Today’s Headlines

  • How Are Three New Yorkers Killed by Curb-Jumping Drivers in One Day? The Times Barely Notices
  • Olga Rivera, 65, Was Killed on Her Birthday on East Harlem Sidewalk (DNA, Post)
  • Senior Severely Injured by Driver While Crossing Hylan Boulevard (Advance)
  • Ariel Russo’s Father Is Not Impressed by His Daughter’s Killer Blaming Her Death on Potholes (WPIX)
  • NYPD Rumor Mill: De Blasio Talked With Kelly Deputy (PostNYT); Bratton In the Mix, Too (News)
  • By 2020, the Private Carting Trucks Running People Over Won’t Be as Dirty as They Are Now (NYT)
  • City Island Residents File Lawsuit Against City Over Bridge Replacement Project (WCBS)
  • MTA Testing Flood Hatches That Can Seal Off Ventilation Grates in Low-Lying Areas (WSJ)
  • Sandy Damage to Test Track Delays Train Control Upgrade on 7 Line to Flushing (2nd Avenue Sagas)
  • Schumer Stumps for Transit  Tax Benefit (Crain’s, News), Slams Christie for Canceling ARC (CapNY)
  • Bike Snob Picks Apart the “Everybody’s a Little Right” Attitude to Traffic Conflicts

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • qrt145

    I’m just curious why yesterday’s “Today’s Headlines” says “comments closed” without any comments. Was it “comments armistice day”? 🙂

  • M to the I

    I don’t know if this was discussed at any community board meeting or if this was the result of any complaints, but…the Sands Street bicycle path has officially become a shared ped/bike path. The DOT placed pedestrian stencils on the path that are extremely large compared to the bike symbols.

    Today, even with the snow, pedestrians who used to mostly stay to the side are now emboldened to sprawl across the entire path. Why don’t we just make all bicycle infrastructure shared so that it will become worthless? I guess I will have to mix with cars on this section now.

  • Jonathan R

    In other news, I suspect today will be NYC Bike Share’s least busy day ever, but it will be a great statistic for us all-weather-biking advocates to use. Finally we can shoot down the naysayer argument that people won’t bike in the rain or snow.

  • We upgraded WordPress on Sunday and there was a plug-in conflict that broke Disqus for a while. The problem has been fixed — if you clear your browser cache you should be able to comment on yesterday’s headline thread.

  • qrt145

    As much as I loved the Bike Snob’s response to that NYT’s piece, here’s a view from The Economist for those who want something more sedate. The emphasis is on the Dutch strict liability approach: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/cycling-v-cars

  • Commuter

    This was not discussed at any community board meeting as far as I know. You should most certainly bring it up and perhaps contact DOT. This should be a dedicated bike path as it was intended to be.

  • Jeff

    In my extremely optimistic mind, I convinced myself to believe that Streetsblog didn’t want us discussing the extremely vague Post article about bikeshare expansion so that they could break the news themselves about an expansion timeline from DOT.

    No, really, does the Post actually know something, or are they just randomly digging up the fact that the program is indeed expected to expand to 10,000 bikes just for an excuse to whine?

  • Danny G

    Take a look at Google Maps, and look at your walking choices.

    The south sidewalk between Jay and Gold Streets is missing entirely on the western end. Should you opt to walk in the street for this section, you still have to cross two highway onramps.

    The north sidewalk features (1) a large chain link fence separating you from a city park which contains nothing but asphalt, (2) a poorly lit underpass, separated from view of the street by a row of parked cars (which will ensure that nobody can see you get robbed), (3) a driveway to a surface parking lot, and (4) an alleyway leading to a non-mixed income housing project.

    You tell me where you’d want to walk. People are largely logical and social creatures. If walking with the bicyclists didn’t make sense, people wouldn’t do it.

  • Commuter

    All true. But DOT should work to create a solution that fixes this problem and not choose the lazy path of simply stenciling a ped symbol on a bike path. This devalues bike space and sends a message that it, and not space for motor vehicles, can be sacrificed.

    And the larger point is that it doesn’t appear that this change was presented to a community board nor announced in advance to offer opportunity for public comment.

  • Bolwerk

    The transit tax barely scratches the surface of what New York’s congressional delegation should be doing. Schumer should be taking an expansive position on making sure New York money stays in New York by helping “high income” New Yorkers write off their state and local taxes at the federal level.

  • M to the I

    Thanks for the suggestion. I decided to contact the DOT to complain about this change and I hope other will too.

    While I understand that the path may be the preferred choice of pedestrians and believe in shared spaces, the path is narrow, was designed as a cycle path and pedestrians have the option to use the north sidewalk. This is like formally announcing that pedestrians can use the West Side Highway bike path or a protected bicycle path on one of the avenues in Manhattan.

  • Bolwerk

    If bike share isn’t used during rain and snow, then…bikes aren’t being used, and nobody is the worse off for it.

    Travel habits might be interesting from a purely academic perspective, but I wouldn’t even concede to anti-bike types the point is important. It isn’t, and they’ll be anti-bike anyway.

  • Danny G

    I agree with you that it devalues bike infrastructure.

    I’d consider this stenciling to be a short-term quick fix; you should definitely keep pushing DOT to ensure that it is not swept under the rug and become a de facto long-term non-solution. I think a more long-term solution would be to address the issues that prevent the sidewalks from being good options. So keep on it!

  • Jonathan R

    From the comments in Sarah Goodyear’s latest: “Living in Ohio, snow and rain limit potential bike days so much that it is pointless to invest in or create a routine.”

    Now one can respond, “Limit? Even in crummy weather, ordinary New Yorkers are out on bikes, just check the bike-share numbers from 11/12/2013, when it was sleeting.”

  • Joe R.

    I agree with Danny G here. “Shared” infrastructure harkens back to the 1950s when bikes and peds were told to use the little slivers of space left over from automobiles. Giving scraps off the king’s table doesn’t work. Both deserve better. I understand why peds would choose to share the bike path in that location. I don’t understand why they weren’t given their own, separate decent path. While I certainly agree that bikes and peds can share space, I don’t think it should be the norm. It should only be in exceptional circumstances where providing separate infrastructure would be enormously costly AND the shared distance is relatively short.

  • Joe R.

    I ride pretty much all year round other than when it’s raining or there’s snow on the ground. Even in the latter two cases, it’s not that I couldn’t ride if I wanted to. I just don’t feel like getting my bike dirty. The idea that cycling is solely a warm, dry weather activity is passe. I’m glad to see that bike share is being used heavily not only when it’s cold, but when it’s wet and cold.

    Saturday night coming back from a wedding we ended up driving through Manhattan at 1 AM. I saw lots of people on Citibikes and their own bikes even at that hour.

  • I totally understand the comparisons to other forms of second-class citizenship, in which the ideas that gays should act “less faggy” or that blacks should act “less uppity” are held up as mocking comparisons to the notion that bike riders should follow the rules of the road.

    This makes perfect sense philosophically. The problem is that it does not make any sense from a practical standpoint. All the complaining about the obvious stupidity of road rules as applied to bikes does not change the fact that we bicyclists create public opinion disasters by ignoring these rules (specifically by running red lights, which is the behaviour which annoys me the most).

    A commenter on the Bike Snob piece asserted that we need fewer Martin Luther Kings and more Malcolm X-es. I’ll invoke someone whom I respect a lot more than either of those people: I’d say that we need more Lenins — revolutionaries who understand realpolitik. The fact is that people in power listen to the idiot drivers; and, when we give those idiot drivers free ammunition by running red lights, we’re acting against our own interests.

    In other words, being angry about an injustice is not a reason to act in such a way as to further that injustice. That is an irrational and infantile stance; and it will have very bad real-world consequences. Bike Snob says that he obeys the rules in downtown Brooklyn, where there exists bike infrastructure; but that he does not do so in Midtown Manhattan. Yet he overlooks the fact that, by so doing, he is mounting a public campaign for the removal of this Brooklyn infrastructure.

    We need to wake up and realise that the Bloomberg golden age is over, and that, if we ignore the rules (and if we encourage other cyclists to behave this way), our bike lanes could become a thing of the past very quickly.

    But, hey, at least we’ll have plenty more entertaining Bike Snob pieces to read then.

  • carma

    i usually riding in the rain. its okay as long as you carry the right gear.

    i will take exception in the snow though. it does become nearly impossible to travel with biking in the snow.

  • carma

    i should add, snowing is fine as long as its not accumulating on the ground. accumulation really makes it dangerous to bike

  • Joe R.

    It’s slush rather than snow on the ground which I find more dangerous. I go through packed snow just fine but slush, especially if temps get slightly below freezing that it’s mixed with ice, is downright hazardous to cycle on.

  • qrt145

    Bike Snob also says he runs the Midtown red lights in self-defense. His words were “I’ll do whatever the hell I need to do in order to get a head start on these homicidal mutherfuckers, and that includes running the light if I deem it safer to do so”.

    I can’t fault him for putting his own life above some lofty agenda.

    Maybe you don’t agree that violating the law is necessary for safety. Bike Snob hasn’t proven that. But you haven’t proven your assertion that running red lights causes removal of infrastructure either.

  • For me the problem is not the falling rain (or even snow) in itself, but the wet roads. When the roads are wet, this creates the need to go much slower than usual; it makes all turns fraught with danger, especially where wet leaves or wet metal are involved. And wet brakes require greater stopping distance.

  • Joe R.

    I used to obey traffic laws to the letter back when I first started cycling as a teenager 35 years ago. It never got me any respect. In fact, all it got me was harassment when motorists were impeded by me when I was starting out at red lights. Sometimes I got harassment even when I didn’t impede anyone just by being there. I had stuff thrown at me while waiting at lights, was called names, in general felt like a spectacle on display. After about 5 years of this, I said screw it, and I just started doing what I saw most other cyclists do. The last straw was when I was waiting at a light when an out of control car came barreling up from behind. Fortunately I heard it in time to move into the intersection but that incident made me realize how helpless a stopped bike is.

    After changing my approach to red lights, suddenly my rides became a lot less stressful. I had the road to myself right after passing red lights, at least until the platoon of cars caught up to me. When they did, they usually had sorted out their jockeying around and passed me without incident or name-calling. I no longer stressed out about trying to make lights, figuring whenever I got to a light, even if it was red, it would usually only be a slight delay as I slowed and checked for cross traffic. More importantly, I felt a lot safer. That’s really the part that matters most, not the increase in travel speed (although that was substantial and welcome to be sure).

    I wholehearted agree with you that cyclists need to avoid giving ammunition to their foes. However, I don’t feel we need to be immaculate as far as following the rules to the letter. Rather, we need to avoid doing things which make us unpredictable and piss others off. Red light running in and of itself doesn’t annoy me if I see the cyclist yielding the lawful right-of-way to whomever has it. That’s in keeping with the spirit of the law but not the letter. If we’re going to work on two types of cyclist behavior to change I think it should be those who run red lights and deprive others of their right-of-way in the process, and also wrong-way riders. Outside of perhaps delivery cyclists, there’s usually no rationale or benefit to riding against traffic. It’s dangerous to everyone, including other cyclists.

    Incidentally, in all my 30 or so years of passing red lights, I’ve only been called out on it a handful of times. Most people are understanding and supportive of red light running if it’s done carefully and considerately. I hate the cyclists who fly through crosswalks full of peds as much as you do. I’ve given more than a few of them my piece of mind.

  • Joe R.

    Wet leaves are most dangerous thing for cyclists if you ask me. I’ve ridden over glare ice (easy to do if you keep the handlebars pointed straight ahead and don’t touch the brakes) but wet leaves always give me pause.

  • Jonathan R

    Snob makes excellent practical sense; SAVING MY OWN LIFE is always the practical answer. You are the one who has erected a card tower of pseudo-philosophical rationalization and bought into the myth of the Coordinated Phalanx of Avid Cyclists. Like we all read Streetsblog and take our cues from Stephen Miller.

  • NYFM

    Try this perspective: Why don’t we just make all automobile road infrastructure shared with bicycles so that it will become worthless to drivers? Now obviously it would not truly be useless to drivers, just an inconvenience for drivers to lose a traffic lane- but this illustrates the frustration I have with the movement to build dedicated bicycle-only infrastructure everywhere. It’s a bad idea here in NYC. We will run out of money and space before we ever reach that unattainable goal. It would be far better for everyone if DOT would just put a painted bike lane on every single street and enforce all traffic laws, beginning with the 30 MPH speed limit. Bikes are far more compatible with cars moving at 30 MPH than they are with pedestrians. The City needs to integrate car and bike traffic instead of pretending that cars, bikes, and pedestrians can all exist in their own separate worlds with nary a conflict.

  • Joe R.

    The problem is really at intersections, not between intersections. Cyclist’s perceptions to the contrary, most bike-car collisions occur at junctions, not in between. I totally agree that NYC doesn’t have the space at street level to create separate worlds for bikes, peds, and motor traffic. I personally feel the best, least costly solution is to remove as much motor traffic as possible since it creates the most danger, while using up the most space, by far. Unfortunately, this will be untenable in the foreseeable future, so I’ve been repeatedly advocating grade separation, especially for bikes. NYC could actually be a pioneer in this area, perhaps show other highly congested cities the way. And I think the idea might have more traction in a de Blasio administration than in a Bloomberg administration. You could simultaneously appease motorists and cyclists by giving motorists back the street space you took for bike lanes, and giving cyclists a nice, safe, citiwide system of bike highways which they can use for 90+% of their trips. Free of motorists, pedestrians, red lights, and stop signs, such a system would in effect be an urban rapid transit system.

  • There is nothing philosophical (pseudo or otherwise) in my position; it is purely practical. By breaking the law we are poking the bear; we are making it more likely that anti-bike crazies will call their legislators and even the mayor to complain, and that they will show up at Community Board meetings. We’re handing them the means to have success pushing their agenda.

    Responding to qrt145: Can I prove that we’re going to lose our bike infrastructure on account of our misbehaviour? No, I cannot, because it hasn’t happened yet. By the time I can prove this, it will be too late. I am admittedly engaging speculation; but it is well-reasoned speculation. All I am saying, in sum, is: we have made tremendous progress; let’s not blow it.

    Responding to Joe R: I can say that my history is the opposite of yours. When I started riding as a kid, I paid no attention to red lights or to any other rules. I behaved like this until relatively recently. Then came Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan; and I saw the transformation that bike infrastructure can bring. I realised that we cyclists now had a seat at the table, and that we had an interest to protect. So this changed my behaviour.

  • Joe R.

    You have to realize that although NYC admittedly got lucky with JSK, putting in a lot of bike infrastructure before other major US cities, we now have a growing national movement to accommodate cyclists, not just a local one. NYC has a history of one-upping other major cities. I feel it will continue to do so with regards to bike infrastructure regardless of cyclist’s behavior.

    One interesting thing I’m noticing on my rides lately is that motorists are actually somewhat expecting me to pass red lights or stop signs, even when they have the right-of-way. I sometimes have to wave them by to let them know they’re legally entitled to go first. I’m wondering if, like pedestrians jaywalking, cyclists passing red lights is starting to be seen by everyone as just the way things are. Certainly the tabloids have calmed down somewhat compared to a year or two ago. And we’re finally at least starting to talk about whether cyclists should have their own set of rules.

    If you ask me, I think we went through an adjustment phase for a while which stoked anti-cyclist sentiments while putting cyclist behavior under a microscope. Large numbers of cyclists on the streets was something new here to anyone under about the age of 100 (i.e. cycling was big here early in the 20th century). We went through an adjustment period. For a while people didn’t know what to expect as far as cyclist behavior goes. Remember pedestrians are probably twice as lawless as cyclists but nobody notices or cares. Now that norms are being established for cyclist behavior, I feel the chances of us going backwards are next to nil. The problem I think was made worse by the fact that in the early years of bike expansion, commercial cyclists comprised a large percentage of cyclists. Their lawless, reckless behavior was seen as the norm for ALL cyclists. Now you have large numbers of Citibike users, commuter cyclists, and recreational riders who may not obey laws to the letter, but at least have a code of sorts when it comes to passing red lights.

    We need to be more predictable but I think an ever greater number of utility cyclists are facilitating that. A pedestrian crossing with the light shouldn’t have to guess if a cyclist will wait for them. Same thing if you’re a motorist with the green. The fact that I’m seeing motorists slow down for me, even when I’m supposed to wait, tells me two things. One, they’re still not satisfied that cyclists will operate predictably. Two, they’re at least aware of and willing to alter their driving habits slightly to accommodate unpredictable cyclists. We cyclists should reciprocate in turn by behaving more predictably, and giving signals to drivers/peds to that effect.

  • Bolwerk

    We don’t create PR problems by running red lights when we need to anymore than drivers create PR problems by running people over. These people are primed to hate bikes, transit users, and every other “undesirable” who doesn’t look and act like them. They are immune to reality, and breaking their rules doesn’t change that.

  • Kevin Love

    The idea that snow limits cycling is, of course, complete bovine effluent. In the short period of time before cycle infra is promptly cleared of snow, we see the normal bicycle rush-hour on this video here:

    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/cycling-in-the-snow-utrecht-netherlands/

  • Driver

    That barely qualifies as snow.

  • Driver

    The real danger is from motorists who don’t know how to drive in the snow.

  • Kevin Love

    Because the snow clearing has been hard at work.

    How about the over 20 cm snowfall in this video?

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/11/bicycles-roll-on.html

    Here’s 11 more videos. Enough snow for you?

    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/tag/snow/

  • JarekAF

    Atlanta Braves are moving to the suburbs and the GOP wants to make sure that the darkies from the ATL don’t take the train in:

    “It is absolutely necessary the (transportation) solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.”

    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/jay-bookman/2013/nov/12/cobb-gop-chairman-concerned-about-those-people-com/

  • simon