Today’s Headlines

  • Today’s Council Speaker Vote the Type of Showdown Not Seen Since 1986 (Crain’sNews)
  • State of the State Teasers: Cuomo on Subway Storm Fixes (News), Airports (Crain’sWNYC)
  • Cuomo Calls NYC Airports “Inexcusable” as LGA Set to Begin $3.6 Billion Reconstruction (WSJ)
  • Zombie PPW Lawsuit Has Hearing This Morning (F’d in Park Slope)
  • Sunset Park Industrial Leaders: Cross-Borough BRT Can Help Attract Companies, Workers (City Limits)
  • SI Ferry Parking Will Be Cheaper (It’s Free for Now) as Mall Developer Takes Over (Advance)
  • Entrances at First Avenue L Train Station Too Crowded, Residents Say at CB Meeting (DNA)
  • Fire Truck Heading to Nearby Blaze Strikes, Seriously Injures Man on McDonald Avenue (News)
  • Protected Bike Lanes That Can Accommodate Emergency Vehicles — What an Idea! (HuffPo)
  • Jerry Seinfeld on Reddit: Walking or Biking to Work in NYC Is the “Coolest Thing There Is”
  • Not Just Cool, But Cold: With Subzero Wind Chills, New Yorkers Still Taking to Citi Bike (WNYC)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • carma

    I biked via citibike yesterday. i must say it was quite an experience. although im used to biking routinely in 25 degree weather, having a wind of 20+ mph plus an air temp of 10 degrees is not for the weak.

    how did i prepare? i wore some food prep gloves inside my other layer of gloves, and a wool hat that i always wear. i wore a ski liner for my pants and just my normal winter jacket with an extra fleece. i was actually breaking out a sweat, although my ears did freeze up.
    the hardest part was not the cold, but the wind. riding with 20+ mph headwinds is just horrible.

  • qrt145

    I rode Citibike just to show to the naysayers that it’s still usable during the winter!

  • Bolwerkb

    $100M/route to take some lanes away from cars and give them to buses (per BK Bureau)? Wasn’t the point of the BRT P.R. blitz that buses are oh-so-cheap or something?

    There needs to be a real public discussion about why costs are so high, a discussion that never happened during the election. BRT is not immune to the problem, obviously.

  • At $100M/route, you could build 20 BRT routes for less than half the cost of phase one of SAS. Seems like a good way to spend money to me.

  • Bolwerk

    SAS costs are obscene too. All transpo infrastructure costs are proving obscene. But excusing obscene BRT costs because they’re less than than obscene SAS costs still means that transit users are getting way less transit than they could for the same amount of money. This is theft.

    That said, 20 BRT routes are unlikely to move anywhere near as many people as the SAS, and SAS is probably cheaper over the long run when you factor in operating costs. I took $100M to be the capital/investment cost.

  • If we “take some lanes away from cars and give them
    to buses” on 20 routes, we’re talking about a significant reallocation of space to transit that will transform the car-oriented nature of major corridors. Less traffic, safer streets with more pedestrian space, better access to jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, more housing development potential — these are huge upsides.

    Comparison to SAS on ridership alone is a bit apples-to-oranges, since a lot of the BRT routes will be upgrades to existing service, but there’s no reason to think that we can’t move much larger numbers of people with surface transit than we do today. Mexico City’s BRT system has 850,000 daily passengers on five routes, largely without the kind of grade separation you see in Bogota.

    $100M per route would be a great value, especially if DOT will be building stuff like center-median transitways on streets like Northern Boulevard or Woodhaven Boulevard. Heck, double that cost would be a good value, considering that you’d be improving trips for lots of people who already take the bus, in addition to luring many more people to use transit.

  • Joe R.

    The big problem with cold weather riding is exposed skin. It’s easy enough to keep your core warm but hands, feet, and face present their own problems. I personally avoid riding when it’s much under about 25°F. Even with gloves my hands start to get too cold after about 30 minutes.

    I went for a walk the other night when it was 8°. After about 10 minutes I gave in and put my hood up. The wind was making my ears freeze up. After that all was well but I wouldn’t have wanted to be on a bike. I suppose there are measures you can take to make cycling tolerable at such temperatures but not enjoyable. As you said, the winds are really the worst part. When you’re sweating underneath all those clothes giving it your all fighting a major headwind, then look down and your cycling computer says you’re only going 9 or 10 mph, it’s pretty demoralizing. Add in a hill, and it really saps your will. If I absolutely had to get around under my own power in a place where this type of weather is the norm, I would seriously consider a velomobile. Being enclosed would solve the cold problem. The aerodynamic shape would at least allow reasonable progress against headwinds.

    One cold weather tip to pass on is to underdress slightly except at the extremities. You’ll be a little cold the first 10 or 15 minutes but as your core heats up from the exertion, you’ll be fine after that. I will recommend overdressing the extremities. Those will only get colder the longer you’re out. As for dealing with headwinds, the best way is to take steps to make your bike faster, like a disk rear wheel cover and/or getting a bike with a more aero frame. The disc rear wheel seems to give me about 1 to 2 mph more speed under normal mild wind conditions but substantially more in headwinds. A disk rear wheel combined with an aero frame seems to let me pedal 3-4 mph faster into a major headwind compared to a “normal” bike. I recall last December when I had ~15 mph headwinds both ways riding to a friend’s place in Coney Island I was able to hold about 13 to 15 mph most of the way. I doubt I could have gone much over 10 or 11 mph on a regular bike. Just don’t put a disk on front no matter what. Those are treacherous in cross winds, to the point they yank the handlebars right out from you. Don’t ask me how I know this. 😉

  • I ride to work every day barring rain or snow. Sometimes I will skip a day due to cold, as I did on Tuesday. But, having missed Friday, Monday, and Tuesday (and also the intervening weekend, as I don’t ride on weekends outside the summer — therefore, after not having ridden for five straight days), I couldn’t stand missing yet another day.

    So I rode on Wednesday when it was 9 degrees in the morning, thereby setting a new personal record. I had enough layers on to keep my body warm; and my hands were faring surprisingly well under my three pairs of gloves. My feet started feeling pretty cold by the end of my hour-long ride, despite my two pairs of socks; but it wasn’t too bad.

    The point about the exposed skin thing is a good one. I wrapped my face with three scarves, such that only my eyes were showing. That worked very well in terms of warmth, though there were two flaws in that system.

    The first flaw is that, when climbing hills, I didn’t feel like I could draw in enough oxygen. So I had to move the scarves down, so that my mouth was uncovered, and then pull them back up after I had climbed the hill. Fortunately, this kind of hill occurs only twice in my 11-mile ride to work (one of which is the ascent onto the Williamsburg Bridge).

    The second flaw is that the scarves put pressure on my nose, which causes it to run even more than usual. So, several times while I was stopped at red lights, I found that I had to pull out the tissues that I always keep with me, and then move the scarves down, wipe my nose, and then pull the scarves back up.

    Even though it was difficult to manage that kind of cold, I am glad that I did it. I hate the cold and I love the heat (I have ridden 100 miles on a 90-degree day); so it is sometimes tough for me to push myself to get out there in the winter. I really cannot afford to let my will slip; that would lead to my missing ever more and more days, as the comfort of the subway beckons.

    And I could feel my will starting to crack. The missing of all those days before Wednesday left me feeling a bit of fear going into Wednesday morning; if I had given into this fear and skipped Wednesday as well, I am sure I would have felt a terrible sense of failure that would have built on itself. But, after I did the ride on Wednesday morning, I felt instead an encouraging sense of accomplishment. So I staved off the potential crisis of my will power.

    Going home Wednesday night was much better in the noticeably less cold temperatures; indeed, I wound up carrying in a bag a couple of those layers that I had worn that morning.

    And by today I could go back to wearing shorts; so things were back to normal.

  • Joe R.

    You have my admiration for riding in this weather even if you had some issues with your system for keeping warm. Truth is I wouldn’t have done any better. My nose tends to run when I ride in very cold weather also, so any face covering would have quickly become wet, losing its effectiveness.

    I know exactly what you mean about missing days. My last ride was December 28 but maybe I’ll attempt a ride tonight. The more days I miss, the harder it is when I finally get back on the bike. Unfortunately, we’re having a real winter this year, so my riding will probably be somewhat limited for the foreseeable future. The irony is back in 2012 I did over 200 miles each month in January and February. Both were personal records for the months. Last year I didn’t ride as much those months on account of both the weather and also nursing sore muscles from riding over 4300 miles in 2012. Still, I managed to make up for it later in the year, finishing 2013 with 3022 miles.

    I personally prefer riding in 40 to 55 degree temperatures. That’s warm enough to not be cold but still cool enough to avoid sweating. I’ve ridden on 90+ degree days in the past but avoid it now because I don’t find it enjoyable. Fortunately since I ride at nights most of the time the hot weather doesn’t cause me to lose too many days. Generally I won’t ride if it’s above the low 80s unless the humidity is low but most nights it’s cooler than that, even in July or August.

    Anyway, I know I have the willpower to get back to riding. I’ve experienced much longer periods without riding and gotten back in the saddle with no problems.

    Yeah, it’s a veritable heat wave the next few days compared to what we’ve been having. If I don’t get back on the bike tonight, I will within the next few days.

  • I wish I could be as confident in maintaining my will power after a prolonged pause; I don’t want to test it.

    Since I began recording my mileage in mid-2012, I have made 300 miles in every month but one (and that month I rode 297 miles). I just barely made it in December.

    But my winter totals pale in comparison to other times of year. In the spring/fall months of April, May, September, and October of 2013, I averaged well over 450 miles per month.

    And in the summer, forget it; I come alive. Over the past two years, I have averaged over 750 miles per month in the months of June, July, and August. This past July I hit 1000 miles, tallying 379 miles in one week alone (the only really hot week we had all summer).

    In 2013 I rode a total of 5857 miles, which is an average of 16 miles a day for the whole year. But my average during the summer months of June, July, and August was 26 miles a day; and in July alone it was 32 miles a day — or double my year-long average.

    So looking at my January results so far (after today’s ride home it will be only 66 miles, with about 1/3 of the month gone) is pretty depressing! But, I am pretty sure that I’ll make it up as we go along.

  • Joe R.

    5857 miles in a year is pretty amazing if you ask me, especially considering you didn’t spread it out more evenly over the year. My best ever year was 1991 with 5001.5 miles. My best ever month was July 1985 with 724.4 miles. I think the most I’ve gone in any 7-day period was a bit north of 250 miles. Nowadays I’m probably hard-pressed to do much over 400 miles a month regardless of weather. That’s about all my beat-up body can handle. That said, I could probably ride more if I had better riding conditions (i.e. smoother streets and fewer things requiring me to slow down, stop, or change direction). I’m sure one of these years I’ll break my old record. I actually thought I might do it in 2012. I was ahead of my 1991 pace until May, and not really horribly far off even in early fall. Unfortunately, I had a bunch of things which got in the way of riding late in the year. Still, 2012 was my second best year in terms of mileage.

    I’ve been keeping track of my mileage since starting college in 1980. Before that I didn’t have a speedometer/odometer. I consider anything over 3000 miles to be a good year. Truth is I slackened off a lot from the mid 1990s through the mid 2000s, with many years under 1000 miles. It’s only in the late 2000s/early 2010s that I started getting back to my old habits. The last four years totaled 11,510 miles. Last time I was riding that much was in my early 20s.

  • Bolwerk

    Your first paragraph basically describes why it should not cost what seems to be ~$10M/mile. I’m not sure I disagree with your value comment, but if value is absolute then cutting costs to achieve the same outcome means you can have more routes. Accepting that things should just be double or triple what they should cost is why nothing gets built.

    If New York BRT achieves Mexico City’s ridership, it might generate 7730 daily riders/route-km (cf., Mexico City’s rapid transit: 19,460; New York’s: 15,965). A more likely outcome is our existing BRT: First Ave., mirroring SAS, achieved less than ~4000.* Full-length SAS is expected to pull 36,500. And I presume New York has significantly higher labor costs than Mexico City, so there is no way the relative value will be the same here.

    * Granted, a lot of people will simply be indifferent between SBS and limited and local, which is fine.

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