Today’s Headlines

  • Council Member David Greenfield Wants to Mandate Helmets For All Cyclists (WSJ)
  • Wolfson: To Keep Cyclists Safe, Try Supporting Bike Lanes (Transpo Nation)
  • Red Hook Residents, Electeds, TWU Team Up To Fight for Red Hook Buses (WNET)
  • Parallel Parking Driver Pins Teacher Phyllis Pitt Against McDonalds and Kills Her (News)
  • Feds Shut Down 26 Curbside Bus Companies (NYT)
  • State Still Won’t Release Tappan Zee Docs, 111 Days Later (MTR)
  • Thruway Truck Tolls Going Up 45 Percent, Unrelated to TZB Financing (Times-Union)
  • DOT Proposes Extending Fifth Avenue Bike Route Through Sunset Park (DNAinfo)
  • Why Does This Brand New Subway Station Already Have Leaks? (Tribeca Trib)
  • After Recount, Republican David Storobin Defeats Lew Fidler to Win Brooklyn Senate Seat (NYT)
  • The Journal Profiles New York’s Old-School Schwinn Bike Clubs
  • Will Livery Cabs Start Legally Taking Street Hails This Monday? (DNAinfo)
  • Miami Cops Get Serious, Write One Failure to Yield Ticket Per Minute (Miami Herald)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Anonymous

    Another car on the sidewalk, with a pedestrian injury, this time fatal.  Look, I KNOW that bikes don’t belong on the sidewalk.  But this epidemic of cars injuring people on sidewalks makes me reflexively angry at people who complain about bikes and not cars.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I generally take the subway once a week, and unfortuantely yesterday was the day.  I got hit with a 45 minute delay on the Manhattan Bridge due to signal problems at DeKalb. 

    Younger folks were on their cell phones.  I can’t believe this!  This has never happened!

    Oh yes it has.  The state legislature has spent 20 years firing up the fiscal DeLorean, and we’re going Back to the Future! (the 1970s).  At least the car was relatively empty.  Back in the day you were often crushloaded in situations like that.

  • Miles Bader


    I KNOW that bikes don’t belong on the sidewalk.

    Hmmm, I don’t…

  • Bolwerk

    I guess Red Hook gave up on its LRT. And obviously the TWU doesn’t like something that would reduce labor overhead.  :-O

  • Anonymous

    @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus , I wonder if the sidewalks where you are in Japan are much wider than NYC’s?  Ours have been unfairly narrowed last century specifically to accommodate cars.

  • Anonymous

    They’ll force me to wear a helmet when they put in on my cold, dead skull!

    Just kidding–I wear a helmet already. But I know that it is more out of magical thinking than anything else, and people should make their own decisions. The safety in numbers effect is more important for safety than wearing a helmet, and forcing people to wear helmets will only decrease the number of cyclists, especially when it comes to bikeshare. So from a public health perspective, it makes no sense to force people to use helmets.

  • Bolwerk

    Bikes don’t belong on the sidewalk.  They deserve their own lanes.  I’m not very fond of how NYC handles that, partly because the bike lanes are contiguous with the street rather than the sidewalk. But people should no sooner be walking in bike lanes than bikers should be biking on the sidewalk. 

  • Glenn

    If cyclists need to wear helmets, can cars all get blackboxes that automatically send info the the local police informing them of speeding violations within the city limits.

  • Nanny State

    I wonder if David Greenfield thinks the pedestrian killed at the McDonald’s by a driver should have been wearing a city-mandated helmet?

  • carma


    nice pun on the helmet.  love the analogy to the NRA 

  • Danny G

    @ddartley:disqus @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus They are not significantly wider. Some of the sidewalks along big streets are about 14 feet wide, and not paved with concrete, but with asphalt, so it has a smooth riding surface. You will also often find a low fence and bushes between the sidewalk and the street. More people may be riding bikes than walking on that sidewalk, depending on the neighborhood.
    For the most part, you can ride your bike either on the sidewalk or in the street, depending on what is more comfortable/appropriate for you.

    I believe that it you are not allowed to ring your bell at pedestrians while riding on the sidewalk except for an emergency. The thinking goes that if you have a need to ring a bell at a pedestrian, you should be riding more considerately.Take a look at Google Street View for different neighborhoods throughout Tokyo, and once you realize that Japan has a lower death rate in their streets, lower car ownership, higher cycling and train mode split, and lower obesity rates, you may begin to question your own convictions about how things must be in the streets. Try to resist the NBBL-esque urge to dismiss it all, and say that “This isn’t Tokyo! This isn’t Amsterdam! New York will never be like anywhere else!”

  • Au revoir, Lew.  I fully expect that your successor will be every bit as terrible as you when it comes to transportation equity.

  • The Truth

    I’ve visited Tokyo.  The cyclists on the sidewalk are not a comfortable situation, even if they’re not deadly.

    We can, and should, so better in providing appropriate facilities for ALL street users.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Au revoir, Lew.  I fully expect that your successor will be every bit as terrible as you when it comes to transportation equity.”Well, Lew did leave us with the payroll tax, allowing the MTA to kick the can at the cost of turning the suburbs against the city and sticking it to working people but not government workers (the employer can’t pass on the tax), retirees (don’t get payroll) and the rich (paid in capital gains).He could make the claim that the tax avoided disaster.  I would make the claim that it merely ensured a gradual decline, with those who sold the future perhaps getting to move on before it arrives and little change of a turnaround.

  • Eric McClure

    Next time I go to a City Council Transportation Committee hearing, I’m going to wear a helmet to protect myself from David Greenfield’s dopey, anti-cycling brainstorms.

  • Good point about the payroll tax, Larry. THanks.

  • Daphna

    Carl Kruger, one of the four members of the state senate who sabotaged congestion pricing, resigned his seat in disgrace in December 2011.  Lew Fidler, another politican who opposes changes that would make streets stafer, ran for the open state senate seat but lost to Republican David Storobin by 14 votes.  Lew Fidler, a city council member since 2002, introduced legislation to make it harder to install bike lanes by institutinig more red tape around road changes involving bike lanes, but not around any other type of road changes.  I saw news articles saying he was expected to resign his city council seat to run for the state senate, but did he actually resign?  Is Mercedes Narcisse going to take his place in the city council?  At any rate, his term ends December 31, 2013 and he can not run again.  However, I hope he resigned and that NYC does not have to have him for another 1.5 years making bad decisions for this city.

  • Guest 2

    If the city wants to put bike lanes in Sunset Park, for god shake…. pave the effing road already first ! It is very bumpy ride.

  • Miles Bader

    @40daebbed12b53745f7f9f21456e6154:disqus Tokyo is a very big place, and statements like “The cyclists on the sidewalk are not a comfortable situation” simply aren’t meaningful.

    There are areas with narrow sidewalks, ares with wide sidewalks, many, many areas with no sidewalks (generally narrow one-lane roads shared by all modes, making them almost like a wide sidewalk that people drive on too!), areas that are crowded, those that are not so crowded, etc.

    There certainly are many places in Tokyo where bicyclists on the sidewalk are “not comfortable,” (e.g. those with very narrow or very crowded sidewalks, especially in the most crowded city shopping areas)—but there are also many places where they’re perfectly fine.  One of the main concentrations of bicycle usage is as a “last mile” mode in more residential areas, for people traveling to the train station and doing their shopping, and in such areas the conditions are typically more amenable to cyclists (both on sidewalks and on the road).  Behavior is also very important, because it’s speed differences that are the biggest issue with mixed routes, not the mere presence of “bicycles”.

    I’m not speaking against dedicated bike routes&mash;if you’ve got the room, they’re great.  All I’m saying is that unconditional statements like “bicylists should never use the sidewalk because they’re always incompatible with pedestrians” are too simplistic—and demonstrably wrong.

  • The Truth

    @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus I certainly agree about the dangers of blanket statements.  But sometimes guiding preferences need to be clear.  Dedicated bicycle infrastructure is (generally) far superior to forcing all non-motorized roadway users to share the same space.
    A situation where pedestrians need to be mindful of bicyclists (getting bumped in the elbow with a handlebar can be a real quality of life issue, and it happens in crowded areas even when the cyclist is responsible).

    To a large extent this is even worse for cyclists.  Having to share space with pedestrians forces you to move slowly and uncomfortably, greatly reducing the benefits of using a bicycle.

    I stand behind the statement that “The cyclists on the sidewalk are not a comfortable situation,” even if you may have plenty of examples where, in some parts of town, it’s not that bad.  In many parts of town, the policy is clearly reducing quality of life, and it makes a negative impression on visitors.  

    After discussing with a few Japanese friends, I believe Tokyo can do better.  More importantly, it just is not a model I would ever want to see proposed for New York, since I know we can do better with our infrastructure.

    (To be fair, if you wanted to say it was ok in suburban Iowa where you get 2 pedestrians/hr on the sidewalk, I don’t think I’d disagree.)

  • The Truth

    p.s. Generally there is room for dedicated bike lanes if you MAKE the room.

  • Miles Bader

    @40daebbed12b53745f7f9f21456e6154:disqus  Er, well you can “stand behind” your statement all you want, but I’m pretty comfortable in saying you’re just wrong about that particular point.  It takes time to get a vibe for a place.

  • The Truth

    If you look around @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus and don’t see room for improvement, then you are TOO comfortable.

    This isn’t just a matter of “takes time go get a vibe.”  My friends from Tokyo would be equally quick to dismiss your own come-lately opinion.

    If you’re happy with congestion that diminishes the comfort and utility of both modes, when it might be improved, well then fine for you.  I’m fighting for something better!

  • fj

    The ethics of promoting clean transportation systems based on cars is as questionable as ‘Clean Coal’ propaganda since they are bad extremely wasteful designs that weigh very heavily on the environment as major accelerants of climate change.

    Rapid migration to net zero mobility solutions will be a major win for everyone.

    re:  The Ethics of ‘Clean Coal’ Propaganda


  • Guest

    Does this @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus guy actually ride a bike?

    What does this mean???
    “Behavior is also very important, because it’s speed differences that are the biggest issue with mixed routes, not the mere presence of ‘bicycles’.”

    If there isn’t a speed difference between me on my bike and the pedestrians, it clearly is not a “comfortable situation” for the cyclists!

  • fj

    This is a wonderful Climate Progress post by Dr. Jonathan Koomey where the design concept “substituting smarts for parts” likely covers net zero mobility solutions as well.

    Do Flying Wind Turbines Make Sense?

    Dr. Jonathan Koomey was a researcher and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) for more than two decades

    And is author of Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-Based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs.


  • fj


    Re:  Speed differences. 

    Not sure what you mean and Miles Bader is likely on the right track. 

    When I’m around pedestrians on a bike I tend to go maybe just a little faster than their walking speeds — which has prevented all the accidents that would have happened if I had been going much faster — and around children, disabled, and the elderly I will often get off my bike and walk it since an even minor accident with these groups has a much greater potential to turn much more serious.

  • Anonymous

    With very few exceptions, I don’t cycle on sidewalk, but I’m sure that with some common sense it can be done safely in some places.

    Not all sidewalks are the same. Even in Manhattan, there are some with almost zero pedestrian traffic, and even without even building entrances and exits. For example, some parts of the sidewalk of the Riverside Drive. You could cycle there safely pretty fast without getting in anyone’s way.
    Even on a normal residential street, pedestrian traffic is often light. I just looked out my window (4:30 pm on a Sunday), and saw exactly one pedestrian on the entire block. If someone were cycling on this sidewalk at greater than pedestrian speed (but still with caution to account for building and car doors), and only slowed down to pass the pedestrian carefully, no one would be harmed either.

    On the other hand, there are sidewalks near Time Square where even *walking* faster than 2 mph is impossible. Cycling there would be insane.

    The best argument I’ve seen against sidewalk cycling that actually addresses safety, rather than just the issue of startling impressionable pedestrians, concerns the risk that cyclists going on the sidewalk and then through a crosswalk faster than a pedestrian are less likely to be spotted by drivers. Basically the driver thinks “the crosswalk is clear, I have time to cross, even if a pedestrian got on it now at pedestrian speed”; but a cyclist appearing suddenly on the crosswalk at 10-15 mph might not be so lucky. As long as you are aware of that as a cyclist and always cross slowly, it shouldn’t be dangerous to ride on a sidewalk. Plus, again, not all sidewalks are the same: the Riverside Drive has a sidewalk where you can go several miles without finding any intersection.

  • Miles Bader

    @40daebbed12b53745f7f9f21456e6154:disqus  Of course there’s “room for improvement”.  There always is.

    But your claim (based, judging from your words, on little experience) is stronger:  saying that things are “uncomfortable” asserts that on average the “comfortableness” (for lack of a better word) is below some threshold where most people would say it’s not acceptable.

    All I’m saying is that I don’t think that claim is justified, because there are a large number of places (and this is based on a lot of direct observation, over many years, and many hundreds of miles of walking) where it doesn’t seem to be the case—enough so that I’d say, on average, things work reasonably well, even if you could make it even better by building dedicated infrastructure (of course you could!).  Dedicated infrastructure represents a jump in investment required (monetary and political), so it’s understandable if it’s used only in cases where the investment seems to be obviously justified.

    Of course NYC is not the same as Tokyo, and it may well be the case that this sort of thing would never fly in NYC.  I don’t dispute that.  Indeed, I’d be totally happy with more dedicated biking infrastructure in Tokyo (hopefully at the expensive of car lanes)!

    [and “johnny-come-lately”?  Er, what?]

  • Guest

    @twitter-93223785:disqus of course when I’m forced to share space with pedestrians, I’m responsible and slow down to near walking speed too.  
    But cycling on sidewalks just isn’t a good idea.  They’re not designed for it (curb cuts, sign posts, etc.), so you have to go slowly even if there aren’t any pedestrians.

    If I wanted to go at walking speed, I’d just leave the bike at home and enjoy a comfortable walk, right?

  • Miles Bader

    @afe39426ed830fa3a54e7065a43a60e1:disqus Things are not so black and white in reality.

    In some (many?) cases, sidewalks are explicitly designed for bicycling, in the sense that there are explicit features added to them to make cycling easier.

    And you do not always have to go at “walking speed” on the sidewalk.  It’s a matter of judgment, time, and place.  If it’s a wide and empty sidewalk, with good sight-lines to avoid problems, bicyclists can (and do) go faster, with no problems.

    This is all seems common sense—”act as appropriate and safe” instead of “follow rigid and narrowly proscribed rules”—and I know that doesn’t work well everywhere (“common sense” being not always so common…), but it does work.

  • Guest

    @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus in the US, sidewalks are never designed for bicycles.  If they are where you are in Tokyo – seems like it could be reasonable – then your comments really just don’t have any relevance for New York.  What you are calling a “sidewalk” is actually something else entirely. 

  • Guest

    @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus in the US, sidewalks are never designed for bicycles.  If they are where you are in Tokyo – seems like it could be reasonable – then your comments really just don’t have any relevance for New York.  What you are calling a “sidewalk” is actually something else entirely. 

  • fj

    Guest, Not sure this is true; New York City are so strong most are suitable for cars which they have no problem using.

  • fj


    Re:  “If I wanted to go at walking speed, I’d just leave the bike at home and enjoy a comfortable walk, right?”

    Are you kidding:  Even if the section that you have to walk is say 1% of your total trip?

  • fj


    Most of time it’s necessary to go fairly slow even in bike lanes where there are a lot of park cars and or heavy pedestrian traffic.

    I don’t know how many times pedestrians have walked out in front of me without looking to the expressed dismay of other pedestrians in the area; and I take a great deal of pride in not having a single accident; and I’ve literally closed opening doors of cabs and cars ready to door me.

    You ski the conditions and your abilities and it’s the same thing with cycling.

  • fj



     . . . New York City sidewalks are so strong most are suitable for cars which they have no problem using and often do.

  • Viktor

    and the elderly I will often get off my bike and walk it since an even minor accident with these groups has a much greater potential to turn much more serious.

    a very good point,