“New York City Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall resigned today. Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of movement from New York City concerning transportation issues. Some have been favorable, some not so favorable. We’ll see what comes next. One thing is for sure–this is not a coincidence, all of these things seem to be related, and all came about through your hard work. Congratulations. In addition to Smolka’s resignation and the introduction of the parade permitting laws, we have also heard from our lawyer that the city is dropping the lawsuit against Time’s Up, although we have not yet seen the official paperwork. We’ll keep everybody updated on the lawsuit as soon as we know more. In the mean time, we’ll see what the city does next and maybe we can have a discussion about future strategies concerning all of these changes. “ -Bill DePaola
NYC DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall Resigns Commissioner Iris Weinshall is leaving New York City’s Department of Transportation for a job as Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management at the City University of New York. The Department of Transportation press office says that Weinshall will stay on for another ten weeks. Her last day on the job will be Friday, April 13. Read more about this new development at streets blog
Saturday was the Idiotarod. A race based on the iditarod, the Alaskan sled race, only this urban version is a team of five strapped to a shopping cart. Home Depot must be wondering where their shopping carts are, but look no further than the streets of Brooklyn and Queens, where some 400 participants raced. Its not a bike event, but it certainly has all the trimmings of a good one, lots of police presences, helicopters flying overhead, afterparties shut down before they started. Ah the fun of freedom in America. But despite the cluelessness of the NYPD we had a great time and check out this video from me and Chris Ryan of Team Spider , aka the lost viking from the Warriors video. Oh yah, and we shot the race from a tandem bike…nice…I like.
So despite all we fought for, the objections by key city council members and our hard work to stand up for our basic rights of assembly by coming to their rigged public speak-out at One Police Plaza…the NYPD has gone ahead with redefining the parade rules. Too Bad Smolka will get to miss out on all the fun, but don’t worry, the Darth Vader of protesting will soon be replaced by an even meaner, more bald and much harsher on woman…Darth Mall.
January 26, 2007 — In response to objections raised by the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups, the New York City Police Department has modified its proposal to expand the categories of bike and vehicle processions that would require parade permits. In regulations originally proposed last summer, the Department sought to require police permits for sidewalk marches, any lawful street procession of 20 more bikes or vehicles, and any street procession of more than two people where any traffic law was violated. In final regulations published today the Department narrowed its proposal so that the only events requiring parade permits are roadway processions of 50 or more bikes or vehicles.
“These final rules mark a substantial improvement from the Department’s original proposal, but we believe that requiring permits for law-abiding bike rides of only 50 people is unreasonable and unnecessary,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Changes to our City’s permit laws should be made by the City Council, not the police department.”
Added NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn: “We welcome the Department’s change but remain concerned about how difficult it is for groups to obtain police permits. We will closely monitor implementation of these rules.” —————————— So basically the police compromised by not targeting all demonstrations, only the one that goes on every month and that they never had a problem with untill the RNC. Let me be the first one to say, thank you to all those who worked so hard to stop this madness, who continued to ride despite all the violence and scare tactics they threw at us. All those that suffered broken limbs and broken bikes. I would also like to give a warm congradulations to the fascist NYPD. FUCK YOU, from the bottom of my heart and see you in Brooklyn…until they decide to start stomping on us there.
Amy Bolger has been riding the streets and taking pictures for a long time. Now she has compiled her photographs of alleycats into a new book and there is a permier party, on February 16th, the day before Monster Track 8. (this is also a chance to pre-register for NYC’s fix gear only race)
Tonight is the NYC’s critical mass…all we’ve been through and…yes…still we ride! Here is an article from AM NY/Newsday about the Brooklyn Critical Mass.
Critical Mass gets ‘free ride’ in B’klyn
By Justin Rocket Silverman amNew York Staff Writer
January 25, 2007, 6:34 PM EST Cyclists who pedal into Union Square for FridayÂ¹s Critical Mass ride will likely be met by a large force of police officers in squad cars and on motor scooters. And If the ride is like others over the last three years, some riders will be arrested and ticketed for taking part in a monthly event the city has deemed illegal and dangerous.
Yet just two weeks ago, a similar group of cyclists gathered outside Prospect Park for the Brooklyn Critical Mass ride. A similar force of police were also on hand. But that is where the similarities end.
“We’re not going to go with you guys tonight,” a police officer said as the ride got underway on Jan. 12. “Have a good time.”
And with that the bikers rode off in a pack, running red lights and blocking traffic in the way Critical Mass rides worldwide do. The way that has resulted in hundreds of arrests in the Manhattan rides.
“The police have a very different attitude in Brooklyn,” says Barbara Ross, a volunteer with Time’s Up, a bicycle advocacy group. “The police in Brooklyn tell us they are there to support us. They are always joking with us, and telling us to be careful if we do the Manhattan ride.”
Indeed, participants in this month’s Brooklyn Critical Mass said officers sometimes even ride alongside the cyclists, helping them block traffic and keeping the bikers safe. Tickets and arrests are virtually unheard of in the Brooklyn ride, even though the traffic laws are the same in both boroughs.
“Cyclists in Brooklyn work in cooperation with the police,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. “We have said many times that if the organizers in Manhattan cooperated with us, for example advised us of the route, we would accommodate the rides by safely closing intersections as they passed.”
Cyclists disagree with Browne’s assertion, pointing out that since there is never any pre-determined route for the Critical Mass rides, it would be impossible to advise police of the route.
Other cyclists offered another rational for the difference in law enforcement styles between the two rides.
“Manhattan is much more politicized,” said the rider, who asked his name be withheld. “There you have the whole legacy of the RNC protests. You also have more traffic. Basically, what it comes down to, is that no one gives a damn what happens in Brooklyn.”
Neither the NYPD nor TimeÂ¹s Up were able to provide exact figures on the number of those arrested or ticketed during Manhattan Critical Mass rides.
But both noted that the number of arrests has declined significantly in recent months.
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc. ——————————————– Well according to the police, as usual, this is complete and utter bullshit…in regards to the Manhattan’s CM. We all know that the only difference between Manhattan CM and Brooklyn is that the police force is run by Chief Smolka who has a hardon for protests and was trying to become a so-called expert on the subject so he could move up in the ranks. Basically he lumped all activities into the same category that anyone on a bike, caring a sign against BUSH or not following the model of shopping on a regular basis was some sort of Iraqi loving, police hatting, car hatting anarchist who should be locked up and have their constitutional rights ripped up in their face. In my opinion Critical Mass was a victim a few big wigs in the police force trying to show-off and their big opportunity was the RNC…thank you Mayor Bloomberg for rolling out the red carpet for a few thousand Republicans who don’t live here and locking up all the citizens of your fair city who DO LIVE HERE and pay NYC taxes. I hope it was worth it. Meanwhile a friendly bike ride that goes on in 300 cities around the world on a MONTHLY basis gets attacked and your puppet spokesman…Paul Browne, feeds us more crap about how, oh the Brooklyn Critical Mass follows the rules? Stick to a pre-determined route? There is no pre-determined route. Now they are trying to divide us by borough. Oh all the good bike riders are in Brooklyn. The only reason we started Brooklyn Critical Mass was because we got tired of being clothes-lined off our bikes by your rookie cops and arrested for legally riding our bikes in the streets. Its our BIKE RIDE and you never had a problem with it till Bruce Smolka wanted to look good for his next job…and wait…look at whats going on….
Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka is retiring…What??? Thats right…the guy who likes to beat up on woman, female photographers and legal observers is now going to do security for Revlon. Smolka was in charge of activities from 57th street on down, and by activities I mean protesting. Smolka has a record, for beating up on anyone he feels like. A woman who is already in handcuffs, a photo journalist and recently a legal observer. Why Revlon cosmetics? Because they have a lot of protests against their mistreatment of animals. Check out this video of Smolka’s behavior on I witness video’s blog
Here is a newsday article about Smolka:
BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA Newsday Staff Writer
January 24, 2007
New York Police Department Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka, the Manhattan commander revered by his officers but scorned by protesters, has filed for his retirement, Newsday has learned.
Smolka made the announcement last week, surprising police commanders gathered for a meeting at police headquarters, police sources said. The 32-year veteran will work his last day in less than a month, then go to work for Ron Perelman, head of Revlon Corp., sources said.
Smolka’s retirement comes as his reputation would appear to be set in stone: Rank-and-file police officers adore him – one told Newsday he’d take a bullet for him – while civil libertarians and many of those who have taken part in recent demonstrations say he is short-tempered and overly aggressive.
“As a civil rights lawyer, I’m not sad to see Smolka retire,” said Manhattan lawyer Jonathan Moore, who’s handling several civil claims against the police department. “His style of policing demonstrations has been to use more force than necessary against people being arrested, which to me sets the wrong example for other police officers. “
An inquiry for an interview with Smolka was referred to the NYPD press office, which declined comment and would not allow Smolka to be interviewed. Revlon did not return a call for comment.
As commanding officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, Smolka has one of the most important and high-profile assignments in the NYPD.
He has been front and center at all major Manhattan events, from the demonstrations during the 2004 Republican National Convention to the monthly Critical Mass rallies that pit bicyclists against police.
His hands on-style – it’s not unusual for him to jump into a tussle and make an arrest – is unusual for someone of his rank, but it has won support from police officers working the streets.
“He is a very smart man who treats his people with respect and knows how to take control of a situation,” said one detective who has worked for Smolka and asked that his name not be printed. “He knows what he’s doing. “
Smolka emerged as a key figure in the protests during the RNC. More than 1,800 people were arrested.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed two lawsuits challenging those mass arrests, and Smolka is in the middle of giving a deposition regarding police tactics, according to lawyers involved in the case.
Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit is nearing trial in Manhattan Federal Court, as Cynthia Greenberg has accused Smolka of repeatedly kicking her in the head and cursing at her while trying to arrest her during a 2003 Manhattan rally in which demonstrators protested the U.S. government’s immigration policies.
Moore represents Greenberg, as well as Adrienne Wheeler, 28, a graduate student from Brooklyn who has filed a notice of claim and plans to file a federal lawsuit. Moore says Greenberg was working as a legal observer at last February’s Critical Mass rally when she was yanked off her bike by Smolka and issued a summons, which was later dismissed, for driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
Smolka allegedly stopped Wheeler’s progress by grabbing the bike chain around her waist. A videotape shows part of the confrontation, with Smolka grabbing the chain as she is getting up.
So I’m in Cleveland right now working on a travel show as a cameraman. (not me in the picture) Cleveland is a bit chilly right now but seems like a nice place to ride a bike, lots of briges and flat lands. Turns out there was a messenger race on Saturday (1/20/07) I tried getting in touch with someone in the area…but they never emailed me back. What gives? How was the race? What is the biker scene like here? I was great seeing fix gears zipping about in the 28 degree weather…There are also surfers here in the winter…hardcore. Here are a few racers I snapped while we drove around
For more info on the messenger scene in the Great Lakes area check out: Chicago 7
Jefferson Siegel, the man on the bike scene for the Villager, wrote an article on the recent Time’s Up sponsored memorial ride.
Photo by Jefferson Seigel
Clockwise from top, cyclists lift their bikes at Houston St. and LaGuardia Pl. for Derek Lane, 23, a cyclist killed by a truck there in June; Mary Beth Kelly speaks on the Hudson River bike path where her husband, Dr. Carl Henry Nacht, was killed in June, as Transportation Alternativesâ€™ Noah Budnick listens; cyclists place flowers on a ghost bike on Third Ave. honoring Reginald Chan.
Heavy lifting as cyclists honor those killed on the road in â€™06
By Jefferson Siegel
Bicycle solidarity was on eloquent display last Sunday as hundreds rode in the Second Annual Memorial Ride to honor the 14 riders killed on city streets last year.
Two separate rides started out early in the morning in Queens and the Bronx, stopping at a dozen sites before meeting up midafternoon in the Village. At each stop, friends and colleagues poignantly spoke of their loss in
words usually reserved for close family members.
Risi Kondor, a computer science student at Columbia, rode even though he didnâ€™t know any of the fallen cyclists.
â€œI think itâ€™s important to make a statement to make this city safer and to commemorate those who canâ€™t be here,â€ Kondor said as cyclists filled LaGuardia Pl. north of Houston St. at the spot where Derek Lake, 23, was struck and killed by a truck on June 23.
Keen Berger, the Village Democratic district leader and Community Board 2 member, circulated through the crowd with a basket of homemade oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. Ian Dutton, a public member of C.B. 2â€™s Traffic and Transportation Committee, lamented the loss of Lake, an aspiring filmmaker, as well as the deaths of other cyclists on Houston St. in recent years, a thoroughfare so deadly it has earned the name â€œBoulevard of Death.â€
â€œI am dismayed at the Department of Transportationâ€™s disregard for the significance of these fatalities,â€ Dutton said, â€œand disappointed by D.O.T.â€™s efforts to ignore our neighborhoodâ€™s insistence that we address the safety issues for the cyclists that use this street.â€
As they had on every stop that day, cyclists then held their bikes aloft in a symbolic â€œbike liftâ€ salute before pedaling east.
At Third Ave. and 17th St., a white ghost bike marked where East Village restaurant owner Reginald Chan was killed last September. Members of Chanâ€™s family stood silently, each holding a single flower. Cyclists dismounted and covered the stark white bike with colorful blooms.
The ride then pedaled west, past Union Square and through Chelsea to Ninth Ave. and 29th St., where Darren Lewis, 20, was killed in August.
On a summer night last June, Dr. Carl Henry Nacht, 56, was killed by a tow truck while he was riding on the bike path along the Hudson River at 38th St. On Sunday his wife, Mary Beth Kelly, surrounded by family and friends, stood before the silent group of riders and recalled how a bystanderâ€™s shirt was unable to staunch the blood of her husbandâ€™s fatal wound.
â€œI think the basic human nature is to be compassionate. Weâ€™re involved in civic activity; it gives meaning to our lives â€” connect with our community and think about the things that elevate us,â€ Kelly offered.
The ride then proceeded down the path to Clarkson St., where Eric Ng, 22, was killed by a drunk driver in December, one of three cyclists killed in the final weeks of the year.
At the last stop, the Memorial for Unnamed Cyclists on Houston and Lafayette Sts., the crowd listened to speeches by the rideâ€™s organizers from Timeâ€™s Up! and Transportation Alternatives before performing a final bike lift. —————————————–
In the Sunday New York Times Magazine was an article on Messenger style and Timbuk 2 bags:
To be a bike messenger, a former member of that profession explains in the documentary â€œPedal,â€ is to be part of a â€œwhole different culture.â€ The messenger feels free, envied and looked down on all at once. â€œBike messengers fall into the realm of outlaw,â€ he explains. Itâ€™s not clear exactly when people delivering things by way of a bike came to be thought of as a â€œculture,â€ but in recent years it has become clear that this image is widespread and probably marketable.
For instance, Advertising Age recently included a messenger-bag company called Timbuk2 in its â€œMarketing 50â€ list of up-and-coming brands. With sales to messengers â€œin the bag,â€ the magazine observed, Timbuk2 has lately â€œexpanded into an urban-lifestyle brand,â€ with about $20 million in sales a year and growing quickly. The companyâ€™s roots go back to 1989, when a San Francisco bike messenger named Rob Honeycutt started making bags and selling them through local bike shops. When this started to look like a real business, he changed the original name â€” Scumbags â€” got some financial backing and opened a manufacturing facility in the Mission District. The brand sold made-to-order bags via the Internet and had a solid cult following by the time Honeycutt sold his stake to new investors and left in 2002.
Soon Timbuk2 started to have success with a more diversified product line. The brand now sells backpacks, laptop bags, duffel bags, tote bags, yoga bags and even wallets. Macy Allatt, director of marketing for the company, says that â€œurban livingâ€ is the common thread. While it is unlikely that bag purchases by actual bike messengers make up more than a sliver of Timbuk2 sales these days, theyâ€™re still â€œthe reason this company has been successful,â€ she says. Presumably thatâ€™s both because a bag with messenger-ness in its DNA is bound to be ruggedly functional and because of courier cultureâ€™s harder-to-define outlaw chic.
Timbuk2 didnâ€™t conjure this chic: the brand is one of many to notice that messengering seems connected to a more vague, but popular, notion of â€œurbanâ€ cycling, which carries a whiff of progressive politics, creativity and preference for the outdoors, even a paved cityscape, to one of the Manâ€™s cubicles. And of course messengers really do care about their bags: ReLoad, Eric Zo and other small brands have devoted followings. But while, for example, messengers have organized competitions and races for years, it is only recently that these events have started attracting major sponsors like Puma. Meanwhile, the light â€œfixed gear,â€ or track bikes (which donâ€™t have brakes), that some messengers use have attracted interest from increasing numbers of people who five years ago might have been drawn to skateboards. The makers of a new DVD called â€œMash SFâ€ â€” full of streety stunts (and painful-looking crashes) in the manner of a skate video but with bikes â€” were recently recruited to contribute to the influential Japanese style Web site Honeyee.com.
This messenger-inspired aesthetic is what Timbuk2 has addressed with its newer products (one bag is called the Blogger) and by expanding distribution to places like college bookstores. â€œWeâ€™re still very much committed to the cycling community,â€ Allatt says, noting that the brand sponsors messenger races as well as events like the Bicycle Film Festival and has produced a limited-edition artist series. And while many of the new products are made in China, the messenger bags are still made in San Francisco; the company has also introduced â€œsustainableâ€ bags made of hemp. â€œWe wouldnâ€™t want to alienate where we came from,â€ Allatt says.