Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Paint, goddamnit, paint!

Bike vigilantes are repainting bike lanes in Williamsburg. Somebody has got to do it.

The Post reports:
Cyclists ... made it difficult, the Hasids said, to obey religious laws forbidding them from staring at members of the opposite sex.
...
A source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month's election.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Driver convicted of bike crash

That headline is as rare as "man bites dog"!

Of course it took the driver, Christopher Thomas Thompson, a medical doctor, to tell police that he wanted to "teach them a lesson." And it wasn't the first time he tried to kill bicyclists. His M.O. is to pass the bikes--who were, in this case, actually going the speed limit--pull in front of the bikes, and then slam on the brakes.

Of course if he had just said, "It was an accident," probably nothing would have happened to him. Or the bikes would been at fault for rear-ending the car.


NPR has the story from L.A. I love the guy who complains that, "These bicyclists ... take up the road — four, five people at a time." Thus preventing him, one asshole in a car, from driving just a little faster.

The story also points out, "It's actually legal to ride side by side in the streets of L.A."

More in Velonews.

British Trains

Trains in the UK, at least some of them, are very bike friendly. Inside the door are little bike stalls, like the train car is a bike stable!

30th Ave Bike Shelter

I don't know what was sadder: me locking my bike with a flat tire and having to pay for a car to get me to work on time or seeing this, a cut chain where a bike used to be:

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Shame!

Bike lane removal in Hasidic Williamsburg! Shame!

This city belongs to everybody! And Bedford Ave is an essential part of what a limited bike network we have.

I encourage all women to drive through these streets in the tighten, most revealing outfits they have.

Update: But... if this were a trade for a dedicated two-way bike path in the crappy part by the freeway and the Hassidic bus stop... I'd take it.

Speaking of which, does anybody know if it's allowed/possible to bike through the Brooklyn Navy Yard? That would shave a good chunk off that trip.

Personally, I advocate a large bridge over the Brooklyn Navy Yard. From the corner of Kent and Division to Navy and Flushing would cut a 1.75 mile trip in half. And think of the view!

A bit odd... but aren't we all?

My friend in Pittsburgh sends me this:


He put a bumper on his bike so that he could "take up as much room as a car." He's a bit odd -- aren’t we all?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Damn you Port Authority

I had such hope. A year of construction on the non-bike path going over the formerly Triborough now RFK Bridge. I thought they were taking out the steps. But no. It's still not done. But the new staircase is there. Why couldn't they just have ramped it out?

Because they don't care.

Oh, and yeah, it's not just bike riding that is technically prohibited on the bike path over the bridge. It's "bike riders." So don't even think of going there.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Vote

Don't forget!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm voting for Bloomberg because I love Janette Sadik-Khan

What a great idea! On Facebook.

Though what worries me is the decreasing likelihood that she'll ever notice me with all this damn competition.

Janette, I'm the man for you!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Damnit, I'll still vote for Bloomberg

At this point, there's really nothing Bloomberg could do that would make me not vote for him. But goddamn he's trying!

Now I'm getting mail From Crazy People for Bloomberg. I can't believe that Diaz Quanqelina loves Mike soooo much that he's willing to hand-friggin-write a double sided post card explaining why Mike will look after my transit needs. He covers LIRR, bridges and tunnels, 311, subways, buses, and a campaign slogan all in 48 square inches of hand-friggin-written text.

But you see Diaz (or somebody) knocked on our door a while back and my wife said transit was our main issue. I wish she had said bicycles. I wonder what we would have gotten in the mail then? Maybe an "I [heart] my Bike Moonblerg" bell or something. Hmmm, that's not a bad idea.



This shit is crazy, yo! Save your money, Mike! You got my vote. And the more you send me the less I like you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We All Win With Lynn

Awww, that's as old-timey sounding as "I Like Ike."

But you should vote for Lynn Serpe on November 3! Lynn likes bikes.

Astoria Bike endorses Lynn! (that should get her, uh, one vote)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Atari Joystick is my hero

Check out this cartoon. It's in Spanish, which I don't speak. But here's a translation:
This is that Mexican cartoon I like: "Retro Squad." This one features our hero, the Atari joystick, but there's also a rubik's cube and a can of Tab.

Here we see the joystick's car breaking down--he's cursing and saying his fucking car has screwed him again, and now he'll have to take shitty public transport--which is not what superheroes do!

Then he calls an assortment of taxis...

When he finally gets out, he says the public transport of Retropolis isn't so bad--a little old, but efficient.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jay Walder seems very smart

At least in the profile on him in the Times.
“We’re on a bus right now where every seat is full,” he said. “How many people are on this bus? Seventy-five? But we haven’t prioritized this bus any differently than a car which has one person in it.”...“One person’s use of a road impacts upon another person’s use of the road. My point is, if we have to make a choice, make the choice for the bus, not for the car.”
Walder is the new chairman of the MTA.

Bill Thompson is a big fat idiot

I don't easily disparage Democrats. But according to Streetblog and Downtown Express, outspent mayoral candidate Bill Thompson has questioned, in particular, bike lanes in Astoria:
He said last week that he would have his transportation commissioner take a new look at any lanes that seemed to be problematic, such as along Grand St. and in Astoria....

Bloomberg, in an interview the next day, cited the expansion of bike lanes as one of many things that have gotten better under his leadership.
The only thing problematic about bike lanes in Astoria is we have so damn few of them!

I'm voting for Bloomberg. You should too. And that's despite all the campaign propaganda I get from him. If you want to root for an underdog, follow the Cubs. In the meantime, let's keep the (recently) most pro-bike mayor in power.

Life without Janette Sadik-Khan? That's no life at all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Queens TA Party. 10/20. LIC.

Wouldn't it be great if biking in Queens were as nice as biking in Brooklyn? I mean, have you ever been there? It's not just about brownstones, trees, cool people, Coney Island, and good pizza.

They got bike lanes that actually go places. In-fucking-credible.

I don't mind waiting my turn... but ever wonder why?

Because tons more Transportation Alternative geeks live in Brooklyn. Duh.

Maybe being a T.A. member won't get you laid (Hell, maybe it will. I've never been to their parties). But it's those T.A. geeks who got the Manhattan Bridge good bike access. It's the fact that we in Astoria aren't cool enough and don't work hard enough. The Queensboro Bridge still abso-fucking-lutely guarantees that you WILL violate some traffic law while putting your life on the line. On both ends. Really.

I was thinking... is there any legal way a bike can head into Manhattan and not violate a traffic law. Really. Think about it. You're either running a red light or turning left from the right lane.

I guess you could go straight. I've actually never considered that.

I just want that gate to open again. You know, they way we all used to go. The direct way. The safe way. The one that didn't bother pedestrians on 1st Ave. I want this, you understand, not just for me, but for all the poor pedestrians who now have to climb over it. Why? For no fucking reason.

And then heading into Queens we all bike the wrong way down a one-way street while this empty safe traffic lane just sits there, mocking us.

I hate this shit.

Anyway, here's the point: There's a T.A. party in LIC October 20th. You should go. Really. Or just send them money. Why? Because the "I Bike Queens" Logo is actually kinda cool.



Here's the Facebook link.

And hey, if you do get laid, leave a comment here!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Car Free Broadway

If you like it, take the DOT survey. Little things like this matter.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Try Honking At Me


Of course it takes two to tangle.

But the only thing that should really matter here is that a cab driver, licensed by the city... purposefully used his cab as a weapon and slammed into a pedicab. How does anything--honking, fighting, coffee throwing, garbage can throwing--compare to that?! This man should not be driving.

And honking for anything other than danger is a ticketable traffic offense (and also rude, selfish, and really annoying). So the taxi driver did start it all, for whatever that's worth.

But I guess those of us who don't drive are just expected to bend over and take it all and always.

The only shame is that the pedicab driver got whupped in the fight.

(See Streetsblog for more.)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Queens Around the World

Transportation Alternatives is hosting a Queens Around the Bike Ride. Sounds pretty fun. In fact, I think I'll actually go to it if I can get my lazy ass out of bed and to Astoria park at 10AM.

Hell, I can bike to Flushing on my own. And hell, it seems like most nights I end up at the Bohemian Beer Hall. But one thing I cannot do is like local historian Rich Melnick who "will impart his wealth of knowledge of the area."

Free. 10AM. Meet in Astoria Park. RSVP to Sarah at fourdozen@gmail.com, space is limited!

Details at the facebook link.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This is so beautiful

The Sands Street Bike Path. At first I didn't believe it was in New York City.

Is Queensbridge next?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

David Byrne for mayor

I know he's not running. But this guy quotes Jane Jacobs and understands what makes cities work.

Kent Street Bike Lane Hooray!

Just when I'm ready to grumble and gripe, Streetsblog tells me that the new bike lane on Kent Street is... get this... TWO WAY! And because it's on the water side, it means non-stop biking action!

How absolutely outstanding.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bike Breakfast

With this breakfast design, one will never be too late at work or school again. When you have overslept, the first thing you do to hurry up is skipping your breakfast. To prevent that skipping, Philipp Drexler invented the Bikefast. Now you can jump on your bicycle and have your breakfast during the ride. Lay your breakfast on the tray and the edges will make sure your breakfast won’t fall down on the ground.
Sure it's dorky. But once I realized that all bikers look dorky to non-bikers, I kind of like the idea.

I mean, in the time it takes me to eat a souvlaki from the guy at 31st and 31st, I could be at 36th Ave!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Vote Lynne Serpe for City Council

My union just endorsed Peter Vallone. That's a bad choice.

Peter Vallone likes cars, parking, and voting against congestion pricing.

He's also shown incredible ignorance (and that's giving him the benefit of the doubt since the alternative is downright maliciousness) toward many of the businesses and residents of his district.

In November, vote for Lynne Serpe. Vote for Lynne because, well, one: she's not Peter Vallone. Two: she likes bikes. Or at least she liked my bike when I ran into her on the street and she was gathering signatures.

Vote for Lynne Serpe. I assume it won't be easy to beat Vallone. But it can done. And I thought Vallone would be out with term limits. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

New Island Festival

This and next Thursday to Sunday at Governors Island.

This is the type of cool shit that goes on in Amsterdam that we're normally jealous of (I never miss Parade when I'm in Amsterdam in August).

Now it's coming here. Don't miss it! Go see Boom Chicago. I know them well. They're funny.

http://www.newislandfestival.com

From Astoria, it's just a short... OK... kind of long bike ride to the ferry. It's the terminal next to (east of) the S.I. Ferry.

Friday, September 04, 2009

New Amsterdam Bike Slam

http://newamsterdambikeslam.org/. September 10 - 13.

For smooth streets

Here's to 58th St and other roads west of the bridge being paved and smooth! It's been years.

And how about that speed bump on Crescent Ave?! It's like we don't want a residential two-lane street to be a freeway. Crazy.

Now if only they could put in bike friendly speeds bumps. They exist. Really.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Filmed in Astoria

Julie and Julia is filmed around here. Their apartment is by the powerplant on the river. And there are a touching number of Astoria location shots including the fish store by the 30th Ave subway stop and K&T Butcher.

Sure, they throw in some 7 trains shots to pretend they're in Long Island City proper, but we know it's all on this side of Queensbridge, baby. The movie itself is nice. Very chick flick. But Maryl Streep is outstanding as Julia Child.

For what it's worth, I once ran into Julie at Vine, the liquor store down there by the McGuinness Highway Bridge. I'm very happy for her.

Alas, I never ran into Julia. And this even though I lived in Cambridge not far from her, shopped at the same grocery store, and didn't know anybody who *didn't* have a Julia sighting.

Don't Vote Democratic

At least not for mayor.

I never thought I'd say that. I've never voted anything but Democratic. All my life. With just one exception. I did vote for Bloomberg (luckily he runs on two tickets so I can vote for him and still say I've never voted for a Republican).

Shame on the Democratic candidates for pledging to dump Sadik-Khan.

I do kind of understand the "bring in your own team" argument. But to come out again bike lanes and other improvements? To talk about re-opening Broadway to cars? I thought populism in New York City was supposed to be progressive? Isn't that why I we here? When did local Democrats become car-loving idiots?

I'm voting for Bloomberg.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bike Chicago

I'm in Chicago, where I grew up. It's so beautiful here. Biking around here, I get that same feeling of wondering why I live in ugly-ass Astoria as when I venture to, say, Brooklyn.

And what a biking city Chicago is! There were no bike lanes till Hizzhonor decided that Chicago would be a biking town. There are bike racks everywhere. And a lot of people biking. Gives me hope for NYC.

And regardless of will, Chicago is blessed with wide straight streets and traffic that doesn't drive too crazy. And it's flat here. Damn flat. It all makes for a good biking town.

Last night I biked to a bar about 9 miles away from my Wicker Park/Bucktown home base. That's a long ride in New York. But here it was a breeze. You just peddle and peddle and admire the trees and pretty homes and next thing you know, you're there. It's a very peaceful ride. I never feel that way in New York. Coming back home? Different route. Just as nice.

And the weather is even beautiful in Chicago. Well, except for those five months of winter.

[Update: Though I did have a very nice late-night ride on the lake front, biking west on North Ave I saw 1) a car get rear ended at a red light, and 2) a woman, the driver, puking out her car door. I'm sure they were plenty sober and no risk at all to me. While I guess I didn't have to ride on North Ave (in hindsight Armitage would have been the way to go), on this Saturday night, Chicago looked just as big and bad as NYC.]

Saturday, July 18, 2009

55 km to Amsterdam

A post with great pictures showing biking in The Netherlands, to Amsterdam.




I wish I could bike the same distance--say from New Brunswick, NJ--with such ease and beauty. And on such a whim.

Ash Tray Bike


Asbakfiets.
Hilarious.
Maybe you had to be there.
Or know a little Dutch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Clever bike rack


For narrow streets without parking. Takes up little space and provides a buffer between walkers and cars. Brilliant.

From San Francisco's Streetsblog.

Bike Queens

Queens around the world. An 18-mile guided route. Sounds interesting.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Bike Access Bill

Help support the bike access bill. We need to bring bikes into buildings.

Here's the link: http://transalt.org/takeaction/actioncenter/3349.

Through the link, you send an auto-fax to City Council Transportation Committee Chair and 2010 Comptroller Candidate John Liu. These things actually do matter.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Ride

Issue Two of The Ride is apparently out. I just ordered a copy. You can, too. It's £13, which ended up being $21.87, shipping from the UK included.

If it's as good as Issue One (which I had a piece in), you won't be disappointed. You can even download the whole first issue for free.

Not for free, I don't

I heard a story about a friend of mine in San Francisco. A car almost crashed into him by turning into his bike. Of course it was the car's fault. And then out of this car comes a pissed-off guy. A HUGE pissed-off guy.

Well my friend is worried that he's about his ass kicked by an asshole driver. But he's also pissed off, too.

So my friend puts his bike helmet on the ground, takes out his wallet, and throws 5 crisp $20 bills in his helmet. He looks the guy in the eyes and exclaims, "I don't fight for free!"

The asshole gets back in his car and drives away.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bike Sale!

Word on the street is that my man, Andres, at Bicycle Repairman Corp is having a 15% off all bicycles sale July 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Not a bad time to buy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Amsterdam" Bikes in NYC

Bike Snob has an excellent review and analysis of NYC's biking needs.
I feel compelled to concur that yes indeed there are differences between biking needs in Amsterdam and NYC.

There is the false belief that "Amsterdam" bikes have to be heavy. No. They're not. The Ome Fiets (Grandma bike) is only one style. One I personally dislike because you can't ride aggressively. And no doubt Dutch grannies would, if only they had better bikes.

Batavus, for instance, builds lots of good city bikes that are light. Too bad they're all ugly.

In my mind, an "Amsterdam" bike has upright handlebars, fenders, chainguard, bell, and a rear rack.

But there are two main differences between biking in NYC and biking in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is flat. I mean so is most of New York City, but we have the high bridges and upper Manhattan. Amsterdam does not.

Amsterdam is small. Very small. Rides in center take 10 minutes. The Oos (East) in Amsterdam is kind of like Queens. It's soooo far. And filled with immigrants. And not at all cool. It's a great neighborhood. And about 2 miles from the center.

My relatively short bike ride to work here is 5 miles. In Amsterdam, that's the equivalent of biking from the center to Schiphol Airport, and unfathomable distance in the minds of most Amsterdammers.

So while riding slowly and singing is beautiful (and actually happens quite a lot in Amsterdam). That is just not the way I can get to work here in NYC.

Here's the link again to Bike Snob NYC.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Vacation


I won't be posting for at least two weeks... and perhaps longer.

Keep biking!

Broadway!

Broadway in Manhattan is beautiful. I strolled. I relaxed. I put my feet up. I had a snack. I even flirted with a woman (she was my wife, but whatever).

Everybody has happy (despite the slight drizzle). A worker from Duane Reade came up to us and asked why all the chairs were there. "Is there some concert." I explained it to her. "There will be no cars," she said hopefully, "like forever and ever?!"

Indeed.

But where did all those chairs come from? Brilliant. Because without the chairs, there would be no photo-op. But photo-op or not, it was nice to sit down, particularly on the lounge chairs on the north end.

But the bike lane is gone.

But I'm willing to say good-bye. It was perhaps the shittiest bike line in NYC. Even though they put in so much effort. And it was one I almost never took, given the slant of Broadway and the fact I live in Astoria.

Let the pedestrians have the area. Hopefully 6th and 7th Avenues will get nice bike lanes to make up for the loss on Broadway.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Broadway

I haven't left Astoria to see it, but I'm very exciting about keeping cars off Broadway in Manhattan!

But...

Does this also mean the end of the new Broadway bike lane? Anybody know? What's the master plan?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pulaski Bridge Speeding

I biked to Brooklyn today and took the road rather than the sidewalk over the Pulaski Bridge. On the Brooklyn side there was a cop with a radar gun. So I stopped and asked him what the average speed of cars coming down the bridge is.

"In the 50s. One hit 62."

The speed limit is 30 mph.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So what?

Midtown Cyclists Routinely Break Law.
So?
So do pedestrians.
So do cars.

The traffic laws should be different for bikes.

And I don't want to live in a place where pedestrians (or bikes) wait for the walk sign when so cars are coming.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bold

Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

Automobiles are the linchpin of suburbs, where middle-class families from Chicago to Shanghai tend to make their homes. And that, experts say, is a huge impediment to current efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes, and thus to reduce global warming. Passenger cars are responsible for 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe — a proportion that is growing, according to the European Environment Agency — and up to 50 percent in some car-intensive areas in the United States.
The story in the Times.
Why can't there be one neighborhood in one city in America that is car free? For New York, I propose Astoria. But realistically, why not Governor's Island? Of course they'd have to let people live there, too. But it could be a great residential/commercial car free urban neighborhood.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

NYC Master Bike Plan and a place to drink

I'm strangely satisfied that I can finally ride in painted bike lanes for a few blocks on my commute to work (on 28th and 29th Streets). It's the first improvement to my bike commute since I moved to Astoria seven years ago.

Yesterday I biked from home to Williamsburg and then to Manhattan. You know, if you squint a bit, the NYC bike route "system" is finally starting to gel ever so slightly. You can ride in bike routes, mostly with painted bike lines, for a good chunk of the way.

It's a much more relaxing ride trusting signs and being in a bike lane.

And I think I discovered a secret route south! Cross Queensplaza on 28th St. Just head straight across. There's a light and everything. Then you can merge with Jackon Ave (avoiding the nasty part of Queensplaza) or zig zag a bit until eventually you get to 21st or 19th Street and the bridge to Brooklyn. Is it better than cutting west before the bridge? I don't know. But the streets over there are well paved and not very trafficked. And it's something new.

Also, an excellent new cocktail bar opened up in the desert of Jackson Ave. Classy but unpretentious. Great for a breather and that extra drink you don't need on the ride home from Brooklyn. Dutch Kills. 2724 Jackson Ave.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Origami Bikes

More rave reviews for the Brompton Folder.

But really, what is it about some people that need to point out: "Below is a picture of me.... Note my helmet which I always wear when I ride." That's nice. When you take a picture of your fancy car, do you point out the seat belts?

I wrote about Brompton here. Too bad they don't send me one for free. The one big advantage Brompton has over the Swift Folder--also a very good bike and made right here in NYC--is that you can roll the Brompton when it's folded.

And this use of a folding bike as a shopping cart is brilliant!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yikes!

Poland 'can jail drunk cyclists'
Poland's Constitutional Court upheld a ruling this week that drunken cyclists should be treated like drunken motorists and face prison if caught.

Two thousand Poles are currently in prison for riding a bicycle whilst under the influence of alcohol.
The story in the BBC.

I biked PGH!

I was back in Pittsburgh briefly, home of the world's most beautiful bike map. This time, unlike my last time in Pittsburgh, I actually got to use the bike map.

I am sad to report that the 2009 version of the bike map is slightly less beautiful than the original version. But it's still the most beautiful city bike map I've ever seen and the most functional I've ever used. And Pittsburgh, especially on bike, would be really tough to figure out without a good map.

Biking is always the perfect way to explore a new city. The snowstorm that greeted my arrival gave way to warmish and sunny weather for my day on bike.

I biked from the tony Squirrel Hill neighborhood where I was staying to the old town of Allegheny (AKA: the North Side). I stopped by Deutschtown (interesting but a little rough), the Warhol Museum (great), and the Mexican War Streets (beautiful). I biked along one of the the river trails, which was pleasant in it's industrial grimness. And even the "modern" part by the stadiums still had lots of chances to fall unobstructed into the river. And then up to Herrs Island.

There was one moment where, at night, when I was trying to find the entrance to another river trail. I was defeated by the freeways and decided to but my losses and carry my bike up over 200 steps near the 10th St Bridge. Pgh indeed!

Overall, though, despite all the mountains, it's pretty easy to bike on mostly flat land (unlike, say San Francisco). And because my ride happened to be on the day of the services for three police officers killed on duty, the streets were largely empty of car traffic.

Pittsburgh itself does, at times, have a vaguely post apocalyptic feel to it. But I love urban decay and old industry. And unlike, say, Baltimore or St. Louis, Pittsburgh seems to have gotten a big broom and swept up most of the rubble.

Batavus in NYC


The Dutch are coming! And they're bringing their bikes with them.

I love my (no longer made) Batavus Barcelona in Amsterdam. It's the perfect city bike. For $800 new, the Batavus Old Dutch (pictured above) is a very good buy. It's a yuppie bike that makes sense. Especially if you got the money and can bring your bike inside. As a commuter bike, I'd definitely take it over the perfectly fine Bianchi Milano.

I didn't realize the Batavus brand bikes can be bought in North America. Even in NYC. Modsquad carries them.

The worst city bike? Any mountain bike with straight handlebars and no fenders--like most of the bikes out there.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fund Transit or Else...

The danger of subway cuts and fare hikes looms. Keeping the transit system in decent shape affects more than your commute to work. It’s a public safety issue. The proposed MTA “doomsday” service cuts puts the past 15 years of public-safety gains in jeopardy.
Read the whole story here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Killing pedestrians should be a crime

Kind of a no-brainer. But usually, the driver isn't even charged! Part of the problem is that it's not exactly clear what crime is committed when a car jumps the curb and mows down innocent people.

Here's the answer: make driving on the sidewalk an arrestable offense. It's not something you have to arrest a driver for. But when you come on the scene and somebody is dead, it gives police something to charge the driver with.

Our Bridge

The Queensboro. 100 years old.

Beautiful photo in the Times by James Barron:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Van Kills Pregnant Woman on Sidewalk

From the story in the Times
There were two men in the front seat, a driver and passenger, and the passenger was leaning out the window and yelling at and harassing the women, Mr. Contreras said, citing his coworker’s account. All of a sudden, he said, the van shot up suddenly onto the curb.
...
The van appeared to have gone onto the sidewalk at a 45-degree angle and to have knocked over a Muni-Meter (a kind of parking meter that controls multiple spaces), a black metal signpost and a metal yellow bollard, one of two put in front of the Muni-Meter to prevent it from being knocked over.
...
Mr. Contreras’s footage showed the injured women lying on the ground. He said of the woman who died, “She was almost cut in half. I feel sick.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great Blight of Dullness

I had to bike up to 187 Street in the Bronx yesterday. In the giant jigsaw puzzle of this city, I got to fill in a few more pieces in my mental map!

Every time I head north, which isn't too often, I'm often amazed by, what are they called... Hills! In New York!

Ride the City Route Planner set me up nicely. There were painted bike lanes much of the way. Then I had to head to Hells Kitchen.

Coming back into Manhattan, I got to ride (for the first time) on the green line that is the Harlem River Greenway. It's on the upper east side (lowercase upper and "east" should be in quotes) of Manhattan.

(photo credit)

Lot of glass up there, I couldn't help but notice, and not too many bikes. Still, the bike path made for a fast ride...

But...

What a boring ride. Yeah, I know there's river next to me and water is always nice. But really, I didn't move to the city to be sandwiched between a loud ugly freeway and a not-so-pleasant body of water.

I felt like I had died on gone to my very own urban hell. Sure it's nice having a deserted path to ride down, but it's next to a friggin freeway!

You can call it a park and make it green on the map, but what part of "next to a freeway" don't you understand? It's ugly and not particularly pleasant. And perhaps the greatest crime for city life: it's monotonous. A Great Blight of Dullness.

And I think the worst place to live in the city may be the Rangel Homes (Ralph, not Charles. But Ralph is Charles's brother... what a coincidence). These projects are pinched in a weird triangle of low ground between two freeways and the Polo Grounds Towers to the south. How do you get out? Where do you buy anything? And how do you carry groceries home?

I missed the city: the people, the stores, the sights, distractions (though not the traffic).

Green line be damned. Next time I'm taking an Avenue.

Monday, March 23, 2009

TA phone-a-thon: Save Transit

TA is having a very real phone-a-thon on Wednesday on the south side of Union Square from 8am to 12pm. There will be plenty of phones and district maps so people can stop by, see the cuts, and see who their State Senator/Assemblyperson is. Then you call them up and yell at them (or something like that).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stop the Pistillis

What do I have against the Pistillis? They build ugly buildings in my neighborhood!

Here's a little about their shitty conversion on Astoria Park. My neighbor, a super, told me a while back that there was already mold in the place.

And their latest sure-to-be shit job, on Newtown Ave, will not only be ugly. But it also blocks the sun from hitting my home in the winter. Damn you, Pistilli!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Coming to a Bridge Near You

Apparently there's going to be uber-modern house tugged up the East River tomorrow! I love shit like that. If you're near the water, keep an eye out for it. No doubt there will be great views from Socrates Sculpture Garden, Roosevelt Island, and the Queensboro and Triborough Bridges. Nothing like a house on boat going through Hell Gate.

I can't say when this will happen, but my guess would be around noon because "Venturi himself will check on the house’s progress on Friday morning from a site near Manhattan’s South Street Seaport."

Here's the article. Here's the house:

Car on Bike Path

I was crossing the Queensboro bridge tonight at around 12:30, heading home toward Astoria when I heard a motor behind me. No, it wasn't a moped. It was a car. And no, it wasn't an unmarked police car. It was a car, going to Queens. I'm glad it didn't kill me.

No doubt, as I was biking safely and legally and courteously on a bike path, the driver now thinks much more highly of me in particular and bicyclists in general. For that, we can all give a hearty cheer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Idaho Stop

I rarely think Idaho as on the cutting edge of, well, anything. But they have it right when it comes to bikes and stop signs. Since 1982.

It allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield and not always come to a complete stop.

The Idaho Stop. Let's do it here. And add red lights to it, while we're at it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Why you should jaywalk

I couldn't have said it better myself. Cristopher DeWolf tells it like it is. Jaywalk all you want. Just look for bikes first.

My way? The wrong way!

It's easy to say bikes shouldn't bike the wrong way down one-way streets, but what's the guy going short distances supposed to do?

You want your egg rolls hot and crunchy, right? Well the guy delivering on the bike has to get to your place. Let's say he's at 57 and 10th and you're just two blocks away at 55th St. That's just 0.1 miles, if you're going the wrong way. If you walk you can't make other deliveries and your egg rolls get steamed and mushy.

To bike legally you need to go over to 9th or 11th Ave, the 0.1 mile distance increases to 0.44 miles. It's not just going to happen.

My own dilemma? Thanks to one-way streets, I can't bike from my house to the stores on 30th Ave without biking the wrong way down a one-way street or biking on the sidewalk. So that's what I do. If I didn't, a short 1.5 block trip triples in length (and is more dangerous, to boot). I could walk, but I want my bike to carry things back. And if I have my bike, damn tooting I'm going to ride it.

Bike need to be able to go both ways. Since it's what bikes do anyway, why not make it both safe and legal?

I'm not a role model

I slept on Sullivan's piece and today read some of the anti-bike comments following his article. Admittedly Sullivan is better than most because he rides a bike and because his rules are really generally quite reasonable. But the comments point out a basic problem with the "bikes-should-follow-the-rules" position.

These are some of my rules:

Be nice to pedestrians when pedestrians have the right of way. Duh.

Go slowly through crowds of people.

Don't stop in the middle of the crosswalk when the crosswalk says walk.

If riding on the sidewalk with pedestrians, don't go faster than fast walking speed and don't pass people unless there's more than enough room to do so.

That's all common courtesy and common sense and it really shouldn't be to too much to ask of bicyclists. Granted, too many bikes don't have common sense and, well, shame on them. (Too many cars don't either, but that's really neither here nor there.) Old people (young people, too) shouldn't have to fear being knocked over every time they see a bike.

But the fallacy of the "bikes-should-behave-better" concept is that it assumes that if bikes followed the law, people would like bikes better. It doesn't work that way. If bikes followed all the traffic laws, a lot more bikes would get hurt and a lot fewer people would bike. Even if bikes followed the rules, people would still hate bikes. They hate our freedom. People blame bikes even when bikes are in the right. It's just human nature.

Besides, I don't want to live in a society where everybody follows all the rules. That's fascism.

No, I never try and hit pedestrians. Hell, I never have hit a pedestrian. But I'll be damned if you think I'm going to be pleasant to you when you endangers me by walking in front of me when I have the green light. If I have the right of way, I will zoom by you not caring if I startle you. Startling you isn't my goal, mind you. But I do have the light and do have to get to work.

Just because I have the light and I'm in the right doesn't mean you'll say, "Gee, my fault. I guess I should have looked before crossing against the light." No. You'll blame me for getting so close to you. Well, sorry (not really). Hate me if you want. What can I do? I get to go when the light is green. Besides, I didn't hit you.

When you're walking in a bike path and I say, "this is a bike lane." Are you going to apologize? No. You're more likely to swear at me. Fine. All I did was tell you it's a bike lane. See, I'm right, but you still don't like me.

Here's the dirty truth: bikes will never be loved . Deal with it; handle the truth. Bikes will always be blamed, right or wrong. I don't like that. But it's the truth.

Getting things done and creating a safer environment for bicyclists is not about being liked. It's about politics. Politics is not about being liked. Car drivers aren't going to voluntarily turn over lanes of traffic to bikes just because we're nice. Change happens when people with power demand it. I don't need to be loved. I just want to ride my bike and live to bike another day.

People don't need to like bikes to have the city be more bike friendly. Is the city getting more bike friendly because bikes are suddenly nicer? No. The city is getting friendly because of Janette Sadik-Khan (I love you, Janette!).

I think too many bicyclists have some strange desire to be loved: "Look! I'm doing good! I'm the solution! One less car! Love me! Be like me!" Most people don't want fewer cars. To drivers, one less car isn't a good thing, it's a threat! "One more friggin' parking space for you," on the other hand, may have some positive P.R. value.

Deal with it, bicyclists: unless you move to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, you are just a sweaty freak. The majority of New Yorkers do not consider you a progressive role model. You may feel cool when you ride your bike. But except to other bicyclists, you're not. To most, you're a novelty, a kid, a poor person, a delivery man, or (best case scenario) a lovable eccentric in a helmet.

I'm sure that when I die--and I hope it to be a long time from now and not from being hit by a car--New York, just like every other city in the world, will be car dominated. And as long as it is, "same road same rules" is bullshit.

If a car driver hates me for crossing against a red light? Fuck 'em. I don't give a damn. I'm not a role model. I'm a bicyclist.

Biking in NYC

A very thought provoking piece in the New York Times by Robert Sullivan.

I like his four rules (not that I always follow them):

NO. 1: How about we stop at major intersections? Especially where there are school crossing guards, or disabled people crossing, or a lot of people during the morning or evening rush. (I have the law with me on this one.) At minor intersections, on far-from-traffic intersections, let’s at least stop and go.

NO. 2: How about we ride with traffic as opposed to the wrong way on a one-way street? I know the idea of being told which way to go drives many bikers bonkers. That stuff is for cars, they say. I consider one-way streets anathema — they make for faster car traffic and more difficult crossings. But whenever I see something bad happen to a biker, it’s when the biker is riding the wrong way on a one-way street.

There will be caveats. Perhaps your wife is about to go into labor and you take her to the hospital on your bike; then, yes, sure, go the wrong way in the one-way bike lane. We can handle caveats. We are bikers.

NO. 3: How about we stay off the sidewalks? Why are bikers so incensed when the police hand out tickets for this? I’m only guessing, but each sidewalk biker must believe that he or she, out of all New York bikers, is the exception, the one careful biker, which is a very car way of thinking.

NO. 4: How about we signal? Again, I hear the laughter, but the bike gods gave us hands to ring bells and to signal turns. Think of the possible complications: Many of the bikers behind you are wearing headphones, and the family in the minivan has a Disney DVD playing so loudly that it’s rattling your 30-pound Kryptonite chain. Let them know what you are thinking so that you can go on breathing as well as thinking.
But I'm not a big fan of rules (and sometimes you have to bike the wrong-way down a one-way street. What I really don't understand is why anybody bikes the wrong way down two-way streets). Still, I figure every biker who does more stupid shit than me makes my ride just a little safer.

How about this one rule that covers all of Sullivan's four rules; applies to cars, pedestrians, and bikes; and still leaves you lots of room to not follow the law: don't be a dick.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Bad Bike Lane Design

I kind of resolved to write fewer bitching and complaining posts a while back. I mean, it's just too easy to whine about what's wrong. It's hard to make things better.


Haven't written too much since then, I can't help but notice.



Yesterday I had $46 burning a whole in my pocket for a ticket and two beers. So I was the Armory Art show. It's at 55th and 12th Ave on the Hudson. Walking out of the show to my bike, I found myself standing in the middle of the bike path. Unware.

Luckily no bike was coming. But jeeze, I thought, if *I* don't know I'm in the middle of a major bike path, how is a dumb tourist supposed to know? They're not. And that's the problem.

As a pedestrian, there's nothing actually telling you you're standing in and/or blocking the major bike path in New York City. Forgive them, they know not what they do.

The pavement reflects the pedestrian crosswalk. There's nothing to tell people they're wondering across a major bike lane with beautiful light machines barreling on them down at 20 miles an hour. There's nothing to indicate they're on anything but a dedicated sidewalk.

For bikes, there's a sign saying "yield to peds." But really... why? Why not tell people to look both ways before crossing a bike lane. Especially when they're often just approaching a don't walk sign? Why should bikes yield to peds on the major bike path in New York City?

Here's the thing, bikes have momentum. Like it or not, bikes aren't going to want to stop, especially in the middle of a bike lane. Not telling peds about the bikes is dangerous. Not telling people they're standing in the middle of a bike lane is just ignant.

Here's the answer, change the pavement to reflect the bike lane. Tell pedestrians to look both ways for bikes. Legally, fine, let pedestrians keep the right of way (otherwise I hate to think of bikes not even making an effort to wing an old lady or something). But a bike lane is like a street. People need to know they're crossing a street so they can look both ways.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Car Free Broadway?!

Wow. Too good to be true. 42nd St to 47th St.

The city plans to close several blocks of Broadway to vehicle traffic through Times Square and Herald Square, an experiment that would turn swaths of the Great White Way into pedestrian malls and continue Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s effort to reduce traffic congestion in Midtown.

Although it seems counterintuitive, officials believe the move will actually improve the overall flow of traffic, because the diagonal path of Broadway tends to disrupt traffic where it intersects with other streets.
Read the whole story in the Times.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Life and Death in New Orleans

Dan Baum has written an excellent book about New Orleans. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans. Baum was the New Yorker reporter covering the aftermath of the flood.

And it's not just me who says this book is great. The New York Times gave it a great review. You can read an excerpt here.

But what's it got to do with bikes? Well, Dan Baum likes riding them. He's a nice guy, a great writer, and rides a bike. If those aren't good reasons to buy a good book, I don't know what is.

I met Dan while biking in New Orleans. He's even featured and pictured in this very blog (and that was before he got all famous an shit). And yes, at least while in New Orleans, the guy really did dress like a dandy. But who am I to talk? I have a green hat from New Orleans just like that one.

He's speaking at the Barnes & Noble at 82nd and Broadway on Tuesday at 7pm. I'll be there. I'm going to start calling him Dandy Dan. I'm sure he'll love that.

Bicyclist-Assaulting Cop Fired

The cop who assaulted the bicyclist by pushing him over in Times Square during Critical Mass has been canned. The New York Times reports:
A police officer who was videotaped knocking a man off his bicycle and onto the ground during a cycling event in Manhattan last summer has been fired, the Police Department said.

Good. The asshole gives honest police officers a bad image.

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Problems in Paris!

The BBC reports:
A popular bicycle rental scheme in Paris that has transformed travel in the city has run into problems just 18 months after its successful launch.

Over half the original fleet of 15,000 specially made bicycles have disappeared, presumed stolen.

They have been used 42 million times since their introduction but vandalism and theft are taking their toll.

The company which runs the scheme, JCDecaux, says it can no longer afford to operate the city-wide network.
The whole story is here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

U.S. Population: Plus One!

Next time you're in my favorite bike store, Bicycle Repairman Corporation at 40-21a 35th Ave in Astoria, please congratulate Andres!

This is a man who, through Guatemala and Mexico with his family in tow, traveled from Columbia to the U.S. via boat, foot, train, bus, and truck. And no, it wasn't easy. And no, it wasn't always, technically, legal.

Finally, on December 28, 2008, after years of fearing deportation (despite being a model resident, paying taxes, and starting a business... you know, the kind the provides jobs), Andres became a U.S. citizen!

It's a shame it's so tough. He need more men like him.

Congratulations, Andres!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pulaski Bridge

There's talk in T.A. Land about the Pulaski Bridge.

I propose the following:

A strong argument can and should be made to change one lane of
southbound car traffic into a bike lane. It could be done with the
simple installation of Jersey barriers.

All the roads heading in the bridge are two lanes... and the bridge itself ends as two lanes. There is simply no need (except perhaps to let cars hit 100 MPH) for the bridge to have three lanes when it serves a road with two. It is all visible on google earth.

I'm no traffic engineer, but I'm pretty certain it is more dangerous to encourage speeding and then merging than to simply have two constantly moving lanes of traffic the whole way.

Regarding the "walk you bike" sign... Can anybody dig up the exact policy? Sometimes these "policies" take on a life of their own. It is possible that the "policy," if it exists, can be met by simply placing a sign at the joints of the bridges saying "walk your bike over joint" rather than implying that the whole bridge is no biking.

But if effort is spent, I think more serious effort should be spent trying to claim a non-needed car lane as a bike lane. As it is, the current sidewalk is too narrow while being heavily used by both bikes and pedestrians.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tribo... RFK Bridge Update

I took the RFK (nee Triborough) Bridge into Manhattan today and am pleased to report that there is major construction (well, major construction for a bike path). Without knowing for sure, it seems, to my amateur eyes, that they are in the process of removing all the stairs on the top part of the path over Hell Gate (between Astoria and Ward Island). In the meantime, there are lots of stairs.

Also, the bridge is very passable. There was snow in the morning that could be ridden over with care and by the afternoon it had all mostly melted.

The south side of the to-Harlem part of the bridge (between Manhattan and Randalls Island) is closed for almost all of 2009. North side is open.

And of course, be careful coming back in the Astoria for the bump toward the end of the downhill that once got me.

And, uh, oh yeah, don't forget it's forbidden to ride your bike on the bike path.

Van Plows Into Line of Children in Chinatown, Killing 2

"The driver of the van, identified as Chao Fu, 52, of Brooklyn, was not charged."

They never are.

Here's the story in the Times.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Queens Plaza 2009 Work Plan

Interested in Queensplaza? It's hard to imagine an Astoria biker who isn't. Want to get involved in the future of Queensplaza through Transportation Alternatives? Contact Philip.papas[at]hotmail.com.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Support the Kent Ave Bike Lane

Here's an easy way to send a letter to the Man.

Kent Ave, if you don't know, is the street you're always riding down on the Brooklyn Waterfront in Williamsburg. It's the street that some in the Hasidic community are trying to control.

When you get the form letter, feel free to change parts as appropriate (like I live in "Brooklyn" to "Queens"). It's not hard.

Better yet, go the community meeting tonight. More details on this on Streetsblog.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bikes and tramplines. perfect together.

You don't have to watch all of this. I can only take so much unicycle. But if you skip right to the 3 minute point and watch for a minute, it's pretty damn cool.



From Howies (via BikeSnobNYC).

Pedestrian Peek-a-Boo

More formally known as daylighting. Getting rid of the last parked car at the intersection so people and cars can see each other.

You know, this wasn't such a big problem before SUVs took over the world. You can see over most cars.

Here'ss a very good Streetfilm by Robin Urban Smith and Clarence Eckerson.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Baltimore rocks!

Or at least is doing the right thing with their old parking meters.

Why or why can't NYC just do this instead of make a big deal about new bike parking while taking away almost all good bike parking (parking meters) in the city?

(photo by bosconet via Streetsblog.)

Brilliant

On Metro North.



I just can't help but mention that Portland, Oregon, has been doing it for years.