Thursday’s Headlines: RFK Freedom Riders Edition

The MTA is insisting that people walk their bikes across the Triboro Bridge car-free path, which can add 30 minutes to a trip. Photo: Google Street View/Samuel Baumel
The MTA is insisting that people walk their bikes across the Triboro Bridge car-free path, which can add 30 minutes to a trip. Photo: Google Street View/Samuel Baumel

 Months after Streetsblog demanded the legalization of cycling and the end of ticketing on Robert F. Kennedy Triboro Bridge, Astoria Council Member Costa Constantinides and State Senator Michael Gianaris Alternatives will rally today at the base of the bridge with Transportation Alternatives activists,

The goal of the  lawmakers, per a press release, is “to reopen the  southern pathway to create separate lanes for cyclists and pedestrians as well as install protective fencing along the entire strip.”

TransAlt activists also said they would seek the lifting of the cycling ban on the bridge — although there was no sign of that demand in the official media advisory.

That’s backward. Free the path — that is, stop the ticketing of cyclists — and the fixes will follow.

“Outlaw Biker’ Steve Scofield, who penned the clarion call for sanity and an end to harassment on the bridge, told Streetsblog that the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority “needs to accept that biking across the bridge is not just a recreational activity — it’s a vital link in the bike network, and that those of us who do it aren’t scofflaws. They need to start planning a few alternatives as to how to install a bike lane and, in the meantime, decriminalize biking on the bridge.”

We hope that  Constantinides and the other pols can keep those priorities straight.
Yesterday was a busy news day — with Streetsblog publishing an exclusive story by Dave Colon, which The Post followed, on how staffers of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie had been caught on camera speeding through school zones an astonishing seven times in the last couple of years.
In other news:
  • The family of the 10 year-old boy mowed down by a motorist in Midwood grieved. (NYDN)
  • Streetsblog reported details of the crash investigation. Gothamist pinned the crash on the motorist’s seizure.
  • New York is among the best cities for e-bike and e-scooter trips, because half of all trips are under 3 miles. (Curbed)
  • Transit honcho Ronny Hakim will leave the MTA (NYP, AMNY)
  • A group of miscreants slashed a young man in the subway. (NYP)
  • The Transport Workers Union decried a jump in assaults on transit worker. (NYDN, Politico)
  • The New Yorker went to London to profile how cycling activists are working for climate justice. The Great Charles Komanoff tweeted that the reporting was “solid,” although he wondered why, in 20 years of subscribing,  he could not recall that the publication had published any such positive coverage about cycling in New York City.
  • The Council looks for answers to the travails of the taxi and ride-share industries. (CityandState)
  • The Post Editorial Board wants stronger action form the governor on the subways,
  • Three scars through lower Manhattan tell the story of the birth of car culture, according to Gothamist.
  • NYDN critic Linda Stasi complained about the bike lane at FDR Drive and Waterside Plaza.





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  • Larry Littlefield

    “Gothamist pinned the crash on the motorist’s seizure.”

    Note how financially strapped rail transit agencies and railroads were forced to spend $billions on PTC, to override train operators in cases like this.

    They demand safety of vehicles riding on their own right of way, forget the cost. Vehicles not the street, trucks and cars, have more powerful lobbyists apparently. How about PTC for them?

  • MotoBX

    Ugh… Does someone really need to point out that equating the struggle of bicyclists to the struggle of black people living in the segregated south during the Jim Crow days isn’t a good angle?

  • crazytrainmatt

    Re: the eastside path by the Waterside:
    The most wasteful use of space here is the EDC-owned heliport and hospital parking lot on the waterfront. How many people live, walk, and work within range of the fumes and noise each day? Half a million? For the benefit of 100 operations per day.

    If space for the M34 is the problem, the FDR onramp around the waterside has a 10′ breakdown lane which could be reallocated to the slip road.

    And if you’re worried about general accessibility for the Waterside complex, argue for adding crosswalks at 34/35/36th streets, replacing the stairs with a ramp at 25th street, and opening a path between 25th and 26th St to connect to the grid to the north. The latter two could be done in conjunction with the building of the garbage truck garage on that block, but I doubt it’s in the plans.

  • Isaac B

    Oh, and I’ve seen “Blade’s” golf cart using the bike path in front of Waterside.

  • Elizabeth F

    If you think e-bikes are best for trips under 3 miles, you are seriously underselling this revolutionary technology. For trips that short, manual bikes are easier — they’re lighter, simpler, cheaper and don’t have to be plugged in. E-bikes are really good for trips 5-15 miles and up.

  • Philip Neumann

    I’m sorry, but what are you referencing?

  • MotoBX

    The headline “RFK Freedom Riders Edition”

  • kevd

    Some middle aged white cyclists like to think of themselves as the most oppressed minority ever and can’t resist a civil rights comparison. There should be a name for, like there is for Godwin’s Law.
    it’s lazy.
    it’s insensitive.
    it’s dumb.
    A middled aged white cyclist.

  • Larry Littlefield

    E bikes are best for people who don’t need exercise (manual laborers for example).

    Trips in excess of 7 miles.

    And for those in areas with large hills, who could ride under their own power except for the hills.

    Other than that, you are missing the exercise benefit.

    What is true is that under 3 miles you can ride a bike pedaling yourself in street clothes, because you won’t build up enough heat to sweat much. Whereas more than 3 miles you need to carry your clothes in a side bag and change.

  • Charles Siegel

    “RFK Freedom riders” refers to the civil rights era, but it also refers to the fact that they want the freedom to ride on the RFK bridge, rather than walking their bikes.

    It is the sort of clever reference that headline writers like to make, and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

  • Vooch


    I’ll take the bait.

    When cyclists are killed by the dozens, maimed by tens of thousands, spat at, yelled at, harassed by police, bullied multiple times every single time they go shopping or to work, then HELL yes I think its reasonable to use the phrase “Freedom Ride”

    Thanks for letting me clarify my thoughts

  • MotoBX

    You’re just wrong: You can choose your route, your mode of transportation. You have absolute freedom to travel however you choose. You can live whenever you want (not exactly, but it doesn’t directly correlate with race/ethnicity). Simply put, you have choices.

    Writers here are free to bash cars all day. Most of the time they’re right, sometimes they aren’t. I think allowing bicycling on the RFK is an exceptionally simple, reasonable, and easily attainable demand. I think equating the trials and tribulations of bicyclists to the injustices suffered by black people in the South is just gross.

    People risked their lives, people were beaten, buses were firebombed (that’s just the actual freedom rides, not even mentioning the countless other injustices suffered in that era).

  • Andrew

    I think equating the trials and tribulations of bicyclists to the injustices suffered by black people in the South is just gross.

    I don’t think anybody is making that equation.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Are you familiar with what the freedom riders were?

  • kevd

    while I don’t think it was intended as a direct comparison, the usage is in poor taste.

  • Joe R.

    It’s a click bait headline, nothing more, nothing less. Granted, it’s in poor taste, but you’re reading too much into it.

  • Joe R.

    I guess we all think differently. For me trips under about 2 miles are almost always walking. Under 3 miles is still walking, unless the destination has safe bike parking. Over 3 up to about 15 is the sweet spot for manual bikes, at least for me. If I regualr made trips much over 15 miles, or in very hilly territory, I would consider a pedal-assist e-bike.

  • MotoBX

    I mean, that’s effectively what I said. Poor taste is effectively the same as “isn’t a good angle”. I just chose to elaborate a bit for those who may not have gotten the reference at first.

    Apparently some (not you) think it’s a perfectly fine reference to make.

  • Andrew

    Yes. This isn’t the first joke in poor taste that’s appeared here over the past year, and I doubt it will be the last.

  • Joe R.

    Honestly, I had to do a search myself even though I lived through those times. In my defense, I was still in grade school. The only current events which really interested me involved the space program. I had wanted to be an astronaut. Of course, once all we did was stay in low-Earth orbit I lost that desire.

    Sure, cyclists face a lot of issues nowadays, but I agree they can’t compare to the way blacks were treated in that era. For all the jackasses who say the 1950s and 1960s were so wonderful, well, maybe they were if you were white and at least middle class. If you were any other color, or if you were white but poor like we were, those times sucked. Yes, poor whites still had it better than blacks, but at least we had a little idea of what you were going through.

  • GuestBx


  • Vooch


    Excellant point that one can choose to cycle, but one cannot choose one’s ethnicity. Thats a biggie, and thanks for pointing that out.

    However, you should agree that cyclists are terrorized multiple times every single day. Cyclists do risk their lives daily.

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  • John O

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say I really have no desire to ride my bike on the road at all. There are so many distracted drivers that I don’t want to be a statistic. It sucks but it’s just gotten too dangerous.

    To prove my point, I was reading this article the other day on how dangerous is mountain biking, and numbers don’t lie. Road biking has 3.01 incidents per 1000 hours and downhill trail biking has 1.54 incidents per 1000 hours. I’d rather have a broken arm than be hit by a car.

    I like the idea of biking for close trips and it’s far healthier. But I’m seeing way too many distracted drivers to feel like I’m in the line of danger.

    Hopefully the roads get safer soon and they put shoulders on ALL of the roads.

  • qrt145

    It’s hard to tell because that article doesn’t say where it got the data from, but even taking it at face value, note that it is comparing _sports_. Compared with a reasonably prudent bike commuter, road racers take more risks and are presumably more likely to crash. You wouldn’t say walking on grass is dangerous based on the injury rate for football, would you? 🙂

    Anecdotal data point for whatever it’s worth: I have well over 1000 hours of cycling both commuting and touring, with zero injuries to report. I realize it could be luck, but I think it’s really that that “3 per 1000” hours does not apply to this type of cycling.


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