DOT and TA: “Bike Safety Task Force” Won’t Make Biking Safer

A proposed “bike safety task force” met with resistance from city officials and safe streets advocates at a City Council transportation committee meeting this morning. DOT joined Transportation Alternatives in opposing Intro 219, which would create a two-year bike safety task force that would ostensibly make proposals for the city’s bike infrastructure.

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo said a new task force devoted exclusively to bike safety would impede existing efforts.

“We believe focusing our resources on the bike network and bike-share expansion, as well as safety and public education campaigns, is the most effective way to make cycling a real transportation option for more New Yorkers,” Russo told the committee. “If Intro 219 were to pass, resources and staff would be diverted from crucial work… to focus on the mandates of the task force.”

Russo referred to the Jamaica Bay Greenway planning process — where DOT conducted 12 workshops with six community boards over the course of a year — as an example of the department’s efforts to build support for bike infrastructure development. As for bike safety education, Russo said that DOT has distributed over 145,000 free helmets and 600,000 Bike Smart guides, as well as thousands of bells and lights.

Speaking on behalf of the bill, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer did nothing to allay the perception that the hearings will mainly serve as a venue to kvetch about cyclists. “My office fields nearly daily complaints, many from seniors, who experience near misses with bikers, many of who are breaking the law in some fashion,” she told the committee.

Later on, Jack Brown, an inveterate cyclist-basher who goes by the acronym “Coalition Against Rogue Riding,” previewed the level of discourse New York City can expect from such hearings, when he likened people on bikes to terrorists.

Testifying against the bill, TA’s Paul Steely White said a task force devoted to addressing such complaints would hinder the efforts of DOT and City Hall’s Vision Zero Task Force. “We believe [creating a new task force] would send the wrong message about cycling and Vision Zero,” White said in written testimony. “The Vision Zero Task Force should already be considering bicycling infrastructure, and to separate them would detract from efforts to make the streets safer for cyclists.”

  • BBnet3000

    The Vision Zero Task Force should already be considering bicycling infrastructure

    Glad to see him say “should be” rather than “is”.

    That said, the only way to reduce these behavioral complaints is with streets designed for comfortable cycling. This is the message we haven’t managed to get through to the pearl clutchers who still labor under the impression that we are going to ban cycling some day soon.

  • Wait! You mean the acronym for Jack Brown’s group would be C.A.R.R.? or just CAR?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the Pearl Clutchers are fighting a rear guard last ditch battle. Complete Streets is winning. ~ 200,000 daily cyclists in NYC and growing have now finally created critical mass. There are arguably more cyclists in CBD now than private cars. I see new riders every day joining our ranks. 2016 will be a great year for cycling !

  • ahwr

    There are arguably more cyclists in CBD now than private cars

    Nope. Not even close.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    ~200,000 cyclists

    ~130,000 private cars commute into CBD every day

    I think 200 is still greater than 130

  • BBnet3000

    I know you think the screenline undercounts, but I find it hard to believe that many more than 30,000 people enter the CBD on bicycles daily.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    We have a reasonable estimate of cycling in Manhattan below 86th using Citibike as a proxy. TA traffic counts this summer consistently showed 200,000 trips per day. This of course doesn’t count bike trips above 86th The vast majority of Citibike trips are in Manhattan. So, ~200,000 bike trips per day in Manhattan is a defensible estimate.

    Another good proxy was the TA counts this summer on 5/6th avenue which indicated ~12% of all roadway traffic consisted of riders. This share is on roadways w/o protected bikelanes.

    A third datapoint is Citibike roll out to n UES, 75,000 trips in area bounded by 60th to 86th from 1-21. October. During a work day that’s likely avenging 4,000 trips. In a 20 block catchment basin in a area with 1 protected bike lane (first ave) and it’s south bound counterpart (2nd Ave) a terror MadMax ride.

  • Joe R.

    Task Force = a way to justify putting a bunch of overpaid consultants who do nothing but make worthless reports on the city payroll. I’m sure that’s the only reason this idea is being floated. The relatives of some City Council members need well-paid, do-nothing, make-work positions, sort of like how the MTA operates. They spend millions on consultants when the people they have in-house already know how to do whatever it is the consultants are hired for.

  • ahwr

    >~130,000 private cars commute into CBD every day

    Where do you get this stuff?

    Screenline two way flows over 24 hours are ~1.9 million people in autos, taxis, vans, trucks.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    DOT reports that 110,000 private cars single occupancy commute into city daily and another 20,000 private cars commute with more than 1 occupant ( ie car pool )

    key words ‘privare car’ and ‘commuting’

    DOT also reports that an austonishing 20,000of those 110,000 private cars commute from Manhattan to Manhattan.

  • davistrain

    “Task Force”, when the situation isn’t serious enough to require a “blue ribbon committee.”

  • ahwr

    >DOT reports that 110,000 private cars single occupancy commute into city
    daily and another 20,000 private cars commute with more than 1 occupant
    ( ie car pool )

    Where do you get this stuff?

    And even if your number had been right, unless you are trying to be intentionally misleading why would you compare one way auto commute numbers to all trips by bike, to work, home from work, and recreation/other? An order of magnitude more people use cars to get to, from, or around within the CBD than bicycles. And the number of auto users are dwarfed by the number of transit users.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the report you cite does not define privatw cars and does not define CBD. It’s 332k includes all
    sorts of motor vehicles that are not private cars as defunded by DOT

  • ahwr

    >TA counts this summer on 5/6th avenue which indicated ~12% of all roadway traffic consisted of riders.

    10.2%, not 12%. And your count says a bus full of 50 people is the same as a bicycle, people on the sidewalks and subway are ignored.

    >Citibike trips September were over 50,000/weekday.

    No. Download citibike monthly data for september 2015, a bit under one million trips with a weekday start time, works out to 43031 per weekday.

    >TA traffic counts this summer consistently showed <1/4 of riders were Citibikes.

    25.8%. Higher during peak, lower offpeak.

    Why so sloppy?

    BTW, if you're involved with TA can you let me know why they've ignored my request for an hourly breakdown on their counts? They said they counted 4758 bikes in 32 hours, but which hours of the day? An hourly breakdown would be appreciated.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    43,000 is not weekday number for Citibikes it is the monthly average. As you know M-F citibike usage is 25%-30% higher than weekends.

    thanks for confirming the percent of roadway traffic numbers. I think
    the ~12% comes from 6th counts which were lightly higher than Fifth. Close enough.,

    Thanks for confiimg the 1/4 -3/4 citibike-private bike ratio

    I believe TA reported the oercentages were fairly consistent throughput the day.

    It is remarkable how many bikes exist in CBD once you start drilling into the numbers

  • ahwr

    >43,000 is not weekday number for Citibikes it is the monthly average.
    As you know M-F citibike usage is 25%-30% higher than weekends.

    NO!! Average day is 41603, average weekday is 43031. It will just take a few minutes to download the dataset and verify. I have this open right in front of me.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    so ?

    40×4 = 160,000 as we used to say in Jr. High BFD.

    my orginal statement said ‘proxy’ and it’s still way more than any of us expected.

    Still more Than 130,000

    160,000-200,000 jives with what any New Yorker can observe on the streets of the CBD

  • ahwr

    Why compare total bike counts to your unsourced undercount of inbound auto trips? 1.9 million people in and out of the cbd per weekday in autos,vans,taxis,trucks, that ignores trips by those modes entirely within the cbd. More than an order of magnitude greater than the 160k bike figure, and remember a significant share of citibike trips don’t involve the cbd, so that 160-200k is a significant overstatement. Almost all travel in the CBD is done on foot or by transit. Auto use is a small share. Bikes are an order of magnitude less. TA (and you) push bad data to make it look like cycling is bigger than it is, and so more deserving of accommodations. It’s a tiny share of travel. The city would be better served by expanding sidewalks and dedicating space for surface transit than putting in bike lanes.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    dude – 130,000 is the number of private cars commuting.

  • Moynihan

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Mr. Vucelic has repeatedly shown to feel entitled not only to his own opinion AND his own facts, but also to his own math and his own logic!

  • Maggie

    Did Gale Brewer bring in the surviving families of bicyclists like Alejandro Moran-Marin, Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos, and Sergei Musatov, to speak on bicycle safety? Do these folks need to call her office more often?


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