Thursday, December 22, 2005

Keep Biking

Hey cyclists -- great job bearing the cold weather, dense traffic and the other stresses of the strike. We hope to keep seeing you out there on the streets, bridges and greenways. Maybe you'll meet some new friends. At the very least you'll save a few bucks and stay in shape during the winter months. And stay in touch! Join the Transportation Alternatives e-bulletin and keep posted on all the up-to-the-minute bicycling, walking and sensible transportation news.

It's Over, What Now?

Well, that was quick (at least compared to the last MTA Transit Strike that lasted 12 days). One big question now -- will people keep bicycling now that they've tried it? Transportation Alternatives has 5 key recommendations to keep people biking to work even when they don't have to.

Check it out:

5 Ways for NYC to Continue Reaping Benefits of Bicycling

The City’s contingency planned attempted to redress the main obstacles to everyday bicycling—unsafe streets and lack of secure bicycle parking.

The City should learn from its plan and implement measures that will encourage New Yorkers who began biking this week to continue riding:

1) Mandate bike access to buildings. During the strike, many bicyclists took advantage of special bike access rules recommended by the City’s contingency plan. Many private buildings followed suit, allowing tenants to lock bicycles in makeshift bike rooms (often in building basements), or allowing tenants to bring their bikes into their offices where employers let people park their bicycles next to their desks. Many more did not, however. Transportation Alternatives has received many complaints from bicyclists who arrived at their office buildings on bikes and were denied access. Post strike, the City Council should pass pending legislation (Int. 155) that would require buildings to simply let their tenants bring their bicycles inside.

2) Create more and better protected bike lanes. Throughout the strike, the City coned-off Midtown bike lanes and banned parking next to them. These safe, wide bike lanes are a big reason why daily cycling during the strike increased 500%. They will continue to invite New Yorkers to bike as long as they are in place. Once the bike lanes are gone, people will be discouraged from biking. The 21 bicyclists killed in 2005 and bicycling firefighter, Matthew Long, who was critically injured this morning, underscore the need for safer bike routes.

3) Better enforcement to keep bike lanes clear and safe. During the strike, many heavily-used Manhattan bike lanes were protected with orange cones to prevent vehicle encroachment. While this helped make bicycling safe—particularly for the masses of newly-minted bike commuters—many bike lanes and the adjacent parking lanes (from which the City’s Contingency Plan banned parking) were nevertheless clogged with cars, which forced bicyclists into dangerous competition for street space, squeezing them into the path of passing car and truck traffic.

4) Create safe routes to and from greenway paths and the East River bridge biking and walking paths. Traffic free cycling on greenways and across the East River bridges is enjoyed by New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds. Most people, however, must ride on hectic, harrowing streets to access these safe paths. During the first two days of the strike, steady streams of bicyclists enjoyed safe passage up and down Fifth and Madison Avenues, which were closed to non-emergency traffic and, thus, essentially traffic-free. On the third day of the strike, the City reopened these avenues to automobiles. This effectively eliminated their use as safe bicycle routes and, in effect, transformed Fifth Ave and Madison Ave into parking lots. The dangerous traffic and lack of safe space discouraged cyclists from riding on the two avenues.

5) Erect more Bicycle Racks. During the strike, there was only one bicycle rack for every 175 bicyclists. While the ebbing number of bicyclists after the strike will free up some room, there will still be a major dearth of outdoor bicycle parking. In a situation where limited sidewalk space precludes the installation of bike racks, then vehicular parking space should be usurped to erect bike racks. 20 bicycles can be parked in the space required to park one vehicle.

Bike the Strike Poem

From our email files:


I am a long time NYC biker and a Transportation Alternative advocate.
I am also a professional poet and performer.
Below is a poem I want to share with you.
I use biking down Broadway as a metaphor for persistence.


PS - I am biking the strike and loving it!


By Corie Feiner

She persists like a woman biking down Broadway.
She has forgotten her lights and knows that when
the sun goes down she will have to make
rapid noises with her tongue so that the taxi cabs
and suburban vans do not open their door into her lungs.

She wears boots instead of sneakers
and tucks her work pants inside their leather rim,
she wears a heavy bag that presses sharply into
her lower back with each bump and crater,
she stands when she rides over pot holes and turns quickly
around police blockades and construction zones.

The bike lane whose white lines are fading
as if they were drawn in sand suddenly stops
at 45th Street, as if all bikes should evaporate like
the steam from the Ramen Noodle soup ad hovering
over Times Square.

She turns into traffic as if the cabs could not hurt her,
could not suddenly turn left and crush her peddling legs,
could not pull her into their hot grid, she breathes in
and pushes out her belly, she breathes out and tightens her skin,
she breathes in thick exhaust, engine fumes, impatient honks,
she breathes out movement, muscles, and gears.

She will get to where she is going,
and it will be her own strength that got her there.

Corie Feiner
Poet, Performer, Educator

Bicycling Firefighter Injured

There has been a nearly giddy atmosphere in the City the past few days as cyclists and pedestrians are so visible and cyclists especially are out in record numbers. However, the injury of the firefighter this morning shows that there is still much to be desired before cyclists have the space and safety on the streets that they need. Biking down Broadway last night should have been a treat, with a lane coned off for cyclists and emergency vehicles. Instead drivers moved the cones, double parked in the lanes and buses edged over until there was no room for cyclists to move. Biking on New York City streets and in bike lanes shouldn't be a squeeze play. Cyclists need room to move, room for error, room to avoid turning vehicles and buses that edge over too far. The City needs to take notice of how many people choose to bike during the strike, and ask themselves, how many more would bike on a daily basis if it was safer and more convenient to do so.

Firefighter Critically Injured While Biking In this Morning

NEW YORK (AP) -- An off-duty firefighter was struck and critically injured Thursday morning after being struck by a private bus while riding a bike to work.

The firefighter, whose name was not immediately released, was struck at 5:58 a.m. on 52nd Street and Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan, said Fire Department spokesman Ken Bohan.

He was transferred to New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center where he was in critical condition, said Bohan. The off-duty firefighter suffered multiple fractutres and internal injuries.

The bus involved in the accident is owned by Allen AME Transportation and is affiliated with the Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, which is run by the Rev. Floyd Flake, an influential clergyman and former Democratic congressman.

"I really can't discuss it,' said a woman who answered the phone at the company. "I don't know anything."

No charges were filed; the accident remained under investigation.

Bike Sales Booming

In calling around to local bike shops yesterday we found that sales of bicycles and accessories is up 200% -400%. Says Charlie McCorkle, the owner of Bicycle Habitat bike shop on Lafayette Street in
Manhattan, “Business is up 400%. It’s more crowded than a warm day in May.” We met this man on the Manhattan Bridge last night, he had just bought a new Fuji to help him bike the strike.

Candy, Bike Maps!

T.A. staff and volunteers took to the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridge last night handing out candy, bike maps, water bottles and hand warmers as long as our supplies lasted. Then it was mostly just candy and bike maps. Everyone we talked to was in a festive mood, despite some long journeys ahead. I talked to one woman who was riding from the Upper East Side to Flatbush. Thanks to Fuji for providing some valuable assistance to allow us to buy all those hand warmers! You can enter to win a new Fuji at their Bike the Strike site.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This morning on the Manhattan Bridge, an estimated 480 cyclists per hour crossed into Manhattan.

Village Voice on the Strike

Village Voice reporter Sarah Ferguson got the scoop from T.A. staffers today about best routes, bike parking and bike pools. Read all about it.

Democracy, Love

On the Brooklyn Bridge last night doing bike counts a police officer started talking to me as he noticed I was shivering uncontrollably. It's ok when you're riding or walking, but this weather is brutual for those standing still. The officer seemed confused as to why I was out there. I tried to explain that I worked for Transportation Alternatives and that I was out there because I was excited to show just how many people would ride their bikes on a daily basis if it was safe and convenient (or in this case, if all other options suddenly became less convenient). He agreed with me, but said he prefered riding on trails, just for fun. But look at them I said, point to the streams of people treking across the Brooklyn Bridge. This is great for the city. People are talking, there is the possibly of an open exchange of ideas, this is a breakthrough for democracy. My roommate also pointed out that this is a breakthrough for love.

Five-Fold Increase in NYC Cycling On 1st Day of Strike

Last night T.A. staff and volunteers took to the bridges to count how many bicyclists were going to and from Brooklyn after work. We estimate that over 350,000 cyclists rode to work yesterday on the 1st day of the MTA transit strike, as compared with 120,000 daily cyclists on an average day.

Thank you Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Thanks to our colleagues in Philly for allowing us to take over their site as New York becomes the latest major U.S. city struck by a transit strike. We have already posted some general advice on weathering the strike and our latest press releases to our main site We'll be using this blog to give you more personal tips and anecdotes about the strike.

Now its the MTA's Turn