Howard Wolfson Looks Back on the Rise and Fall of the NYC Bikelash

Last Thursday, the New School hosted a panel discussion on the media and politics maelstrom that came to surround bicycling in New York — and how, against some tough odds, supporters of safer streets came to beat the “bikelash.”

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. Photo: ##

The panel, moderated by Shin-pei Tsay for her class of urban theory masters students, featured Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin, and journalist Warren St. John.

At the beginning of Bloomberg’s third term, Wolfson said, some of DOT’s highest-profile projects were being implemented and came to dominate how the public perceived the administration. “If you asked somebody in 2010 what Mike Bloomberg was up to, a lot of people would say, ‘Oh yeah, he’s doing bike lanes,'” Wolfson said. “I didn’t necessarily think from a communications perspective it was totally useful to have us defined by any one thing.”

It would have been easy for Bloomberg to see the political risks and back off. “We’re not talking about the economy or public safety; this is an important issue but it’s not the most important issue,” Wolfson said of bicycling. But the mayor remained committed. “If you were going to pursue the policy, you couldn’t walk away from the fight,” Wolfson said.

Bloomberg’s commitment to bicycling put Dobkin in the strange position of agreeing with the billionaire mayor. Most of Gothamist’s employees bike to work, as does much of its readership. “Bike safety, not getting killed while you’re riding your bicycle, having more bike lanes — these are all things that we would just generically support,” he said. “It was unusual for us being in solidarity with the Bloomberg administration, to find we were on the same side of the barricade on stories like the Prospect Park West bike lane.”

But writing about bikes was also good for Gothamist’s business. “There are certain stories in New York that hit at a nerve,” Dobkin said. “There are these oppositions in our society: Young people versus old people, rich people versus poor people, people that drive cars versus people that don’t. And somehow, bicycling touches every single one of them.” It didn’t take long for Gothamist to figure out that bike stories attracted eyeballs and wide distribution on social media.

“I think we play an intermediate role between social media and the mainstream media,” Dobkin said. “Social media was pointing in the same direction in terms of widespread support for livable streets.”

Amid the noise of social media, a network of informed and engaged supporters began to form, creating a counterpoint to the overwhelmingly anti-bike attitudes prevalent in the mainstream press. “It changed what reporters do,” said Warren St. John, who left the New York Times in 2008 and became interested in street safety after having his first child and seeing a neighbor immediately after she was run over by a driver.

In real time, people were fact-checking the media and critiquing reporters’ points of view. “If you’re a transportation reporter for the New York Times, you can’t ignore this very loud conversation that’s happening online that’s criticizing your work,” St. John said. Gradually, the city’s mainstream press has shifted from opposition and derision to a more muted tone, if not outright support, St. John said.

The media was simply catching up with the public, Wolfson argued. Polls have consistently shown high approval numbers for bike lanes and bike-share, even as much of the press tried to tear them down. “You look at the streets now, and there’s no way that the next mayor is gonna rip the bike lanes out. There’s no way they’re going to turn back Citi Bike. And now the question is: How much further are they going to go with the livable streets agenda?” Wolfson said. “Nobody is talking about reversing, whereas I think two years ago, three years ago…it would’ve been a reasonable question to ask.”

Even with the shift in media tone, there will always be fights over change. “There’s always going to be a noisy minority of people who oppose what you’re doing,” Wolfson said, mentioning Amsterdam Avenue and 125th Street as examples. “Change in New York doesn’t really happen without someone becoming unhappy.”

While Dobkin agreed with Wolfson’s assessment, he said the Bloomberg administration could have done more to expand the bike network outside Manhattan and to change business as usual at NYPD, which continues to place street safety very low on its priority list. “We could always go further,” Dobkin said.

During the question-and-answer session, I asked Wolfson how he reconciles DOT’s transformative legacy for pedestrians and cyclists with NYPD’s reluctance to address street safety.

Wolfson began by pointing to the city’s dropping traffic fatality numbers, then turned to NYPD itself. “The police in the last year have changed the way they go about investigating these collisions,” he said, adding that changing the name of the “Accident Investigation Squad” to the Collision Investigation Squad “reflects an expansive view of the mission.” But as we found out at a City Council hearing on these reforms last month, NYPD has just started to scratch the surface of what’s needed to prioritize the safety of walking and biking.

“Might the next mayor expand that even further?” Wolfson said. “Maybe, and you know, God bless the advocacy community for pushing the issue. There may be a different result in the next administration.”

  • Eric McClure

    Howard Wolfson doesn’t get enough credit for the expansion of the bike-lane network, the rollout of bike share, and the general transformation of New York CIty streets. He came to City Hall in the heat of the bikelash, and had JSK’s back from the get-go. He deserves thanks from all of us.

  • Joe R.

    Regarding the NYPD, I’ve said on several occasions that cyclists would have been immeasurably better off if Bloomberg had made cracking down on dangerous driving a priority, even if we didn’t get a single mile of new bike infrastructure. Granted, it shouldn’t be an either-or proposition, but given a choice between the two, I strongly feel reducing dangerous, aggressive, and distracted driving would be far better for cyclists than new infrastructure. In the final analysis, the vast majority of streets will have to be shared with motor vehicles. You shouldn’t be taking your life into your hands under those circumstances. I’ve been riding 35 years. I’ve noticed how much worse driving habits have gotten in the last decade, particularly in the last five years. Undoubtedly, lack of any real enforcement by the NYPD gives tacit approval of dangerous driving practices. Lax licensing, plus a strong societal resistance to removing proven bad drivers from the driving pool, are other factors.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m interested in the motivation of the MSM in putting out canned misinformation. What interest did that serve? Why did they do it? And what can be done to make sure they never live it down?

  • Joe R.

    It sells papers or generates page views. You know the old adage-if it bleeds it leads. Because violent crime is down they had to come up with something else, even if they had to invent it. I guess they couldn’t focus much on motor vehicle carnage given that many papers depend heavily on motor vehicle advertising. They also couldn’t focus on any activity which a significant percentage of their readership engaged in, so again that meant motor vehicles were out. In the end, they latched on to the discontent of a minority with bikes and bike infrastructure, but blew it all out of proportion. They figured cyclists are probably a small percentage of their readership, so it didn’t matter if they were alienated by the negative coverage.

    It’s funny how you’re seeing more articles now which show cycling in a positive, or at least neutral light. I think the media underestimated the numbers who cycle at least occasionally.

    Incidentally, I think the papers may have found their new villian-motorcycles, dirt bikes, and ATVs. These are probably safe bets for a year of negative coverage given that only a minority use them, while nearly everyone else finds them annoying to some extent.

  • ADN

    Thanks, Howard, for all you’ve done to make NYC streets more livable these last few years. Your political and communications work was essential.

  • Amen.

  • J

    I disagree. No amount of crackdown is going to make our massive high-speed avenues safe for cycling, nor would a crackdown reduce crossing distances for slower walkers. Crackdowns are short-term measures that can vanish alongside changing political and financial winds. It takes sustained predictable enforcement to truly affect behavioral change, which in itself would take a sea change at the NYPD. Infrastructure, however, is much more lasting and can drive behavior changes as well. The pace may seem slow, but over 6 years, the difference is pretty astounding.

    This is not to say that enforcement shouldn’t be pursued (it absolutely should, and vigorously), but I think we wouldn’t have the cycling numbers and systemic support of cycling that we do today without the infrastructure. If forced to choose, I choose infrastructure every time.

  • Joe R.

    Where I ride, enforcement would make a heck of a lot of difference. I’m not even talking about speed enforcement but rather enforcement against the rather vague category of “aggressive driving”. It’s hard to define aggressive driving exactly but you know it when you see it. I’m talking about jockeying between lanes just to gain one or two places at the next red light, swerving into the rightmost (i.e. parking lane) when the light changes to gain a place, cutting across several lanes of traffic to make a turn, in general just driving in a sociopathic manner.

    Yes, infrastructure is an even better approach, but we could do things to slow traffic, make it more orderly, even if it’s not bike specific. The difference may be pretty astounding where you ride, but where I ride things seem worse. I gave up riding before about 8 PM except on weekends simply because there’s too much traffic, too many people doing idiotic things nearly every block, and too many newly installed traffic signals. Everything which has been done out here has made things worse for cyclists, not better. The best thing in my opinion which NYC could do to make cycling safer and more pleasant would be to drastically reduce motor traffic volumes. Unless you do that, no type of infrastructure other than total grade separation is going to help much.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “It’s funny how you’re seeing more articles now which show cycling in a positive, or at least neutral light.”

    I don’t find it funny. In fact it ticks me off, given that these organizations put out propaganda to try to make sure that what has happened didn’t happen.

  • UDbmas

    Enforcement goes all ways and must be universal. It’s not only motor vehicle laws which need enforcement but also bicycle and pedestrian laws, which sadly our NYPD has neither the numbers nor the will to enforce. This being the case WE (bike riders and pedestrians) need to step up and self-regulate, and auto drivers need to view bikes as another regulated vehicle with the same rights and restrictions, we all need to know and follow the rules for our chosen means of transport. More bikes and fewer cars is a great goal, but we need more attention to the underlying safety problems that won’t go away on their own. And we have to be willing to accept that, ultimately, pedestrians have right of way.

    Yes, it is absolutely true that we pedestrians jay-walk and cross streets in undesignated spots, text while walking, wear earphones covering both ears, etc., so we need reminders that these are both wrong and unsafe. But I wonder how many bike riders know that ALL NYC traffic laws apply to them? I seldom see a bicyclist sitting and waiting at a red light; it’s rare to even see one significantly slow down instead of a quick look and then a cruise-on-through. But that’s the law, red lights aren’t stop-and-go or slow-and-go, they are stop and wait for green just the same as for cars. Do bike riders know that when entering a street from driveways, parking lots and alleys that you are to come to a complete stop before entering the street? How many riders have earphones in both ears instead of only one (having earphones on both ears is also disallowed in cars)? I frequently see bikes riding the wrong way on one-way streets or against traffic, these too are illegal. It’s also against the law to weave through traffic, but I see that everyday as well. It’s easy to ride up a pedestrian ramp or curb cut then get off after coasting onto the sidewalk, but that’s wrong. Riders are to stop and dismount then walk the bike onto the sidewalk. I almost never see a take-out delivery rider with a helmet even though this is legally required.

    These are the things that have so many older and mobility challenged NYC residents angered. We are seeing more and more demands for “bike-friendly” areas and lanes and yet safe, regulated bike riding is not being enforced in those we already have. We frequently encounter riders on pedestrian plazas and have to dodge bikes gliding through on non-bike paths in public parks. In many areas the congested, busy atmosphere means we cannot see or hear approaching bikes making it even more important that bike riders follow traffic rules. Yes I am sure most riders are safe and abide traffic laws, but there are still too many who hop a bike that are clueless, or careless, about the fact that traffic laws apply to them as well. Unfortunately the bicyclists many pedestrians (and motor vehicle drivers) come in contact with daily are not following those laws and so we tend to view riders as unpredictable hazards, hazards that grow more numerous with each new push for more bike lanes.

    Cars, bikes and pedestrians CAN move around our city together safely, but not unless we know, accept and adhere to ALL the regulations designed to make that work. A bike IS a moving vehicle and subject to the same laws as autos, and pedestrians need to walk responsibly and attentively as well. These are growing pains to be sure, but these pains don’t need to be life-altering encounters if everyone realizes sometimes following restrictions is needed in a congested society.

  • Joe R.

    The problem in a nutshell isn’t lack of adherence to laws, but the laws themselves. Do you really, seriously think pedestrians and cyclists should have to sit and wait for green at an empty intersection? Exactly what safety or other purpose does that serve? In fact, I could argue that it’s safer to cross an intersection on red as either a cyclist or pedestrian, provided you look first. As a pedestrian, you don’t have to worry about turning vehicles. As a cyclist, you avoid being in the platoon of vehicles jockeying for position right after the light changes. You also avoid breathing in exhaust fumes waiting for the light.

    If you expect to get any respect for the laws, then the laws have to make sense and they don’t right now. Moreover, the built infrastructure is downright hostile to cyclists. We’ve installed stop signs or traffic lights at most intersections. In many cases these aren’t needed based on traffic volumes, but were put there anyway by ignorant community boards who think traffic signals or stop signs can be used to calm traffic. The end result is gross overuse of both types of traffic controls. If a cyclist were to obey the law to the letter as you suggest, they would be stopping every few blocks, and average no faster than walking. Moreover, they wouldn’t be any safer. I think all road users should respect and watch out for other road users. That’s more important than rigidly adhering to a set of rules which at best approximate safe behavior, at worst make things less safe and unduly burdensome.

    You might have more traction insisting cyclists obey rules if you modified either the rules or the infrastructure. So long as we have a ridiculously large number of stop signs or red light, both should be allowed to be treated as yields by cyclists. We should also seriously consider using pedestrian/vehicle sensors so traffic signals only go red when something is actually crossing, and then only for as long as it takes that something to cross. Dumb, timed signals which often go red at empty intersections not only foster disrespect for traffic signals in general, but also unnecessarily waste people’s time. It’s incumbent on the state to engineer safety in the least burdensome way possible but we’re not doing that. We need to get ALL traffic signals on sensors, or remove them if DOT is unwilling to do this.

  • UDbmas

    You seem to view the laws as if there is only one cyclist on a street, and that one group should be exempt from existing laws rather than abide by them while amending them. The arguments you make could also be made by a car driver: “Do you really, seriously think pedestrians and cyclists [AND MOTORISTS] should have to sit and wait for green at an empty intersection? Exactly what safety or other purpose does that serve? In fact, I could argue that it’s safer to cross an intersection on red as either a cyclist or pedestrian [OR MOTORIST], provided you look first. As a pedestrian, you don’t have to worry about turning vehicles. As a cyclist [OR MOTORIST], you avoid being in the platoon of vehicles jockeying for position right after the light changes. You also avoid breathing in [OR EMITTING] exhaust fumes waiting for the light.”

    “We’ve installed stop signs or traffic lights at most intersections. In many cases these aren’t needed based on traffic volumes, but were put there anyway by ignorant community boards …” Perhaps these lights were installed because pedestrians get tired of dodging vehicles (2- 4- or more wheeled) while trying to cross streets that would otherwise have a constant flow of traffic, and walking a quarter-mile to get to a bicycle-convenient stoplight might be a bit much for an elder or someone with a mobility impacting illness or injury (or a lot of stuff to carry). A street doesn’t need to be heavily traveled or congested to have a constant flow hostile to pedestrian crossing.

    “If a cyclist were to obey the law to the letter as you suggest, they would be stopping every few blocks, and average no faster than walking.” A bit hyperbolic there, but motorists make a similar case. A person able to walk 15 blocks will arrive faster than by bus, so it isn’t just bikes impacted by traffic congestion. It’s a big city and we need to control all traffic. The argument could even be made the other way: cars can travel faster than a bike or a pedestrian, thereby taking less time to move through an area. Perhaps we should just allow this faster flow to continue unconstricted to make thing faster, prohibit slower moving travel methods.

    The problem is that we are a congested city and yes, as a pedestrian I DO want the bikes to sit and wait for the green light. The stop sign and lights aren’t there just to help regulate the flow of traffic (all sorts), they are to protect pedestrians. To a pedestrian, a bicycle is just another (albeit smaller) vehicle.

    As to signal-by-sensor, that has a long way to go since may motorists and cyclists alike travel as fast as possible whenever they are able, so how would we regulate the “yellow” adequately to make it any better the the current “waste of everyone’s time” system we have now? “Dumbed Timed” signals are needed until the technology is both sufficient and affordable enough to be able to allow for all weather conditions (fog, heavy precipitation) and all vehicular weights and sizes. If we achieve the goals of more bikes than cars, then the trips and sensors will need to be able to see or feel lightweight bikes, scooters, bladers, or anything else that is a hazard to pedestrians needing to cross.

    I understand that to a cyclist this huge city seems like a “hostile” environment, but it is even more hostile to those who travel on foot. Adding into the mix a group who finds the rules of the road are inconvenient or heavy-handed, and thereby not to be respected and followed, undermines what we are all after: a city where everyone can get from one spot to another uninjured and in reasonable time.

    Whether you respect them or not, the laws are there. In our changing society they undoubtedly need to be upgraded, but that is no excuse for non-compliance in the mean time. If you want those of us who are non-riders to respect those who are, then you need to respect the restrictions currently in place which we depend upon for our safety. If on the other hand you think cyclists are too put-upon by current road regulations (over-burdened or not), then rather than trying to insert yourselves into this system, push instead for bike dedicated throughways, free of all motor vehicles AND pedestrians, with tunnels and accessibility-friendly crossovers for foot traffic, and overpases for bikes to cross motor-ways. BUT if you want us all to mix together, share the road, then we need you to accept that you are a vehicle to a pedestrian, and we should not have to count the number of wheels to decide if its safe to cross a street.

  • You are entirely correct that bicyclists have the responsibility to follow the law. You make the case that it is for the saftety of pedestrians; and I agree with that. But following the law is also in the interest of bicyclists — by breaking the law, we create ill will and we stoke anti-bike sentiment (such as seen in the comments to the Times opinion piece). The less we do of that kind of misbehaviour, the better chance our infrastructure has to endure and be expanded.

    Let us realise that Joe R. is right when he says that the laws written for cars can be absurd when applied to bikes, and that they need to be changed. Still, as you have said, that is no excuse for non-compliance in the meantime.

    Every scofflaw cyclist creates ugly anti-bike dinner-table conversation, and also encourages further law-breaking. When it comes to following the law, we bicyclists have a responsibility — first to ourselves and to our own interests, but also to pedestrians’ safety, and most generally to society and to the concept of the rule of law. And, by and large, we are not fulfilling it.

  • Joe R.

    Actually, I want exactly what you said-a nice grid of grade separated bike superhighways so cyclists just need to use local streets for the last 8 or 10 blocks. I also highly doubt I’ll ever see such a thing in my lifetime.

    The rest of your arguments are specious at best. It isn’t dangerous for a motor vehicle to be in a platoon of other accelerating motor vehicles because the driver has the protection of a steel cage, and can also accelerate at the same rate. Put a cyclist in this mess, and they can literally be run off the road.

    As far as motorists also being allowed to pass red lights when there’s no traffic, I have zero problems with this if lines of sight safely allow them to do so. The problem is motor vehicles have much poorer visibility than bikes. By the time you’re far enough into the intersection to see if it’s clear, you’re often already blocking traffic. That’s actually why more motorists don’t run red lights. It’s not just fear of getting caught. It’s fear of getting in a collision because they just can’t safely do so due to lack of visibility. In the final analysis, most intersections can be safely passed on red by bikes but not by cars. I wouldn’t allow bikes to pass red lights at any intersections where visibility was so poor that even a cyclist couldn’t safely do so.

    Sorry, but 95% of the traffic lights in NYC aren’t needed for any reason, including allowing pedestrians to cross. I’m a pedestrian. I find crossing at streets with traffic lights to be more dangerous than at those without them. I would rather cross in the middle. I just wait for a gap in traffic, and then cross.

    We already have the means to allow cars to travel unconstricted through cities. They’re called highways. And a lot of this conversation would be moot if we had something similar for bikes but we don’t, and we should. Bikes actually benefit far more from total grade separation than cars.

    We already have the means to put traffic lights on sensors, and I don’t see what the yellow phase has to do with anything. The length of the yellow phase is determined by the speed limit regardless of whether the lights operate on sensors or dumb timers. I already have a great contrast with how much better a sensor-based system is compared to dumb timers, especially when traffic is light. I ride out of the city. Both NY 25 and 25 A have sensor-based systems past city limits. The difference is huge. I’ve gone over 6 miles on occasion late nights with hitting a red light. Once I’m in city limits, it’s back to the same garbage of constant red lights even though it’s the same road, same traffic levels (there’s often less traffic on these roads inside city limits). So if they can do this out on Long Island, why can’t NYC? It works, it’s safe, and it makes things better for everyone. When red lights mean something, they tend to be more respected. By the way, the issue of sensors which trigger for other types of vehicles has already been solved. We’re actually at the point of using cameras and image recognition rather than buried magnetic sensors. Cheaper to install, and it can distinguish between pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles. Bottom line is we can do this. I wish I knew why we weren’t.

  • Joe R.

    I personally think lack of compliance with laws is a bigger issue when it’s more visible. It you dodge pedestrians through a crosswalk in midtown 200 people can see you. When I pass red lights at 1 AM where I live the intersections are usually empty. At best there might be one or two motor vehicles waiting.

    The laws for cyclists need to be changed but do you see this happening anytime soon because I don’t? Pedestrians have been jaywalking for decades here and yet it’s never been legalized. I’ll hold out my hope for bike superhighways instead.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever someone suggests that people on bikes should be able to legally treat red lights as stops or yields, someone else asks “but what if car drivers did that?” as if it had never happened anywhere.

    Well, it has! At least for certain times of day. In Mexico City, the perceived risk of carjacking late at night was greater for many people, who decided to avoid stopping at red lights thinking that it would be safer. Eventually, the law was amended to make it legal to treat red lights as if they were stop signs from 11 pm to 5 am.

    I have no idea what effect this had on the crash rate, though. I’d be interested in knowing.

    (It is of course possible to do something similar, at a per-intersection level, through technical rather than legal means, by having the traffic light flash yellow or red at night.)

  • Again with the grade-separated bike superhigways. Even if that were possible, it would be totally undesireable.

    For one thing, to have tressles lining every street would be a nightmare from an aesthetic point of view.

    For another thing, I *want* to be in the city streets! I am a New Yorker; I love being in our streets. I don’t want to use the local streets for just the last 8 or 10 blocks — using the local streets constitutes the best part of riding.

    The reason that I rarely use the Hudson River Greenway is that it’s so remote and so far removed from anything that feels to me like my City. (It has other problems as well; but the remoteness is the thing that keeps me from using it.) I take the Greenway once in a while just to experience it; but I have never enjoyed it as much as I enjoy the regular avenues.

    If you are envisioning an elevated network of Hudson River Greenways, then I say emphatically no to that. We belong on our streets.

    The ideas about timing streetlights better (like to accommodate a flow of 15 miles per hour), about using streetlights governed by sensors, and about removing some streetlights all make good sense. All of those measures would make the streets even better for bicycles.

    But the idea of a network of elevated bikeways envisions a monstrosity, an unsightly blight on the urban landscape.

    (On the other hand, if you wanted to imagine building an underground network for cars, and leaving the streets for us, I’d go for that. But that’s not even worth imagining, given the chaotic tangle of power lines, water lines, gas lines, subway tunnels and other things found in our City’s underground.)

  • Joe R.

    The fact is if we didn’t have dumb timed traffic signals (and we shouldn’t in 2013) all this discussion of allowing bikes (or even cars) to treat red lights as stops or yields would be moot. Ideally, traffic signals should be green all the time unless something is crossing. They should only be red for as long it it takes for whatever is crossing to finish, and not a second longer. That’s how it’s always worked on railroads, with the exception of cases where a dispatcher holds a train in a station to make a connection. If there are no conflicting movements on the track ahead, you have a green light all the time. It should work the same on the streets.

  • Joe R.

    There’s absolutely nothing preventing you from continuing to ride on the street instead of using any system of grade-separated bikeways. Realize however that other people need to get places safely as well as rapidly. If you want to seriously increase bike mode share in this city, especially in the outer boroughs, then we need to make bike travel faster/safer. This basically means making something similar in concept to highways. Unfortunately, in most places we lack space to put a non-stop bikeway at street level but I’m not fundamentally against the idea if the space exists.

    Remember in the outer boroughs especially we already have a lot of existing grade-separated railways, elevated subways, and highways. We can hang bikeways off of these without any aesthetic issues. We might be able to make most of the grid doing just that. Where we need to build new structures, it wouldn’t look like elevated highways, but rather something closer to a pedestrian bridge.

    You may enjoy taking it slow and seeing the sights, but most people just want to get from point A to point B as rapidly as possible. If they can do so by bike faster than by subway, then some will go by bike. Remember also that elevate structures can be roofed over to allow riding during inclement weather. You can also channel prevailing winds into tailwinds to increase speeds. The popularity of the Hudson River Greenway attests to the fact that the majority of cyclists would rather get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

    I’m all for putting all motor vehicles underground, leaving the streets just for us as you said, but that would be totally unworkable. An alternative to that would be to build a combination bike-ped skyway system above the streets. That would only be ugly from underneath but since only motor vehicles would be there who cares?

    The only reason we would even need grade-separated bikeways is because of the total lack of political will to seriously reduce traffic volumes. If we can get traffic volumes down by 90%, then the need for traffic signals vanishes, along with the need for separate bike highways.

    You might want to watch these two videos to see the potential of human power:

    You’re looking at things from the perspective of someone who rides a mountain bike at an average speed of 10 mph. I’m looking at the potential of human power to offer 30+ mph average speeds if you build suitable infrastructure. I think commuting from the outer parts of the outer boroughs under human power could be feasible, but it never will be without non-stop bike infrastructure. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to, but many others would love it.



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