Transit Strike Action Plan

Advocates' Advice to Weather a Transit Strike

December 12, 2005
Noah Budnick 1 646-873-6022

A transit strike will create unusual conditions and stresses for everyone in New York City. For many subway and bus commuters, bicycling is the best way to weather a transit strike and help the city move smoothly.

Accordingly, the City's contingency plan includes special traffic lanes for bicycles and bike parking at City-owned buildings. The City's plan also encourages private building owners and managers to allow bicycles on freight elevators and in workplaces if requested by tenants, and create guarded bicycle parking areas in parking lots, garages or storage rooms to ensure security.

To further aid New Yorkers to employ bicycling as a strategy to get from A to B during a strike, Transportation Alternatives is providing commuters with motivation and information:

  • You will not be alone: In the event of a transit strike, there will be a several fold increase in the number of bike riders. Already, on an average day, 120,000 New Yorkers ride their bikes, and for good reason: Biking is a fast, easy, healthful and fun way to get around the city
  • The majority of subway trips are 5 miles or less, a bikable distance for most New Yorkers
  • The average NYC bike commute takes 30 minutes
  • The City has FREE bike maps outlining 200 miles of bike lanes & paths
  • Over the last 20 years, the number of daily bike riders has more than doubled

First, two general suggestions: be patient and use your head instead of your hormones. Riding a bicycle in the city is fun and safe if you pay attention.


  • Bicycles are vehicles & must obey traffic laws. Ride with traffic—not against it. Obey red lights & other traffic rules.
  • Stay off of sidewalks and always yield to pedestrians. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalk. So don't. Pedestrians always have the right of way, so be respectful of their vulnerability.
  • Avoid car doors - Stay at least four feet from the nearest parked car and don't hesitate to use a whole lane - it's your right. Getting "doored" is the number one cause of bicycle crashes.
  • More legal info at


  • Wear a helmet. Adjust the straps so that the helmet is snug and does not slide.
  • Dress Smart. Wear light colored clothing for safety. For the cold weather, wear gloves, but don't overdress. You should feel a little cold at the start, but you'll warm up. Consider wearing a winter hat or bandanna under your helmet until you warm-up.

YOUR BIKE - A (Air), B (Brakes), C (Chain lock)

  • Check the brakes. Make sure they work or get them tightened. If they don't work, don't use the bike.
  • Pump up your tires (inner tubes) to the recommended pressure or until they feel very hard. This is the best way to avoid flats. You can use pumps at most gas stations and all bike shops.
  • Raise the seat so that your knee is slightly flexed when the pedal is at its lowest point.
  • Use front and rear lights during darkness. Flashing safety lights, red for rear & white for front, are required by law and are available at bike shops and many hardware stores for $6-$10. They could save your life, or at least save you from a traffic ticket.
  • Lock your bike. Your best bet is parking inside your building. Ask your boss if you can bring your bike in your office or park it in a secure/guarded indoor area. If you park outside, use a heavy-duty chain and padlock or Kryptonite NYC U-lock. Lock through the back wheel and the frame to a secure object like a bike rack, signpost or parking meter and take the front wheel with you. Or, use two locks and lock the frame and front wheel to a post, and the back wheel to the frame. If you can, take the seat, or chain it to your bike.
Bike Lanes & Greenways
  • There are 80 miles of bike lanes in NYC.
  • There are 120 miles of greenways - off-street bike paths - in NYC.
  • All four East River bridges - Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro - have paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • All eight Harlem River bridges - Willis Ave, Third Ave, Madison Ave, 145th St, Macombs Dam, Washington Bridge, University Heights and Broadway - can be crossed by foot or bike.
  • The Tri-Boro Bridge and George Washington Bridge have paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • According to the NYC Department of City Planning, lack of secure bike parking is the number one obstacle to people who want to commute by bike in NYC.
  • The easiest and safest solution is for building owners and managers to allow their tenants to bring their bicycles inside. The City should urge all buildings to allow tenants to bring their bicycles inside and/or provide secure indoor bike parking.
  • The City is leading by example and has opened 39 City-owned buildingsincluding City Hall, borough halls in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island (note: the Bronx and Manhattan do not have 'borough halls'), the Municipal Building (1 Centre Street) and the Bronx County Court - to employees who bike to work and provides bike racks at 12 Municipal Garages in all five boroughs.
  • The City will provide bike parking at: Tompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, Madison Square Park, Herald Square, Bryant Park.
  • There are 3,400 on-street bike racks in NYC.
  • More bike parking info at

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