Today’s Headlines

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Mike

    You missed one of the Bike Bedlam pieces. Looks like they’ll be two per night. Oh joy.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/08/16/bike-bedlam-nypd-goes-after-bad-bicyclists/

  • BicyclesOnly

    In the Twittersphere, NYC Dep’t Parks & Recreation reportedly denied it stole the bikes, pointed finger at Hudson River Park (state parks) security.

  • Despite the sensationalist “Bike Bedlam” tagline, I found the CBS2 installment quite fair. I didn’t know about the death of Stuart Gruskin, hit last year by a midtown cyclist. CBS2’s count of 24 salmons in the First Ave bike lane in a 20 minute period sounds about right. If you haven’t done so, check out the video shot by BicyclesOnly of a salmon cursing out pedestrians for getting in his way (comment 19 in yesterday’s headlines).

  • BicyclesOnly

    CBS’s “Drivers: NYC Streets for Everyone But Us”:

    The headline says it all. CBS is a complete captive of its auto-related advertisers–drivers are now “us.” I wouldn’t mind so much if they frankly admitted to being pro-car opinion journalism. That way people would have a clue when considering the demonstrably specious claim that NYC roads are run for everyone but drivers. It would be funny if it wasn’t so Orwellian. What crap!

  • ddartley

    In light of the DOT ped safety study: remember this from the not too distant past?

    “No,” the DOT rep replied, “our job is to keep traffic moving efficiently, not to do studies on pedestrian safety.”

  • Joby

    @BicyclesOnly – I don’t know if it is because of the advertisers. Look up Tony Aiello on Wikipedia. He’s a Indiana transplant who lives in Westchester. I am guessing that his ideas about bikes are informed by two things – his experience as a driver coming from the northern suburbs and the experiences and stories of his friends and neighbors who drive from the northern suburbs. Why isn’t it the rule that stories on Quality of Life issues in the city are covered by people who live here, rather than people who just visit between 9-5?

  • kaja

    > Why isn’t it the rule that stories on Quality of Life issues in the city are covered by people who live here, rather than people who just visit between 9-5?

    Because the 9-5ers, who are in charge, wouldn’t benefit from the change.

    Separately, coming over the Brooklyn Bridge last night in the rain, once again virtually nobody had lights; and when I hissed “lights!” at one dude whom I didn’t see coming ’til it was nearly too late, he shouted back at the top of his lungs “F*CK YOU, ASSHOLE!” — I looked back and got a glimpse of a horde of horrified tourists with babies staring back at his dark departing form.

    Starting to outright /hate/ the holier-than-thou antisocial cyclist element; it doesn’t help that they mostly seem to be hipsters without handlebar tape or gears, middle-aged freds, or deliverymen.

  • kaja

    I am completely amazed that Councilman Millman’s office was able to get somewhere on Henry Street. I lived across from that church for three years, and had to walk around those goddamned cars to get to and from my apartment on every Sunday morning, entertaining thoughts of calling tow trucks myself.

  • lee

    Get streetfilms out there and see how many traffic violations you can find in 20 minutes. I be it will be a whole lot more than 20.

    Also, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJLrcG64ulU

  • “Bike Bedlam! CBS2 Files Impeccably Accurate Report on Creeping Cyclist Menace”

    Advocacy for pedestrian safety is moral, practical, and essential, especially, since cyclists are not much more than pedestrians on two wheels — capable of being pedestrians on-demand — going faster and perhaps a step up on the formidability scale from say, skaters and skateboarders . . .

    And, the real killers are cars and ongoing safety infrastructure improvements including the 20-mph speed limit will help dramatically as described in

    “Ped Safety Is Nice, But Won’t Someone Please Think of the Drivers? (CBS2, Of Course)”

    But, long before cycling slightly inched up from its miniscule presence — coincident with dramatic safety reports for all — you knew when you became a New Yorker when that ‘Don’t Walk’ sign meant Run!

  • MK

    Piling up the bikes parked at Hudson River Park like a heap of trash is a massive policy mismatch. This kind of treatment would never happen to a parked car.

  • I truly believe that biking is at a threshold when it gets coverage like this.

    Always remember how social/political change happens: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    I’ve only really been involved in this for five years and I experienced a lot of ignoring/laughing directed at biking/public space. We are definitely in the fighting/winning stage. Battles are breaking out all over the city over public space and street usage and largely we are having good successes. The only major loss I’ve seen is congestion pricing in Albany and there have been some minor setbacks like the Bedford bike lane, but largely we are fighting and winning major battles that change the status quo. The CBS coverage is a reminder to stay vigilant and keep up the pressure!

  • Peter Engel

    Glenn,

    You’re so right. I’m doing my best not to brand every angry and irrational anti-bike rant as “reactionary,” but it’s hard not to.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Anybody see this one.

    http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2010/08/car_backs_in_to.php

    How the heck did that happen?

  • Best line from “Bike Bedlam”: Some have even dubbed it “bike bedlam.”

    Actually, only CBS2 has dubbed it “bike bedlam.”

  • David_K,

    In my view the unfair distortion of the CBS2 piece was in the the repeated assertions, mostly implicit but some explicit, that cyclist traffic violations are a major source of danger to pedestrians. Yes, cyclist-on-pedestrian crshes occur, and about one per year (on average) is fatal.

    Sure, you or I would be devasted and outraged if that one person was someone we knew, just like Ms. Gruskin and her kids have a right to be (although bear in mind that not every one of those one-a-year deaths is necessarily the cyclist’s fault). But in a city of 8 million plus with many more visiting each day, it’s just not accurate to sensationalize irresponsible cyclists as a major public health concern. Statistically speaking, it’s down there with falling tree limbs and getting struck by lightning as a cause of death.

    None of which is to that I don’t favor calling out irresponsible cyclists, as a way of promoting safety and civility. But the CBS2 piece is obviously pandering to anti-cycling motorists, and I can’t believe that auto-related sponsorship isn’t a factor driving the strategy of pandering to motorists in coverage.

  • Bicycles Only,

    I don’t doubt that CBS2 acts as a shill for its advertisers. And you’re correct to point out that in equating the bicycling “boom” as a menace to public safety, they are making a mountain out of a molehill. But take heart: I’m quite sure that later installments of “Bike Bedlam,” CBS2 will offer some nuanced context. No doubt they will interview public health experts who can point out that an investment in cycling infrastructure pays returns in reduction of obesity and brings children out-of-doors. They will also interview happy, law-abiding cyclists who are in love with the most efficient, easy, enjoyable mode of transport around our dense urban area. (Ahem! We’ll see…)

    So I do concede, both the motives and the premise of “Bike Bedlam” are complete crap. But isn’t that what TV news does? As in:

    “Shark attack at the local beach: you could be next!” (Never mind that you won’t be next; never mind that it’s people endangering sharks via global unregulated slaughter, not the other way around). Or how about “Child falls down well: 24 hour coverage: Your child could be next!” (Never mind that that will never happen).

    Motives and premise aside, I was just surprised that CBS2 actually engaged in a little bit of reporting. I’ve wanted protected bike lanes for so long (especially on my East Side/to Brooklyn commute) that I still can’t believe I see the green paint along First and Second Aves: and they don’t go far enough — let’s have them run the length of Manhattan. But at the same time, since the lanes have gone in, I’ve been disappointed, yes, with the pedestrians who walk into the bike path without looking and (yes) with motorists who double-park in them — but (mostly) with the amount of salmon and dumb, uncivil behavior on the part of cyclists. While that behavior comes from a minority of cyclists, I contend that it is there and that it seems to be growing. The sense of entitlement on the part of the cyclist that you captured in your video (salmon yelling “open your eyes m**f*ckr” at a pedestrian who was not even blockign the bike lane) illustrates this perfectly.

    The CBS2 report is out there. Yes it’s dumb, but it’s not wholly inaccurate. At this stage, most biking infrastructure is nothing more than paint on pavement. My fear is that if dumb behavior continues in the bike lanes — this could turn into just the type of skewed, ridiculous, out-of-proportion campaign issue in the next election, with the goal of reversing biking infrastruction: “A Vote for Quimby. A Chicken in Every Pot. A Parking Space in Front of Your House” (Never mind if you’re one of the majority of NYCers who doesn’t even own a car).

    Sorry for the long rant.

  • #16 David_K, “it’s just not accurate to sensationalize irresponsible cyclists as a major public health concern.”

    Absolutely.

    Should be highlighting benefits of ongoing infrastructure improvements and importance of moving to better transport and transit attempting to mitigate the accelerating environmental crisis.

    CBS2 report is just another piece of fluff.

  • Urban Planning Student

    Kaja,

    WTF? What’s wrong with no gears or handlebar tape? Or hipsters?

    I ride without handlebars or gears. Gears are expensive and add to the weight of the bike, which I need to haul upstairs. If you are willing to subsidize my bike purchasing, I’ll go without gears. It hardly means I’m not a safe rider. Please drop the stereotypes.

    Also, why the hate for hipsters? I see lots of hipsters biking, and I don’t really see that they are less responsible than others. My hipster friends all wear helmets.

  • The funny thing is that this whole concept of Bike Bedlem is more approaching the views that people had at Community Boards five to ten years ago. Since then, there have been major changes in how bike lanes, particularly the protected bike lanes are perceived. People close to the CB8M situation have seen the evolution of specific board members who were extremely anti-bike turn into supporters of the protected lanes on First & Second Ave because of the traffic calming and that they know where cyclists will be coming from on the street. And there is a general understanding that this is part of modern progressive environmentalism and they don’t want to be seen as retrograde.

    It’s like CBS has a story that might have been more accurate of views in 2005, before there were real world examples of bike lanes working, but now only represents a fairly narrow group of people currently involved in making decisions at the community level.

  • J:Lai

    I think the guy riding the wrong way in the bike lane who stopped to talk with the reporter is representative of a major class of “salmon”: people who just don’t know any better. It’s somewhat ironic that while drivers are getting pissed off at bikers for not following the traffic laws, bikers themselves don’t even know that they are supposed to follow traffic laws.

    If we, as bike riders, want public investment in infrastructure like bike lanes and bike racks, we also have to accept that we must follow the traffic rules. Even if they were created for cars. It’s a necessary sacrifice. I’d welcome a change in the law that makes it legal for bikes to proceed through stops signs and red lights with caution, but until that happens there’s no justification for it if you consider yourself a safe and legal rider.

    Although you usually hear it from reactionary anti-bike people, I’m beginning to think that the idea of having bikes require some kind of registration to operate on city streets is not necessarily a bad one.

    And now for the gross generalizations:

    Food delivery people are the worst violators as far as riding the wrong way and riding on the sidewalk.

    Williamsburg hipsters are a close second in terms of riding the wrong way. They are the worst in terms of riding at night with no lights, reflectors, or even light clothing.

    Sport cyclists and bike messengers are are tied for blowing through red lights and generally endangering pedestrians.

    and, finally, ice cream trucks need to stop parking in the bike lane!

  • JK

    Can Streetsblog follow-up on the Hudson River Greenway bike lock cutting crusade? It would be useful to know exactly who ordered this and exactly why. It would also behoove the bike advocates to write the city law department and ask them what the deal is with this. This could segue into City Council legislation requiring tagging and/or signage before bike clippings. If you’ve had your bike clipped, you know what a massive drag it is to retrieve it.

    Lastly, the tabloid TV news has been running anti-bike propaganda for decades. I’d credit it much more to windshield perspective than some sign of the Velorution achieving social cross-over. In NYC, TV reporters spend more time in cars than anyone but cops, cabbies and politicians. They are one of the privileged parking class. Producers at shows like 60minutes and 20/20 get NYC active press parking permits and plates — so they can park on 6th avenue while editing their breaking news story on corruption in the Afghan Army and other activities which demand they drive to the office.

  • BicyclesOnly

    JK, I think Glenn has a point. I can’t recall ever seeing a substantial investment in a series like Bike Bedlam in local news before. We may not be in the “winning” stage of the PR battle for mainstream attitudes, but we’re definitely in the “fighting” stage.

    On counterflow riding, there are a few factors at work, including selfishness, fear and ignorance, in addition to the financial incentive commercial cyclists have for cutting corners. I can think of three professionals who regularly commute by bike–a lawyer, an accountant, and a photographer–all of whom admitted to me that they ride counterflow in the Central Park West bike lane. The photographer knew what he was doing was wrong, but explained that in NY “everyone has to look out for himself.” The accountant protested, “but there’s no where else to bike downtown on the West Side” and “West Drive is too hilly”. The lawyer sincerely did not know that counterflow riding was not allowed! (I think I convinced the lawyer to stop, but not the other two–yet!)

    We can deal with the commercial riders with legislation that forces their employers to pay for their moving violations, at least in part. Non-commercial cyclists need education, and the only way it’s going to happen is face-to-face, one-on-one. But please try to be civil!

  • Hm, has the salmon accountant who protests that “there’s nowhere else to bike downtown on the West Side” ever heard of the Hudson River Greenway?

  • Urbanis, I interpret this as laziness and confusion over roadway dangers. The southbound lanes of Central Park West are a mere 40 feet from the bike lane, yet many people feel they are safer riding counterflow in the northbound bike lane. The fewer number of intersections along the park perimeter may reduce potential conflicts with motor vehicles, but forcing head-on conflicts with other cyclists and motorists by counterflow cycling offsets this advantage.

    If the counterflow and lawfully proceeding cyclists fail to communicate properly which side they will pass each other on, they may collide and put themselves in the path of oncoming MV traffic. And the typical salmon appraoch of hugging the parked cars unfairly forces the lawfully proceeding cyclist into trafic.

  • BicyclesOnly, yes I had forgotten about the CPW lanes (even though I ride in them regularly!) but generally the statement about “no place to bike downtown on the West Side” struck me as completely ridiculous. This person strikes me as making up excuses. The photographer is even worse, presenting the most selfish of reasons for his behavior–how about looking out for OTHER people for a change?

    I regularly encounter my fair share of salmon on the CPW northbound lane (as you have observed).

    I truly wish Streetsblog (are you listening?) would get a reporter out there to interview the proverbial “salmon on the street” to find out (1) why they do it, (2) if they’re aware of the dangers they cause to themselves, other bicyclists, and pedestrians, (3) if they’re aware it’s illegal, (4) if they notice a difference between riding with traffic and riding against traffic.

    Two days ago I was riding across town on 40th Street and encountered a salmon hugging the curbz. I tried to hug the parked cars even closer to force the salmon into traffic, but he just stopped and said “sorry.” Well, not sure I raised anyone’s consciousness but at least he was polite.

  • P.S. I wouldn’t mind if NYC DOT had a higher-profile awareness campaign around “safe/courteous biking practices” akin to what they did for Bike Month NYC or ConEd does for energy conservation practices. How about some posters on the subway and at bike parking kiosks, better signage (e.g., bicycle one-way directional signs), etc.? A campaign about how salmoning is not as safe as you think, and riding with traffic is not as dangerous as you think? (And that bicyclists have a right to the road.)

  • Urbanis: I wish NYCDOT would push an awareness campaign, but I don’t know how much more clear the signage can be than a gigantic upright cyclist and a huge unidirection arrow on the pavement.

  • Ian Turner

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