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A couple of articles…

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 “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” there is usually a segment called “Slow News Day” 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 — often violently — on the grounds that the bicyclists were “parading without a license.” This January, a judge ruled that the “parading” argument was unconstitutional. But that hasn’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 “Still We Ride,” 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 month’s Critical Mass ride saw the NYPD cordoning off cyclists and issuing court summonses for violations as inane as “riding without headlights” in broad daylight. Other riders were ticketed for riding too far left — or too far right — 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. “Are there no drug dealers on the street today?” 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. Let’s just say that a wailing ambulance stuck behind clogged lanes of cabs and other cars isn’t so lucky.
In San Francisco and Chicago — two cities whose Critical Masses draw thousands of cyclists — 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?
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and here is an article in the NYDaily News about the Clown Brigade..

link to article

Clown corps pedals bike lane awareness

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

June Critical Mass-NYC 2006-aaarghh!

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 else’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!

Memorial Ride for 3 fallen cyclists

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.

Here is my photo set of filckr.
flickr set

a quick video:

Rocky 4 race


Check out Whitesnakes report on Rocky 4 race in Philadelphia… Mess NYC

Alley Cat report from Oakland

Besides all the bad shit that is happening to cyclists here…Alleycat racing is alive and well and blowin up all over the map.

On June 24th was the Oakland Scrape

John (known as McBomb on flickr, filed this report:

photo page for Oakland Scape

100 riders wait to race…nice turnout.

Lesse, if you look in my Oakland Scrape set, there are placings for Fixed and non fixed, 1-5
first fixed was Gareth Spor (also 3rd overall), second fixed was Rainier, third fixed was Scott Banker, thrid and fourth were “donut king” and I can’t remember the other guys name. First overall was Jeff on a roadbike, second overall was geared but I can’t remember his name.

the race was about 30mi in a car if you took the most direct route, but I think most people took a route to avoid traffic and hills, I’m not sure what the logic was, but it came out to more like 35mi. This is supposedly the first Alleycat ever held in Oakland, I know it’s the biggest. Possibly the biggest ever held in the Bay Area. We had a few people show up from way out of town. We gave away somewhere over $2000 in prizes and a bunch of freebes in the registration packets. Our sponsors are listed on oaklandscrape.com . First prize (first place fixed gear) was a Brass Knuckles track frame from Montano Velo (brass knuckles is the new aluminum frame from the company that makes Bare Knuckles) and an XL Messenger bag from Timbuk2, Second prize (second place fixed gear) was a pair of pink Phil Wood hubs and a Chrome Messenger bag. Third prize (third place fixed) was a large Timbuk2 messenger bag and a pair of Surly hubs. First place geared was a pair of Campagnolo Rims, second place geared was a pair of nice $50 road tires. there were more prizes but I can’t remember all of them, and EVERYONE who placed got a ton of swag in the form of bike socks, t-shirts, pint glasses, flasks…. you name it. our sponsors sent tons of stuff.

the whole race was to raise money for charity, the charity was Cycles of Change, there’s a link to them on oaklandscrape.com
Video of the race.





Quick review of events

Thursday June 29th

-Rally at City Hall for Bikes 9am

-Times Up memorial Ride
6:30pm at the Intrepid

-Movie Night at Time’s Up space 49 East Houston
8:00pm, showing of the documentary “the Take”–Free

—————————–
Friday, June 30th

-Breakfast on the Bridge.
Wlliamsburg side of Williamsburg Bridge
7:30am-Noon

-Critical Mass
7:00pm Union Square North

——————————-
Saturday, July 1st

Bicycle Fetish Day Noon to 5pm


Alleycat-From Bike Fetish Day, ends at Bike Fetish Day spot.

Times Up ride to First Night at the Brooklyn Museum

Free Ride to First Saturday
Date: Saturday, July 1st, 2006
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 7pm @ Union Square South or 730pm @ the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge
Summary: Come ride with TIME’S UP! to the Brooklyn Museum’s monthly extravaganza First Saturday
Details: Come hook up with Time’s Up! as we ride together through the fabulous and historic districts of the LES, South Williamsburg, Fort Greene, & Prospect Heights to check out one of the great free monthly community events in Brooklyn.
On the first Saturday of every month, the Brooklyn Museum of Art opens it doors and breaks out it’s dancing shoes for a fun little party with outdoor dancing in summer.

That’s right, from 9 -11 p.m the Museum Parking Lot will be a sizzling dance party under the stars. July’s line-up features djs spinning electro-funk, b-boy breaks, and eighties classics outside.

And for those who dont feel like dancing…the museum will be open and this month features guest speakers on graffitti inside the museum. See below for specific details.

So bikers!…bring your water bottle, a picnic dinner and come join us for a Brooklyn adventure.

NOTE: The ride is ONE WAY! There are subways right at the museum that will get you back to the city. Typically people group back up for rides back over the bridges and back into Williamsburg.

July schedule of FREE Programs
Note: some events occur prior to ride’s arrival. please plan accordingly! see http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/visit/first_saturdays.php for more info.

5:00 p.m. Film: Style Wars Legendary hip-hop documentary about New York City graffiti writers.
6-8:00 p.m. Beatboxer Entertainment presents a complete hip-hop performance including beatboxing, emceeing, breakdancing, and deejaying.
6:30-8:30 p.m. Create your own nickname and graffiti tag with markers and paint.
6:30 p.m. Film:Wild Style New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones plays the part of Zoro, the city’s most elusive graffiti writer.
7:00 p.m. Artist Talk : Graffiti artist Crash, who started painting the sides of subway cars more than twenty years ago, gives a gallery talk about his work in the Graffiti exhibition.
8:00 p.m. Modern Voices : Ellis Gallagher, a.k.a. Ellis G., an artist known for his outlines of shadows on Brooklyn streets, speaks on the history of graffiti and its connection to the contemporary art world.
8-11:00 p.m. Dance Party :The Black Underground Show brings its famous Coney Island boardwalk dance party to the Museum, spinning electro-funk, b-boy breaks, and eighties classics.
9:00 p.m. Film: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party which features comedian Dave Chappelle hosting a Bed-Stuy bash with Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, the Roots, Erykah Badu, and the Fugees.

Rally at City Hall Tomorrow 8:45am

The cyclist fatalities and serious crashes over the past three weeks
have brought renewed attention to the fact that little progress is being
made to eliminate these everyday cycling hazards.

Join Transportation Alternatives and leading bicycle advocates, clubs
and organizations on Thursday morning to call on Mayor Bloomberg to
redouble New York City’s bike safety efforts:

TOMORROW MORNING
Thursday, June 29th, 2006
8:45 am
City Hall

In the past three weeks there were four serious bike crashes in New York
City, three of them resulting in the deaths of individual cyclists,
Donna Goodson, Dr. Carl Nacht and Derek Lake.

On June 5, Donna Goodson was killed by a truck on Rockaway Parkway in
Brooklyn. On Monday June 19, a taxicab driver opened his door and
knocked a cyclist into the path of a passing bus on 10th Avenue in
Manhattan. On Thursday June 22, an NYPD tow truck driver crossing the
Hudson River Greenway hit Dr. Carl Nacht as he was riding with his wife
northbound on the bike path. Dr. Nacht died Monday, June 26. On Monday
June 26, Derek Lake was killed by a truck when his bike slid out of
control and he fell beneath the truck on Houston Street at LaGuardia
Place.

All four recent crashes were caused by dangerous conditions that are
commonplace on New York City streets but should not be: drivers and
passengers opening car doors into the path of cyclists; drivers failing
to yield to cyclists and hazardous street conditions that can send bikes
out of control.

Like the Mayors of London, Paris, Chicago and other world class cities
that have recently unveiled comprehensive plans to make bicycling safe
and widespread, Mayor Bloomberg must get serious about making New York
City a safe place to bike. The City’s “Bicycle Master Plan” is ten years
old and only 15% complete. Moreover, it has no targets or timetable for
completion, benchmarks for increasing cycling, or modern bike lane and
path design standards–all hallmarks of exemplary plans recently put
forth by cities like London and Chicago that will make cycling safe
enough for all to enjoy.

—————

Full details at:
Transportation Alternatives E-Bulletin

Someone dies and now we start questioning…

Yes it is a sad world we live in. It takes a cyclists death before the media starts to wonder what the hell is going on in this city with cyclists. Not to mention this cyclist that died, was a promanent doctor at a local hospital…”what, not some weirdo…” Its no wonder in this age of rampant oil company profits and us taking it the rear end tank at the pump, that cycling and finding alternative forms of transportation is still scene as a fringe act by those on the margins. Let’s face it, biking still isn’t cool. So in our world of the car being king and a city which ignores the obvious problems of overcrowding and makes no effort to look towards the bicycle for relief that we are still looked down upon. So a NYTimes reporter wrote an article about the Westside Highway bike path, after all, this is the scene of the crim—I mean accident. I almost forgot that when cyclists are killed it is an accident…end of story. It bothers me a lot because, now more than ever we need to investigate what the hell is going on. We need to re-read Jane Jacobs, we need to make more room for bikes, we leadership that is held accountable when our doctors die on the bike paths, we need to do somehting about the construction on Houston street.

Meanwhile the NY Times writes an article about the Westside Highway bike path…

hhhhmmmm.

Will from on NY Turf makes good coments about the article.

It is true, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We get a bike path on the Williamsburg bridge and it comes with nasty bumps…we get bike lanes and everyone parks in them, we get a West Side Highway path and we have to yield for cars. When are we allowed in on these meetings of city planning? This is grounds for the NYC bike coalition to get stronger and become a political wing in which the city can answer to and listen to. Maybe we need to come up with a list of demands for the city, or goals we want to see accomplished…perhaps like the UN has Millennium development goals, we could have the NYC city development goals which have to be met by 2010. Some document that says if the city wants to have its New Yankee stadium, New Mets stadium, Water park on Randall’s Island, NASCAR track on Staten Island, IKEA in Redhook and Bruce Ratner nightmare in downtown Brooklyn…they’d better make some room for bikes!! Yeah…I’m sure they will listen. ==================

There is a new blog in town, all about public space and transportation issues… street blog.com

here is what it is about…
Welcome to StreetsBlog
StreetsBlog is a daily source for news and information about New York City’s burgeoning Livable Streets movement.

The blog is produced by The Open Planning Project, edited by Aaron Naparstek, and is a project of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign.

StreetsBlog welcomes your tips and contributions.

Breakfast on the Bridge

Friday, June 30th. A group of Time’s Up volunteers will be hosting “Breakfast on the Bridge” 7:30am till Noon. On the Williamsburg side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Come over for free breakfast treats from the fine folks at Time’s Up.

See, cool things for bikers don’t just happen in Portland Oregon.

Rich says:

“this breakfast thing is lots of fun, and you can just stop by for a
little bit, eat a muffin and show up a little late to work with a full
tummy, and a smile on your face.”

Memorial ride for killed cyclists.

Virtual resistance has been working on new ghost bikes and they will be presneted on a memorial ride for the rash of cyclists killed in June.

MEMORIAL RIDE
Thursday, June 29, 6:30 p.m.
West Side Greenway at 42nd Street (in front of the Intrepid)

Carl Nacht, 56, was killed by an NYPD tow truck making a right turn across the West Side Greenway. Derek Lake, 23, was killed on Houston Street while trying to maneuver around a construction site. Come out and remember these two cyclists and help draw attention to unsafe conditions for New York cyclists.
===============
I know this is hard to believe but another cyclist was injured this morning. A co-worker of mine saw the aftermath and warned me to wear my helmet.

Ellen wrote:

On my way to work @ 11th ave and 59th st, I passed a very scary scene,
a van with a smashed windshield with a bike and bike helmet in front
of it. The biker was in the ambulance, and the cop said he was going
to be all right. I told the cop that given the position of the van,
its obvious he was taking a left and did not yield to the biker who
must have been going the opposite way with the light. He agreed but
said that because there were no witnesses, the van driver wont get a
ticket. I suggested that the guy in the ambulance might be a good
witness. At least the driver is going to need a new windshield!

Be careful out there.

Ellen
===========================

Aye, yes…there must be a witness…other wise the police would have to i-n-v-e-s-t-g-a-t-e…and then they’d have to do paperwork and then possible use some brain power and oh no…common sense. Then street conditions might improve…we wouldn’t want our civil servants to have to do any extra work. Why that would take time out from them writing us tickets for not having a bell on our handlebars when it’s harass the cyclists week at the precinct. All I got to say is, our city should be ashamed.
—————————-

Picture taken of Derek Lake’s bike after tragedy on Houston St. Picture by Dima Gavrysh of NY Times.

NY Times article on Derek Lake’s death on Houston.

download a
pdf that Transportation Alternatives has released on the recent death of Derek Lake on Houston Street.