Summer 2004, p.26


Speed Cameras
Dear Assemblyman Silver,
According to the most recent issue of the Transportation Alternatives Magazine (Spring 2004), bill A04111 enabling the use of speed enforcement cameras in New York City is being held up by your inaction.

I am in favor of immediate passage of this important legislation, which has the potential of saving lives and preventing unnecessary injuries to NYC pedestrians and bicyclists, including me!

In early April of this year, drag racers critically injured 14-year olds Saverio Sportello and Christina Vroulis on Francis Lewis Boulevard at the Horace Harding Expressway. This intersection is just a few blocks from my house; I ride through it regularly as I leave for my exercise rides on my bicycle.

I also ride my bicycle between my home in Holliswood and Queens College, where I am on the faculty of the Computer Science Department. There is no reason why the roads I use should be left open to speeders when the installation of red light cameras have proven themselves to be effective and cost-efficient ways to reduce roadway carnage in seventy-five countries around the world, including in our own nation’s capital.

I hope that you support this life-saving legislation actively and do all you can to insure its speedy passage.
Christopher Vickery

Read the latest news about speed cameras.

Even Senators Enjoy a Car-Free Park
Earlier today I was riding my bike as I do most mornings in Prospect Park. Today I got to experience the car free park that exists after 9am (Thanks to TA). I saw a man with a t-shirt that read “As I get older I get better” riding his bike. Curious, I turned around as I passed and it was Senator Chuck Schumer who lives near the park.
I should have asked him, “Isn’t nice to ride in the park without cars?” If ever there was a strong advocate for closing the park to cars at all hours it would be someone who has experienced the magic of riding in a car free park.
Andrew Finkelstein

Read the latest news about car-free Prospect Park.

Manhattan’s Emerald Necklace
I wish you could have heard my daughter’s praise of the lower east side portion of Manhattan’s “Emerald Necklace” which she rode on bike-to-work day. Her praise was thrilling to me because I remember when the plan of the Lindsay administration of circling the waterfront of Manhattan with parks and esplanades was revived in the 1980s. At that time the project seemed daunting, fraught with large sections of degraded waterfront and sections that were threatened with real estate and highway development. Mayor Koch and especially Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger were on our side which helped to keep city departments listening to such organizations as the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, Transportation Alternatives and other cycling and pedestrian groups. Marcy Benstock led a heroic fight to save the west side from becoming a water-edge highway and many others fought to make the “emerald” dream sound practical as well as ideal. I have seen the successful transformation on the west side and Upper East Side, so I was delighted to hear about the lower east side. We have many leaders and supporters to thank for their courage and persistence which has paid off so well.
Mary Frances Dunham

Bike Racks
The other day I bicycled over to the Tompkins Square Library. The library fence was already full of bikes so I locked up to a streetside bicycle rack in front of a real estate company’s building next to the library.

An employee of the real estate company stepped out to inform me that the rack was their “privately owned bicycle rack,” and that if I parked there my bike lock would be “clipped.”

I am a 59 year old disabled person who is fortunate enough to be able to use a bicycle to avoid the pain in my legs and thus lead a fairly independent life. Being able to lock my bicycle up safely allows me the freedom to go about my daily routine in the city.

I called to inquire as to whether the building had gotten a permit for their bike rack. They had not. How can a private business take over the public sidewalk for private use without a city permit and then break our anti-theft devices? Can’t something be done?
Kevin Farley

Read the latest news about bike racks.

Car Alarm Dissent
As the owner of an automobile in this city, we need every ounce of prevention that we can get towards preventing auto theft! I have personally stopped several thieves from stealing autos due to the sound of the auto alarm!

Besides, I live in a part of NYC that pays HIGHER costs for auto insurance and then have to OVER PROVE to the insurance companies how the car was stolen if it happens!! Frankly I wish we could get more variety in auto alarm sounds!!
Re-think this issue.
Donna Clopton

Editor’s Note: Some car owners probably think their car alarms are working. But alarms are giving people a false sense of security. If car owners leave their laptops in the backseat because they think it is protected by an alarm, the alarm is really leading to more crime. And alarms prevent people from switching to other devices, like immobilizers, that really do work. Other car owners like their alarms, installers tell us, because it is a way for them to call attention to their new cars. Why should we encourage this?

Read the latest news about car alarms.

Sidewalk Riding
I fully support the Sidewalk Cycling Amendment. I walk to work and back everyday between Carroll Gardens and downtown Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge. I often find that bike riders are extremely rude and aggressive to pedestrians and walkers. There are many unreported accidents that I have seen. Yesterday, I saw a bike rider hit a mother walking her baby carriage. Nobody got seriously hurt, but I when I came to the woman’s assistance and told the rider he should not be on the sidewalk. The bike rider scowled at me and said, “Who are you, the Enforcer?” Bike riders should stay on the street, obey traffic signs and slow down.

Editor’s Note: As advocates for cyclists and pedestrians nothing is worse for us than having a pedestrian’s image of a cyclist as one who is threatening to run them off the sidewalk.

This spring T.A. started the “Working Cyclist Safety” campaign,, to improve the safety of pedestrians and the behavior of delivery cyclists and bike messengers.

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 Feedback from readers is hugely helpful.
We encourage all readers to send us comments. E-mail; 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!