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10 tips on riding in NYC

Here is some really good advice on mapping out your rides and being safe in NYC. Also some good shout outs to local bikers and bike business.


By: Jessica Marati

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Though officials are tight-lipped, rumor has it that New York City’s much-anticipated Citi Bike share program will launch this month. As we previously reported, Bike will provide residents and tourists with the opportunity to borrow from 10,000 bikes parked in 600 stations scattered across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Pricing for the privately run system will range from $9.95 for a 24-hour pass to $95 for an annual membership.

While Citi Bike is a welcome addition to New York’s transportation scene, tourists might be wary of tackling the streets of Manhattan, and for good reason. Between bumpy roads, unclear signage, reckless taxicabs and texting pedestrians, the city’s streets are not for the faint of heart.

But once you get over the initial fear, New York can be a magical place to explore on two wheels. We spoke with a handful of avid city cyclists, who shared their tips for staying safe while making the most of your bike share experience.

1. Research your route. “Study a map of NYC before you go out to get a sense of what areas are easy to bike,” suggests Eva Mohr, an avid cyclist whose biking e-commerce shop, All That I Want,launches this fall. Google maps offers a way to search bike routes online and through its Android App. iPhone users should invest $1.99 in the Ride the City app, which generates a number of routes from “Safest” to “Direct.” The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) also publishes a free City Cycling Map, available for download and in select locations throughout the city.

2. Obey the traffic rules. “Bicyclists have the same traffic rules as motorists,” says Alison Lucien, founder of Eleanor’s NYC, a bicycle accessories shop for women. “The ticket for running a red light on a bike is the same as for a driver, with the exception that bicyclists do not have to pay the surcharge.” Laws on riding recklessly and against the flow of traffic also apply.

Read more: here.

Road rage, not just for cars anymore.

Just got this comment on my blog:

“I suppose we all have our own cycling ethics. but i still want to punch other cyclists who ride the wrong way in a bike lane coming at me. maybe that should by my ethos.”

I definitely understand the frustration, but here is a recent story sent to me by a fellow cyclist who experienced some road rage, from a pedestrian.

From Jon Reiss:

“I am writing to let Bike Blog know about an incident that happened
yesterday, 8/2 in Midtown. As a Transportation Alternatives member,
and a reader of many of the cycling and transportation blogs that
cover NYC, I have been skeptical about the supposed bias against
cyclists by the NYPD. However, yesterday I had an experience that I
believe demonstrated at best a lack of understanding of the issues we
deal with, and at worst an outright disregard for the rights we all
have to traverse our streets safely.

At about 2:55pm I was riding my bike northbound in the separated bike
path on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. At about 36th street I went to pass
a slower cyclist on the left. At this point I encountered a
pedestrian walking southbound in the bicycle lane. I had been ringing
my bell most of the way up the block to alert other pedestrians who
were in the lane. We made eye contact, and as I attempted to pass him
on the right he sidestepped me and shoved me off of my bike towards
the row of parked cars on the right. I landed, utterly confused as to
what had just happened. I looked up to find him screaming at me about
getting out of the way. I yelled something back (not sure what
anymore), and he began to walk away towards the south. I yelled for
him to stay put, but he continued to walk away. At this point I
picked up my bike and began to walk after him, shouting for the police
and for someone to stop him. He began to run. A few kind bystanders
tried to trip him and slow him down, but he evaded them. After
following him for about a block with me still shouting for the police,
he turned back toward me and threatened my life. He said “I will end
you” or something to that effect. I said nothing in response. He
then continued to walk southbound on 8th Avenue, and I continued to
shout for the police and for someone to stop him. He then ran into
the subway station entrance at 33rd street, where I lost him. At this
point I surveyed my wounds, which consisted of pretty bad road rash
and swelling on my left hand, and various cuts and soon to be bruises
on my fingers, legs, and shoulder.

At this point, I locked my bike at the bike corral at Penn Station
while I continued to look for a police officer. I then remembered
that there was a police precinct at 35th and 9th Avenue (Midtown
South). I walked in and got an officer’s attention. I told him that
“a pedestrian pushed me off my bike”, showed him my wounds, and he
asked someone to call for an ambulance. I sat down and asked for
water as I was beginning to feel dizzy and dehydrated as the
adrenaline from the situation wore off. At this point the next 30
minutes in the precinct consisted of me asking for help from various
officers as no one showed any further interest in what had happened.
No one took a police report, nor did they ask any questions of me that
got beyond the answer “someone pushed me off my bike”. I understand
that the guy was probably long gone, but the lack of interest in a
clear case of battery is very troubling to me. It even took 15
minutes to get that cup of water, even after my hands went numb and I
became too dizzy to walk.

The bright spot in this story is that the EMTs who attended to me were
very nice and professional, and even helped me retrieve my pannier,
which I had foolishly left on my bike when I locked it up. One of the
EMTs was a fellow cyclist and could not understand why the police
showed so little interest in helping me. They delivered me to
Roosevelt hospital where I was quickly assisted with cleaning of my
wounds and x-rays to check for broken bones. Thankfully the worst of
my injuries is the road rash, but it could have been a lot worse.

I understand that there is not always a police officer around when you
need one, and that that is just a fact of life. I also fail to
understand the police’s lack of interest in what happened to me, and
what I perceive to be their callousness in the face of an injured
street user. I will be sending this letter on to Midtown South. I
don’t want to make a federal case out of this, but I do feel that an
explanation is in order. Acts of violence toward cyclists cannot and
should not be tolerated in this fashion.

~Jon Reiss

What struck me the most about this (no pun intended) was the lack of regard by pedestrians who think green painted bike lanes are extensions of the sidewalk. I mean, we bikers have finally been given space to ride our bikes and be out of the mix of sidewalks and this is what we get? I know, you’re going to jog in the lane, why not, it’s such a nice space on the street, but when you hear a bell or someone calling out, please exert the same kind of courtesy you’ve demanded from us for years. Violence is such a sissy move and only leads to more of it…it’s best to just seek legal action or get the help of your local NYPD offic–oh wait.

Jon, really sorry to hear about this. Speedy recovery and thanks for sharing your story with us.

The ethics of riding in NYC

“The advantages? Exercise, no parking problems, gas prices, it’s fun. An automobile is expensive. You have to find a place to park and it’s not fun. So why not ride a bicycle? I recommend.”

That is US supreme court justice Stephan G. Breyer who bike commutes to work.

I just learned that from this great Op-Ed in the NY Times. Randy Cohen makes some great arguments for his own ethical code for riding in NYC, which this blogger totally agrees with:

Thanks to feminist zine writer Elly Blue for pointing this out.

NY Times Sunday Review
If Kant were a New York Cyclist
By: Randy Cohen
Published: August 4th, 2012
20120806-100901.jpgArt by: André de Loba

THE rule-breaking cyclist that people decry: that’s me. I routinely run red lights, and so do you. I flout the law when I’m on my bike; you do it when you are on foot, at least if you are like most New Yorkers. My behavior vexes pedestrians, drivers and even some of my fellow cyclists. Similar conduct has stuck cyclists with tickets and court-ordered biking education classes.

But although it is illegal, I believe it is ethical. I’m not so sure about your blithely ambling into the intersection against the light while texting and listening to your iPod and sipping a martini. More or less.

Read more: here.

Get glowing…BikeGlow

You still have two days to get a great lighting system for your bike at a great price.

Check out bike glow:

bikeglow22 from Michael Green on Vimeo.

Order yours today through my special Daily News reader offer.
here.

And for all you heading out to burning man…

www.bikeglow.com

Wolfpacks, orange20 and Los Angeles bike scene

What’s so cool about LA’s biking scene? Lots.

Here is an interview profile with Orange20bikes.com’s cat 3 racer, Fabian Vasquez talking all about why he races and the underground bike culture that is thriving on that other coast.

The underground racing scene in LA is blowing up, especially with the amazing races of the wolfpackhustle.com.

Here is an article from the LA Times about a recent drag race they did at midnight through a major traffic tunnel, downtown.

Renegade bike race in L.A. tunnel goes mainstream
By: Ari Bloomekatz
Published: July 30, 2012
Racers push hard off the start during a street bike race inside the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles late Saturday night. (Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times)

It was an unlikely setting for a bike race.

But as night fell Saturday, more than 2,000 spectators filed into the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles to cheer on riders. With their heads down and legs pumping as fast as they would go, the cyclists blazed through the tunnel in pairs at a pace that reached well over 30 miles per hour.

The best of the riders didn’t even have brakes — slowing down was not their concern.

“You just give it all you can, just pedal as fast as you can,” said 29-year-old Mike “The Cheetah” Chitjian of Monterey Park, who was one of about 200 participants. “Your legs hurt, but you just block out the pain.”

There have been bicycle drag races in the city before, but what made Saturday night’s event unique was that it was legal, permitted, and endorsed by city officials and the police.

That’s a big change for bicycle groups like Wolfpack Hustle, which created the event, because they have not always played by the rules of the road. For example, they have sometimes treated red and green traffic lights the same and have seldom — if ever — sought permission for their rides.

“We’re not trying to be outlaws,” said Don Ward of Wolfpack, who is known as Roadblock and was the event’s lead organizer. “We’re just trying to get our bodies in shape.” He hopes “The Midnight Drag Race: Codename ‘The Final Effin Sayso’ ” will become an annual event.

Read more: here.

Video:

Wolfpack Hustle. The Midnight Drag Race from Midnight Ridazz on Vimeo.

key #BikeNYC player goes #BikeLA, we say goodbye 8/8/12, Red Lantern Bicycles

Do you know fashion designer ( www.nonavarnado.com ) and blogger ( thebirdwheel.com ) Nona Varnado?

You should, oh wait she’s leaving us. Nona has accepted a job in Los Angeles with the super rad bike shop Orange20.

Don’t worry, Nona has great stuff planned no matter what coast she ends up on.

Here is more about what’s going on with this bike community super star:

First the bummer: The cycling apparel concept (pop-up) that I had been planning with Hudson Urban Bicycles is NOT happening. The good news? I’m taking it to Los Angeles!

More than just a project: I’m moving myself and the production of my apparel line out to LA. I’ve accepted a role with Orange20 Bikes to develop their community outreach, development and sponsorship programs. (shhh!) Plus a super fun LA-based bicycle travel project that’s yet to be announced! No launch dates yet, but by XC season, be prepared for things to get super awesome in Southern California.

The apparel line will go on hiatus while the move, projects and production come online over the next year.

New Stuff!
In NYC there’s a bunch of exciting bike culture surprises coming up, from other pop-up’s to new shops, parties & events. I will be releasing ‘The Golden Bike Shop List’ a zagat like guide of the best, friendliest and most innovative bike shops in NYC. With the cooperation of Transportation Alternatives and a few fantastic sponsors, I’m hoping that the Golden Bike Shop List will grow into a trusted guide for a new audience of cyclists in NYC and expanding to LA & beyond.

The Bird Wheel will continue to be an active voice in bike culture and cycling for women. My partnership with Mike Green’s BikeBlogNYC.com will grow as the ‘sister blog’ focused on the female perspective, but the content will also develop a bi-coastal emphasis on events in both NYC & LA. Liz Jose, who organizes the amazing WE Bike Program in NYC has generously agreed to take on much of the NYC specific advocacy work that I have done over the last several years through the resources and people that are working to make women’s community development in NYC the gold standard (sorry! couldn’t resist :) There is the very good chance that through Liz and Transportation Alternative, The Ladies Program for Bike Month will also continue as well as the events, shop outreach and creative side projects. I have absolutely loved creating the ‘Meet Your (Bike) Match parties, Maintenance & Manicures, women’s intro rides, Ladies Bike Brunch and so much more. I would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive and encouraging over the last several years.

I’m not disappearing – I’m just bringing the party to a new city! More than NYC, #BikeLA needs help to get the tidal wave of support and participation happening for everyday riders. I would please ask that you extend your talent, experience and generosity in helping me crush car culture! There will definitely be times that I will need all of you to give a little advice, make something happen or just send goodwill out to the giant car-clusterfuck that needs to be saved and that takes everyone working together.

Together we’ve changed NYC. I hope you’ll continue to support me as I move my efforts to #BikeLA.

You can get a chance to say goodbye to Nona and meet great #bikenyc people at a going away party hosted at:

Red Lantern Bicycles (345 Myrtle Avenue, between Adelphi and Carlton.) in Brooklyn.

Please come by Wednesday, August 8th starting at 6:30pm until, they kick us out.

CMWC Chicago

Congratulations to all those who participated in this year’s CMWC in Chcicago.
From their blog: chicagocmwc.tumblr.com

Preliminary results were posted www.chicagocmwc.com/results.php

Sino from Japan is a maniac and may very well be the fastest messenger in the world…again.

The main race was today and were are eagerly waiting to find out who won.

Big shout out to all the NYC couriers in effect.

for the ladies:
Kym “nonstop” Perfetto,
Heather Muller
Laura Bobe
&
Ali Kowalsky

the Guys:
Austin Horse
Alfred Bobe Jr.
Squid
Crihs
Josh Whitesnake
Andrew “Yeti” Escobedo
Geri “GerBear?” Lacaj
Corey “The Demoralizer” Hilliard
Aias “Sexy” Cienfuegos
Aaron “49” Lipke
John “Johnny Five” Alcantara
Tony “Stoned Tone!’ Monroe
&
DJ Fakemoney

Wheels 4 Workers-SEIU 32BJ’s ride for building service workers.

I got an email from Eugenio H. Villasante, Assistant Director of Communications for SEIU’s local 32BJ. This union has more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, DC, and is the largest property service workers union in the country.

He wanted to let me know about an upcoming ride in solidarity with workers rights. Always down to support my local brothers and sisters especially when they taking it to the streets…on bikes.

“Hey Mike, I’ve seen your blog and I may want to give a heads up to NYC bikers on 32BJ’s Bike Ride for the American Dream to call attention on some luxury real estate developers like T.F. Cornerstone denying their building service workers, safety-training and advancement opportunities afforded to 55,000 building workers in NYC.
“I feel I’m stuck as porter for life,” said Danny Carranza, one of the worker who will be riding on August 10th against the race to the bottom that is undercutting standards and opportunities for workers like him.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer described this fight as “an issue about fairness and equality,” and many of the workers at the Chelsea and Long Island City luxury Cornerstone developments where residents pay “big bucks” in rent think is a matter of developing the skill they need to advance in this industry.

See our facebook invite for more info: www.facebook.com/events/443988712291068

Chillin with Cool Cyclists

Earlier this week I had a rare night out. First stop, I meet up with Rydel, organizer and blogger with Miami Bike Scene for drinks in Bushwick at the Trophy bar.

He got a special deal through Jet Blue, which they DON’T seem to advertise much, where they allow bikes to fly for free in the month of July, waiving an annoying $80.00 plus fee. It’s a Tour de France deal and Rydel was keen to take advantage of this to visit friends in NYC, put in a ton of mileage from the Bronx to Ft. Tilden and hop in on some pickup bike polo down in the pit.


I have always wanted to meet this guy in person because he single-handedly transformed the bike scene in Miami, a city known for hyper aggressive drivers where hit and runs are common. He took over organizing the monthly critical mass rides back in 2007 and morphed a sluggish attendance into a thriving mobile party on the last Friday of each month into numbers topping 1000 riders.

He said the strategy that worked was less democracy. Ride routes are picked in advanced and rotated semi-randomly between 1-4 set paths. There are also dedicated riders who act as ride leaders, corking intersections and keeping everyone together.

We had a real good bike blogger pow-wow discussing each others cities cycling culture histories and what has worked and not towards our corresponding critical mass rides.

He seemed really modest about his involvement in the scene, but still with numbers into a thousand riders at their critical mass, in a such a car culture heavy city like Miami, he’s obviously doing something right.

Time Lapse – Miami Critical Mass July 2012 from Brian Wagner on Vimeo.

Then I went to meet with fashion designer and sister blogger, Nona Varnado of thebirdwheel.com She has found some great opportunities in Los Angeles and sadly, will be leaving us within the month. We have been collaborating on few projects and she has vowed to keep her organizing of ladies events and female enriched cycling content alive and well no matter what coast she’s on. Besides, LA can use a real infusion of her community building, marketing skills, fashion sensibilities and bike culture creating. She was having drinks with Joshua Rechnitz, and wanted to introduce me to the wealthy patron and cycling enthusiast who’s donated 40 million dollars to Brooklyn Bridge Park in the hopes of creating NYC’s first indoor velodrome. This is the largest donation to an NYC park to date.

Oddly enough, that night was an article in the NY Times about the current status of Josh’s cycling dream.

A $40 Million Gift, a Proposed Bike Arena, and Now Skepticism in Brooklyn
By: Lisa W. Foderaro
Published: July 30, 2012
(photo by: Ruby Washington)

It may very well be the $40 million dollar gift horse.
In April, Joshua P. Rechnitz pledged that amount — the largest single gift in the history of New York City’s parks system — to build a field house in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The gift was heralded as a much-needed boost for the 85-acre waterfront park, which is still under development. But attention quickly turned to the centerpiece of the plan: a velodrome with a 200-meter inclined indoor cycling track and stadium seating for almost 2,500 spectators. At the track’s center would be limited space for more traditional sports like basketball, gymnastics or tennis.

Read more, here.

I can’t help but draw parallels to the new Barclay’s stadium about to open in downtown Brooklyn especially when listening to local community critics who seem opposed based merely on not knowing what a velodrome is. If rich rap star Jay Z can get his dream of bringing professional basketball to Brooklyn, why can’t Josh get a sports facility that has way more participatory potential and good for the health of NYC? This is also a facility that wouldn’t require any eminent domain to remove local businesses, but rather a vast improvement to an abandon space. Friends of mine often try and call me out on the Nets stadium, saying I wouldn’t be kvetching if it were the NY Rangers hockey team. I always tell them that’s not the point…Now if it were professional track cycling…I’d be in line for tickets faster then a Jewish Mom looking for seats to Barbara Streisand. Babs is returning to her home in Brooklyn, Thursday October 11th…I mean, if your into that sort of thing.

Weigh in your opinion on the Velodrome/Field House on brooklynheightsblog.com informal poll or leave comments here.

Sunday, August 5th-Time’s Up Beach Ride

Sunday, August 5th, 11:30am–Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.

From Time’s Up:
Bike ride to Rockaway Queens beach (Fort Tilden). Bring swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, food and/or money for food, lock for bike, or leave your bike on the beach. Come prepared (tools, tubes, water, etc.) to ride some miles at a brisk pace.
Walking to the beach on a beautiful sunny day.
Communal picnic on the beach, paradise!

We will be having a big communal picnic lunch so BRING SOMETHING TO SHARE (or take a quick detour to the grocery store in Breezy Point or the concession stands at Jacob Riis Park).

source of the event.