September/October 1997, p.4-5

Cycling News

Cops Blast Bikes with Monster Ticket Blitz

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In July, the NYPD conducted a massive ticketing campaign against bicyclists running
red lights and riding the wrong way. According to police sources, the crackdown was
ordered by top brass after a high volume of community complaints citywide and angry
letters from City Councilmembers, especially Republican Andrew Eristoff and Democrat Gifford Miller on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In the Upper East's 19th Precinct, over 1,100 cycling tickets were handed out during a three week period in July, more than in the preceding twelve months. An excellent article in the New York Times (The City, Aug. 3, 1997) publicized the disproportionate police traffic enforcement after T.A. shared police data showing that cops were ignoring speeding and reckless driving. According to City and State crash data, over the last five years, an average of 428 pedestrians were injured and five killed by cars each year in the 19th Precinct.

P.S. One cop told T.A that because of their indiscriminate nature and large numbers, most tickets would be dismissed or reduced to $1 to $5 by traffic judges.

Summons issued by Manhattan Traffic Task Force, 19th Precinct, July 1-24

Bicycle violations (total): .........1,168
Auto violations:
Failure to yield to peds ................6
Horn-honking ...........................13

Harassment at QBB and Brooklyn Bridge

At the Queensboro Bridge, quota-minded cops handed out more than 200 tickets within two weeks in July to cyclists riding the wrong way from the bridge along 59th Street to Second Avenue. Unfortunately, the wrong way is the only way for cyclists to get from the bridge to Second Ave. to head downtown. T.A. received tens of complaints, which we passed on to the cops and DOT. To their credit, top officials at DOT did ask the cops to employ common sense and stop harassing the hapless QBB cyclists, which they finally did.

The cops were also busy nailing cyclists sliding through the light on Chambers Street at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, a common method for cyclists merging with traffic. The boneheadedness of the indiscriminate police ticketing was discouraging, given the time T.A. members have spent educating top cops with letters and postcards.

Write and Fax Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman, 1 Police Plaza, NY NY, 10038; Fax: 212-374-0265 and tell him to put an end to the speeding and dangerous driving that makes our streets lethal to 250 pedestrians and 20 cyclists a year. Tell him to go after the real problem instead of the small fry.

Cyclists To DOT: Put Bike Racks Where They Are Needed!

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O.K. We have enough racks where nobody needs them. We don't need racks next to parking meters and existing street furniture suitable for locking. We do need racks where clumps of bikes are locked to trees, scaffolding, mailboxes, railings, walk/don't walk boxes and the like. How about installing racks there? Start with the following locations:

  • Sixth Ave. north of 42nd Street:
    Extra-wide sidewalks would allow
    about 40 racks.
  • Broadway, i4th Street to Chambers
    Street: Bike-intense area could use
    about 60 racks.

The Good, the Bad, and the LIRR

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Good: Single Pass For LIRR/Metro North Starting in 1998, LIRR/Metro North will combine bike permits and regulations and make permits available at both Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. Stay tuned for more details as they develop. Write MTA President Conway to tell him what a great idea this is:

Virgil Conway
President, MTA.
347 Madison Avenue
NY, NY 10017

Bad: LIRR Gives Back Bike Locker Grant LIRR is giving back a $175,000 ISTEA grant to establish bicycle locker parking at various stations because of uncooperative municipalities who do not want to administer the program. T.A. has asked for the money to create a Bike Encouragement Campaign, which would cover bike parking, routes and promotion, at selected stations.

City Ponders North Outer Roadway Path For Queensboro

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In a sudden change, the Department of Transportation is considering a permanent bicycle and pedestrian path on the North Outer Roadway of the Queensboro Bridge instead of the South Outer Roadway. The South Roadway is the current bike/ped path, as it has been on and off since 1979. A final design for a path on the South Roadway had already been adopted and has passed lengthy landmark and other design approval. In 1995, T.A. suggested using the North Roadway because of numerous problems with current bike/ped access on the Manhattan side. Also, because the North Roadway is already under reconstruction, full-time human powered use of the bridge could be resumed as soon as 1998 or early 1999. As explained to T.A., current plans sound promising. However, given the Giuliani administration's dismal record on the Queensboro Bridge - including the shameless reneging on years of written and verbal promises to retain unimpeded bike/ped access during construction- all bets are off until a permanent path is built.

Tell DOT Chief Christopher Lynn that a permanent bike/ped path on the QBB is a must:
Christopher Lynn
40 Worth Street
NY, NY 10013.

Push For Bike/Foot Access To Bronx/Manhattan Bridges

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Prodded by T.A. Bronx leader Richard Gans, the Department of City Planning has taken the lead in getting the MTA, City DOT and the Parks Department to create bicycle and pedestrian access on bridges linking Manhattan to the Bronx. At an August 11 meeting. City Planning Transportation head Floyd Lapp pressed agency reps to do what it takes to open the Willis Avenue Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, and the High Bridge to human-powered users. Good bridge access is a key part of popularizing cycling in New York City, and City Planning's efforts are a rare example of a City agency acting aggressively to tackle key cycling issues head on. Following is where things stand:

Willis Avenue Bridge
Owner: NYC Department of Transportation
The crumbling Willis, which connects First Ave. in Manhattan at about 128th St. to Willis Ave in the Bronx, is undergoing a $100 million rebuild. DOT'S Bureau of Bridges has made a good start on a plan to link the bridge to the East River Esplanade and seems serious about considering the needs of human-powered users.
Outlook: Excellent

Henry Hudson Bridge
Owner: MTA Bridges and Tunnels
The bridge is a crucial link in the Hudson River Greenway, and a fabulous wide path already exists on its south side. The problem is that the path leads into an MTA maintenance yard and would need its own bridge to link directly with Inwood Park. This bike/ped ramp or bridge could be built for a few million dollars if the MTA were cooperative. Unfortunately, MTA Bridges and Tunnels officials and planning chief Bill Wheeler are doing all in their power to delay and oppose bicycle access to all of their bridges.
Outlook: Poor but will improve if pressure brought to bear on MTA.

High Bridge
Owner: NYC Parks Department
The spectacular High Bridge spans the Harlem River at the tip of Manhattan and is actually a viaduct for carrying water into New York City. The path, on the very top, has been closed since the 1970's because some idiot threw a rock off of it, killing a tourist on a Circle Line boat below. It is long past time that the bridge path be reopened, but concerns about the path's condition must be resolved first. Bronx councilmember Wendell Foster has taken the lead in trying to get it reopened.
Outlook: Good, especially if the path is structurally sound.
If you would like to help win access to any of these bridges contact T.A. Bronx Chapter Chair Richard Gans at (718) 653-2203.