May/June 2000, p.22


Kudos From India
Dear T.A.:
I do not know how to congratulate and thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. It is vastly inspiring. Conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in India, in the cities as well as the countryside, are appalling, to say the least. I wish you the very best.

Vidyadhar Date
Special Correspondent, Times of India
Mumbai, India

Thank you for your kind words. Our colleagues at the Institute of Transportation Development Policy (ITDP) are working in India and across the globe to improve the lot of pedestrians and bicyclists. -Ed.

Cyclists = City Bellweather
Dear Park Slope Courier Editors:
[In reply to a reader's letter] "The streets are dangerous for bicyclists AND pedestrians."

Bicyclists are the canaries of the city streets. When a miner takes a canary down into the mine, he doesn't start yelling that the bird is lazy or crazy when it keels over. The miner realizes that a dead bird is telling him that there is something wrong with the environment in the mine.

When people in the city start yelling at bicycles and want to restrict them, it's like yelling at the miner's canary for falling down. People are entirely missing the point; there is something seriously wrong with the environment of the city when something as small and simple as a bicycle is causing all this ruckus.

The major things wrong with the city environment can be summed up in the three E's: Engineering, Enforcement and Education.

The engineering design of the streets is wrong, squeezing too many cars, too fast, into too little space. There is no room left for cyclists on the roadways and no safe way for pedestrians to cross with high speed traffic. Sidewalks have been narrowed all over the city. [The intersection at] Adams and Tillary [Streets in Brooklyn] is absolutely the worst place for bicyclists and pedestrians, with two expressway style roads converging at that intersection and no safe way to cross.

The enforcement of traffic rules toward all traffic users, in particular towards motor vehicle operators, is biased, inefficient and ineffective. Cyclists who do obey the law can expect absolutely no help or support from our police.

And there is no education of motorists, cyclists or pedestrians as to their rights and responsibilities. The knowledge required to pass the driving test is a joke, with our local 2nd and 3rd grade students getting passing grades.

Finally, the canary is telling us that the city has simply allowed far too much traffic into too small a space for everyone's safety and sanity. It's not the bicyclist or the canary at fault.

Steve Faust, AICP
Brooklyn, NY

Savior CityRack
Dear DOT:
I wanted to thank you very much for putting a bike rack on Park Avenue. Now I can commute to work on my bicycle. What a pleasure! To be honest with you, I didn't think anything would be accomplished by sending in the Bike Rack Request form. I am glad that I was wrong.

You have raised my quality of life in New York City. Thanks again!

Joyce Blint
New York, NY

Upper West Side Worries
Dear T.A.:
I'm writing because I'd like to know more about Transportation Alternatives. I've seen it described as a pedestrian and cyclist advocacy group, and while I'm all in favor of bicycles, I'm outraged by bicyclists who ignore traffic lights and who ride on sidewalks, which is epidemic on the Upper West Side.

I'm similarly outraged by drivers who run red lights, speed, block intersections and roadways without a care about pedestrians and race to get ahead of pedestrians as they cross at the light.

I've written to the mayor's office about all this but to no avail. I've also complained to the police in my neighborhood. Again, to no avail. I regularly share the sidewalks with bicyclists, and I regularly suffer with drivers who pull all of the above and more.

John Cochran
New York, NY

Thanks for writing, John. T.A. is hard at work making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. To teach the rules of the road, our Give Respect/Get Respect campaign has staged several outreach actions aimed at motorists and bicyclists, including several in your neighborhood. T.A. is also working with elected leaders and the police to encourage restaurants owners to train their delivery persons to stay off sidewalks. -Ed.

Bike Friendly Strumming
Dear T.A.:
I want you to know I've hung John Lawson's photo [cover of the March/April issue] in the window of my guitar shop. I was there on my Schwinn that January 9 and was filled with remorse and anger. Just yesterday on my Sunday ride, a driver who thought I wasn't far enough to the right, gunned his engine, sped past me with no more than an inch between me and his two-ton weapon.

I've been cycling since 1955 and still have my '55 Schwinn. I ride every day, and although I've only been hit twice, I count my blessings over the thousand close calls. Thanks for all your understanding.

I would like to offer any T.A. member an 8% discount in my store (Carmine Street Guitars, 42 Carmine Street, NYC, 212-691-8400).

R.C. Kelly
New York, NY