Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Preparing to Fire Respected Port Authority Chief Chris Ward (Post)
  • Transportation Nation Crowdsourcing Project Maps And Chronicles NYPD Bike Blitz
  • Christie Pulls New Jersey Out of Regional Cap-And-Trade Program (NYT)
  • Ticket Fixing And Cop Credibility Dominate Drunk Driving Trial (NYT, News)
  • Market Price for Parking Under Your Own Roof in Chelsea: $200,000 (NYT)
  • Livery Cab Drivers Oppose Latest Version of Bloomberg Plan For Borough Taxis (News)
  • State Releases Atlantic Yards Traffic Changes (Bklyn Paper)
  • East River Ferry Service, With $9.3M Subsidy and $4 Fares, to Launch in June (Bklyn Paper)
  • Upper East Siders Want Safe Pedestrian Connection to East River Esplanade (DNAinfo)
  • MTA Bus Purchases Boon to Local Upstate Economy (Press-Republican)
  • Prospect Park Encounter Gives Bike Snob a Moment of Clarity About the Bikelash

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • summer

    omfg.  was anyone unlucky enough to get caught in front of the cruiser, sirens blaring, that a cop drove onto to the bike lane of the williamsburg bridge at around 8:10 this morning?  it didn’t seem to have anything to do with harassing cyclists because when I reached the car parked in the lane, the driver and his partner were stopped and looking up at the bridge.  this is official police business? 

  • krstrois

    Sadly, there was a jumper on the bridge this morning — that could explain it.  

  • summer

    i guess it could.

  • summer

    i guess it could.

  • summer

    i guess it could.

  • Anonymous

    Heard the WNYC story this morning–interesting about the working cyclists being left alone, which implies that the enforcement focus is on commuters.  They even said the tickets were clustered around the bike lanes.  That said, the Transportation Nation map looks almost exactly like every other WNYC crowdsourcing project map I’ve seen, which seems to indicate the geography of the WNYC listenership as much as anything else. 

    When are we going to be able to have a serious conversation about whether it makes any sense at all to have the same traffic laws for bicycles as cars–two things that couldn’t be more different?  Transpo Alternatives has to toe the line of law and order, the media pundits don’t ride bikes, and it all prevents us from taking an honest look at laws formulated for one thing being applied to a completely different thing.  I’ve been assiduously following traffic regulations since the crackdown began, but it is completely absurd and WAY more dangerous to be in constant conflict with cars than to simply avoid them.

  • Joe R.

    I agree that we need a serious discussion of traffic laws for bicycles (and also another discussion on removing unneeded traffic signals as this impedes both bikes and cars), but now is the wrong time.  Wait until the media frenzy dies down, and cycling has a more positive image.  Once more people are riding, they will be able to relate better to traffic law reform as such reform will directly affect them.  Now it’s a case of people who don’t ride saying theat bikes should act just like cars, without realizing the consequences.  As you’ve discovered, stopping for lights tends to keep bikes and cars together way more often than treating them as yields would.  This alone is one good reason to change the law.  And then you have the fact that light timing is often so awful for typical cycling speeds that travel time is increased by a factor or 2 or 3 (or put another way, effective range is decreased by a factor of 2 or 3).  Like I’ve said elsewhere, do we want to make bikes an everyday means of transport for more people or not?  If so, then let’s give cyclists both infrastructure to keep them safer, and a set of laws which make sense for their mode.

  • Joe R.

    That ticket map is very interesting.  Unsurprisingly, enforcement seems concentrated in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.  I personally haven’t witnessed police ticketing a cyclist anywhere I ride, but I’m still very cautious about scanning for patrol cars when I pass lights just in case (and I’m deliberately choosing roads with fewer lights so this is less of an issue to begin with).  The honest truth is over here there are so few bikes, even on roads with bike lanes, that a bike dragnet would be a complete waste of time.  And I’m not aware of any huge amount of compliants against cyclists in my area.  Most take-outs here deliver by car on account of the greater distances, so maybe that’s why.  There’s just not a lot of delivery cyclists around to annoy people.  Most I’ve seen ironically are on electric bikes.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. If cycling keeps growing, it will happen, but if it plateaus because people are being harrassed and fined into submission I’m not sure we get there…  It’s already taken 30 years for bike lanes to become any kind of priority.  I really hope once the Neighbors for No Bike Lanes thing is settled the whole frenzy thing will blow over.

  • kevd

    The Bikesnob’s “Wilma” is completely typical of so many cyclists this time of year.
    I’m 100% in favor of cyclists not following and not having to follow the letter of traffic law. But this spring, and every spring a whole hoard of fair weather commuters emerge that can’t distinguish between not following the letter of the law and being a complete dick. Yes, I go through reds, but never in a way that impedes the user (driver or pedestrian, or other cyclist) with the right of way. It seems to be a distinction that is too subtle for the majority of cyclists on the road this time of year.  Like Mr. Snob, I’m getting annoyed with my co-pedalists. Of course, the first year I rode in NYC I probably did the same thing.  The feeling of freedom is a bit exhilarating and takes some getting used to.

  • krstrois

    Can you bring a bike on one of those water taxis? I would  . . . 

  • ddartley

    Heard a nice smashup outside my apartment this morning–a car’s brakes screeched and then I heard a loud bang.  Looking out the window I saw that a car had driven up onto the sidewalk (outside the wide open 24/7 papaya dog place) and smashed into a garbage can.  Very easily could have killed someone.  Couldn’t even snap a picture because within a minute or two, the guy drove away–swerving all over the place.  Damn bikes!

  • moocow

    To myself I call them the “Weekend Once-in-a-Whiles”.
    I ride as you describe Kev, and I am sure I was a thoughtless rider back when I started too. But man is it annoying to have to look out for cars, jaywalkers, food delivery guys, then to get cursed out by an occasional biker who is totally in the wrong.

  • Joe R.

    I do exactly as you do.  I NEVER pass a light if doing so will take away someone else’s legal right-of-way.  If that means slowing, or heaven forbid, actually stopping, then I do so without hesitation.  And I’ve been operating that way for over 3 decades.  To me it seems like this should be common sense but apparently it isn’t.  I’ll gladly spend some time training fellow novice cyclists on the do’s and don’ts of passing lights, but only AFTER the practice is legalized.  This is why TA and other cycling advocacy organizations need to get behind an Idaho stop law.  No amount of enforcement is going to get every cyclist to stop for every light every time (and if that happened, I predict few would even want to ride a bike anymore).  Once we get over the taboo of going through lights, we can go about effectively training cyclists so all can do the practice safely.  It’s not a hard thing to learn, but many just never learn it on their own

  • The Truth

    RE: Ticket Fixing And Cop Credibility
    Anybody who claims it was “professional courtesy” on the stand should be immediately fired.  Stating, under oath, that they believe it is ok for law enforcement officers to break the law, they will NEVER have any professional credibility in the prosecution of the criminals in our society.  They make themselves unfit to act in any professional capacity.

  • Joe R. — The Idaho Stop law only applies to stop signs, and so would be largely useless in NYC.

  • Joe R. — The Idaho Stop law only applies to stop signs, and so would be largely useless in NYC.

  • Joe R. — The Idaho Stop law only applies to stop signs, and so would be largely useless in NYC.

  • Anonymous

    It was amended some years ago to also allow red lights to be treated as stop signs (and yields for right on red):
    http://www.cyclelicio.us/2009/04/idaho-stop-law-for-cyclists.html

    Idaho Statutes Title 49 is the motor vehicle code. Chapter 7 deals with
    pedestrians and bicycles; section 720 regulates stopping and is where
    Idaho permits cyclists’ ‘rolling stop’ at stop signs. This section also
    allows cyclists to treat red lights like stop signs.

    49-720. STOPPING — TURN AND STOP SIGNALS. (1) A person operating abicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and,if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowingto a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way toany vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closelyas to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is movingacross or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that aperson after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way ifrequired, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersectionwithout stopping. (2) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching asteady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersectionand shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he mayproceed through the steady red light with caution. Provided however, that aperson after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way ifrequired, may cautiously make a right-hand turn. A left-hand turn onto aone-way highway may be made on a red light after stopping and yielding toother traffic. (3) A person riding a bicycle shall comply with the provisions of section49-643, Idaho Code. (4) A signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given during notless than the last one hundred (100) feet traveled by the bicycle beforeturning, provided that a signal by hand and arm need not be given if the handis needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.

  • Joe R.

    Steve O.,
     
    The exact text of the law allows bikes to treat red lights as stop signs (originally as yields but it was since amended), and still allows them to be treated as yields if turning right – “A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic-control signal shall stop before entering the intersection, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn without stopping or may cautiously make a left-hand turn onto a one-way highway without stopping.”

    NYC doesn’t need to duplicate the Idaho law, but can make one which is more applicable in NYC.  For example, you might exempt midtown Manhattan from the law during business hours because it would be too dangerous to have bikes passing lights under such crowded conditions (except to turn right).  And you could have maximum speeds bikes must adhere to when passing lights posted at each intersection, with such speeds determined by sight lines.  I honestly see an Idaho stop as way more useful in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan anyway on account of the greater distances, lower amount of traffic, and large number of poorly coordinated traffic lights.

    On another note, if we built more grade-separated bike infrastructure, along with getting rid of unneeded traffic lights, plus using more traffic circles, then the idea of an Idaho stop would pretty much be moot.

  • Thanks to Joe and Geck for the correction. (I actually Googled before I posted, but I just found out-of-date info, apparently.)

  • I think it’s up to the discretion of the crew, but as long as there’s space on board you can bring a bike.

  • moocow

    (Bring a bungee cord to prevent flopping around)

  • Anonymous

    NYPD’s credibility and public image are at a long time low for numerous reasons, including this scandal, placard abuse, summons quotas, stop and frisks, the silly central park bike crackdown and the recent rape trial.  They really should do everything they can to repair their image and reach out to the community, not just close ranks and antagonize everyone.

  • J:Lai

    to play devils advocate for a moment –
    Bicycle share of NYC transportation is very small.  With the exception of pleasant weekend days in the summer, even the best bike lanes in the city are sparsely used, even at rush hour.  Although the growth rate has been quite high, this doesn’t indicate much as it is easy to have rapid growth when starting from a very small initial base.

    Changing the laws to be more accomodative to cyclists, in this context, is a very low priority for the legislature.  This is especially true when you consider that the bicycling constituency is not a cohesive voting bloc, in general not politically connected, and bicycle infrastructure is not a good source of patronage jobs nor lucrative contracts.

  • J:Lai

    I agree, but you pretty much have to fire the whole police force if you use that standard.

  • wkgreen

    I also try not to impede anyone else’s right-of-way when riding on city streets, and I’ve been known to be extra courteous on the PPW lane even to the point of yielding to pedestrians when I clearly have the light. In the park, however, as someone with an admitted “Fred” streak, I feel that it is a different story at most times. I feel that the loop should belong primarily to runners and cyclists. The large parks are the only places in the city where one can ever ride full out, racing enthusiast or not.  People strolling about have every other path and almost every sq. in. of field space to call their own, not to mention much of the city, and, without cars, there aren’t THAT many cyclists that you can’t cross within 30 seconds or so even at its busiest. The crosswalks in the park are practically irrelevant anyway as most don’t bother using them.
     
    Bikesnob’s description of PP in the afternoon is perfect in showing the contrast with car hours. At that time it probably IS a good idea for cyclists to slow down or stop, when necessary, at reds, as difficult as that may be. Yet, while I don’t think it should be taken out on the poor pedestrians trying vainly to cross at the light, I fully understand the frustration of the “Wilma” described in the blog. Bikes, at that time, must forsake their lanes to the car speedway and are dangerously confined to a narrow strip that sometimes, due to road obstructions or puddles, must even be shared with runners and others on foot. There is simply no room to maneuver, and those innocents trying to cross just become another impediment.  Adding insult to injury, at certain times of the year the only available after or pre-work time for being able to do our thing in daylight (again- Where else are we to go?) happens also to coincide with car hours. The frustration is engrained in the situation.
     
    It’s a difficult and complicated world. Getting rid of cars in the park would make things a whole lot simpler. At least it would help to keep our annoyance of each other at bay.

  • “In the park, however, as someone with an admitted “Fred” streak, I feel that it is a different story at most times. I feel that the loop should belong primarily to runners and cyclists.”
     
    I have to disagree with this. I sympathize that it’s hard to find a place to bike flat out but this is still a shared public space, and even if peds limit themselves to pathways they still need to cross Lake Drive to get in or out of the park.
     
    I don’t know what the solution can be, except to maybe set aside certain hours when people can race around, kind of like they do for dog owners to let their dogs off the leash. It could be early in the morning before most people even get to the park. The problem is that, while you can avoid the part of the park where the dogs are running around, you can’t actually avoid the road the cyclists are cycling around.

  • Dan Berkman

    I have not received a ticket while riding my bike.  It has not been difficult because I just follow the effin rules.  I stop for red lights, I signal when I turn and stop, I never ride the wrong way or on the sidewalk and I have the required bell and lights.  It’s not rocket science.  My commute takes a few minutes longer and I’ve waited at some pretty empty intersections, but my chances of getting a ticket are hovering around zero. 

    On an average day I see probably a dozen other riders running lights, riding the wrong way, or riding at night without lights.  I even see some riders with headphones.  Some of these things are unsafe, some of them are against the law and some of them are just stupid.  If someone wants to gain convenience at the expense of the law and their fellow cyclists then they are free to do so, but it’s nuts to pretend that there aren’t going to be consequences. 

  • If the assault on cycling continues, there aren’t going to be more cyclists. Who the hell is going to be crazy enough to ride when they’re going to get a $300 ticket for safely riding through an empty intersection that they could walk through without anyone batting an eye?
     
    But more, as long as the DOT is terrified of creating more “controversial” bike lanes, cycling’s share of transportation is going to stagnate. Your typical New Yorker isn’t going to ride the streets until those streets look much more like Copenhagen.
     
    … On the other hand, more people will probably ride with climbing gas prices and deteriorating public transportation.

  • wkgreen

    The whole park is a shared space. You would not normally stroll across the tennis courts or through a soccer match in the middle of a game, nor should you walk in the middle of the roadway without being aware. There is really nothing for pedestrians to do there except to get across it. My personal experience as a pedestrian during non-car hours is that I never find that to be difficult. As a cyclist I seldom find it difficult to avoid pedestrians unless they happen to be walking 3 or 4 abreast in the middle of the roadway. This should not be more complicated than it is. It doesn’t seem to me to be a big problem except when there are cars.

  • The Truth

    @7cf4b37ec2d4158b684563a183dcc335:disqus It might be better to make a clean sweep now and cut our losses, rather than suffering longer from the corruption and increasing the risk that criminals will continue to be released because police testimony can’t be trusted.

  • I’ve been commuting off and on since 2006, and I’m a bit miffed at the way fellow commuter cyclists blow through lights along 2nd and 3rd avenues and major thoroughfares such as Delancey and Houston Street. It does NOT help the cause to scare pedestrians, especially pedestrians with the right of way. This isn’t happening in Brooklyn—people stop at 4th and third avenue, and nobody tries to jump the light at Atlantic.
     
    Once you’ve reached the light and determined that nothing is coming and you’re not making pedestrians miserable, I think it’s okay to proceed with caution. But folks who run lights and plow through crowds of pedestrians are not helping the cause.

  • Yeah, funny there’s no crackdown on the bike food delivery guys, right? It’s probably the same reason the gas went out of the idea to force licenses on cyclists (a dicey prospect for many immigrant workers). I’ve seen the police busting commuter cyclists on Allen Street and in the Canal Street area, but these were hipster/commuters. Go north ten blocks and the food delivery people are all over the place. My suspicion is that the lobbyists for the restaurant trade are pretty busy making sure that their members aren’t going to have any problems with the police detaining delivery cyclists and making your kung-po chicken cold.

  • wkgreen:
     
    It’s a street. It’s not a soccer field. If it was a racetrack I’d agree with you but you’re talking about a public road people use for transportation and various types of recreation. If you can find a way to use that public road in a way that doesn’t interfere with or endanger your fellow users, that’s great. But if people can’t get into or out of a public park because they’re afraid you’re going to run them and their children over, that’s not great. In fact, that’s pretty damn shitty.

  • ms nomer

    NY Waterway’s bike policy says: “Any bicycle brought onto a ferry is subject to the bike surcharge fee unless the bike can be folded and carried like a suitcase.”  Color me surprised that detail was overlooked, when the city worked out the contract.
    http://www.nywaterway.com/CompanyPolicies.aspx

  • Larry Littlefield

    No ticket for me either.  And I might have been guilty of jaybiking a time or to, while on a main street while passing a one-way side street along jaywalking pedestrians at their speed.

    I also observe behavior that is dangerous, first and foremost, to the cyclist.  That’s what they should be stopping.  But I must admit they have botched the bike crackdown, something I did not expect.

  • wkgreen

    Suzanne- You’re right. It’s a street.  And LIKE a soccer field it is a place for a particular type of recreation. It’s not a place to hang out or let your mind or body wander. But if you watch where you are going there should never be a problem getting across it. The consideration goes both ways.

  • kevd

    What is interesting wkgreen, is that you aren’t responding to the circumstances at all.  No one was hanging out or letting their mind or body wander, they were just trying to cross the loop, with the right of way.  If no one is crossing, or if you can go through and give them 8 feet of space, I say by all means do so.  And don’t even slow down.  But if you can’t you should adjust your speed so they can cross.

    If that is too tough for you, you should do what actual racing cyclists do.  Ride river road, or ride at 7 am.

  • wkgreen

    Kevd-  I agree with almost everything that you say. By expressing some sympathy for the “Wilma” in the blog story, however, I was merely trying to comment that the presence of cars in the park can pit normally considerate people against each other.  I ride in the park at all times – Weekday, weekend, early morning, late night, mid afternoon. I’ve done this for 20 years and I’ve never had a problem keeping plenty distance from pedestrians trying to cross and I don’t think 8 ft. is enough. 12 ft. is probably more suitable. By the same token, I’ve never had difficulty keeping similar distance from cyclists when I walk across the road. I realize it is tangential to the original discussion, but I just don’t understand that problem. 7AM on a week day, BTW, is about the worst time to ride. That is when cars are unleashed on the east side, and it’s a different ball game then. One to be avoided.

  • Anonymous

    I got nailed yesterday for running a red at 113th & Broadway. The
    cop was the typical Marine-cut semi-steriod type in love with his own
    “authoritie,” to quote Cartman. But despite his lousy disposition, he
    was just taking orders, so nothing personal there.

    On that same
    trip, I was nearly sideswiped by a speeding truck, nearly doored twice,
    witnessed at least 50 cars going 40mph or more, and witnessed at least
    70 cases of double-parking in bike lanes. I’m getting my day in court,
    that’s for sure. And if found guilty, I’m contemplating refusal to pay
    and a few days of free meals courtesy of NYC’s Dept. of Corrections,
    complete with media coverage, until they get sick of me.

    Also, part of that $270 is a motorist fee that doesn’t apply to cyclists. Don’t let any judge pull that on you.

  • Ian Turner

    @Jimbo853okg:disqus: Don’t get too in love with your prospective civil disobedience. Most likely, if you don’t pay then they’ll send you dunning notices for 4-5 years, and once the amount (principal + interest + penalties) gets big enough, just levy your bank account or other property. No jail time required.

  • anonymous12345

    LOL @ You.  You ran a red and got caught and you want some kind of sympathy from everyone?  BOO HOO!

    Bikers are their own worst enemy.  Complain about everything else, which is certainly valid, but then they go do stupid things that everyone else latches onto: running lights, crazy-ass-riding, wrong-way riding…  All it does is frame the debate into something totally irrational.

  • kevd

    Ok, wkgreen.   I understand that the situation would be alot simple if there weren’t cars there, then the wilma would be able to pass through without even startling Señor Snob and his child.  But, as long as cars are there for those 4 hours (and they aren’t 20 other hours a day) the wilma isn’t automatically granted the right to buzz pedestrians who did have the right of way in this situation.  

    And you’re right about 7am, its so early as to not even exist for me.  So, make it 6pm. 
    I ride up the east side every morning, but not until about 90 minutes later.  It hasn’t really seemed that crowded yet this summer at that time, aside from all the cars being backed up from the Lincoln Rd. exit all the way back to the weird greek looking thing on Parkside on Thursday morning.  

  • Anonymous

    anonymous12345 – I don’t want anyone’s sympathy, especially yours.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with me that this is selective enforcement but that’s what is going on.The cops lost the political war in Central Park, so now they’re doing it on the street. We don’t have to take it, that’s all — once we do, we’re all sheep.

  • Anonymous

    Jimbo, that really sucks, and as you point out is completely ridiculous in the context of everything that happens on the streets of NYC every second of every day.  Don’t get yourself a record over some total BS, though.

    I have appeared in traffic court before, and after having the hearing rescheduled twice to accommodate the cop’s busy schedule, had to stand there and listen to him tell total lies about the incident in question. (My cop was tiny “but I have a gun and you don’t” Napoleon-complex-guy)

    Of course, the judge will always assume the cop is telling the truth unless you can present some physical evidence to the contrary, which is obviously impossible in almost all traffic cases. (Even if you are an international YouTube celebrity for being body slammed off your bike by a cop on camera, just as a random example, they will still lie under oath about what happened.)  You do have the opportunity to testify on your own behalf, and you do have an opportunity to respond after the decision is rendered, as I recall. That said, there has to be some way to legally gum-up the system so that it starts to cost more to write these tickets than they get out of them.  Filibustering with long pointless statements? I don’t know–suggestions? 

    If you’re in the same system I was, you can ask for a postponement the day of your hearing, thus requiring the cop to show up a second time at least.  Good luck, stay safe on the streets, and don’t let the bacon get you down!!

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