(Squid in the middle holding Markus Cook Award-Amy was away on business)
a few pictures here. Monday Night was Messenger Appreciation night which was a party to celebrate the hard work of NYC couriers. This gathering was an opportunity to award the Markus Cook Memorial Award to Squid and Amy.
Read more about it from Joe Hendry:
The International Federation of Bike Messenger Associations (IFBMA) announces the 2006 “Markus Cook Memorial Award” (MCA) for Services to the International Messenger Community
The MCA was conceived as a way for the international messenger community to thank it’s most dedicated workers. Nominations are sought from the messenger community for those individuals who have done most for us, for those who have consistently put the rest of us before them.
This year’s recipients are Amy and Kevin “Squid” Bolger of New York City who are being honored for their work with the New York messenger community and their contributions to messenger communities around the world. Their contributions separately and jointly range from working as tireless volunteers throughout the world, to organizing major events, to being among the formative members of the New York Bike Messenger Association and the New York Bike Messenger Foundation.
These organizations seek to improve the lot of local messengers through the empowerment and knowledge of such projects as the New York City Messenger Industry Handbook and they serve the community by providing crucial services like an accident fund to aid injured messengers.
In 2005 Amy and Kevin Bolger were among the successful organizers of the monumental task of hosting the Cycle Messenger World Championships in the city with the largest population of messengers in the industrialized world.
Their imaginative and innovative work with new sponsors brought success to unique events like the Velo City Tour and the Body Glove Challenge. The recently completed Velo City Tour rewarded 6 champion messengers with round trip tickets to the Cycle Messenger World Championships in Sydney Australia. The Velo City Tour also brought messengers rare national television coverage as professional athletes.
Squid’s pioneering work with Team Puma and Amy’s insightful photographic portraits continue to inspire others, challenge the historically narrow view of messengers and expand the diverse opportunities for messengers in the future.
October 11th, 2006 | Category: General | Comments are closed
This is a really late posting, since Critical Mass was about 5 days ago…oh well.
So I missed another one by being away in Las Vegas for Interbike 2006. There was talk of doing a post convention ride, a la Critical Mass, which would be a hoot down the strip, but we didn’t make that either.
So the city is making moves to make the NYC more bike friendly, but clearly not budging on their personal vendetta with the freely formed critical mass.
Here is one account of Friday’s ride sent to me by Elizabeth, it was her first ride:
I thought I would send a quick email to pass along the story of my first critical mass. Perhaps you were there last night and experienced the chaos the police created at the beginning of the ride. My boyfriend and I were towards the back of the pack and we were able to ride by the first group of cops without incident. However, soon after we turned east on 20th street and hooked up with a few other riders the cops showed up again on their mopeds. We were all obeying all traffic lights and there was only a group of about 7-8 of us at that moment. One cop began driving very close to a cyclist and pinning him to the far side of the street eventually driving him into the back of a parked car. A girl stopped to scream at the cops because it was so outragous. My boyfriend and I went back to union Square with a few other guys and got one of the green capped guys to come back to the scene with us. The cops were just finishing ticketing the two of them for not having head lights. Luckily the guy was okay. The green capped guy took down all of our information and said someone should get in touch with us. Is this the kind of shit the cops are getting away with every month?
This was the first critical mass I have experienced and I am relatively new to cycling in NYC. My boyfriend is an avid cyclist and has been commuting to NJ everyday using his bike and the train for the past year. (He emailed you some picture of ticketing in Central Park a few months ago if you recall, his name is Alex Kahl) So we both finally got out to critical mass last night, excited to ride through the city with a bunch of like-minded people. My initial impression was somewhat dissapointing as there appeared to be little to no leadership in regards to where we ride, when we ride and how we ride. There were many others like us who were out there for the first time and I fear many of them will not return. The cops seem to have perfected their fear tactics so that critical mass has been severely crippled the past few months. For all of us with both front/back lights and bells there is no reason why we can’t just ride down the street together without cops harrassing us or driving us into cars. Some of the ideas we’ve thrown around over this past day, would be to split into 4 groups and all ride different directions meeting up at colombus circle or somehwere central. This would make the cops job exponentially more difficult. Another thought would be to ride up the bike path on 8th Avenue, creating an enormous cycling presence and making other motorist more aware of that bike path. This would make the cops ticketing even more outrageous as we’d be in a designated bike lane.
Despite all the chaos of last night, alex & I will be out there next month, jobs willing. I just hope that others weren’t discouraged by the police tirad. ————————— Mike Pidel, made this video:
—————————- Lauren put up these pictures from the ride.
Its the September Critical Mass in New York City. Riders are invited to a ride through a dance performance…what?
The performers of Agora II , a dance performance in McCarren Park Pool want you to ride through there performance.
please come hook up @ the following times and/or locations: 8-8:25: meet over by the statue of Washington the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge @ the north entrance to the bike path (S 5th & S5th Place, just west of Roebling)
or @ 830 in front of the McCarren Pool (Lorimer St. between Driggs & Bayard Ave.)
Bikers will ride through the pool around 845ish. Last time there was 150 or so bikers and it was pretty fun. There is a ramp down into the pool and it is pretty mellow. We made a couple loops and then rode away into the night. This time there will be a big AFTERPARTY in the pool since it is the last weekend of the show. Sounds fun.
Every month the alleycat race, a messenger style scramble through a particular city, gets more complex. Anyone can put on one of these races, but it is the participants themselves which try and come up with the most unique race and forge ahead with new ideas on an old concept. Here is one, up coming that is truely original and combines many of the riding styles, skills and equipment. Track, Road, Alleycat, Street…this one has it all.
Here are the detaials:
On October 8th we present to you a challenge: A flat-out road, city and track race that runs from Nyack to Kissena.
HERE’S THE DEAL:
Racers must register in 2-man teams. This is a team race. At least one team member MUST be on a track bike.
On the morning of race day there will be a relaxed group ride from the city up to Nyack and the start line. That afternoon, the race begins. Teams will wind their way back home to NYC and through the beloved city streets that lead to Kissena Velodrome, where they will then compete in a Time Trial for points and victory.
Are you up to the challenge?
* * * * *
HERE’S THE FUN FACTS:
This race is not as hard as one might think. This race is about pacing yourself and riding smart – not just fast. Remember what happened to the Hare? That’s right – they took him out back and shot him for what he done.
Strategy is a deciding factor in this race as always. Think man, think!
Prizes and sponsors to be announced. Check this thread for updates.
You may register your team here now and have a place held for you. Registration is $10 per racer. ——————————- So get a partner, figure out where Nyak is and RACE!
There has been a lot of work by cyclists over the past months and NOT just from Transportation Alternatives…and it is starting to pay off. The city is taking notice of bikes and it shows in their recent planning. A huge article in the Sunday NY Times about biking, critical mass and a year of recent deaths at the hand of motor vehicles, has come out, talking about the recent history of the problem and connecting a few dots. This is a step in the right direction and some good press about all the hard work of cycling groups such as TA and Times Up, out there everyday riding there bike and being vocal about the kind of bike friendly city they deserve. Link to article The City is home to about 120.000 regular cyclists, some of whom will attend a Critical Mass demonstration on Friday. Quesy Rider by Paul Kurutz published in the New York Times-CIty Section-Sunday 24th, 2006
PAUL FORD, a soft-spoken, sturdily built 32-year-old who works as an editor at Harperâ€™s Magazine, sometimes describes his commute between his apartment in Gowanus, Brooklyn, and his office on Broadway near Bond Street as feeling â€œlike a video game, except you can get killed.â€ And in fact, watching Mr. Ford weave through the cityâ€™s traffic-clogged streets one recent morning, pedaling steadily atop his black and gray Fuji Sanibel cruiser, called to mind a two-wheeled, life-and-death version of the 80â€™s arcade game Frogger.
At 7:40 a.m., wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, Mr. Ford set out from his apartment near the Gowanus Canal and was soon moving briskly down Third Avenue in Boerum Hill. Mr. Ford is a physical presence on the road, a big guy atop a seven-speed bike, a shiny black helmet covering his short brown hair. But the motorists whizzing by pay him little mind.
Near Third Avenue and Douglass Street, he slowed and hugged the curb to avoid a delivery truck passing on his left. Pulling onto the street again, it was in the firm but cautious way a person might wade into a fast-moving river. Or, as Mr. Ford put it: â€œYouâ€™re fragile out here in traffic. Nothing bad comes from being paranoid.â€
Mr. Ford is among an estimated 120,000 regular cyclists in New York, 40,000 of whom commute to work by bike. And increasingly, these cyclists are waging an ever more ferocious turf war with the city.
Like Mr. Ford, the majority of these commuters do daily battle on the cityâ€™s 6,000 miles of often jam-packed roadways. At the same time, a small number of cycling advocates lobby City Hall with almost religious fervor, seeking everything from more bike racks to legislation requiring office building owners to install storage space for bikes.
The most public lobbying efforts are the Critical Mass rides in Manhattan, consciousness-raising events that take place on the last Friday of every month â€” the next one is Friday â€” and resemble nothing so much as 1960â€™s political rallies. Before the most recent ride, a bleached-blond hipster preacher named Reverend Billy recited the First Amendment through a bullhorn. Later, police officers issued 65 moving violations and made one arrest.
Despite the obstacles, this may be an ideal moment for seeking a bike-friendlier New York. With issues like global warming and high gas prices at the forefront of public consciousness, many advocates say that after years of struggle, they finally have the political capital to make cycling a top priority in the city.
â€œThis is absolutely a moment of opportunity,â€ said Walter Hook, executive director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, a New York-based organization that designs mass transit in developing countries. â€œThe mayor stood up and took a bold stance and banned smoking. The next step is to stop the air pollution coming out of the tailpipe.â€
The Path Less Traveled
Mr. Ford had left home early, hoping to beat the morning rush, but five minutes into his commute, cars were already lined up bumper to bumper at a red light on Third Avenue. Knifing through traffic, he hung a left onto Bergen Street in Boerum Hill, where he could enjoy a sliver of comfort in the form of a five-foot-wide bike lane, designated by two painted white lines. A few cyclists overtook him, pedaling furiously on expensive-looking machines.
Mr. Ford began biking to work two months ago because he wanted to lose weight but didnâ€™t feel like going to the gym. While his legs and lungs are stronger now, he by no means regards his ride as a test run for the Tour de France. â€œIâ€™m just a chubby guy on a bike,â€ he joked as he made a right onto Smith Street and scooted across Atlantic Avenue.
New York is arguably the most challenging city in the country in which to ride a bike. The streets are crowded, the pace is furious and danger lurks everywhere, from crater-size potholes to car doors that snap open. When Mr. Ford began biking to his office, he was filled with the sense that he was an irrelevancy to motorists, a moving abstraction. Even now, he feels dangerously exposed. â€œEveryone is your enemy,â€ he said. â€œYou donâ€™t want to get killed, and you donâ€™t want to kill anyone.â€
Mr. Ford has yet to suffer any injuries on his daily commute, but he is fatalistic. â€œItâ€™s only a matter of time until I have one of those near-death experiences that everyone who bikes in the city has had,â€ he said. According to the latest figures provided by the city, 109 cyclists were killed from 2000 through 2005. During the same period, there were 21,484 bicycle injuries recorded.
This June, in a grim reminder of the perils of urban cycling, three riders were killed in a three-week period. A 23-year-old aspiring filmmaker was pinned beneath a tractor-trailer on Houston Street in Manhattan on a weekday morning. A 41-year-old woman was hit by a truck on Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn in the evening. And a 56-year-old doctor collided with a Police Department tow truck while taking a midnight ride on the Hudson River Greenway in Manhattan.
On June 29, in response to the deaths, about 75 cyclists staged a rally on the steps of City Hall. Standing in front of a â€œghost bikeâ€ painted white to honor the fallen, Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, the advocacy group that organized the rally, described the cityâ€™s streets as â€œout of control.â€ A week later, Andrew Vesselinovitch, resigned as director of the Bicycle Program of the cityâ€™s Department of Transportation after five years in the job, saying he planned to return to school. In leaving his position, he criticized the Department of Transportation for not making New York safer for cyclists and for creating less than 20 miles of new bike lanes in the past two years.
The numbers seemed all the more striking given the fact that Chicago, with a population of nearly three million, announced a plan this year to put every resident within a half-mile of a bike path. And Chicagoâ€™s program seems paltry in comparison with that of Davis, Calif., a city of 60,000 that Bicycling magazine said â€œhas cycling in its veins.â€ Among Davisâ€™s features are a $7.4 million bike tunnel and a network of bike paths so comprehensive and safe that the city has eliminated its public school buses.
As Mr. Ford pedaled along Jay Street, cut across a traffic tie-up at Tillary Street and squeezed precariously through a two-foot gap between a delivery truck and a concrete barrier to get onto the Manhattan Bridge, it was clear that orchestrating the flow of traffic is much more challenging in a city like New York than in a laid-back college town like Davis.
By some measures, New York is doing reasonably well for a large city. In May, a bike lane was built along Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, and, more significant, in 2001 the Hudson River Greenway, an 11.5-mile stretch that runs from Inwood to Battery Park City, was completed. With as many as 10,000 cyclists on the busiest days, Transportation Alternatives says, it ranks as the nationâ€™s busiest bike path.
Two weeks ago, the Department of Transportation announced a plan to build 200 more miles of bike lanes over the next three years, at a cost of nearly $9 million. That would bring the cityâ€™s total to more than 600 miles.
The Parks Department also has several projects under way toward its long-term goal of a greenway all along the waterfront in the five boroughs. Bike paths beside every mile of Manhattan waterfront may be completed as soon as the end of 2008, according to Carli Smith, a department spokeswoman.
And this year, Bicycling magazine ranked New York the countryâ€™s third-best city for cycling among cities with population of more than one million, just behind San Diego and Chicago.
â€œNew York is by no means a laggard,â€ said Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, a lobbying group in Washington that issues an annual list of what it calls Bicycle Friendly Communities. â€œNew York is better than Los Angeles, and certainly better than Houston or Dallas.â€
But many advocates say the city is making progress too slowly and is not fully committed to bicycling.
â€œWe did 100 miles of bike paths and lanes in the past five years,â€ said Mr. Vesselinovitch, the former director of the Bicycle Program. â€œI think we could have doubled it. At D.O.T., we would support bicycling as long as it didnâ€™t interfere with anything else.â€
Iris Weinshall, the transportation commissioner, declined to respond specifically to Mr. Vesselinovitchâ€™s comments. â€œI donâ€™t want to look back,â€ she said. â€œI want to look forward.â€ She then said the city had made progress over the past five years; she cited the Manhattan Bridge bike lane, which was refurbished in 2001 and is used by an average of 840 riders a day.
As Mr. Ford made his way across that lane the other day, isolated from traffic and free to finally experience what he described as â€œa closer sense of the city,â€ he was enjoying the one truly peaceful moment of his commute. Halfway through his ride, his pace slackened. The morning air was crisp. The view from the bridge, which took in the entire East Side of Manhattan, was breathtaking. The moment was tempered only by a quarter-mile uphill grade, which left him breathing hard.
â€œWith the subway,â€ Mr. Ford said, â€œyouâ€™re literally in a tunnel. When I bike, I see faces. I see storefronts. Iâ€™ll stop to visit someone. Iâ€™m engaged in the city.â€
Imagining Bike Heaven
Up to this point, Mr. Fordâ€™s ride had been a journey of extremes. He had passed through a leafy neighborhood of brownstones in Boerum Hill, plunged into the traffic-clogged heart of Downtown Brooklyn and been cosseted high above the East River. Now, with a light sheen of sweat on his face, he cruised off the bridge onto Canal Street into the pedestrian bustle of Chinatown.
The one constant of Mr. Fordâ€™s ride was the persistent feeling that he was carving out a space for himself as a biker on streets where in many cases no such space existed. Except for the Manhattan Bridge, he hadnâ€™t been on a bike lane since Bergen Street. If he were the cityâ€™s bike czar, he would change this.
â€œCars are here to stay,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t expect New York City to become bike utopia. But more share-the-road signs would be great, more bike lanes, more places to lock your bike.â€ All in all, â€œa little more room here and there.â€
The cityâ€™s plan to add 200 miles of bike lanes would undoubtedly create much more room for cyclists like Mr. Ford. The new lanes, from Claremont Village in the Bronx to Downtown Brooklyn, would be a sort of interstate highway system for bikes throughout the five boroughs. Responding to safety concerns, the city is also installing five miles of protected lanes, in which riders are shielded from car traffic by barriers like concrete curbs.
But while cycling advocates have applauded the idea of protected lanes, their goals are far more ambitious.
â€œWeâ€™d like to see bike facilities on all the major arterials in the five boroughs, like Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and Houston Street,â€ said Mr. White, of Transportation Alternatives. â€œWeâ€™d also like to ban private vehicular traffic altogether on some streets.â€
Mr. Hook, of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, heartily endorses the idea. â€œIf you did something radical,â€™â€™ he said, â€œlike taking Broadway out of the street grid and making it a greenway, not only would you create a north-south bike facility, but you would create a soul to the city and entirely change the feel of the place.â€
When it was suggested that such a plan might produce havoc for Midtown drivers and stores relying on truck deliveries, Mr. Hook responded, â€œWe could do what a hundred European cities do, which is allow trucks in during certain times of the day â€” say, between 8 and 10 a.m.â€
But even more modest solutions far from Midtown can pit cyclists against nearly everybody else. That is the situation on Houston Street, which has become a prime point of contention between bike advocates and the Department of Transportation. The cyclists want a bike lane installed along Houston; the department, at least so far, has not concluded that this is a good idea.
In recent years, many cycling advocates have said that while the city officially supports biking, its decisions routinely favor drivers.
â€œWhen the city decides whether or not to put a bike lane on Houston Street, they think, â€˜Well, weâ€™re going to lose traffic volume,â€™ â€ Mr. White said. â€œThatâ€™s the tradeoff that isnâ€™t going our way, time and again.â€
Ms. Weinshall, the transportation commissioner, would be the first to agree that the issue is complicated. â€œYou have to parcel out the real estate to all of these different users,â€ she said. â€œDoes it make sense to put a bike lane along Houston Street? Would we have to widen the sidewalks? These are things you consider. Bike riding is not made for everybody.â€
The Home Stretch
Just a couple of minutes from the front door of his office, Mr. Ford was poised on Chrystie Street, considering a wide, loping left turn onto Houston Street that would deliver him into one of the busiest roadways in the city. â€œTwo months ago I was terrified to make this turn,â€ he said as he merged with traffic and headed west on Houston toward Broadway. â€œBut now itâ€™s no big deal. You get used to it.â€
Still, not everyone is so intrepid. Even if the necessary infrastructure like widespread bike lanes were in place, there would remain the question of how many New Yorkers would commute by bike, given practical concerns like safety, weather and health issues.
â€œIâ€™ll bet not one person out of 20 would think to ride a bike to work,â€ said Kenneth T. Jackson, a professor of history at Columbia University who for years has led a bike ride around the city for his students. The ride takes place after midnight, the time Mr. Jackson most feels safe navigating around the city.
There is another issue, even apart from safety, that has to do with how biking in the city is perceived. â€œWe take pride in our use of mass transit and the fact that we walk,â€ Professor Jackson said, â€œbut somehow cycling doesnâ€™t complete the trinity. It doesnâ€™t seem normal.â€
In addition, there is no consensus on whether an increase in cyclists would do much to help improve the cityâ€™s environment. City Councilman John Liu, of Flushing, Queens, chairman of the Councilâ€™s Transportation Committee, argues that subways and buses are the answer. â€œThe use of cycles has a place,â€™â€™ Mr. Liu said. â€œBut it doesnâ€™t come anywhere near the capability of mass transit in making our city greener.â€
For Mr. Ford, however, biking to work offers him a satisfaction that riding the subway or a bus does not. â€œThereâ€™s something great about getting to work under my own mode of power,â€ he said.
After making a right on Lafayette Street and a left on Bond, Mr. Ford was finally in the home stretch of his commute. He pulled up to the door of his office, dismounted and peeled off his helmet, sweaty but contented. â€œThe hardest part of my day is already over,â€ he said. His four-mile commute had taken 32 minutes, about as long as it would have taken him on the R train.
Well this month has been extremely busy with video production so there have been less postings.
But here is a bit of what is going on in the bike culture world.
I was interviewed in the Metro newspaper about Critical Mass and Bikeblog. While I was working as a lighting technician on a German television program, Paul Berger of Metro New York and I, talked for a half hour about bicycle related subjects…the article came out in the paper today. Just a quick blurb…but, hey its exposure.
Thursday night, Crumpler bags had an opening night party for their messenger bag auction. People got a chance to see the bags, drink some free beer and hang out in a nice art gallery in Williamsburg. Crumpler USA, which makes nice messenger and laptop bags is hosting an auction where you can bid on one of a kind designed bags. Here are a few photos. Out front of Gallery on Roebling, between South 2nd and South 3rd. The Crowd and Mike Dee points to point of injury. Some of the art bags Luke and Brad (bag to us) from Trackstar More bags on the wall Bikers outside
To watch some nostalgia from last year…the trailer is on line. Film makers Jesse Epstein and Mark Thomas made this cool trailer for the festival of 05 featuring messenger, DJ, Skater and Mashup artist Ted Shred.
Jesse is trying an experiment in on-line distribution. Revver.com, where the trailer is hosted is a video host unlike grouper, Youtube and Google.video. They give the film makers 50% of the profits from advertisers if you click-on the ad at the end of the video. Jesse is trying to see the potential of this new market. So if you want to participate…click the ad. Then she makes a little money and can buy some tape stock to make more cool bike related videos. Really its just an experiment. If these sites are going to make money from advertising to host our videos…Shouldn’t we see a bit of the profits? You decide.
Every year for the past 24 years bike makers gather in Las Vegas for Interbike. This year is the 25th time and I will be attending with a small cadre of bike messengers who are going to tear up the strip…on track bikes which I am affectionately calling: Gear and Loathing in Las Vegas. King Kog will be there along with MessNYC and there will be gold sprints hosted somewhere in town.
Heres what they say about it on their website:
Fuse 1,000+ brands with 10,000+ buyers from around the world and you have Interbike – the ultimate blend of industry leaders with innovative products in the bicycle business. The gathering kicks off with two days of OutDoor Demo in Bootleg Canyon – a world renowned outdoor cycling venue – and continues for three packed days of exhibits, product launches, insightful seminars, meetings and celebrations at Interbike Expo in Las Vegas.