is all the info: Where: Prospect Park: Grand Army Plaza When: Monday Nights (registration starts at 9pm, racing begins promptly at 9:30) How much: $3
Schedule of Events: July 10- Team Race (come with a team of 2) July 17- Indie Scratch Race (3 laps) July 24- Team Time Trial (come with a team of 4) July 31- Team Race (if your teammate sucked, you can come with a new one) (Double Points) August 7- Scratch Race (4 laps) August 14- Handicap Race (The ones with the most points start later) August 21- Team Race August 28- Scratch Race (1 lap sprint) (double points)
Prizes: Each night, the winner gets two-thirds of the nights money. The other third will be put into the grand prize, which will be split between the top male and female racer. Also, Bike Works, Trackstar, Fortynine-Sixteen, Reload and Fyxomatosis (Andy White).
If youâ€™re left with any questions contact email@example.com or ask on this post. ———————————— Will of onNYturf sent this report of the June Critical Mass in NYC
There is a bizzaro land where cyclists ride free the last Friday of every month. Where cycling is supported AND promoted by the Mayor. Where there are no police helicopters or marauding scooters. Where the media does not blame cyclists if they are hit by a car. It is a place where bicyclists one day a month fill the streets and cars have to wait, and amazingly, despite all the bicycling, nobody dies ties in a traffic jam, emergency vehicles are not grounded, the city does not burn down, and the capitalist system does not collapse.
Many readers are probably already aware that San Francisco is the home of Critical Mass, born there in 1992, and that today Critical Mass enjoys the full support of the San Francisco government including The Mayor. This past Friday I had the luck to be in San Francisco for a best friend’s wedding and was able to join the June ride.
This weekend was Bicycle Fetish day and Victor’s fourth of July alleycat weekend. This was a great time, except for my broken helmet cam…
Congradulations to all those who won ribbons at bike fetish day for things like…”heaviest bike,” “nicest fix gear” and “ugliest bike”…come on…is any bike really ugly?
Congradulations to: Carlos, Cali and Yatika for their win at Victor’s lengthy alleycat race. and to Ellen, Kym and Heidi for representing for the ladies. And let me say a special shout out to my man Jonathon who got 9th place in his 5th alleycat race.
Ken at NYBMA has full results of the race and a nice little story.
and blue Cinema got some too. more pix ===================
There is a great letter available for download that can be sent to some important people about how the city can clean up its act towards cyclists. Its designed so you can just attach your name and address if you are down with what it says. There is also a list of address to send it too.
July 4th, 2006 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Tod Seelie of Suckapants helped me coin a new phrase…”Coparatzzi” This is all of the NYPD’s efforts to videotape us an engage in illegal domestic spying. They can dish it out but can’t take it, and try their best to stop other people documenting the documentation. Tod was trying to take pictures while the cops were trying to push him out of the way, which explains all pictures of hands.
Just for the record, here is an article from the metro paper by Diana Kuan about NYC’s critical mass.
Why does NYPD harass cyclists? my view by diana kuan
At the end of â€œThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart,â€ there is usually a segment called â€œSlow News Dayâ€ that pokes fun at major news networks for devoting significant time to pop culture instead of more pressing issues. By that same logic, the last Friday of every month must be a slow crime day in New York City. It is the day a few hundred bicyclists ride around Manhattan as part of Critical Mass, a grassroots movement to promote bikes as an alternative form of transportation. Critical Mass takes place peacefully all across the country and abroad. In Manhattan, however, the NYPD tries to suppress the event as though it were a vicious anarchist movement. Throughout 2005, the NYPD made arrests â€” often violently â€” on the grounds that the bicyclists were â€œparading without a license.â€ This January, a judge ruled that the â€œparadingâ€ argument was unconstitutional. But that hasnâ€™t prevented the police, both uniformed and undercover, from running the gamut of other intimidation tactics. Video footage, from both regular riders and the recent documentary â€œStill We Ride,â€ shows police chainsawing bikes off locks, forcefully pulling people from bikes and using scooters to run cyclists off the road. If my understanding is correct, the function of the police is to protect law-abiding citizens, not harm them. Last monthâ€™s Critical Mass ride saw the NYPD cordoning off cyclists and issuing court summonses for violations as inane as â€œriding without headlightsâ€ in broad daylight. Other riders were ticketed for riding too far left â€” or too far right â€” on the same road. A group of bewildered pedestrians who were blockaded near Bryant Park began to shout at the police for wasting tax dollars. â€œAre there no drug dealers on the street today?â€ one man asked. According to the NYPD, cyclists riding en masse cause traffic jams and pose a danger should an emergency vehicle need to get through. Well, at the start of the May 26 ride, several hundred cyclists were heading down Broadway from Union Square when an ambulance came up behind them. In a matter of minutes, all of the cyclists were able to pick up their bikes and move them onto the sidewalk. Letâ€™s just say that a wailing ambulance stuck behind clogged lanes of cabs and other cars isnâ€™t so lucky. In San Francisco and Chicago â€” two cities whose Critical Masses draw thousands of cyclists â€” a small number of city police officers stay on the sidelines to ensure safety and order. The case is the same in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. In Manhatttan, however, the NYPD is wasting its already thinned-out resources by sending a large number of officers to block off traffic, harass riders and use other overblown and unconstitutional scare tactics. With gas prices skyrocketing, and the United States going to war because of our foreign oil addiction, there is no worse time to squelch a movement that promotes energy-efficient transportation. According to the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, there are an estimated 110,000 bike commuters in New York City, and their ranks will continue to swell. New York is supposed to be a progressive city. What kind of message is the NYPD sending to citizens and tourists when it aggressively targets people who just want to ride? ———————————- and here is an article in the NYDaily News about the Clown Brigade..
BY BILL EGBERT DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER A gang of Manhattan clowns was on a dead-serious mission yesterday: reminding drivers to steer clear of the city’s bike lanes. “There’s so little space for bikes anyway,” said writer Marilyn Horan, a member of the Bicycle Clown Brigade decked out in clown makeup and candy-cane striped stockings.
“When the lane is blocked, you have to veer into traffic.”
The clown brigade comes from Time’s Up! – a group of bike activists who run free bicycle repair workshops and the Critical Mass cycling protests. They also honor victims of fatal bike collisions by placing white-painted “ghost bikes” at crash sites.
As the clowns encountered cars parked in bike lanes yesterday, they acted out slow-motion collisions with comic pratfalls. Then they staggered in disbelief, wondering what the strange, nonbike object could be doing in their bike lane.
“We try and make it funny while still making our point,” said Christian Gutierrez, 32.
The clowns also issue real-looking parking tickets that carry a reminder that blocking bike lanes carries the risk of a $115 fine.
Charles Williams, a Brooklyn driver blocking a lane on Eighth Ave. at 29th St., said the clowns helped him realize that even a quick stop in a bike lane can be deadly.
“I knew I wasn’t supposed to be here,” he said as he headed for a legal spot up the block, “but I figured I’d just be a minute.”
Originally published on July 3, 2006
July 3rd, 2006 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Another critical mass in New York City I missed because of work. Somehow I wound up on the night shift of this Jody Foster movie I was working on in Prospect Park. I got a bit of a report from the lost viking. Sounds like another all out harassment campaign from the NYPD going out of there way to intimidate the riders and act like high school bullys, only the kind found in a well armed police state. Hard to believe these thugs have courtesy, professionalism and respect written on all of their police vehicles and expect the general populous to abide by this as a code of good behavior. What about them? This ride comes one week after two cyclists were killed by motor vehicles in the city making for a somber atmosphere and people asking the questions about how these incidents happened. Dr. Nacht was killed on the BIKE path on the Westside highway, an impressive civic achievement for pedestrians and cyclists, yet used as the benchmark of where we are supposed to ride. The NYTimes called it a privilege for us to have it, as if we are allotted a tiny little table scrap of all our public space…so we’d better like it and not cry when an NYPD tow trucks driver makes a left turn at 40 mph and kills someone. Then everyone starts trying to blame the victim…like posting safety tips to tell us we shouldn’t ride in bad weather and always wear a helmet. So let me see if I got this straight…Only ride on the bike path, wear a helmet, not in bad weather and yield to unsafe drivers…Right. I think with those requirements I would ride my bike maybe once a year. All of this found me asking…was the driver on his cell phone, was he drunk…shouldn’t he yield to pedestrians?? My questions will never be answered because the NYPD doesn’t bother to investigate any of these cyclist deaths…like the filmmaker killed on Houston Street. What are the codes for these metal plates in the road? Was it faulty? Isn’t this the kind of thing ambulance chasers like Jacoby and Meyers get off on and bombard us with cheap ads on daytime television? Hello…LAWSUIT! Then it brings us to Critical Mass, where all the “Bad bike riders go.” Not those “Good” bike riders who know better and never ride without a helmet or red blinking light in the back. “Why they are just asking for a 2 year campaign of harassment.” After all we should just be accepting our dangerous fate and pay $50 a week to fill up our cars and wonder why our weather patterns are so erratic and asthma effects so many people in this city.
I heard the ride was about 300 people. There were some mysterious vehicles looming around Union Square Park. One Time’s up volunteer armed with a video camera went over to investigate a creepy looking mini van on the East Side of the park. As he got closer some dudes jumped out and grabbed him and took his camera. Why would guys in casual wear and jeans be so upset for being documented? They claimed they weren’t cops…then more people began to gather around demanding the justification for the hold up…Then they said they were cops. WHAT??!?? in this day an age with no money is going to the police to investigate domestic spying and our president not spying on his own citizenry and THIS WHOLE DAMN country not becoming a POLICE STATE!!!! How can this be!!??? The crowd of people were able to get the volunteer released and not sent to Guantanamo and have his camera returned…Maybe the small group of Japanese tourists wondering what kind of movie stars the (COPS) were was the final straw that made them cower back into their soccer mom Mobile…The crowd all had video cameras…which seemed to stop…the “coparatzzi” I heard one well known blogger and photographer was playing a weird dance of COPueria trying to take pictures of the harassment…he should have some good photos on his blog. I also heard one of the cops responded to someone asking his badge number as…”My badge number is 999 never you mind.” Oh my God, I know they lowered the standard of education for people to become comes…but I didn’t realize it was to the third grade. Because of these Honshu rule violations and other police harassment, the ride didn’t leave till 8:00pm and headed down the usual Broadway…obeying traffic laws, wearing helmets, STOPPING at RED LIGHTS…like that matters…and having proper warning devises and whatever elseâ€™s the police say we don’t have. Yes another critical Mass, another opportunity to give the 40,000 strong underpaid police force something to do on Friday night, cause, there couldn’t be anything else going on. Then the scooter brigade came out and began ticketing people. One woman got a ticket for not having a warning devise although she had four horns on her bike. Then the cops cut off the LEGAL ride at 8th and Broadway and demanded everyone pull over so they could check for warning devises. Everyone scattered, except for the sacrificial lambs who couldn’t get away and the ride broke up into smaller groups. Then it was the typical game of cat and mouse. A couple of girls were detained by police and not given any reason. They began a dialogue with the cops and it turned out one of them was the investigating officer in Derek Lake’s death…the kid who died on Houston and LaGuardia riding over faulty illegal metal grates. He said that Derek ran a red light and therefore case closed. He also was laughing about the death. Nice. That must be the professionalism the police force is trained in or is it the respect? Then the ride meet up in Styvesant Town and had a reconvene. The cops were called in and chased everybody out around 9:31pm. The lost Viking rode with the pack and turned off to go home to his apartment in the East Village…he was chased by four scooters all the way up to his front gate. He ducked in, just in time and ran upstairs…the cops were saying…”Ohh you got a way…nah nah nah” I heard a group of thirty riders persisted on and did a bike lift in Time’s Square…RIGHT ON! This was supposed to be a pirate themed ride but there is way too much to worry about when the police are spying on us from vans and jumping out at you to worry about a theme…but Thanks to all who tried….
see you next month…AAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGH!
Despite sheets of rain and nasty storm winds the Time’s Up memorial ride took place yesterday evening. About 40-50 riders meet in front of the Intrepid Museum on the Westside Highway to pay tribute to the deaths of three cyclists which took place in the month of June. I left my home in Williamsburg with out a clue it was going to rain. Then it stated drizzling on the bridge with the sun still shining so this continued my belief that this was some sort of a fluke and would pass quickly. When I got to 10th Ave and 14th street, on route to the West Side Highway greenway…it was pouring. I know at this point some people called it quits and I wondered if this ride was even going to happen. By the time I got to the Intrepid it was dark sky, amazing lighting rippling the Jersey skyline. I was soaked to the bone, which wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I had various electronic devises on me. Globe canvas messenger bags are only so water proof. There was a large crowd of cyclists waiting for the ride to start trying to get a little cover under a pedestrian walkway overpass. All spectrums of the bicycle community was in attendance…bike forums racers, recumbants, track bike riders, messengers, transportation alternatives activists, times up. I observed about two different television news crews also braving the massive downpour. It was very touching to see people out there and it made me feel we have a strong community here in NYC. I’m sure the ride would have been larger in better weather. It was advertised on Gawker of all places and not with snarky remarks making it sound like an important event to attend. I think this means that we are reaching the mainstream a bit.
We made three stops. One on the West side highway for Dr. Carl Nacht One on Houston and LaGuardia for Derek Lake and one on Houston Street between Broadway and Mott for all cyclists killed by cars and trucks.