Today’s Headlines

  • Observer Worried Citi Bike Riders Will Poke Their Eye Out With That Thing; Gothamist Responds
  • Bloomberg Extends Rockaways Ferry Through Labor Day (DNA, NY1)
  • Parents of Ariel Russo Want Independent Probe of 911 Delay (News 12)
  • Bodega Worker Struck by Speeding and Alleged Drunk Driver Opens His Eyes (DNA)
  • In Daily News Chat, Albanese Touts “Mayors for Transit,” Fends Off Dumb Bike Lane Question
  • 34th Precinct Aims to Clear Vendors From Sidewalks in Washington Heights and Inwood (DNA)
  • Cop Impersonator Orders Another Motorist Out of Flushing Parking Spot, Then Shoots Him (TL)
  • Advance Says DOT Is Dismissive of Council Members’ Request to Increase Off-Peak Ferries
  • Rockefeller and Lindsay Order Studies on East and Harlem River Bridge Tolls (MTR)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Anonymous

    Being a spaz and repeating myself from the other day, because I do hope to get thoughts on this from some of you smart people (and
    get the attention of NYC Bike share, if they lurk here): Citibike should open a channel to the
    legitimate bike rental shops and offer to give them free advertising (to those who ask). Citibike could state,
    right on its kiosks, kiosk maps, site, app, and elsewhere, things like
    “Leisure riders and tourists may get a better deal from a traditional
    rental shops. Some traditional rental shops near this Citibike station are 1.
    ______, 2. _____, 3. ______ (etc.) and are indicated on this kiosk’s map.” Could be a good PR opportunity for Citibike,
    and could help the chances of survival of BOTH segments of the industry in NYC.

  • carma

    smart idea. while i dont see citibikes taking over the footprints of rental bikes yet( because it is still not north of 59th st). it could eventually. and it would be a good service for rental bike companies if it did direct them over to rental companies. plus it also frees up bikes for annual members.

  • carma

    i think a problem with citibike riders will not be poking out their eyes with the bikes, but with injuries from running and chasing after bikes that are just docked into empty stations.

    this morning as i was docking into 41st and 8th as i was the only bicycle now available at the station, i saw a man running from port authority as fast as possibly he can towards me and grabbing the now only bike in the station.

    we really do need more stations, bikes and better balancing already.

  • Ridgewoodian

    It probably wouldn’t be too difficult to add the option to buy insurance with a Citi Bike membership, and probably pretty cheaply, too – say $10 or $15 for an annual membership, $1-$2 for daily, or something like that. Not that I’d require it, but it couldn’t hurt.

    What are peoples’ experiences with bike insurance? When I got my new Surly in February – which was by far the most expensive bike I’ve ever owned (and has gotten even more expensive as I’ve tweaked it) – I made sure to get it on my renter’s insurance so I should be at least somewhat covered in case of theft, accident, etc. But I’ve wondered if I should get something specifically geared towards bikes. One of the comments in the Observer story mentions a company called velosurance.com. I wonder if anyone has dealt with them? Thoughts?

  • Ridgewoodian

    I think that would be an excellent idea. Earlier this year, before Citi Bike started, I was down in DC and rode the Capital Bikeshare “like a tourist” and OUCH! (I haven’t made that mistake with the Citi Bike.) If there had been a sign directing me to a nearby DC version of Bike ‘n Roll I might have saved myself a few dollars and kept a bikeshare bike in circulation for transit.

  • Ian Turner

    What kind of insurance were you contemplating? Liability insurance? Insurance against damage to or loss of the bike? Personal injury insurance?

  • Anonymous

    I could be wrong, but to me complaints about Citi Bike already feel historic. Citi Bike is here, it’s incredibly popular, and it’s also, to use an overused word, awesome. Sorry, haters, but there’s no going back.

  • Ridgewoodian

    For Citi Bike? Probably all three. For myself on my own bike – certainly damage/theft and liability (not that I plan to run down any pedestrians but…..). I’m one of those lucky New Yorkers who has health care coverage through his job (hard fought for, by the way – unions! yay!) so that’s a secondary issue for me, but I guess it couldn’t hurt. So I guess all three, with an emphasis on the first two.

  • Bolwerk

    Albanese is probably the only actually pro-transit candidate. He actually wants to expand the subway network, rather than just inflict more plodding SBS on people.

  • He also wants to build many more rapid bus routes.

  • You’re not wrong at all! 500,000+ trips after it launched, the only question left about bike share is how quickly it will expand. The rest is just noise.

  • carma

    one MAJOR problem. wheres the money to build a expanded subway?

  • Bolwerk

    Which is fine, as long as you look at the transit system holistically.

    Weiner, Quinn, et al, probably literally hold transit users and especially (often poorer) bus riders in contempt.

  • Bolwerk

    Being eaten by waste like the EDC, NYPD, and even extra overhead in the existing MTA.

    It’s actually a minor problem, but a stubbornly galling one. The resources are there, but being misallocated.

  • Insurance for Citibike riders ought to be cheap. How much damage can you really do with a Citibike, if you’re not suicidal? With a huge pool of insureds, the premiums can be pretty low and still cover a wide range of liabilities/costs.

  • Ex-driver

    Yes, I’m in mind of Nancy Pelosi’s response to whining about another receding controversy: “Who cares?”

  • Daphna

    Late yesterday evening there were no usable citibikes in any of the eight docking stations on Broadway between 20th and 40th Street. A few of those docking stations had bikes but the bikes that were there were out of service with the red light on. Several other docking stations in east midtown were also completely empty of usable citibikes. I witnessed the problem and hoped Alta would do a lot of re-balancing overnight.

    As much as Dumbo docking stations report being full, much of midtown Manhattan is constantly having bike shortages.

  • Albert

    I think it would be a good thing. Since my own bicycle is recently toast, I’ve been making the rounds of bike shops looking for a new one, and I’ve asked the owners and employees what they thought of bike share. Four out of the five shop I’ve put the question to were *very* enthusiastic about bike share and cited several reasons why it was already helping business (helmet sales through the roof, new bike-share-inspired cyclists buying their own bikes to supplement Citi Bikes, etc. The single outlier was a young clerk at an Upper East Side bike shop who bristled and told me bike-share was a fad that would die out soon.

    If it turns out that her opinion is emblematic of that bike shop’s overall philosophy (which I’m getting the impression that it is), I’ll end up taking my business elsewhere.

  • Ridgewoodian

    My thought exactly, that’s why I mentioned what seemed like fairly low rates. It might be a good idea to offer this – peace of mind to riders and one less argument the anti-bike zealots can use against the program.

  • Ridgewoodian

    Yeah, I’ve had more or less the same experience. I’ve been spending a lot of time in a shop on 2nd Ave on the LES and the guys there are very enthusiastic.

  • Ridgewoodian

    Much the same thing on Monday morning in the Village. Although maybe that had to do with the Pride Parade the day before. Anyway, it was annoying.

  • Daphna

    I wish the parents of Ariel Russo were focused more on the cause of her injuries rather than the delay in treatment. They are focused on the the 4 minute delay in relaying the call from 911 operator to the ambulance dispatcher, which caused the ambulance to arrive in 8 minutes instead of 4 minutes. However, the bigger problem that should be addressed lies with what caused the Ariel Russo to be hurt in the first place. We have a police force, a justice system and politicians that are soft on vehicular crime and are allowing illegal, life-threatening driving to take place. Her parents should also be focused on the fact that the police gave chase in a circumstance where they should not have, because the danger to the public outweighed the necessity of capturing the alleged criminal at that moment. This is the second time in the recent past that the NYPD gave chase on the Upper West Side resulting in the death of a pedestrian.

    The whole culture around vehicular crime needs to change. Politicians need to support stronger laws and greater consequences. The NYPD need to make it a priority to ticket illegal driving, especially the illegal behavior that leads to collisions. The justice system needs to keep the penalties in place and not automatically knock down fines by 70% for an offense.

  • carma

    building a new subway line, is MUCH more than your so called waste within NYPD.

    we are barely through with the SAS capital project phase 1. i dont even think we have enough for phase 2 which connects to 125th st.

    building a subway at this point will take a lot more $$ than we have. you have better bang for the buck on smaller scaled projects.

  • Daphna

    Staten Island is asking for more free ferry service. If they want more frequent service, they should offer to start paying for that service. It is a hard argument to want more of something for yourself but to want someone else to pay for it.

    On July 4, 1997 “…Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, … decided to eliminate the ferry fare in conjunction with the MTA’s switch to free transfers. The Mayor said it was only fair that people in all parts of the city pay the same amount to commute, though the decision also provided an election year gift to Staten Islanders, whose support was crucial to Mr. Giuliani’s victory in 1993.”

    Previously the ferry cost 50 cents. By this rational, one could argue that the other ferry services that have sprung up should also be free. The free Staten Island ferry was a back room deal to garner political support from certain constituents. The problem is once people feel entitled to something that they do not pay for, it is hard to start charging. It would be good if the ferry could be incorporated into the metrocard payment system. Then riders could have a free transfer, and would not be paying a separate fee for the ferry, but would pay the regular fare.

  • carma

    different domains. SI ferry is DOT, the subways are NYCTransit/MTA.

    i cant see a metrocard system on the ferry.

  • Daphna

    The whole idea of insurance for citibike riders should be dropped. A bike rider, or a citibike rider does not need liability insurance any more than a pedestrian or a subway rider needs it. All can inflict similar levels of damage on others and if society is not calling for pedestrians to carry liability, then they should not be calling for cyclists to carry it.

    Personal medical insurance, which would include injuries sustained while biking, is something that the federal government has already passed legislation regarding. There should not be any separate insurance requirement on bike riders or citibike riders.

    Insurance against damage/theft to a bike is something that people who own a bike can choose to have. Usually homeowners or renters insurance can cover a bike. Citibike riders should not need this.

    The bike haters will float ideas like insurance for bikeshare riders. Their goal is a decrease in cycling and a decrease in bikeshare, although they will hide behind seemingly bona fide concerns. Insurance for bikeshare riders is like a mandatory helmet policy for cyclists. Bike haters can push for mandatory helmet policy ostensibly because they care about safety, but really because it will lead to declines in cycling which they want. Bikeshare does not need the complication of any insurance policy. Insurance will promote the idea that cycling is dangerous and risky. Bikeshare should instead be treated just like walking, riding the subway or the bus and should not be associated as an activity with a higher level of risk to the rider or others.

  • Daphna

    Maybe then a regular cash fare of some amount should be charged for the ferry. Just because the Staten Island ferry has been free for the last 15 years does not mean that is the right policy ongoing.

  • Bolwerk

    If you mean transit projects, the best bang for the buck is found in the project most suitable to the need at hand. If you want to move a lot of people, a subway might bring the best return.* As a general rule, buses have the highest per-rider costs of any transit option, so “smaller scale” is most probably at best penny wise and pound foolish.

    Even bloated, overpriced, over-budget SAS is an example of this. And it costs several times more what it should. It should cost a few hundred million$ per km, and it’s costing north of $1B.

    * That’s not to mention the low-hanging fruit we already have: Triborough RX and Rockaway reactivation don’t even call for much capital expense. They pretty much just need tracks and stations, without much in the way of land acquisition.

  • Bolwerk

    Probably doesn’t make sense to bother doing anything until the MC system is replaced with a smartcard or something, but probably the best thing to do is just honor any subway fare (even a second transfer) and only charge people who use the ferry if they don’t use something else. Another option is putting the ferry behind subway fare control, but I would guess that could be expensive in Manhattan.

    It’s probably not a lot of loss, but even if SIF users don’t contribute to the ferry’s costs, they could at least contribute to the MTA’s. Especially given that the city doesn’t.

  • Daphna

    Chad Marlow, an east village resident, is doing fund raising to raise money for Akkas Ali’s medical bills since Mr. Ali does not have medical insurance. However, Akkas Ali was hit by Shaun Martin while Shaun Martin was driving. Shouldn’t Shaun Martin’s insurance have to pay for Akkas Ali’s medical bills? Shouldn’t Shaun Martin be sued personally for the money if he was not carrying the required insurance? Isn’t there also some sort of no fault insurance that should come into play? I’d like to see 32 year old Shaun Martin, aside from whatever jail time he does or doesn’t get, have a debt in the amount of Akkas Ali’s full medical bills placed against him that he has to work his whole life to pay off if he was not carrying the required insurance.

  • Daphna

    Nothing will appease anti-bike zealots. Once they get one bad idea adopted they will move on to the next. Each initiative makes biking just a little less convenient, a little less accessible, a little less economical, a little more complicated, a little more portrayed as risky, etc.

    The “peace of mind” you state comes at a high price: it portrays biking as dangerous and risky. Biking needs to be associated with walking in terms of risk and danger. Unless pedestrians need insurance for “peace of mind” them cyclists should not need it either.

  • Anonymous

    The way I see it, if you choose to live on an island that is not properly connected to the outside world, getting out of it is your problem and you should pay a fair price for your decision.

    Should the residents of Honolulu have a right to pay the same fare to travel to DC as the residents of Baltimore?

  • krstrois

    I agree entirely that it was an obvious electoral boondoggle, but I’d still rather have Staten Islanders on free boats than in cars on the Verrazano. I’d love to see a large toll increase to pay for the “free” ferry.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is that MTA has been borrowing to fund its operations budget for years, as the relative share paid by fares and city+state contributions have all declined. The MTA should run a surplus with respect to operating budget, so that it can use its credit facility to fund capital projects that offer return on investment, such as some of the ones referred to above.
    Given the level of indebtedness at the MTA, the best way of funding larger scale expansions (debt) is more or less off the table. That leaves us with a system which at best is treading water, and more likely is seeing dis-investment on a depreciation/replacement basis of the existing capital plant.

  • Anonymous

    If you take an actuarial approach, like the insurance companies do, you can’t really justify liability insurance for cyclists. The incidence of significant liability is so low, and thus the premia would be so low, that it doesn’t make economic sense to set up the whole administrative infrastructure.
    The minimum liability coverage for an automobile in NYC costs probably around $500/year, assuming a clean driving record, etc. Given that liability claims arising from bikes are 2-3 orders of magnitude lower, you would end up with premia on the order of $1/year. At that level, it just makes more sense for people to “self insure”.

    Insurance for the value of the bike itself should be built into the cost of membership + subsidies, and not a separate line item.

    Personal injury insurance is a different issue altogether, and there is nothing special about bike sharing. If there is any additional risk factor for people who participate in bike sharing, which unlikely to be true in any statistically significant way, it is probably offset by the marginal health benefits.

  • Daphna

    Even if the Verrazano had a huge toll increase, Staten Islanders would manage to escape it. They already get more than 50% off the current Verrazano toll. Manhattan residents do not get a more than 50% discount on the George Washington Bridge, the Holland Tunnel or the Lincoln Tunnel, but yet Staten Islanders have managed to repeatedly negotiate such discounts for themselves on the Verrazano. They should have to pay the full toll. Local residents’ cars cause just as much wear and tear to the bridge as non-residents’ cars. Paying the full toll would deter more people from driving too.

    I know some Staten Island residents who have a choice of driving or taking the ferry and subway. For one man’s commute, taking the ferry and subway is cheaper but driving is slightly faster. He weighs the time he saves driving against the extra money it costs him over transit and chooses to drive most days. If it cost just a little more to drive than now, his choice would sway the other way and he would take transit.

  • Andrew

    Even Brooklyn residents, who live at the other end of the bridge, don’t get a discount on the Verrazano toll.

    Resident discounts are absurd. Whatever costs the tolls cover, residents don’t incur them any less than nonresidents.

  • Guest

    There would have to be some institutional arrangement, but the Metrocard system isn’t an obstacle. PATH accepts Metrocards, and I think the Roosevelt Island tram does as well.

  • Bolwerk

    True, but if that’s your argument, you should avoid the penny-wise-pound-foolish route @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus suggests because it is basically more of the same thing: we get a little cheaper capital expenses now, and more expensive operating costs down the road. Maybe the only upside to that is it might be harder to borrow for operating expenses. Maybe.

    Anyway, the state and city both have a lot of borrowing capacity left. Though I’d still prefer they just make better use of existing revenue. There is plenty of waste to be rid of in the MTA alone, and token booth clerks and conductors are pretty low-hanging fruit.

  • Ridgewoodian

    (Hope you had a great, long weekend.)

    I have to respectfully disagree with you, at least in part.

    I think it’s generally conceded that a cyclist can usually do more damage to others than can a pedestrian. It’s just physics – 200 pounds moving at 15 mph is going to deliver more force than 200 pounds moving at 3 mph. This is why we have a
    special responsibility, especially towards pedestrians. Now, obviously, we can’t do as MUCH damage as cars and most of us aren’t kamikazes, looking to bring terror and chaos, and so far as we know the incidences of death and serious injuries caused by cyclists are few, but the fact remains, accidents can happen and people can be hurt. Knock someone down on a bridge, clip a j-walker, break someone’s arm, or leg. Not that it happens often and not that the injuries are likely to be life altering but it’s a litigious society and medical care can be
    expensive. Maybe you can afford to be sued for $5000 or $10,000 but it would be ruinous for me. If I have the option, and the rates are reasonable, I’d prefer to insure myself against such accidents, both on my own bike and on a Citi
    Bike.

    As for whether cycling is dangerous for cyclists – well, we are exposed, with little protection and we can move at a fairly good clip. And in this city we’re generally interacting with heavy traffic. I don’t think anyone could claim that it’s a 100% safe activity. By which I don’t mean that you have to be a
    daredevil to go out your door with a bike, but you ARE taking on a certain amount of risk. That’s something that we all agreed to when we signed up for Citi Bike: ”Member agrees that riding a Citi Bike bicycle involves many obvious and not-so-obvious risks, dangers, and hazards, which may result in injury or death to Member or others, as well as damage to property, and that such risks, dangers, and hazards cannot always be predicted or avoided.” If we lived in a socialist workers’ utopia where our medical care was paid for out of the money we mostly use now to fight wars, we probably wouldn’t
    have to worry so much about the consequences of injuring ourselves on our bikes. But we don’t live in that world, alas. Hopefully we all have health care coverage, and hopefully if we do it’ll cover our spills. But not all of us do and even the ones who do often find that they’re not covered for everything
    they think they’re covered for, or they’re only covered for so much. Again, if I have the option, and the rates are reasonable, I’d prefer to insure myself against injuries to myself, both on my own bike and on a Citi Bike.

    As for theft – I’ve sunk more money than is really wise (in my financial circumstances) into my own bike, but, god help me, I can’t help it. (Once I get the handlebars adjusted to the right height and the ideal riding posture it’s going to be the best ride EVER.) For a whole variety of reasons I really, REALLY don’t want it to be stolen. I take precautions, obviously, but none of them can withstand a really determined thief. So, if I have the option, and the rates are reasonable, I’d prefer to insure myself against the theft of my bike. (Not sure if that really applies to Citi Bike, since I don’t ever leave
    it anywhere except a docking station.)

    I don’t believe that just because one can insure an activity that means that that activity should be seen as inherently unsafe. Air travel, for example, is statistically speaking the safest form of transportation in the world yet it’s trivially easy to acquire insurance against death or injury in an airliner. (Depending
    on the plan $30-$60 will get your survivors $1,000,000.) We don’t mandate it but some people prefer to have the coverage. What I’m saying is that I’d like the OPTION when it comes to biking. I agree with you that none of it should be
    mandatory, just as it’s not necessary to make helmets mandatory – those of us who are adults can (and do) accept the risks to ourselves if we choose to and the dangers that we pose to others, while real (or at least non-zero), aren’t SO
    great as to make having coverage an absolute necessity. In my investigations over the last few months, I’ve found that roughly $120-$140 per year will get you fairly decent liability, injury, and theft coverage. To me, that seems reasonable enough; others might disagree. If I had the option of paying an
    extra say $10 or $20 per year on my Citi Bike membership, or if I were a daily rider and I had the option of paying an extra $1 or $2, for coverage, that’s a deal I might well avail myself of. Anyway, I don’t see why having that option would hurt the cause of biking in this city.