March/April 1999, p.26

Letters: Helmets, Skates & Bike Cops

Dear T.A.:
Riders using the new East River bikeway north of Fulton Fish Market (a splendid and well-marked route, but too short) are advised to exercise caution around the NYPD/NYFD compound opposite the NY Post building on South Street. North of where the bikeway ends, riders must revert to either the wide sidewalk or the gritty roadway under the FDR drive. Riders must watch for vehicles pulling out of the parking area of the compound (although it is to be hoped that the drivers, mostly police or fire personnel, will be equally careful). On a recent Sunday afternoon, while riding north (at about 12 mph) and seeing a van about to pull out of the parking area, I hit my brakes too hard and flew over the handlebars landing on my head. The van's driver (who said she had seen me coming and was waiting for me to pass) quickly came to my aid (together with a passing fellow cyclist) and I was dispatched by ambulance to Beekman Downtown Hospital to receive seven stitches above my eye. (The EMS crew let me take my bike with me in the ambulance.)
The city should clearly mark the entrances to parking areas along this route, or even install bollards to slow us down. After years of our having to contend with traffic and debris on South Street under the FDR, the new East River route is tempting to speed along, but one still must always be careful.
By the way, the brunt of the impact of my fall was borne by my hard-shell helmet. Wear your helmets, folks!
William F. Lee
Manhattan

Dear T.A.:
In your "Skater City" article [T.A. magazine, Sept./Oct. '98], you stated the problems caused by sidewalk skating, but you have failed to recognize one important fact: city law distinguishes between skating on sidewalks, which is permitted, and reckless sidewalk skating, which is unacceptable and illegal behavior, subject to fines up to $100.
Yifan Ji
Flushing, NY
Good catch. Thanks for the clarification. - Ed.

Dear T.A.:
I have seen nothing in your magazine about uniformed bicycle cops giving out tickets.
How about some information about date inaugurated? How many cops? How many tickets given out date to date? And anything else we should know. Thank you.
Katrina Thomas
New York, NY
You asked. See our article this issue. -Ed.

Dear T.A.:
Do you know that car traffic in the parks cleans the roadways...the Parks Dept cannot/will not clean the road. Case in point Forest Park road is always dirty.
Anonymous
You're sadly mistaken. Let's get the facts straight: 1) On park drives, like Central and Prospect, cars push debris into the bike lane, like they do to the side of any road. 2) The Parks Department cleans these lanes with old mechanical street sweepers. Forest Park should be similarly swept. -Ed.

Dear T.A.:
Please find enclosed a contribution for your cause and mine! Keep up the good work.
Riding in Mongolia (but not in January-icy sheets and below zero temps and drivers with no brakes...)
Andrea Irvin
Mongolia
And we thought cyclists had it tough here in NYC! - Ed.

Dear T.A.:
Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if New York could think clearly and logically about transportation, as Germany does in Mike King's "German Soccer Lessons" (T.A. magazine, Jan/Feb 99). Germany is the great unknown wonder of bicycle touring. There are so many bike paths that you can go just about anywhere, including airports, without ever riding on the road. The food is far better than I'd hoped, and the beer, well... every village has its own special brew. Meanwhile, on the home front, we can't even get NYC to put bike racks in front of its own libraries and offices. The bus to the Meadowlands gets there after the performance has begun because the bus is stuck in traffic!
I almost hate to read the TA magazine - it's so frustrating to know all the things that are being done wrong by the city and DOT. Good luck with the wish list. This region is so entrenched in bad approaches to problem solving, though, that it's hard to see how we'll ever make progress. DOT is not so much a Dept. of Transportation as an advocate for the automobile industry. If NYC really wanted to improve air quality, DOT would set goals and define methods for decreasing auto traffic, while increasing use of public and human-powered transportation. DOT is not doing its job.
Caryl Baron
New York, NY

Space didn't permit, but Caryl also corrected last issue's "Wish List" which failed to note that Donald Trump is contractually responsible for installing both interim and permanent paths along the Hudson between 60th and 72nd streets. -Ed.