Shocking Video of the Manhattan Bridge “Battleground”

Before we get to the recap of today’s live chat about bike lanes on the Daily News’s Daily Politics blog, let’s rewind a little further. Yesterday morning Alex Nazaryan, a member of the Daily News editorial board, joined me, Doug Gordon from Brooklyn Spoke, and a few other cyclists for a bike commute over the Manhattan Bridge. The Daily News had run a piece the previous Friday calling cyclists “illiterate, blind, or merely — this is our guess — oblivious to all man-made law,” and I wanted to show someone from the paper that the vast majority of cyclists were following the correct detour route.

Alex was cordial throughout the trip, and at the beginning of our commute even told me that he thinks a separated bike lane would work well on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. At the foot of the bridge on the Manhattan side, we observed, conservatively, at least 90 percent of cyclists choosing the detour route they were supposed to take.

This morning, the paper referred to this trip as “a return… to the Manhattan Bridge battleground between bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Here’s Doug’s video of the ride across the so-called “battleground” on the south side of the bridge. Try to stay awake:

Alex and the Daily News attributed this law-abiding behavior, bizarrely, to intervention straight from the transportation commissioner:

The morning’s drizzle held down the number of foot and pedal partisans, and the Department of Transportation further dampened the skirmishing by deploying hard-hatted peacekeepers to separate the warring factions.

Forewarned that we were mounting a reconnaissance mission, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan dispatched forces.

As Doug points out…

…contractors from Skanska/Koch can often be found standing by the bike ramp on the Brooklyn side.  They are also found on the Manhattan side during many evening rush hours.  Sometimes they direct cyclists the detour and sometimes they’re just standing around having a smoke.  This is something I explained to Alex when I met him yesterday morning after we saw two men in reflective vests and hard hats standing by the barriers on the north side.  Teresa Toro, the community liaison for the bridge project, mentioned that perhaps DOT should send more people than just the two we saw there yesterday morning since human interaction is more effective than signs and plastic barriers in getting people to comply with rules.

Alex and I were at the foot of the bridge for a solid 20 minutes before we headed over to Manhattan. He could have asked these guys at any time what the deal is and whether workers are usually stationed there. I guess that’s not how the Daily News editorial board handles the task of gathering information.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    How many people were maimed?  How many?  This video is shocking!  Shocking I tell you.  Bicyclists should be ashamed of their erratic behavior.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve watched the entire video.

    Spoiler alert: nothing happens.

  • NM

    I’m not sure where the signs are, but I came across this for the first time last Saturday night.  I didn’t see any signs, and at that hour there were no workers at all.  I was a little puzzled by the barriers but assumed there had been a speed problem at the bottom of the hill.  I literally did not know I wasn’t supposed to bike the regular way until I saw this story and just rode across the north side of the bridge.  Guess I’m one of those lawless cyclists.

  • ddartley

    “Forewarned that we were mounting a reconnaissance mission, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan dispatched forces.”

    I love that.  Just like the PPW opponents who claim that DOT conspired with T.A.  Don’t like the evidence?  Just say there was a DOT conspiracy.

  • ddartley

    Thanks to annoying Disqus, my comment below got messed up.  I meant to mention how PPW opponents claimed that DOT secretly recruited TA and cyclists to help inflate PPW bike counts. 

  • Magellan315

    Why did you even bother? The newspaper has an agenda and nothing you say or do is going to change that.

  • Multi-Modalizer

    It takes a lot to embarrass a New York City tabloid, but Alex Nazarayan has managed to do it.

  • Anonymous

    The 

  • Anonymous

    The 

  • Anonymous

    The 

  • I will say that it took a lot of courage for Alex to meet us in person.  I and others have offered a lot of people in the press and politics their chance to confront a perceived dislike of bike lanes head on and few have taken the challenge.  Alex did, so that’s something.

    I will recommend that the next time Alex goes for a ride he equip his bike with a bell, front and rear reflectors, and perhaps a set of lights.  I wouldn’t want him getting a ticket from the NYPD!

  • I was part of this discussion…I was offended to how Alex labeled bike riders. Only those of the creative mind and “hipsters” ride a bike….seriously? If I were to put a label on myself(and I dont b.c Im NOT a soup can) it would be a punk-goth…sounds ridiculous right? Thats my point: all kinds of people ride bikes…since when did we have to abide by some unwritten laws on cycling? Im a wife and mom, safety isn’t a choice its a necessity. Anyone else just tired of the ignorance?

  • I also just typed that on the wrong article..you could erase that if you want, ill repost

  • Funny

    You may have stowed the assault rifles, but the helmets and packs are enough to signal that this patrol is no joke.  Terrifying fear kept me awake!

  • Funny

    You may have stowed the assault rifles, but the helmets and packs are enough to signal that this patrol is no joke.  Terrifying fear kept me awake!

  • Kate

    That’s a really long bridge!

  • emilyr

    NM – there are bright orange signs on both sides. The Daily News helpfully provided a photos: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2011/08/16/2011-08-16_report_from_the_front.html  

  • Mike

    1.2 miles is a long bridge?

  • If the videos from recent fatal crashes are ever released, I’m sure they will confirm that the careful reporting of our esteemed newspapers was just as representative of the facts as can be seen in this case.

  • Ian Dutton

    Black Hawk Down! Apocalypse Now! 

    And now: Bike Ride Over Manhattan Bridge on a Mostly Cloudy Day!

  • I walked across this bridge on the correct side last week.  There were many cyclists that flew passed me, just missing me in some cases.  It was a little unsettling.  One guy, riding without hands, even shouted out to me as he passed, “You’re on the wrong side!”  Unfortunately he wasn’t open to discussing the issue.

  • Joe R.

    Say what you will about Alex, but at least he had the courage to come into
    the “lion’s den”, so to speak.  He is to be commended for that at least.

     

    As for the video, this had to be among the most boring 7 some odd minute
    cycling videos I’ve ever seen.  No conflicts at all, and where are all these
    speeding cyclists “going for the yellow jersey” that the NYDN speaks of?  The
    whole video I kept saying over and over “get the lead out already”.  Even on the
    downgrade, it seemed everyone was going slower than I usually ride on level
    roads.  Of course, the naysayers will say all the cyclists in the video were
    coached.

     

    So what exactly is the motivation of the NYDN stirring up yet more
    controversy where there is none?  It’s not like there isn’t plenty of real news
    to cover, starting with the impending bankruptcy of the USA, along with our
    decaying infrastructure which will make economic recovery all but
    impossible.

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