Cyclists Rally at City Hall

Call on Mayor Bloomberg to "take control" of city streets.

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Almost exactly one year ago, New York City cyclists rallied on the steps of City Hall, mourning the deaths of four of their own and demanding that Mayor Bloomberg take action to make the city’s streets safer for bike commuting.

This morning, in what is almost becoming a sad early-summer ritual, one hundred cyclists, gathered on the steps of City Hall after the deaths of three cyclists in just the last three weeks. Led by Transportation Alternatives, the group is demanding that Mayor Bloomberg follow the example of other big city mayors by developing a plan to modernize New York City’s bicycle commuting infrastructure.

Calling directly on Mayor Bloomberg, Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives said, "You took control of the city budget. You took control of the city’s schools. Today, our streets our out of control. We need you to take control of our streets."

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

On Monday, June 5, Goodson was killed by a truck on Rockaway Park Bridge in Brooklyn. On Monday, June 19, a taxicab driver opened his door and knocked a cyclist into the path of a bus on 10th Avenue in Manhattan. On Thursday, June 22 an NYPD tow truck driver turning onto the Hudson River Greenway and slammed into Dr. Nacht. He died a few days later. On Monday, June 26, Lake slipped on a steel construction plate on Houston Street and fell beneath the wheels of a tractor trailer.

Transportation Alternatives bike program director Noah Budnick, who himself suffered a nearly-fatal crash just two years ago, said, "These cyclists didn’t ride because they were training for the Olympics. They didn’t ride to protest cars. They rode bikes because it makes sense."

White and Budnick both noted that the mayors of other world class cities are putting forward comprehensive plans to make their streets safer for cyclists. In London, Budnick said, Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced a £20 million investment in bike infrastructure saying, "Bicycling is the fastest, cheapest most environmentally healthy way to get around London." In Chicago, Budnick said, Mayor Richard Daley has also pledged millions of dollars of investment in bicycle infrastructure saying that his "goal is to promote environmentally-friendly lifestyles and make Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the United States."

New York City’s bicycle master plan, in the meantime, hasn’t been updated in ten years. The ten-year-old plan itself is barely complete. It doesn’t set any specific targets and doesn’t establish any design standards.

"A six inch-wide stripe on the street doesn’t make the street safe for cyclists," Budnick said.

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  • I commute to work on my bike from Fort Greene, Brooklyn to Penn Station most days, and there are a few things I’ve noticed.

    1. Signs that say “Share The Road” would increase drivers’ awareness of bicycles. Cars always honk when I’m in a lane because they don’t know the law. If the road is unsafe, I can take up a lane. This happens all the time when navigating around double parked cars. Simple signs posted around the city might remind drivers that bicycles have a right to be on the road.

    2. “Watch For Bicycles” signs at heavy bicycle crossings. At the exit of the Manhattan bridge bike path on the Manhattan side, the bike path leads to a pedestrian-heavy intersection at the end of the greenmarket throroughfare. Cyclists are flying downhill, and peds can’t see around the wall. While I haven’t seen it happen, I would imagine that there are collisions and near-misses here all the time. A simple sign that says “Watch for Bicycles” on the Greenmarket side and a sign that says, “Slow Down: Pedestrian Crossing” on the bike side would help. This is an easy solution for many dangerous intersections throughout the city.

    3. Bike lane buffer. I would just like to say that I LOVE the 8th avenue bike lane. Until this was painted, I was taking 6th avenue and hating life. Now I ride up Hudson to 8th avenue and enjoy my cruise to work. The best part about the lane is the buffer zone of about 8 feet between the bike lane and the far left lane of traffic. No matter how much we bitch, cars will double park. Parking is so limited that it’s inevitable. The buffer zone gives cyclists some room to maneuver around double parked cars. This isn’t feasible on narrow streets, but on big avenues it makes a big difference. I think there is something similar on 2nd avenue, and I definitely feel much safer biking on these streets.

    4. Any cyclist who rides at night without lights is a moron. Buy some blinky lights you fools! They are not just for ravers anymore.

    5. Any cyclist who complains about pedestrian traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge is a first-rate dickwad. TAKE THE MANHATTAN BRIDGE YOU JACKASS. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the biggest tourist attractions around, and tourists by definition are blind and unaware. The Manhattan bridge bike path is empty at all hours – much safer, much easier.

    My condolences to the families of the cyclists who have died recently.

  • a shame on all these deaths a real shame.

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