Sunday, March 18, 2007 A Ride to End All Wars is an inter-borough bike ride for peace in conjunction with the March 19 Peace Actions Coalition. Feeder rides will start in the outer boroughs and converge in Manhattan to support the UFPJ anti-war march. Brooklyn feeder ride: 11:00 AM, at Grand Army Plaza. Bronx feeder ride: 10:30 AM, West Side of Crotona Park at Claremont Pkwy. (2, 5 to 174th Street) Upper Manhattan meet-up: 11:30 AM, at Nueva Esperanza Garden E110th St. at Fifth Ave. Queens feeder ride: 10:30 AM, at the Statue of Civic Virtue on north corner of Queens Blvd. & Union Turnpike (E, F to Kew Gardens, Union Turnpike). Staten Island feeder ride: 10:00 AM at 9/11 Memorial, North Shore Waterfront Esplanade (adjacent to S.I. Ferry Terminal). Downtown Manhattan meet-up: 11:15 AM, New York Vietnam War Veterans Monument and Plaza, 55 Water Street
Then on Monday, Rally in Wall Street…
March 14th, 2007 | Category: General | Comments are closed
The Ides of March – Richmond, VA March 17 Proclaimed as the East Coast’s oldest consecutive annual alleycat, this year’s Ides is mariokart themed. I think that means you get to thow shit at everybody else. Mayhem will certainly ensue. $5, 1pm Holly St. Park. GRCD bike polo tournament on Sunday the 18th. contact bainesworth firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
March 12th, 2007 | Category: General | Comments are closed
article from Amy Landau on her experiences biking in NYC.
The Tao of Cycling by Amy Landau New York HopeDance correspondent Ms. Landau gives us a fascinating report of her experience with biking in NYC, the Critical Mass rides, the clown bikers who patrol bike lanes, Times Up! and Transportation Alternatives that give diversity and life to the prevalent auto-centric culture.
Those words could have been the immortal words of Dustin Hoffmanâ€™s Ratso Rizzo in â€œMidnight Cowboy,â€ as he smacked that car while crossing the street, had he been a NYC cyclist, rather than a pedestrian. I too, have wanted to smack the hood of every car that put my life in danger while navigating the maze of NYC streets on bike.
Let me back up and say that when I first returned to the cluttered, noisy chaos of NYC, it was the bicycle that saved me. It brought me that delicious sense of freedom, space and power that I craved amidst the frantic combat zone of daily city life. And it also got me from point A to point B without having to wait underground on a dirty subway platform.
I remember the magic of my first bike ride over the bejeweled Brooklyn Bridge at night, an experience which rendered me speechless. The whole city seemed to be laid out just for me through a majestic archway with water gleaming hypnotically below, city skyscrapers dazzling above in a parade of electric color. It was like falling in love with the city all over again. As I whizzed by with the cool air blowing through my hair, my companion remarked that she felt â€œso sad for people who donâ€™t ride bikes in New York.â€ Indeed, the bicycle showed me NY in a way Iâ€™d never experienced it before: it connected me to the cityâ€™s terrain, its actual landscape. And from that moment on, I believed that the bike was virtually the key to New York as it was meant to be experienced.
But now I have reached a latter stage as a NYC cyclist: cynicism has set in, tempering my enthusiasm. Itâ€™s not easy to commute by bike through aggressive NYC traffic on a regular basis. I donâ€™t enjoy having to fend for my life first thing in the morning. I donâ€™t like losing my temper and having to shout, â€œFuck you!â€ to strangers at the top of my lungs. Letâ€™s just say, it shatters my equanimity — which is not a nice thing to happen first thing in the morning.
In addition, I am up against an entire system that seems intent on frustrating me as well as other cyclists and pedestrians. Ever since the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD has repeatedly sought to squelch Critical Mass (the monthly group bike ride that asserts cyclistsâ€™ right to the road) and the rights of protestors, in general, through nasty tactics of arrest, ticketing and sometimes violence. After a few failed attempts, the NYPD finally succeeded in establishing â€œParade Permitâ€ rules. These rules require that groups of 50 â€“ whether on foot, bicycle, or other â€œdevices moved by human powerâ€ â€“ apply for a permit before they can march on any street or roadway. A permit means that an established route must be approved by police ahead of time. Such rules fly in the face of the entire concept of Critical Mass, which is meant to be a spontaneous group ride with no established leader or route. Can you imagine such a requirement for the thousands of cars that jam the roadway? In addition, the city is now considering new restrictions on commercial pedicabs (bicycle-cabs), which would greatly diminish the â€œsafety in numbersâ€ affect of cycling in the city. The issue of cyclistsâ€™ right to the road is such a hot topic in NY right now that an editorial in the New York Times spoke out on the subject, objecting to the initial Parade Permit rules and calling for greater safety measures for cyclists. A less-sympathetic article appeared in the New Yorker, titled â€œHoly Rollers: The Cityâ€™s Bicycle Zealots.â€
New York City itself is a city of contradictions, and perhaps it comes as no surprise that territory would be a constant source of debate here, from real estate to the road itself. On the one hand, NY is, unquestionably, the ideal city for alternative transportation. We are already one of the few cities in the United States with such a developed public transportation system that we can claim the â€œAâ€ train as one of the longest subway lines in the world (running more than 31 miles, from northern Manhattan to Far Rockaway, Queens). The terrain of the city is also relatively flat and easy to navigate, making it ideal for biking. To some degree, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has even begun to recognize the value of cycling to the cityâ€™s well-being â€“ the agency recently announced a plan to add 200 more miles of bike lanes! And this is the ultimate in walk-able cities, right?
Well, not so fast. We are also a city absurdly dominated by the needs of the automobile, from the inside-out. Our city officials, stuck in a 1950s time warp (think: Robert Moses), not only insist on driving, but view their driving privileges as carte blanche for committing routine violations that endanger the public. Whatâ€™s more, even though only 14% of New Yorkers drive personal vehicles through the central business district (midtown), a mistaken belief prevails that NYâ€™s economy depends on the automobile. According to the Partnership for NYC, just the opposite is true: over $13 billion a year gets lost every year due to traffic congestion, and this is merely a conservative estimate, not the toll on the economy in human lives or road repair, for example. Thus, New York, for all its cutting-edge persona, trails behind other modern cities like London, Paris and Copenhagen, who have all addressed their traffic problems through traffic-calming measures such as congestion-pricing, rapid bus-only lanes and divided bike lanes. These cities recognized that traffic harmed not only the cityâ€™s quality of life (air and noise pollution/lack of space for walking and biking) but also placed a tremendous burden on its economy.
So whatâ€™s the good news for NY? I have begun to realize that the contradictions are what make this city so ripe and juicy with possibility. NY has reached that crucial time of change, a crossroads of unprecedented significance for both its future as a livable city and a financial center. I know of two admirable agents of change that are helping to steer NY into the 21st century: â€œTimeâ€™s Up!,â€ a grassroots cycling/environmental advocacy group and Transportation Alternatives (TA), a more mainstream catalyst for improving NYCâ€™s transportation. Both groups blow me away with the intensity of their dedication and imagination. They work toward change in different, yet equally powerful ways, sometimes joining forces, but always retaining distinct identities.
Times Up!, â€œNYCâ€™s direct-action environmental groupâ€ is a radical-minded organization purely made up of volunteers with tentacles that spin out in vastly creative ways, embracing group bike rides, cycling awareness, street art, community gardening, public education and more. This group is on the edgy, renegade side, participating in Critical Masses which assert cyclistsâ€™ rights to the road, engaging in civil disobedience but also raising person-to-person awareness of cycling safety issues. I think of them as â€œthe people.â€ I have participated in their group bike rides, clown bike-lane liberation brigade (you dress up like a clown and pass out â€œticketsâ€ to errant motorists parked in the bike lane) and most notably the 2007 Cyclist Memorial Ride (commemorating cyclist deaths by cars) which they helped organize. By their own account, two of their greatest achievements for 2006 were their increase in public programming and participation and the positive press attention they have received. They were named the â€œBest Activist Organization on Two Wheelsâ€ by the Village Voice. Timeâ€™s Up! also helped start the flourishing commercial pedicab business here which has grown to nearly 500 strong [see page 36 for more photographs that relate to this story].
On the other hand, Transportation Alternatives (TA), â€œthe Advocates for Bicycling, Walking and Sensible Transportation,â€ is made up of young Ivy-leaguers who wear suits and are versed in city politics and diplomacy. They do all the homework to back up their proposals to the city: exhaustive quality-of-life studies (â€œDo neighbors talk to each other on streets with heavy traffic?â€) and more. They invite city planners like Jan Gehl from Copenhagen to speak in NY, help produce innovative films like â€œContested Streets,â€ [stay tuned for the review in next issue as well as the screening of the film during the Bike Film Festival in both SB and SLO] and make proposals to the DOT and the mayor for traffic-calming measures, etc. Their influence as a respected voice of change is mirrored in their regular mention in the New York Times. I have participated in their â€œCar-free Central Parkâ€ rallies, attended their panels and helped distribute outreach flyers for their committees in my community. Among their achievements has been the securing of pedestrian and bicycling paths on all East River bridges (for the first time in 50 years) and a complete 10-mile-long Hudson River greenway (car-free pedestrian/bike path).
In terms of city infrastructure, the latest, breaking news is that sinister Chief Bruce Smolka of the NYPD (the borough commander of midtown Manhattan) and long-time nemesis of Critical Mass, has stepped down, much to the jubilation of cyclists and civil rights activists everywhere. Add to this that the DOT commissioner of six years (Iris Weinshall) has just resigned, and you might begin to see why I can picture a more cyclist-friendly NYC on the horizon. Most of all, itâ€™s the dynamic work of Timeâ€™s Up! and TA that encourage me to believe that NY has indeed entered a fertile time of change for the better. The fact is: we have backed ourselves into a corner with all our cars and traffic. There is literally no place to move but forward, and I donâ€™t mean with a car!
When I look at NYC with all its contradictions, Iâ€™m reminded of the yin/yang symbol of Taoist tradition that shows us light is dependent on dark, positive dependent on negative. I am reminded of the Chinese artist, Lily Yeh who said that the most desperate, negative conditions she faced only excited her with the greatest promise for their opposite (the prospect of building a park in a vacant city lot). And thatâ€™s exactly the force I see in NYCâ€™s future.
Timeâ€™s Up!: http://times-up.org/ Transportation Alternatives: http://www.transalt.org/ Partnership for NYC Report: http://www.nycp.org/publications/Growth%20or%20Gridlock.pdf Warrior Angel: The Work of Lillian Yeh: http://www.barefootartists.org/Lilys_Warrior_Angel_11_2.pdf
Amy Landau is HopeDanceâ€™s â€œNew York City correspondent.â€ She is a writer and environmental educator living in Harlem and working in the South Bronx. Contact her at email@example.com.
If you enjoy riding your bike in 30 degree weather, then tonight is your night. Tonight is the annual Brooklyn Critical Mass, the ride where we don’t need a permit and we allowed to ride our bikes in a group as long as we behave and be “good little bike riders.” 7:00pm either at the Base of the Williamsburg bridge in Brooklyn or at Grand Army Plaza.
There is also a benifit race for YETI, This upstanding young bike courier was T-boned by a car on 7th ave an hour before he was suppose to get off work and go to Boston for the weekend. Instead he went to the hospital and got 36 stitches in his face. And his bike is fucking totaled. So there is an alleycat tonight to help out the Yeti, because it is up to us to support our bike community and the fearless bikers who live and work on a bike. Weather you race or ride…you can end up at the Alleycat after party in Brooklyn at the Bushwick Country Club, 618 Grand Street between Leonard and Lorimer in Brooklyn.Starts at around 9pm, and the word is there’s some sort of drink special.
March 9th, 2007 | Category: General | Comments are closed
The Villager reported on the last February critical mass in NYC where we tried to give our beloved Smolka a retirement present. As usual, Jefferson Siegel was on the scene. The villager article Bicyclists give gift to a chief who gave them hell Cyclists Christopher Ryan and Rachael Myers tried to give the â€œSmolka Cruiserâ€ bike to a police officer at the 13th Precinct, but it was refused. For two and a half years, police have chased cyclists in the monthly Critical Mass rides. Last Friday, participants turned the tables, leaving the traditional Union Square starting point on foot and marching directly to the nearest police precinct. Riders were celebrating the news that Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka, commander of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, announced his retirement a week earlier.
Cyclists viewed Smolka as the force behind the arrests of Critical Mass riders. His departure inspired many to dub last Fridayâ€™s ride â€œSmolkaâ€™s retirement party.â€
Several hundred cyclists and many people without bikes walked out of Union Square, passing by Peteâ€™s Tavern on Irving Pl. and the Brotherhood Synagogue on Gramercy Park S. The procession, led by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a brass marching band, was followed by police on motor scooters and in vans.
Arriving at the 13th Precinct on E. 21st St., cycling activists Rachael Myers and Christopher Ryan walked a blue-painted bike to the precinctâ€™s front door. The bike was dubbed the â€œSmolka Cruiserâ€ and adorned with the words â€œN.Y.P.D. Retired.â€ A police commander refused to accept the gift on behalf of Smolka and advised the pair not to leave it, since it would be considered abandoned property.
The Critical Mass cyclists then began walking down Second Ave., followed by a large police presence. At 18th St., a police commander advised the crowd to disperse or face arrest for disorderly conduct. Police then stopped two cyclists and issued them summonses for having bikes without front lights.
As Katie from Bedford-Stuyvesant stood waiting for her ticket, she questioned a police commander about being stopped.
â€œItâ€™s not us against you,â€ the officer replied, explaining that she had violated a law requiring a front light.
â€œThereâ€™s a gazillion things going on in the city right now, where he could be â€˜just doing his job,â€™â€ Katie said after receiving her ticket. â€œBut theyâ€™re choosing to target us.â€
Fridayâ€™s ride was the last in Manhattan before new parade rules go into effect. At next monthâ€™s ride, which is being referred to by the cyclists as â€œCriminal Mass,â€ police will have the authority to arrest anyone in a group of 50 or more that has not first obtained a permit for the event.
Jacob of Jacobcycles, put together a long, complicated…and I hear fustrating alleycat in Boston last Saturday. (just getting around to talk about it now) It started at King’s Bowling alley which is perfect because the theme was the Big Lebowski…the “Dude Abides” race. You had to complete 5 missions, or so I heard. I just sort of followed people around with the helmet cam and then ended up drinking at a checkpoint where they dowsed people in flour. Yes, I’m getting old and tired. But Boston has a great scene and people came out from NY, DC, Philly and represented. Then we ened up at a V.F.W. in South Boston and listened to a great band, “CocktoPuss” and raced gold sprints. Here are some pictures of the start of the race.
Oregon has been fighting with a fixie law which effects our favorite simple form of the bicycle. Here is an article from the Oregonian which sheds some light on the situation.
Inside the Capitol
Fixie Bill Introduced
The Oregonian, March 02, 2007
By Harry Esteve
Attention all you fans of “fixies” out there — yeah, you know who you are. You ride stripped-down road bicycles or track bikes with fixed gears. You disdain brakes. Occasionally, you get nailed for it and find yourself explaining to a skeptical judge how you can stop really quickly, even going downhill, in the rain, just by pushing back on the pedals.
You feel like outcasts — and that’s the way you like it.
No more. You’ve now got a friend in the Oregon Legislature. And he might surprise you. He’s no liberal bike-riding Portland Democrat who thinks cars are evil.
He’s a conservative bike-riding Southern Oregon Republican who knows pelotons from velodromes.
Sen. Jason Atkinson, who ran for governor last year in the Republican primary, has introduced a bill that would explicitly exempt fixed-gear bikes from a law that requires all bikes to have brakes capable of bringing a bike to a skid on dry pavement.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in the cycling community,” said Atkinson, who used to race internationally. “When I was racing, I used to train with messengers for speed work.”
Bike messengers, who zip around downtown Portland rain or shine, prefer the single-speed, no-brake bikes for their simplicity, feathery weight and, let’s face it, outlaw cachet.
Atkinson cops to riding one as well. “When I campaigned, I always had a fixed-gear with me.”
In Portland, that might have been enough to get him a ticket and a fine. Last year, in a case that outraged a hefty segment of the two-wheeled set, a Multnomah County Circuit judge found four cyclists guilty of riding bikes without brakes. The fines were about 70 bucks, but that still hurts.
A bicycle attorney argued they weren’t breaking the law, that their leg muscles were brakes. The judge had none of it. Some fixies staged a demonstration of how fast they could stop, including jamming a stick between the rear wheel and the frame.
Like I said, outcasts.
Atkinson’s bill, Senate Bill 729, would settle the issue for good. It would change Oregon law to require all bikes to have brakes EXCEPT fixed gear ones.
Woo-hoo, said Jonathan Maus, an activist who runs BikePortland.org, an all-things-bicycle blog.
OK, that’s not a direct quote. He did say it’s a good idea not to criminalize a perfectly legitimate form of transportation. But he also cautioned against inexperienced cyclists hopping a fixie without some serious training. They’re difficult to ride. And, yes, to stop.
“Everybody would agree, there’s a safety issue,” Maus said. But, he said, the popularity of the cycling style is growing fast and addressing it in state law is a good idea.
“It’s a fashion thing,” he said. In the bike world, there’s always some new twist to spark riders’ interest. “The fixed gear is definitely in the running to be the next big thing.”
Atkinson also is behind a bill that would set aside state parks money and matching grants to build two velodromes — banked tracks for racing fixed-gear bikes — one each in Portland and Southern Oregon.
Whether his bike bills get traction is anyone’s guess at this point. The Legislature has plenty of bigger issues on its plate. In the meantime, Portland’s fixie community must put its hopes in probably the only man in the Legislature who knows how to shave his legs.
Read Harry Esteve’s Inside the Capitol blog and other coverage of the state Legislature at oregonlive.com/legislature.
Let me see if I got this straight. The legislative branch of the cities government…the city council, did nothing when the police superseded them and changed the definitions of a parade rule to stop the critical mass bike ride…But they did act when it came to passing a bill to limit the number of pedicabs in the city, a viable business solution to a polluted car obsessed city.
I don’t get it. Maybe they should give themselves another raise.
With them in office…who needs the city council.
Here are a number of articles on the why our city council hates clean air.