Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer talks about his new report on all the rule-breakers.
I am a former cyclist. Not a not-so-serious cyclist but someone who did 300 miles a week when in college and continued to ride after moving to NY - including rides from the city to eastern Long Island.
When I used to ride in Queens, I used to use a bike lane that runs from the GCP west to someplace in Woodside. Frequently I came upon cars double parked in the bike lane. Double parked vehicles are very dangerous for cyclists as they force us out into traffic. This is compounded when we are moving in front of drivers who don't really think we belong on the road anyway and are unwilling to yield. On several occasions, I found a police officer and pointed offending cars out and asked them to ticket the drivers. They always say, "if they don't move, we'll ticket them." Of course they move when they see me pointing over at them and talking to the police; to change the behavior the laws must be enforced and to do that tickets must be written. At the same time, I understand the predicament of some of these people forced to double park or stand in bike lanes;
Which brings about me and my cargo van. For many years I had no vehicle at all. I lived in Sunnyside, walked and used subways and the LIRR - and rode a bike. Now I am a woodworker and live in Middle Village and not only have the van but two cars. I really wish I had none of this - but it is a fact of life; one which troubles me as I do not like what I sometimes have to do; park in the cycling lane. I did it today to unload some materials at a job. I did not want to do it, but there was no place on the block to park. Even if the police had caught me doing this I would have taken the ticket and paid it as a cost of doing business. And I dare not park in front of a hydrant.
What we really need in this city are loading zones on every block; places where people can park for 15 minutes and no more to load an unload things. And I am not suggesting this for just commercial vehicles or commercial districts (as your guest suggested) but one on every block on both sides of the street, for residents who must unload groceries, the kiddies, elderly people, furniture and for contractors who really have no choice but to double park to unload heavy material.
I mentioned this idea to a police officer and he said "enforcement would be impossible". I still do not understand that statement. I pay over a thousand dollars a year in parking tickets on my truck; this city loves tickets. I mean here we are in a fiscal crunch and there has been talk about closing fire stations and not hiring more police but we never hear the city talk about laying off traffic wardens. Think of the job security for them; we can hire more of them!
I really hope the city takes this into consideration. I know the public will not like it, but maybe, as time goes on and people realize that having a car in the city is not a good thing, there will be less resistance to the idea.
What's incredible about so many participants in the "green" movements is how childish their behavior is. They carry their plastic "water baby bottles" everywhere,and now they feel they're entitled to ride their bicycles on streets and sidewalks with total disregard to public safety and traffic laws (they're green alright).Bloomberg's embrace of bicycles is naive and idiotic and shows no real sense of how the residents of NYC operate.Even the police totally disregard enforement for cyclists, andthe whole style of city riding was unfortuately developed by the sub-subculture known as "messengers"far too long ago.
We need Germans. After living in Berlin( & hopefully getting the hell back) what NYC needs is German styled enforcement of biking laws & lanes--any violator against the red light is ticketed. Any pedestrian walking in the bike lane likewise ticketed. Turning cars cutting off bikers on the green light are also ticketed. Simple laws & simple enforcement.For that matter if we had germans running all trains and buses in this embarrassing american transit system we would see CLEANER, FASTER, more efficient, more attractive, more travelled with fewer of the sedentary car loving american cholestral hog drivers slowing up truck deliveries( on a given business day more than 1 million polluting fat ass cars enter). This inefficient goofy town needs Germans. Fire everybody!!!
The increasing number of bike lanes are a great advancement, and all props to TransAlt.org for lobbying tirelessly over the years.... *AND* there are some ludicrous implementations of these (42nd St. to Herald Square on B'way anyone? Night. Mare. A total nightmare for peds and bikers). People who think that these new-ish bike lanes "aren't used" need to wait a year, or maybe even 2. The same argument was made about the Kent Avenue bike lanes in W'burg 2 years ago, but these are getting busier by the day and are used by all kinds of people - not just hipsters (though it's fun to call it the "hipster highway"). It's really exciting to see. It's like "Bike Lane of Dreams"... "if you build it..."I'm 41, and grew UP biking in NYC. I've been chased by cabbies with sticks and run off the avenue for standing up for my right to be on the street with cars. I HAVE to say, the car drivers are starting to "get it" (share the road) and so are peds (looking for bikes before crossing on a red). Some bikers are a total freaking menace and they give us all a bad name. Trust me I loathe them as much as you. I ride hard, but respectfully. I cannot say the same for *some* of the un-helmeted, iPodded fixie riders (or non-fixie) I have to share the road with. That comment makes me feel "old" but the days are OVER when you had to fight for space on the road - SAVE the aggressive biking posture, boys.I bike commute (ride my child to school) on the W'burg bridge, recently given over to a Peds on the South, Bikes on the North. OK, ready? WHY oh WHY do walkers, moms with strollers (mostly Hassidish), runners, 2-stroke mopeds, and electric/X-over vehicles think it's even remotely *OK* to be on the BIKE SIDE of the bridge (or on it at ALL - get your motors OFF our lanes!)? That noise is selfish and straight DANGEROUS. Take yourselves to BEDFORD and go up the "steeper" side - it's not that rough - getting HIT by a bike - that's rough, and nobody wants to see it.
In general, I think it's all getting better. NYC streets are, I think, NOT POSSIBLE to really regulate. Remember when Guiliani got his panties in a bunch over JAYWALKING. Puh. Leeeze.Thanks for listening (if y'are).
I don't think that it is a stretch to say that under the leadership of a pol like Stringer, there would be no bike lanes. He like Markowitz, represent status quo maintainers that are only interested in catering to the business interests and limited constituent populations that put them in office.
While I believe bicyclist should obey rules and show courtesy to other street users (and obviously vise versa), anyone that advocates for stopping and remaining at every red light simply do not understand the dynamics of riding a bicycle in NYC.
Cyclists certainly should stop at intersections where proceeding through would endanger themselves or pedestrians; cyclist certainly should always give right away to pedestrians in crosswalks, and cyclist should always prepare to stop on approaching a red light or stop sign. But when conditions are such that the threat of danger to the cyclist or others has cleared, cyclist should be allow to proceed through red lights, period. Else, cyclists will be placed in great danger as they will never get a chance to get ahead of vehicular traffic.
Plus, does it help to encourage cycling in NYC if it will take a cyclist 2x as long to travel to his/her destination by bicycle?
I remember bike lanes installed in Manhattan during the Koch administration. I got a nice bike then and tried out the new system. Almost got killed several times by various idiots doing what idiots do. My expensive bike was eventually stolen on 11th Street and Broadway. It was kind of a relief. The bike lanes were eventually removed, with as little fanfare as possible. Now I see the lanes back again, probably to be removed again in a few years. This is an expensive recycled idea that has never been thought through. Without limiting vehicular traffic in the city by increasing and properly maintaining mass transit, bike riding in NYC will always be a high-risk activity reserved for young daredevils and naive newcomers from the country. Allowing single-occupant automobiles on Manhattan streets is a special kind of sado-masochistic lunacy only the clueless and corrupt in City Hall can manifest.
11:49 am. I just returned home from an hour spent running errands in my neighborhood (the East Side between 14th and 23rd Streets). Each attempt to cross First Avenue felt more like a death-defying leap of faith: cyclists do not follow traffic regulations (you stop at a red light, esp. as pedestrians are crossing the avenue - you do not speed up, weaving and bobbing in and out of the lane as they attempt to cross. You ride with the traffic, not against it, in the bike lane and, if you must, in the remaining three traffic lanes). And delivery men shouldn't shoulder all the blame: at least half of the self-absorbed cyclists I narrowly avoided this am look like recreational cyclists. They should be educated, required to pass exams, licensed and insured. Also, adding insult to injury, there are only three traffic lanes left on First Avenue, and cabs can no longer pick up or let passengers off at the curb or they receive a summons. As for their passengers (including my 89 year old father (agile, but no gymnast), they have to navigate the bike lanes which separate them from the curb. As for flagging down a cab, no cabs can see potential fares unless they stand in a traffic lane (otherwise they can't be seen from behind the parked cars which separate bike from traffic lanes). I'm afraid that the everyday indignities (and danger) pedestrians are subjected to will result in serious injuries and worse. And this is just the "icing" on a cake that's rotting before our eyes, a quality of life issue for all New Yorkers, including the elderly and infirm.
you wouldn't put an inexperienced motorist behind the wheel of a car without educating them, why do we assume otherwise for cyclists? we learn to ride bicycles as children and those skills DO NOT translate to being an adept urban cyclist. i applaud the great strides NYC has made the last few years in becoming a more cycling-friendly community, but an educational component is essential for the safety of both cyclists AND motorists.
i’m a senior citizen, not a bike rider, and i’ve been very happy to see this new traffic initiative encouraging more people to get around by bike rather than by motor vehicle. regarding the issue of space lost to traffic on Columbus Ave-- where a driver who called in earlier said that he couldn’t believe that the city is giving away so much valuable real estate to cyclists--the really abusive giveaway is the city allowing private cars to park on the streets. let’s encourage the city to get these free loading car parkers off the streets and into garages where the can pay their own way at least for their parking.--mgdu
Fully agree with the last two callers from the Upper West Side. The bike lanes on Columbus Avenue (96th-86th Streets) are not used and the reduction of traffic lanes is causing huge congestion. Any time a car needs to park, the traffic is cut down to one lane, which cause a standstill. Large amounts of cars used to move down Columbus Avenue swiftly. If more people in this neighborhood were using bikes, there would be a reason to keep the lanes. But we have lots of kids in strollers - families who are not using the lanes. They should be removed.
The Borough President and some of the callers spoke about cyclists riding the wrong way down one-way streets or otherwise against traffic.
It's my opinion that any sane cyclist has to consider doing that on streets with parking. The alternative is being helplessly "doored" or being forced to swerve in front of a vehicle and killed.
Cycling _with_ traffic, you run into an unyielding open door and the person who opened it. Both you and they are likely to be hurt.
Cycling against traffic, if you run into a door it will yield when you hit it, cushioning both you and the inattentive motorist or passenger who opened it.Plus, going in that direction, you're actually visible to the person in the car instead of coming up behind them.
Thus, until people in cars are much better educated about how dangerous a carelessly opened door can be, cyclists will continue to ride the "wrong" way. (And maybe the rule against it ought to be changed.)
A simple idea is to distribute a free "plastic reflective-vest" for bikers to pick up in assign places and to put on over your jacket, and on it print the words "Free the bike lane" or something to that effect.
I got pulled over once while riding, and totally deserved it; after waiting at a red light, and signalling my left turn, I jumped out in front of the oncoming traffic once it went green. I had thought I was at a protected turn, and I was wrong. Before leaving, the cop told me "you know, you have to obey all the same rules as cars.
He's pretty much right, and while I was a relatively safe rider before that - helmet, lights, bell - I've become somewhat of a etiquitte/safety/law advocate ever since.
Many riders I see in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn break at least one law (or law of safety) every time they go out; no helmet, no lights between dusk and dawn, no signals, rolling though/running lights & stop signs, riding against traffic or on the sidewalk.
As a safe, responsible rider, it frustrates me when drivers get upset at me, and then I realize all the other riders they encounter in a day.
I remind riders of the rules when I see them broken "wrong way, it's unsafe!" or "accidents happen, wear a helmet!" The response from other riders usually lies somewhere between a sarcastic "oh, really?" to the caustic "shut up!"
I'm not sure what these cyclists think they deserve from drivers when they're not taking of their own safety in the first place.
My previous e-mail was a too glib. Bike lanes need to be fine-tuned and made safer for bicyclist with better separation from cars. Bikers clearly need to observe the law better! The more extensive the network of bike lanes become, the more they will be used...... For lots of good ideas on how to make bike lanes work check out Streetfilms - http://www.streetfilms.org/tag/bikes/
I'm terrified of NYC bikers both as a driver and as a pedestrian. My solution for taming the wild west of biking: Give bikers all the rights and responsibilities of motorists. Issue biking liscences along with bicycle liscence plates. Let's teach everyone the rules of the road and hold everyone to the same standards.
I live near Albany, where there's been a lot of roadwork recently, I think due to stimulus money. One result of the renovations is huge bike symbols painted in the middle of a narrow main street, as well as a posted sign that tells cars to share the road. I would be happy to send photographs if that would be of interest.
In Holland, cyclists have the right of way over motorists and pedestrians. If that was the understanding here, the roads would be safer for everyone. Also, all cyclists should wear helmets.
Does Scott Stringer EVER comment directly on anything, or EVER give a direct answer to ANYTHING? He sounds like a parrot.
Obviously a politician - he thinks he will successfully have things both ways.
The way you can really tell is the size of the "SUV BIKE" assigned for his daily transportation.
Delivery truck parking is a great idea! See all those tickets on the double parked trucks? Who do you think ultimately pays for those tickets - we do - in higher prices of the goods those trucks deliver!
Every argument I hear regarding this issue presupposes cars are the gold standard for city transportation, i.e., "If bikes were just regulated like cars," &c. I have been a cyclist in New York for over ten years, and if the safety of citizens is truly a concern, the first order of business should be motor vehicle traffic regulation. Cars run red lights, speed like crazy, and endanger everyone. Bikes are not the problem.
Do we need bicycle traffic police officers now?
Everyone needs to be more aware when crossing the street.
Bike lanes are necessary. Anyone saying to get rid of them is out of touch with modern times.
Cars do not own the streets. Why do drivers have an entitlement to streets? The culture needs to change.
anything that gives me a break from the absurd pedestrian chaos-scape of the west side bike path on weekends- is a good good thing.
People don't ride bikes in Brooklyn because many of us are transporting things. The public transportation stinks and is constantly being cut so don't you see that the issue of bike lines and car are the whole picture. Many of the streets have been given over to bikes, particularly the truck routes through Greenpoint. The traffic on the sides is terrible as a result.
More safe cycling parking at work locations! LIRR need to allow bikes during rush hour.
Bike culture is different in every city. During a wknd in NYC I was a bit surprised to see an almost total disregard for streetlights by both pedestrians and cyclists. Here in Toronto, its no where as bad. While in Berlin, it was much better - but then again they are light years ahead of both cities with bike lanes both on the streets and marked areas on the sidewalks.
In my estimation, NYC has its work cut out for itself trying to change the existing culture.
Bikes should be tested and licensed, and bikes should have plates. Bikers need education.It would be revenue for the DMV.
I think the bicyclists who give all bicyclists a bad reputation are equally reckless behind the wheel of a car. I think some people just have a sense of entitlement to the roads, no matter the mode of transportation.
I have been dismayed by my unavoidable conclusion that the bike debate, as played out on the streets, is evidence that people cannot govern themselves. Everyone is implicated in this: cyclists, pedestrians, motorists. To simplify the scenario, consider the Hudson River promenade: it is a dismal mess of self-absorption, with almost no one attempting to negotiate the situation in a way that demonstrates recognition that it is a shared public space. And that's before you even add cars into the equation.
How about just dedicating certain streets to bikes only?
The caller who blames "bike culture" for bike fatalities should back up the claim with data -- the city keeps bike morbidity information. Otherwise, a motorist blaming a biker for fatalities sounds ridiculous. As a biker (20+ years), pedestrian (30 + years) and driver (10 + years) I have experienced much more incivility as a biker than as either a pedestrian or driver.
Bikers should be licensed, then we would know they are trained to the laws of the road. They would be recognized by visible license .Plus this would bring revenue to the city.
I'm both a motorist and cyclist living in Montreal and NYC. The main issue is not which city is best for cyclist or motorist, it's mutual respect for the need of both means of transport and a change of attitude on both end. I sense both sides feels their sole right to possess the road, regardless of what city (although more prevalent in the US), but learning to respect each other's right and to share the roads is the way to go for everyone, including pedestrians!!!
Please ask how we as bikers can register our likes/dislikes of the many current varieties of bike lanes currently being experimented with all over town. Some of these (Grand street) really don't work and are more dangerous.
Of course bicyclists should obey the law, but where's the outcry for AUTO enforcement? I see motorists breaking the law on our streets all day, every day, and there is minimal enforcement. Lawbreakers in cars are vastly more numerous, and substantially more dangerous than lawbreakers on bikes. Want to make our streets safer? Focus on the cars.
Brian, are you sure this guy is a politician?
He's not screaming, waving the flag or threatening to take someone out.
When I grew up (I'm 64) in Rochester NY, bikes had license plates (stickers actually on the back bumpers). That way police and pedestrians could tell who violated the rules - and they were the same as in NYC now.
Currently, a police officer can only shoot a bicyclist if he breaks a rule and won't stop. I'm not sure I would be entirely opposed to that :> ) as I've almost been hit by a bike at least once a week, but never by a car in my 40+ years here.
Another component to increasing safety on the road is getting cars to respect speed limits.
While a discussion on bike lanes is necessary, please can we talk about people riding bikes on sidewalks. This is a huge issue. In my neighborhood, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, I see people riding bikes on sidewalks right beside bike lanes all the time. The city needs to enforce the law and ticket people. At the very least it's a nuisance, at worst it is outright dangerous.
mas transit needs allowance for cycle. IE: LIRR does NOT allow bikes on train during rush hour. how stupid
Bicyclists are a menace. They break traffic laws constantly. In the past five years I have been hit twice and almost hit dozens of times. Before any discussion of cyclist rights there must be a serious discussion of their responsibilities. We need an enforcement crackdown on bikers.
Get rid of the bike lanes.
If you want to see the police actually ticket bicyclists for offenses, just witness Critical Mass, final Friday of every month starting from Union Square.
If you want to see bicyclists who actually follow all the rules of the road, again, I'd suggest going to Critical Mass.
riding the bike lane is like running the gautlet. car doors, jay walkers , deliveries, all are killers! bike lane on the river is the safest, but rollerbladers with headphones and dogs with long leashes are quite dangerous.
Is he working on a device that will shovel snow on these bike enabled thoroughfares?
Hello? You want to encourage mass transit and discourage driving?
RAISE the tunnel tolls and LOWER the transit fees.
Of course our genius government has done the opposite.
By the way, all those "public servants" drive into town & take up one-third of all available street parking.
i saw a woman walking down the bike lane the other day on broadway with a huge stroller. all the cyclists had to swerve around her. it was like she was thrilled to have this new stroller lane.
Does he or does he not want the police to enforce the safety rules applicable to bicycles?
Everyone misusing bike lanes?I'm shocked. Everyone misuses car lanes, too.This is New York, there is always going to be a certain amount of bending of traffic rules.Yes, we all need to do a better job obeying the law. Keep building those bike lanes and creating more in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and SI, too.
leaving work one afternoon, walking along 44th street between 8th & Broadway, a tourist stopped and asked a cop (at the Shubert Alley area) where can we cross? Cop answers, "anywhere, just don't get hit."
I agree with mwong. I am a cyclist too. It's very difficult to ride a bike without being in a near collision. The bike lane is occupied by cyclist and pedestrians, delivery trucks, taxi's, double parked cars. Sometimes bike lanes disappear. (The lane's around 3rd ave and Houston disappear when a one way avenue suddenly turns into two lanes). Cars who merge into traffic by crossing the bike lane. What about pedestrians who stroll along the bridge... in the bike lane! Yesterday a guy, his wife and kid we're strolling along the Manhattan bridge bike path as if he had a death wish.
as a bicyclists, i agree we do not always follow the bike riding rules. However, (and this is not an excuse, just want to point out) we do need to contend with pedestrians walking in the lane, joggers, supermarket delivery carts, cars double parking, on and on and on. I avoid Prince St in soho because peds treat it like and extra sidewalk and st vendors use it to house their wares and set up shop. i'm all for enforcing rules to bicyclists. how about extending that to everyone else. BTW, same goes for the bike lanes along the Hudson. Joggers and people walking with briefcases(!) insist on using it even though they have their own walkway.
The worse is that the bikers often come in every other direction you can't imagine. We'd see pedestrians frozen and yell when the bikers come up, charging toward them. These bikers simply just rely on their presumably super skills to wiggle and short-stop around people, rather than going at a most reasonable pace. I pray that the real "car" drivers really "confront" the bikers "head on", see how soon the bikers will complain about the cars. They often just don't bike in a prudent and responsible manner.
I live on the Upper East Side (Yorkville). The recent proliferation of electric bicycles used by delivery riders has made the situation even worse due to their higher speeds. Are these electric bicycles even legal on NYC streets? Also, now that new bike lanes are in place, I even see riders going the wrong way in the bike lanes in addition to flouting one way rules. How about some real enforcement of traffic rules for both motor vehicles and bicycles?
Please ask Scott Stringer when traffic rules will be enforced for bike riders on the new bike lanes on First and Second Avenues. Negotiating these avenues was hazardous because of the bike riders before these lanes were put in. Now you've got bikes going both ways on one way streets through red lights (at high speed as the light changes).
The bike lanes between Times and Herald Sqs are between the sidewalk and a car-lane-wide seating area, and then the 2 car lanes. I work in the area and have seldom seldom seen bikes in the bike lanes but rather in the car lanes. The bike lanes there are filled with people passing through, not even looking out for bike traffic. It would probably be dangerous for a bike at a reasonable speed because they'd have to constantly brake or swerve to avoid people.And I just don't see the wisdom of a "wall" or lane of tables and chairs and people being a barrier between the bikes and cars. Dangerous for all involved. At least the traffic is relatively little on the lower part of the lanes nearing Macy's that it's not so bad for bikes in the car lanes there.
Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm
your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the
right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the
Comment Guidelines before
By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's
It's your neighborhood, your city, your country, your world, and now your website. Brian Lehrer delves into the issues and links them to real life.