Sunday, June 29, 2008

Amsterdam again

So I'm in Amsterdam again. On day five, I saw my first fixed gear bike. It wasn't like I was missing them or looking for them. I just find it interesting, one in five days. Meanwhile there are now hundreds of bakfietsen. In some ways, symbolically, a new bakfiets here is kind of like an overpriced double-wide strollers in Brooklyn. Practical, expensive, and yuppie. My brother has one. It cost over €1,000. But these bikes are not at all obnoxious. They're well built. And they hold two kids. I am pro-bakfiets.

And yes, biking here is generally as good as they say.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

16 injured by runaway vehicles in Chinatown, Garment District and Harlem

And not one of those vehicles was a bicycle.

Here's the Post's account. And the Daily News. I didn't just do this just to prove my point about the comparative harmlessness of bikes. You gotta believe me!

Why do we let cars do this? I wonder what's going to happen to that car menace now that it's proven that they're dangerous? Nothing, of course.

Why are people more upset about the danger of bikes running red lights?

Oh, and the most typical part: two of the three drivers weren't charged. Apparently, running people over on the sidewalk is only a crime if you do it on a bike.

FYI: Approx 150 pedestrians die each year in NYC. One every other day from cars and trucks. Maybe one a year from bike.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Run Red Lights, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

This was just left in a comment. It got me so riled up I thought I'd reprint it here.

Jamie writes:
A woman on a bike who didn't stop for a red light almost hit me and my dog while we were crossing the street. We had a walk sign. There was no option for us but to literally jump out of the way because she was going so fast. Bikes that don't obey the traffic laws do pose a serious danger to pedestrians!

No, Jamie. You're wrong. Assholes who don't yield to pedestrians with the right of way pose a serious danger to pedestrians.

Traffic lights are there for motorized vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds and kill pedestrians and bikes. For non-motorized traffic and pedestrians, traffic lights should be seen as a safety guide and an indicators of intersection right-of-way.

I must have run more than a dozen red lights today. I also biked the wrong way down two one-block stretches. I went on the sidewalk twice, but I would not have done so had there been a pedestrian nearby. I scared no pedestrians. I posed no more to risk to myself or anybody than had I been a pedestrian doing the same thing. And I did stop for a school bus with flashing red lights.

What's more, like it or not, I'm not going to stop running red lights. Nor am I going to stop walking against don't walk sign. Condemn me if you want. But them's the facts.

So now, that I've got that out the way, what are we going to do about it? Encourage a civil society rather than a mindless rule-based society. The problem isn't bikes running red lights. The problem is bikes going too fast in front of pedestrians crossing with the light (which also happens when bikes turn with the light, by the way).

What does "yield to pedestrians" mean? Can I cross the same crosswalk that a pedestrian is in? Of course. But should I zoom right in front of a pedestrian even if there's no contact. No. That makes you an asshole.

In too many bikers' minds, the comfort zone of pedestrians gets no consideration. That might be safe, but it's not right.

Bicyclists need to realize that pedestrians want and deserve a little more distance than is absolutely necessary for physical safety. It might be safe to zoom one foot in front of a walking person. But it's rude. Startling pedestrians is wrong. And as a bicyclist, I make a point to never startle a pedestrian that is in the right.

We should encourage bicyclists to be respectful. Don't cross right in front of pedestrians no matter what. Right is right. Running red lights has nothing to do with it.

And I just have to mention that pedestrians who run red lights pose serious danger to bicyclists and themselves. But I don't want to start a non-jaywalking campaign. I just want pedestrians to not walk in front of me when I have the green light.

Missed Connections

Just last week I was in the bike store on 28th Ave (not my normal store, but being able to drink at the Rover while getting a flat fixed is a big plus). A beautiful young woman was looking at bikes saying she'd never biked in the city before. Or something like that. Though she wasn't actually talking to me, I couldn't get over just how damn attractive she was. Somehow I resisted the urge to push the salesman and tell her she's be perfect on a tandem. And then gracefully swoop her onto the rear seat of our new bike. Then we'd bike off together into the glorious sunset and roll romantically around in the first fresh field of flowers we saw.

I did manage to tell her that this blog might have something useful for new bikers in the city. I wanted to tell her much more, but I am (alas) happily married.

Well, my beautiful... and hell, I guess any other person who kind of wants to bike in New York but has apprehensions, read Bikesnob and surmount your obstacles to biking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Drunken Bicycling in NYC

Drunken Bicycling in NYC?! I'm all for it! And I've been guilty of it more than once. Now there's drunk and in charge, a blog.

Could change actually be good?

Of course not. But with my ear to the ground, I do hear some footsteps of improvements. This plan for (Manhattan's) Broadway (all of 7 blocks).

And a few car-free "Summer Streets."

And unrelated, I bought a bicycle drink holder for my friend who likes walking down (Astoria's) Broadway with a gin and tonic in her hand (her open-container secret? carry real glass, then nobody stops you!)

But I was thinking how cool I could be biking with a drink holder. That and a Radio Shack transistor radio dangling from my neck broadcasting the Mets game (that part I actually did once, biking late to Shea). But to complete the makeover, I'm going to need some really thick stage glasses, white tube socks to go with my sweat pants, and some funky-ass B.O.! It's going to rock.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Operation Barrier in Effect

The NYPD has implemented an innovative, some would even say brilliant, approach to keep motorized traffic from driving in bike lanes. It's called Operation Barrier. And since the NYPD's trial run on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, reported incidences of cars illegal driving in the bike lane have dropped to zero. Outstanding! Keep up the good work, officers. I look forward to such continued successes in the future.
I got this picture from Streetsblog.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wait till next week

Astoria Bike will not be posting until June 16, give or take a few days. See you then.