Wednesday’s Headlines: It’s Just Weather Edition

How did Amsterdam become the world's cycling capital? Hint: It wasn't because the Dutch have such great weather. It's about road diets and the elimination of parking.
How did Amsterdam become the world's cycling capital? Hint: It wasn't because the Dutch have such great weather. It's about road diets and the elimination of parking.

We’re sick of hearing New Yorkers complain about the weather. Yes, the weather sucks. But take a look at the video below. It’s three minutes of Dutch people biking in the rain. We don’t see anyone complaining!

Now, put on that People’s Poncho and get to work. It should be drier today anyway. Meanwhile, here’s the news:

  • Farah Louis, a former staffer to Jumaane Williams, won the special election to replace him on the City Council, romping with 41 percent of the vote in a field of eight (NYDN). We look forward to Louis repudiating her earlier statement that she prefers parking to bus lanes.
  • All this focusing on MTA overtime is not going to end well. (WSJ)
  • It only took three months, but the bus driver who police say ran over a Bronx senior in a crosswalk — then fled — has been caught and charged. (NYDN)
  • The ongoing illegality of e-bikes is an equity issue. (City Limits)
  • Bklyner followed up on our coverage of the debacle of the DOT’s unprotected bike lane proposal in Bay Ridge. The neighborhood’s council member, Justin Brannan, tried to look on the bright side, but Streetsblog wouldn’t let him.
  • It looks like the Floyd Bennett Field bike races that we wrote about last week have been saved! (NY1)
  • Queens residents are seeking more information about a truck driver who seriously injured a cyclist last month in Maspeth. If a truck driver hits someone from behind, how is it possible that he’s not charged with following too closely? Isn’t that the definition of following too closely? (QNS)
  • Andrew

    We look forward to Louis repudiating her earlier statement that she prefers parking to bus lanes.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Massive overtime abuse and other abuse at the LIRR has led to cutbacks at New York City Transit. And now the exposure of overtime and other abuse on the LIRR has led to a threat of a strike — on New York City Transit.

    When are the rest of us going to go on strike? Really, the political/union class doesn’t even think of other New Yorkers, who are workers too by the way, as people.

    Meanwhile, the DeBlasio budget eliminates most of the city funding for the MTA Capital Plan, presumably matched by Cuomo and the state, with no debate anywhere. And the congestion pricing revenues will be bonded against and gone in five years, leaving the MTA with zero funding for future ongoing reinvestment and in a downward spiral — despite $billions in dedicated taxes and fees we are forced to pay. They only want to postpone it for five years while creating lifeboats for the people who matter — ferries, placards, etc.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The ongoing illegality of e-bikes is an equity issue.”

    Again, as I’ve shown, what is now being called an e-bike was previously called a Moped. It could be registered with the state and ridden right now, without insurance, if its top speed is 20 mph.

    So that’s not what the issue really is.

  • Simon Phearson

    You know what? F* you, Streestblog. That’s not a video of cyclists in rain. That’s wet sidewalks with maybe a drizzle. And there’s no indication in the video of how cold or warm it is, which makes a huge difference.

    Which maybe you’d know, if any of you were actually year-round commuting cyclists. Guess not?

    We get manageably drizzly conditions in NYC from time to time, but the last couple of days have often been not that. In addition to which, mid-40’s to low-50’s do not make for particularly pleasant wet-weather riding.

    Also, infrastructure makes a big difference in wet-weather riding. Again, something you ought to understand. If you’ve got well-traveled, separated bike paths designed for bike commuting, maybe you don’t worry too much about how slick the pavement can be or having to take a casual-style commuter bike with fenders. But when you’re riding one of the death slaloms that they call “protected bike lanes” in midtown, with steel plates, potholes, and unpredictable traffic everywhere, on a bike/tires chosen for speed and/or maneuverability, it’s a very different story. Or try it on a recently-milled street, like Second Avenue was recently.

    I’m not afraid of a bit of inclement weather. I’ve ridden a road bike in downpours and probably will do so again. But doing something like that successfully requires preparation and thoughtful riding, especially in conditions like we find in NYC. Keep your condescension to yourself, Streetsblog.

  • Huh? The vast majority of e-bikes that the NYPD is confiscating are nothing close to mopeds.

    Look at the embedded tweets here for photos of the types of e-bikes they’re cracking down on: http://gothamist.com/2019/01/18/nypd_e-bike_cyc_crackdown.php

    None of those are DMV certified, so they can’t be registered. The DMV will not register any sort of motor-assist bicycle in NYS.

  • JarekFA

    I don’t see what’s so condescending about that video and Streetsblogs commentary about it? I think it’s good to show how banal and normal of biking in rain (even light rain) can be. If we want to convert more people to the idea of being able to bike all year then we need to address the weather component.

    I don’t disagree with the rest of your comment [I have a Dutch casual-style commuter bike with fenders ] I just don’t take offense. Also, another rain hazard you didn’t mention is hydroplaning on thermoplast. It’s only happened a couple times but I will not pass people when the road is wet in the cattle chute coming down the BK side of the BK Bridge as you can absolutely lose grip when going on and across the white line.

    But here’s my rain question: How often is it the case that it is raining too heavy at the time when you’re actually traveling by bike (meaning, the actual time of your commute for example)? It’s really not that often (maybe less than 7 times a year) although it does seem like we’ve had a rainier year then normal. I admit I didn’t bike on Monday because of the rain (if I hadn’t ran a bunch of errands in the rain on Sunday). 3 weekends in a row I’ve taken my son to swimming and the gym in the rain.

    But man, I can’t count the number of times I’ve biked in “heavy drizzle” this year where I remarked to myself, this is how Holland is like 8 months of the year.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I would bet that anyone could say that their e-bike was basically a Moped with a top speed of 20 mph or less, and therefore the city and state and acting arbitrarily, unreasonably, and capriciously by not allowing them to be registered, and then confiscating them.

    https://www.dictionary.com/browse/moped

    “A motorized bicycle that has pedals in addition to a low-powered gasoline engine designed for low-speed operation.”

    Are cars with electric engines illegal because they are not motor vehicles?

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moped

    “A lightweight low-powered motorbike that can be pedaled.”

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/moped

    “A light motor cycle, especially one with an engine capacity of not more than 50cc.”

    https://www.thefreedictionary.com/moped

    “1. A lightweight motorized bicycle that can be pedaled as well as driven by a low-powered gasoline engine. 2. A motor scooter.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    Monday was not heavy drizzle. It was perfectly miserable.

  • Geck

    I find the Dark Sky app really helpful in getting hyper-local short term forecasts to time rides to miss most of the rain, even on rainy days.

  • Shirley Secunda

    Great flick, Clarence! Note how they stop for traffic lights.

  • JarekFA

    Thanks. I’ll check it out. I’m always trying to get accurate as possible rain readings.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    RainAware is another good weather app with very specific local rain forecasts.

  • HamTech87

    It is almost never correct. Very frustrating.
    Also, just tried to buy a People’s Poncho but it won’t let me switch to USA and insists on selling me it in British Pounds.

  • Simon Phearson

    You don’t see what’s condescending about this statement?:

    We’re sick of hearing New Yorkers complain about the weather. Yes, the weather sucks. But take a look at the video below. It’s three minutes of Dutch people biking in the rain. We don’t see anyone complaining!

    The video’s perfectly fine, in itself, but the fact that the Dutch people weren’t actually… biking in the rain… doesn’t help contextualize the commentary.

    But here’s my rain question: How often is it the case that it is raining too heavy at the time when you’re actually traveling by bike (meaning, the actual time of your commute for example)? It’s really not that often (maybe less than 7 times a year) although it does seem like we’ve had a rainier year then normal.

    I agree. There’s only been one time in my time commuting in NYC that I actually regretted biking in the rain. (It was a driving downpour, I was riding my road bike, and my caliper brakes were obliterated by the time I got home.) I usually gamble that the forecast isn’t precisely right or there’ll be a window.

    For me, it’s really about sticking to my guns when I have a very easy subway commute as an alternative. I find riding in rainy mid-40s sufficiently unpleasant that I’ll just take the subway instead. Rainy 60s, I’ll do. I won’t skip a bike ride to avoid a rainy 50s commute home. But if its raining and mid-40s first thing in the morning – no thanks. Saves me from having to maintain the chain, too.

  • Joe R.

    Do they have much choice at that location? The cross traffic looks pretty heavy. Given how the Dutch systematically remove traffic lights from bike routes, this might be one of only a few places where bikes have to stop, so it’s not really a big deal. If there were so many lights that they had to stop every 2 or 3 blocks, as in NYC, I can guarantee they wouldn’t be so law-abiding.

    I’ll also hazard a guess that the intersection shown is a prime candidate for a future bike overpass or underpass. The Dutch do that at very busy intersections.

  • Joe R.

    I avoid riding in the rain (or snow) more due to what it does to the bike than because of what it does to me. I’ve gotten caught in driving downpours a few times, and light rain lots of other times. The driving downpours weren’t pleasant, but that’s a rare occurrence anyway, and I got through it. The light rains didn’t bother me, but what did was all the gunk that got on the bike which I had to clean off. Riding in snow and/or slush is even worse.

    Oh, and for all the talk about how Amsterdam is some kind of cycling mecca, I wouldn’t find riding in those conditions pleasant at all. To me it looks like a bike traffic jam. And from 0:59 to about 1:33 that looks to me like they’re riding on the sidewalk, so it’s probably not pleasant for pedestrians, either. In fact, with all those bikes it looks like walking would be hell, but it seems most people bike instead of walk, so I suppose catering to the majority makes the most sense.

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