Today’s Headlines

  • City Preparing Large Expansion of Congestion-Busting Park Smart Program (Post)
  • How Do You Know MTA Is Serious About Real-Time Bus Tracking? They’re Hiring (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • Post on Ravitch Report: Find The Money For Transpo, But No New Taxes
  • Construction Begins on Staten Island Expressway Widening (Advance)
  • Spend ARC Money on Staten Island Subway, Not 7 Extension, Says Savino (Advance)
  • …While New York Congressmen Just Want the Money to Stay in Region (Transpo Nation)
  • As Biking Grows, DOT Ready to Step Up Cyclist Education Campaigns (WSJ)
  • Crain’s Sadik-Khan Profile Highlights 34th Street Public Outreach
  • Manhattan Beach Residents Launch Anti-Speeding Campaign (WCBS)
  • Cyclist Hits 7-Year-Old on Brooklyn Bridge, Injuries Not Serious (Post)
  • Fire Department EMTs Park, Sleep In MacDougal Street Bike Lane (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    “It was just an accident. I was riding and it was dark and the kid popped out of nowhere,” he said, adding: “I wasn’t worried if I got hurt. I was only worried for the kid. He’s only 7.”

    Kids pop out of nowhere. I worry about it when I’m driving my car.

    When my kids were toddlers, I would make them hold my hand tightly when crossing the Prospect Park drive, because I was afraid they would run out in front of a speeding cyclist.

    At 12 mph you can stop a bike on a dime. If you hit a kid, you were going too fast.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    The Brooklyn Bridge bike/ped path is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s the only place where I am truly, regularly horrified by the behavior of NYC cyclists. Today the 7-year-old kid is OK. But tomorrow we will not be so lucky. One of these days a tourist is going to get walloped by a bike commuter and it’s going to be a minor international incident. The NY Post and these idiots will call for the bridge to be shut down to cyclists altogether.

    We need a new design for the Brooklyn Bridge that separates pedestrians and cyclists. During high tourist season — half the year, really — there simply isn’t enough room for both up there anymore. Let the bikes have a lane on the roadbed heading in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic. Or design a new bike path on top of the road bed and try to get some federal funds to build it out. Something’s got to change up there.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I would want a 4 foot wide elevated bike path above the center lane on both sides of the bridge. It would be above the motor vehicle traffic (less noise and fumes) but below the cross girders.

    The bridge would have two lanes for motor vehicles and a breakdown lane in each direction.

    But it isn’t going to happen.

  • Agreed with Mr. Barfowitz, not enough room for both bicyclists and tourists. The Brooklyn Bridge is a treasure and tourists should be able to wander freely up there. Cyclists need a dedicated path on the roadbed, or a new path build atop the road bed.

    Larry while you may be right I think you’re wrong. I ran into a tourist up there two years ago. She was in the bike path taking a photo looking north when she suddenly stepped backwards and right into me. I have no way to gauge speed, but I could not have been doing more than 10 mph and I don’t think I could have avoided the collision. I just bumped her, and everything was okay (although if it was a child or an old person, the situation could have been different). I do not take that bridge anymore, except late at night or very early in the morning when the pedestrian traffic is minimal.

  • Doug G.

    It sounds like the cyclist who hit the kid was doing everything right and that this was just an accident. He even stuck around to make sure everything was okay and was quoted by the paper. How many car drivers would do the same? This is such a non-story that the only reason I’m not surprised it was printed is that it’s the New York Post. A cyclist could carry a pregnant woman to the hospital and the Post would point out how many lights he ran to get there.

  • Frank B.

    I don’t usually read the Post. Do they do a story this big on every kid that gets hit and not seriously injured by a driver? That must take up a lot of space.

  • Re: As Biking Grows, DOT Ready to Step Up Cyclist Education Campaigns (WSJ)

    Next Generation Democracy in action http://www.climaterapidresponse.org/

    Joe Romm description
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/22/climate-science-rapid-response-team-press-release/

    Transportation Alternatives would do well to have something similar for cycling.

  • MRN

    Hey Doug G, per Streetsblog policy, there are no accidents.

  • NattyB

    @Gecko

    “As Biking Grows, DOT Ready to Step Up Cyclist Education Campaigns (WSJ)
    . . . Transportation Alternatives would do well to have something similar for cycling.”

    TA already does something like that http://bikingrules.org/

  • NY Times has a big splash headligned “Expansion of Bike Lanes in New York Brings Backlash”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/nyregion/23bicycle.html?hp

  • fdr

    Interesting that a bicyclist who hits someone uses the same language as a car driver who hits someone. “It was just an accident. I was riding and it was dark and the kid popped out of nowhere.”

  • Ace

    No bicycles from 9-9 or 8-8. It really is a horror show up there for pedestrians. I know the “fighting over scraps” argument but there is not enough room up there.

  • Mike

    Ace, it’s absurd to ban people who are using the bridge for transportation — its intended purpose — to favor those who are just using it as a tourist attraction, and usually don’t even go all the way across. Banning bikes is a ludicrous idea.

  • Aaron Naparstek

    Hey Doug G, per Streetsblog policy, there are no accidents.

    Obviously, sometimes car crashes are, in fact, accidents.

    What Streetsblog and others object to is when press and police mindlessly, automatically label a crash an “accident” before all facts are known (and very often contrary to known facts).

    If the cyclist stuck around after the collision and talked about the incident with the family of the kid and the police and the press, I’m much more apt to give him the benefit of the doubt and call it an “accident” if everyone involved agrees that that’s what it was. Still, my preference would be to call this kind of thing a “crash,” “collision,” or “incident.”

  • #8 NattyB, “TA already does something like that http://bikingrules.org/

    Not really.

  • J

    Article on Bus-Lane cameras, which went live today. Apparently, five cameras are mounted on poles in undisclosed locations on 1st & 2nd Aves. How is this comprehensive or effective?

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/22/smile-youre-on-bus-lane-camera/?ref=nyregion

  • Doug G

    I agree with Aaron. It may not be an accident in the sense that the mix of bikes and peds on the bridge is obviously going to lead to collisions, but it does sound like the biker acted very responsibly.

    I’d say the same thing about a driver going the speed limit through a crowded neighborhood who hit a kid who darted out into the street. We can’t always blame users when it’s the design of public spaces that causes “accidents.”

  • StevenF

    With 45 years of bicycle commuting over the Brooklyn Bridge,
    I have used lights, bell and a loud voice to protect pedestrians, but some are really hard to connect with so you don’t physically connect.

    The cycling community has known that the bridge path is quite a bit less than optimal.
    33 years ago, responsible bicycle planners advised Mayor Ed Koch and NYC DOT that the path would be very narrow for shared use, particularly in the afternoon – evening tourist period. (This was in the 1977 Bicycle Policy Report to Mayor Elect Ed Koch, the group became the NYC Bicycle Advisory Committee.)

    The Policy Report very strongly requested that separate bike lane(s) be created either up over the roadway, or take one roadway lane for a two-way cycle way or create a narrower one-way cycle way on each side of the roadways – this would have the advantage of allowing slightly wider roadway lanes, now only 9 ft wide.

    DOT obviously refused. We still have a shared use path.

    The federal bicycle facility guidance, AASHTO “Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities” touts shared use paths as the solution, and barely mentions separating bicycles from pedestrians via dedicated bike paths and cycletracks. Highway engineers look at this guidance and keep saying that the national standard is the shared use path – they take the cheap way out – less ROW and less less to build – and look, it meets minimum federal standards.

    The Brooklyn Bridge Promenade is a perfect poster child for why shared use paths won’t work for highly popular facilities. Field Of Dreams – they built it, and they came, and came and keep on coming….

    We, the NYC bicycle community, knew we had a problem, and “we told them so,” but they built it this way anyway. Frankly, the responsibility is on the NYS/NYC DOT engineers for making it the way it is.
    The cyclists and the pedestrians are both the victims here.

    PS: Larry,
    12 miles per hour is about 18 feet per second (60 mph = 88 fps)
    It takes at a significant fraction of a second just to react, even with your hands on the brakes. So that dime has to be some 10 feet across to come to a safe stop. If the pedestrian steps sideways within the last 10-15 feet of a cyclists travel, it will be very, very difficult to stop or steer around them. Even at 6 mph, pedestrians can step sideways faster than a cyclist can stop. Brake too hard and the cyclist crashes – often head first. That’s the physics.

    As I said above, a cyclist should do everything possible to alert pedestrians that they are over the line. But having done that, they really can’t stop on that 1/2 inch dime.

  • 12 mph is way too fast close to lots of unpreditable people and things out of your control.

    Freewheeling is way over-rated.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “PS: Larry, 12 miles per hour is about 18 feet per second (60 mph = 88 fps)
    It takes at a significant fraction of a second just to react, even with your hands on the brakes. So that dime has to be some 10 feet across to come to a safe stop.”

    I’ve tried it, with speed based on the cycle computer on my bike, and I’ve stopped much faster than that — half. Perhaps the fact that I’m the size of two typical cyclists helps me stop faster!

    Also, when lots of pedestrians are in close proximity, I slow down, allowing me to stop even faster. Reaction time is faster when you expect something.

  • Get ready for winter. Cycling in the Snow. Two how-to films from Copenhagen: http://bit.ly/aa5x6j

  • StevenF

    Gecko, freewheeling downhill on the bridge is about 20 MPH, way faster than 12. Anyone doing 12 downhill has been holding the brakes on.

    Larry, right, reaction time when you are ready can be damned fast, but there are still practical limits. That’s why dooring is a lot more like being hit with a baseball bat than running into a fixed object. I may have been overconservative with timing, but at some point in this brief time period, it becomes the pedestrian who jumps onto the cyclist and not the cyclist running into a fixed pedestrian. Short of building a separate bike path, the city has done “nearly” everything that can be done to separate bikes and peds in this very narrow space.

    Be careful with jamming on the brakes, if the wood deck is wet, you stand a good chance of going rubber side up, no matter how slow you are traveling.

    Realistically, there is no minimum speed that will make “some” pedestrians happy. I have been riding up the bridge at less than 6 MPH, being passed by joggers, and still have been yelled at for cycling too fast.
    At some point we have to realize that we are dealing with irrational people who, like some 3 year old, have not yet learned to share the sandbox and play nicely.

    Or as Glen Goldstein keeps reminding us: Don’t be a jerk.
    This applies to everyone on the bridge.

  • Ace

    Most folks on the bridge are out for a stroll. It is difficult to stroll with bicycles whizzing by. The same holds true for the path along the West Side. Whoever decided to mix bicycle riders with pedestrians probably goes everywhere via automobile.

  • #21 StevenF, My apologies, my usage refers to steering without constraints say from rails or guide ways and not coasting down a hill which is the more common usage you describe.

    Very safe high speeds are practical with simple mechanical collision avoidance.

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