Spring 2004, p.26


Cracking Down on Aggressive Driving

This evening, I came within a hair's width of being struck by an aggressively speeding driver making a right turn from East 63rd Street onto 3rd Avenue and, after politely asking her to be careful, the driver verbally assaulted me. I was so mad that I went to the local police precinct but I was treated rather indifferently. I am so pissed off that I would like to know what I can do that is tangible. Perhaps lobby for a “Yield to Pedestrians” sign or something else? Also, is it possible to bring a civil/criminal action against an aggressive driver? I am a lawyer and a T.A. member and I would relish the opportunity to fix this hazardous crosswalk. Maybe I should have a conversation with the local district member/assemblyman?

Editor’s Note: There are a number of things you can do depending on the time and energy you want to invest. Consider going to your Police Precinct’s Community Council meeting, where the precinct commanders always attend and take careful notes, and/or write a letter to your Councilmember, Community Board and the police precinct commander; report the incident to them and ask for increased police traffic enforcement and Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) at this location.

Read the latest news on reclaiming the crosswalks.

Honking Fine Signs

Hello and thanks for all your good works. We’re fighting the good fight here in Inwood to ban car alarms. My question is, how does a neighborhood go about requesting a “No Honking, $x amount fine” sign? We are on a three-block long street (Park Terrace East at 215 Street) that ends at Isham Park and there’s non-stop honking. Any ideas on how to successfully lobby the City to install one of these signs?

Editor’s Note: Call 311 and request such a sign. Also, write your community board and councilmember and report the problem and ask them to help you get more police enforcement and signs.

Working Cyclist Campaign
Some comments on the "Working Cyclist" program from a former New York City bike messenger and T.A. member now living and messengering in Portland, Oregon. I occasionally rode on (relatively empty) sidewalks and the wrong way on streets in Manhattan, always slowly and always yielding to whoever had the legitimate right of way. I did this because it was quicker than going (long) blocks out of my way and because I worked solely on commission in a very expensive city. And I have to say, I never felt bad about it. I also never got a ticket for it. A short list of some things I saw in NYC bike lanes: People walking, people standing still, people jogging, people pushing strollers, people pushing food carts, people pushing dollies full of boxes, people playing catch, people on horses, herds of cops standing around or straddling stopped bikes, parked cars, moving cars.

Read the latest news on the Working Cyclist campaign.

The Rules for Biking With Kids
Is riding on the sidewalk prohibited for all cyclists, for working cyclists or commuting cyclists? When I bike to school, I use the street because it is faster and I am not in people’s way. When I bike with my brother and sister I keep them on the sidewalk and sometimes I join them. Of course, we bike at a much slower pace and walk our bikes when it is too congested to ride. I always try to choose paths that are either not used frequently or very wide so that they accommodate bikes without disturbing pedestrians. Also, I will be biking with my two year old niece this year and am planning to stick to the sidewalks with her, at least until I know what to expect from a child in a bike seat. So what are the rules for those out just for a ride to the park with their little siblings/kids?

Editor’s Note: Adults riding with children are not exempt from city laws, which forbid cyclists older than 14 from riding on sidewalks. However, it seems unlikely that any cop would summons you for your safe and courteous behavior.

Queensboro Bridge

Dear Commissioner Weinshall,
As a frequent user of the Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian path, I urge you to consider the condition of this path. Recently a biker was robbed and shot on the Williamsburg Bridge bike path. The Queensboro Bridge has been blessedly free of such crime, but the continued safety of the bridge path depends on the active use of the path both day and night. Bridge access points are particularly important because they affect every biker and pedestrian crossing between two boroughs.

Currently there are no legal bike routes coming from the bridge for a cyclist wishing to head North or East in Queens or South in Manhattan. Bikers are forced to violate traffic laws to exit the bridge. As a biker, I do not wish to bike criminally. A few easy changes would legalize countless bikers simply trying their best to bike in a difficult city. Many lights are out at both ends of the Queensboro bridge. These must be fixed. Leave a small part of the Queensboro Bridge path unfenced. Being next to six traffic lanes of noise and exhaust is bad enough without a fence blocking the beautiful view. There are signs towards the end of the bike path instructing people to dismount and walk their bikes for a few hundred feet. Why are these signs, always ignored, even there?

I hope you won’t simply file this away or dismiss this as the voice of just another bike freak. With minimal effort, there are many things the city and the NYC Department of Transportation could do to encourage biking in the city. While I would love a grand bike plan making this a truly bike friendly city, I will settle for a safe and legal bike ride over the Queensboro bridge.

Leave a small part of the Queensboro Bridge path unfenced. Being next to six traffic lanes of noise and exhaust is bad enough without a fence blocking the beautiful view.

Read the latest news on the Queensboro Bridge.

The Word on the Streets

Thank you to the many readers who send letters in response to Transportation Alternatives Magazine, the T.A. E-Bulletin or transalt.org. Feedback from readers is hugely helpful.

We encourage all readers to send us comments. E-mail info@transalt.org; mail to 115 W. 30th Street, Suite 1207, New York, NY 10001; fax 212-629-8334; or submit a comment through our Web site. We look forward to hearing from you!