Today’s Headlines

  • NY1 Credits PPW Bike Lane Foes for Safer Grand Army Plaza; WNYC Notes Dropped Plaza Street Plans
  • Linda Cohen, 55, in Coma After Being Struck by Cyclist in Prospect Park (Walk in the Park, Gothamist)
  • East Harlem Businesses Say Community-Backed Bike Lanes Will Worsen Congestion, Asthma (DNAinfo)
  • More on Plans for Parking-Protected Hudson Street Lane From DNAinfo
  • Cuomo Misses Budget Deadline, Doesn’t Set a New One (Post)
  • AP: Are Multiple NYPD Scandals Coincidence, or Evidence of Cyclical Widespread Corruption?
  • Daily News Op-Ed Writer Defends Ticket Fixing as Victimless Crime, Says Civilians Just Don’t Get It
  • DiNapoli Reports Metro-North Overtime Abuse (WNYC, Second Ave Sagas)
  • Man in Critical Condition After He Is Hit by His Own Truck at Upper East Side Garage (News)
  • The Nightmare Is Over: MTA Stops Telling Straphangers to Be Patient (Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    I do hope the new data coming out on crashes diaggreates each mode.  For bicycles, that means separating those riding fast for exercise, commercial cyclists, and those riding for transportation.

    I’m not surprised that the collisions have occured in the park, and in particular in that spot where cyclists comfortable with high speeds can build them up going down the hill.  They should only go that fast during those organized early morning rides when people are there to warn pedestrians.

    My guess is the cyclist was speeding.

  • CBS2 did a better job with the GAP story than NY1. Their commenters totally get it, too.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/09/brooklyns-grand-army-plaza-now-redesigned-for-safety/

  • carma

    while i never rode in PP, i can say that there are downhill stretches when you can easily go 40 if you really gun it.  although striking at 40mph from a bike certainly is not the same as being struck from a car, one does need to recognize that a park is not limited to cyclists.

    the last time i remember being in the park, i was waiting for the light to change and even on a pedestrian green, cyclists rarely do stop.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t wait till there are so many “normal” cyclists that the parks become unappealing for racers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Comment on Gothamist:  “I will also say that pedestrians often walk out into the roadway without the slightest regard for their own self preservation (and even when the park is closed to cars there are vehicles (parks dept., police cars, etc.).  It is still a roadway.  Worse, there are people who let their toddlers (or dogs) wander out into the road as well.”

    Wrong attitude.  Just as cyclists do not believe motor vehicles have a right to kill them if they make a mistake, so cyclists do not have the right to hit dogs/seniors/children other pedestrians if they make a mistake.

    At less than 15 miles per hour, a bicycle can stop in a few feet at most.  If you look at the speed limit law, it doesn’t start with a number.  It starts by saying it is impermissable to ride faster than the conditions allow.  Then it notes that if there are no conditions that require lower speeds, the speed limit is X.

    Quote on the pattern of police corruption:  “The outbreak of corruption is staggering,” said State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from Brooklyn. “The mayor can no longer ignore it.”

    Hey Hakeem, how did you vote on the bill passed two months ago, the “Pension Protection Act,” which permanently, irrevocably reverses a prior law taking pensions away from police officers found guilty of misconduct for those with 20 or more years on the force?

  • krstrois

    That’s terrible news about Linda Cohen. I don’t understand why anyone, car or bike, needs to speed in a public park. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    You need to ride fast for training, and to get exercise.  It’s a legitimate thing, but causes harm if out of place.  I used to fear crossing the park drive myself with my kids when they were pre-schoolers.  What if one of them got excited and bolted?

    Bottom line, the city needs to think about those riding for exercise and training as a separate group with separte issues, and needs to both accomodate and limit them.

    I had suggested the FDR/Harlem River drive allow cyclists riding in the right lane at least 20 mph from sun-up to 8:30 am on weekends and holidays, with signs to warn motor vehicles of their presence and volunteer drivers riding behind them.  Cyclists in training would be directed to ride fast there.

  • The quote from the random jogger in the NY1 piece is really great:

    “It’s a bit confusing if you’re just looking it for the first time. But I think it’s necessary.”

    I really wish other people would have as much self-awareness about their own reaction to change as this guy.

  • A velodrome instead of parking lots at Atlantic Yards would solve multiple problems.

  • dporpentine

    @BenFried:disqus But the “racers” in Prospect Park aren’t interested in racing. They’re Freds who need to be around pedestrians so they can feel like they’re going fast.

  • Eric McClure

    Here’s wishing Linda Cohen a speedy and complete recovery.  We all need to work together to figure out how safely accommodate all park users, and step number one is to permanently make the parks car-free.  While none of the reports indicate the particulars of this crash, I completely agree with Larry that should a pedestrian make a mistake, the penalty shouldn’t be injury.

    This sad incident also points up the complete absurdity of PPW bike path opponents’ brainstorm that the two-way PPW path should be relocated to the park drive.

  • Joe R.

    Ben, velodromes aren’t necessarily an answer except for a small minority. There’s one about a mile from me but I never use it. It’s fenced off, they only allow fixed-gear track bikes, and frankly riding around in circles for an hour or more is boring as hell. And it’s not even good training for road racers (or even people who just ride for exercise like me) because you get a better workout riding in all types of terrain.I hate to sound redundant but grade-separated bike lanes would solve multiple problems. Besides serving their primary purpose of accomodating riders who safely want to get from point A to point B, they can also accomodate those who ride for exercise or training. Basically, NYC needs a lot more places where cyclists can ride without encountering pedestrians, traffic lights, stop signs, or motor vehicles. That would fix the issue of people who treat roads in public parks like their own personal race course.And I agree with Eric about making parks permanently car free (and we should remove the traffic lights once that’s done).  A public park should be a refuge from the stress of motor traffic.  If a small minority are inconvenienced because they can’t drive through parks, so be it.  The safety of the majority who use parks trumps the minority’s convenience.

  • wkgreen

    The specifics of the Linda Cohen incident are quite sketchy, so I am saddened, although not necessarily surprised, by those who would automatically jump to the conclusion that the cyclist was at fault when so little is known. While it is true that individuals should not have to pay such a high price for a small miscalculation they still must held at least partially accountable for their own safety. It may be in the park, but it is still a road, and people need to watch what they are doing and pay attention to where they are going out of courtesy for the activities being engaged in by other park users if not for their own personal safety. I don’t know if that played a factor here, but too often people are oblivious.

    I’ve been itching all day to comment on this and it seems now that Joe R and Eric McClure have already made some of my points. The primary problem, as discussed, goes to the presence of cars in the park. Even if they were not a direct factor in this accident, they dictate the organization of the roadway. Cars are there even when they are not while their absence renders meaningless the markings that designate one narrow strip of pavement for bikes and another for runners. The rest of the time no one seems to know where they are supposed to be, so everyone is everywhere.  But serious cyclists are in the park to stay. The answer, in any case, is not to banish them (or unnecessarily denigrate them) but to reorder the lanes in the loop to provide adequate track space that will allow everyone to stay out of each other’s way.

    With the permanent removal of cars there is really no reason why that could not happen.

  • wkgreen

    A word about cycling speeds in the park: 

    They may seem to be going faster than they are. Even a racer will seldom break the 25 MPH park speed limit. I’m not the fastest guy in the park, but I’m pretty fast and have a decent road bike. I once threw everything that I had into it going down the hill at the south end of PP and topped out at only about 28 MPH. Typically my top speed on a work out round would be somewhere around the car limit which is still about 10 to 15 MPH slower than cars actually go when they are in the park.

    If anyone cares to remember the incident one early morning last March when the NYPD set up a speed trap at the bottom of a hill in Central Park trying to bust racers, the cops were only able to issue one legitimate ticket. To my knowledge, properly embarrassed, they’ve never tried it again.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/20110323/manhattan/nypd-apologizes-ticketed-central-park-cyclists

  • Larry Littlefield

    The question is, how fast can you stop if someone wanders into your way?

    I think we can all agree that it was dumb to ticket cyclists at red lights when the park was closed to motor vehicles.  But in that case, there is no specific interval when someone can cross the park drives and not expect cyclists to be coming by.  So any traffic signals are irrelevant to who had the right of way.  It’s all judgement.

    Pedestrians walk out in front of bicycles the way they don’t walk out in front of motor vehicles.  That’s just the way it is.

  • Fred

    Horrible news about Linda Cohen. Very sorry to hear about this.

    When I’m doing loops around the park I’m usually going between 25 and 28 mph on that long downhill stretch. But I’m usually coasting, not really gunning it. I see that I once hit 36 mph on that stretch (I always do my loops when the park is relatively empty, early in the morning or late at night).

  • It’s destructive talk everywhere. It’s disappointing..

  • wkgreen

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus 
    So you want to replace one unenforceable regulation (stopping at red lights) with another that’s even more unenforceable (slower speeds only for bikes). In the meantime we are discussing an extremely sketchy story that is really little more than an abstraction on which to hang our prejudices. We have a sympathetic main character who is apparently a dedicated park volunteer and who has been in a hospital in an induced coma for a week apparently the result of a collision with a bike. We don’t know exactly who hit her, but he was described by another anonymous individual as a “racer”. It happened on a hill in a general area near the Vanderbilt St. playground, and the guy stuck around.  We don’t know much else, like how it happened or why it happened, or what she was doing, or where she was going, or where she was standing at impact, or how she missed seeing him. We don’t even know how fast the guy who hit her was going, although we are given to accept that he was speeding since apparently “ “racer” ” + “hill” = “speed”.
     
    It sucks when people get hurt, and this sounds like a particularly nasty injury. It shouldn’t happen to anyone. There should be no reason for it to happen. But let’s deal with what we know and with what we can do. If a few individuals (pedestrians as well as cyclists) can’t act responsibly and we can’t enforce respectful and safe behavior then maybe the answer is to ban bikes in the park altogether. Let’s say that they are for transportation only and are too dangerous to society for recreation and any exercise we get from them is strictly incidental. Perhaps we should put picnic tables in the roadway where the bikes would be and watch obesity rates for a substantial group go up, with all of the related health problems.  That would be a sad day. Personally I would rather take the cars out of the park and dedicate lanes for everyone’s use. It’s something that could be done that would go a long way toward solving these problems. It might even have solved this one.

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