Transportation Nation

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

WNYC reporter Andrea Bernstein discusses National Bike Month and her work with Transportation Nation.

WNYC is running a competition to design the pedestrian plazas in Midtown. Click here to enter the competition with your own vision for mid-town.

→ Is this your first bike month? Are you a new bicyclist in NYC? How do you think this city treats two-wheelers? Let us know!


Andrea Bernstein

Comments [22]

Riding down 5th Ave in Park Slope today (Bike to Work Day) I saw 5 vehicles parked on the bike lane. One of them was a mini police cart. The officer was chatting it up with some dude on the street. The next block down sat 3 more cars on the bike lane.

Last thing, I wholeheartedly agree with snoop from Brooklyn. Bikes are NOT cars. We can't (or I won't) go as fast as cars so why should we have to wait at red lights? I think it's perfectly acceptable to do like pedestrians and look both ways before crossing the road.

May. 07 2010 04:16 PM
Argh from die gross apfel

The link for entering the contest is not working... help.

May. 07 2010 10:57 AM
nat from Brooklyn

kbinps, Thank you for making almost the entirety of my point for me.

What I was trying to say with my earlier post was that I wanted a discussion on the merits of cycling in the scheme of a changing transportation policy.

I am sorry that the race cyclists in Prospect Park make you feel uncomfortable, however you are confusing your anecdotal experience with actual data or science. Last time I checked, car hitting pedestrian children was the number one cause of death for people under eighteen in Brooklyn for every year of the last decade. There are fewer than ten (if that) cases of cyclists killing anyone in the five boroughs over the last decade.

In your post you keep referring to cyclists of being some monolithic group ie: "when they do blast through lights as they always do." Then without the slightest hint of irony say that I (as the representative of all cyclists) am being morally superior and arrogant.

I was asking that people not do exactly what you have done. By thinking of any large and diverse people group in terms of "they" and "them" you have already shown your unwillingness see someone else's perspective. You know nothing about me, but your comments seem to suggest that it doesn't matter how old I am or the manner in which I ride.

For some reason it has become acceptable to stereotype cyclists as one or two things, and that is completely the wrong picture of who actually bikes in this city. Look at the statistics about who dies on a bicycle, and you'll see that every age, class, race and borough is represented. The "they" you speak of simply doesn't exist, and I think its more than a little arrogant for you to assume that it does.

May. 05 2010 02:38 PM

I think the main problem with the adoption and acceptance of bike lanes is a lack of education and understanding by all, motorists and cyclists. The city has gone about changing traffic patterns and adding bike lanes without a word, people resist change especially when they're uninformed. The city needs to air PSA's and start print campaigns to educate people about how to safely use bike lanes. There is an opportunity to make positive changes to our city and if it continues to be implemented in a negative way it will be a failure before it gets a chance to really start a new direction.

May. 05 2010 12:28 PM
kbinps from park slope

For Maldo in Manhattan- there wouldn't be the hostility if so many bikers didn't behave like such jerks.

May. 05 2010 11:48 AM
kbinps from park slope

nat from brooklyn is a good example of a big problem with bikers. He is pretty cavalier about the concerns that we he have with them and their ignoring traffic laws. The argument that pedestrians jay walk is just inane. Yes they do jaywalk but that doesn't threaten me as I am threatened when I look in the direction that traffic is going and someone blasts by me going in the wrong direction. Or when they do blast through lights as they always do. Try walking across the road in Prospect Park as the arrogant packs of bikers race by. The park ought to be a respite from the bustle of the city but it can be stressful. I have seen old women jump in fear as bikers go by (illegally) on the sidewalks. Bikers like nat have a sense of moral superiority and an inability to see someone else's perspective. I am so tired of the arrogance.

May. 05 2010 11:40 AM
Jon Larson from Oradell, New Jersey

For several years during the 1990s and early 2000s, I commuted from my home in Bergen County to work in Midtown Manhattan. The only bike paths along my route was the bike lane on the George Washington Bridge and the bike lane in Central Park.

I was grateful for the bike lane on the George Washington Bridge.

But I HATED the bike lane in Central Park. Many of the cyclists using the lane did not understand cycling etiquette. Casual riders would clog up the lane riding slowly side by side. Futhermore, skateboarders and roller bladers would feel free to use the lane (clogging traffic even more).

I felt far more comfortable riding north on 3rd Avenue (partially because, unlike many cyclists in Manhattan, I followed the traffic rules — signalling, riding in the direction of traffic, NOT riding on sidewalks, and actually stopping at stop lights and not moving until the light turned green) than I did riding through Central Park.

I personally HATE bike lanes. They make things far worse for non-casual cyclists. I prefer to ride among motorized vehicles over riding among casual cyclists. So, please leave the bike lanes to casual cyclists only and permit those of us who are not cycling casually to ride among the cars.

May. 05 2010 11:10 AM
susan from manhattan

Dear Brian:
Please do a show about pedestrians versus cars AND bikes. The fact is, Manhattan is a city of pedestrians in a turf battle with cars AND bicycles, whose operators often disregard traffic laws. As someone who often walks from downtown to work in mid-town, I have had years of observation and close calls. The only way for the 3 modes of above ground transport to co-exist is if everyone, including pedestrians, obey the lights and right of way laws. Many drivers seem shocked and surprised by all these walking people....and this is especially true of drivers who are from out of town who are used to driving on highways and roads without pedestrians. We need a complete overhaul along with a public campaign to raise awareness to...change behavior. Thanks for a great show.

May. 05 2010 11:09 AM
EPayne from Manhattan

Bicycle riders should STOP at Red Lights and NOT SPEED through them. I have barely missed being run down several times in front of my apartment by 'civilian' riders, not delivery persons -- although delivery persons are also guilty. And, that goes for riding on the sidewalks.

Pedestrian jay walking is also wrong, but the fact that it occurs does not relieve bicycle riders from obeying traffic rules. If I, as a pedestrian, run into a car or a bicycle if I jay walk, I would guess that I will be the one with the injuries, not the car or the speeding cyclist.

May. 05 2010 11:09 AM

I have definitely experienced increased tension from drivers while biking in the last year- and yes, especially in the Hasidic community which connects north and south Brooklyn. It's distressing and I wish there was more enforcement of the safety for bike lanes. On the other hand, I am also disturbed by the aggressiveness and rudeness of many fellow cyclists. We need to respect each others right of way.

May. 05 2010 11:08 AM
Dan from New York

Times Square was known as the "Crossroads of the World" now it's the "Crossroad of the World". In reality it's a world heritage site, a kinetic sculpture of dynamic motion. The idea you sit in its' middle in a chair sipping a latte is a descration of a national treasure!

Also, bike riders should be licensed over the age of 18. You're not eight. It's a vehicle. Obey the law, stay in lane and stop at the light and that doesn't mean rolling around the crosswalk.

May. 05 2010 11:02 AM
nat from Brooklyn

Can we please not let this turn into a discussion about cyclists running red lights and riding the wrong way. The whole line of discussion which argues that cyclists must earn the right to the road through good behavior is utterly ridiculous.

I see pedestrians jaywalk every day; I don't think that this disqualifies them from the privilege of having a sidewalk.

Even the NY Post has found that most cabs speed in Manhattan. Other studies have found most cars speed in NYC, which has a universal 30MPH speed limit. If a driver speeds at 40MPH the likelihood of them actually killing a pedestrian goes way up. However, none of that means that cars shouldn't have road access.

If perfect behavior is you requirement for public infrastructure, we should rip out all of the roads, because no group of road users is free from blame when it comes to safety.

So please, lets talk about something other than red light running cyclists.

May. 05 2010 11:02 AM
Jeff from Brooknam

Cyclists need to remember that pedestrians have the right of way and screaming profanities at them is not as effective as USING THEIR BRAKES when encountering foot traffic.

And another thing, unless you're 5 years old, you shouldn't be riding on the sidewalk.

That being said, I saw some dude in a range rover calmly waiting for the light to change in the 9th Avenue bike lane this morning

May. 05 2010 11:01 AM
David from Brooklyn

Perhaps the drivers honking at our host are saying, "Hey, it's Brian Lehrer!" in Morse code.

May. 05 2010 11:00 AM
Dinu from Manhattan

I bike to work and I ride as a sport. I have never been honked at aggresively when I'm riding my race bike in full spandex to and from the park. It's a very different story when I'm riding my beater to work wearing shirt and slacks. I can only assume that I'm perceived as having an agenda when I'm riding to work.

May. 05 2010 10:59 AM
snoop from Brooklyn

I don't bike but I do roller blade, and, where possible I use bike lanes (and I can easily keep up at 10-15 mph). And I would do it a lot more if it were safer-- leaving you a seat on mass transit or leaving you more room on the road for your big old car.

But between pedestrians AND cars impinging on bike lanes it is dangerous.

As for bikers not abiding by the rules that cars do, well, bikes are NOT cars. Expecting bikes to abide by car rules is like expecting pedestrians to abide by car rules. We need to come up with rules that make sense for bikes. And as a skater, for skates.

May. 05 2010 10:59 AM
Noah from Home

We are CYCLISTS, not bikers. Bikers ride Harleys, drink PBR, and are one of the fastest growing trauma demographic.

May. 05 2010 10:57 AM
bernie from bklyn

can someone do a story about why the hasidic community in williamsburg (bedford ave. south of bqe) is allowed to openly bribe and threaten local elected officials into removing the bike lanes in this community? this community is able to get away with so many insidious activities and are never called on it because of their political clout in this city. someone needs to expose this.

May. 05 2010 10:53 AM

Hi Brian.
Just a question
How important is the bike industry in the US?.


May. 05 2010 10:52 AM
Betty Anne from UES

Bus lanes are great but not all bikers understand or abide the same traffic laws drivers do. The new bike lanes near Time Sqaure are scary because the bikers just whiz by pedestrians. Pedestrians never see bikers coming and bikers usually just yell rather than stop.

May. 05 2010 10:51 AM
Maldo from Manhattan

I'll second the question about the NYC police confiscating scores of bicycles on Houston Street without warning. There is so much hostility against bicycles in this city. I see it in acts large and small. The new bike lanes are a good start, but why the hostility? How can we change this unfortunate situation?

May. 05 2010 10:07 AM

any word on who OKed the stealing of bikes by the NYPD on earth day?

May. 05 2010 09:29 AM

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