Bicycle Blueprint
Introduction

NYC Cycling
1. NYC Bike Policy
2. State of NYC Cycling
3. Cyclists & Streets
A Bike and a Prayer


Riding Infrastructure
4. Street Design
5. Bridges
6. Road Surfaces
7. Greenways
8. Parks
9. Bicycles and Transit
10. Reducing Traffic


Security
11. Bicycle Theft
12. On-Street Parking
13. Indoor Parking


On the Job Cycling
14. Bicycle Messengers
Fifth, Park & Madison
15. Freight Cycles
16. Gov't Cycling


Reducing Risks
17. Accidents
Three Who Died
Air Pollution


Bicycle Education
19. Schools
20. Public Education


Appendices

      Chapter 18:
Air Pollution
a) Bad Air
b) Pollutants and Damage They Do
c) Pollution Control: Too Little, Too Late
d) The Bicycle Solution
 Trial of the QB6: The Fight for Clean Air in NYC
f) Chapter 18 Recommendations
Table 18: Know Your Poisons: N.Y.C. Pollution Scorecard
Sidebar: Clean-Air Legislation

The Trial of the QB6: The Fight for Clean Air in NYC

Ari Mintz/N.Y. Newsday
T.A. members arrested for blocking the Queensboro Bridge bike-pedestrian path to cars. The New York County Court judge who acquitted the “QB6” in 1991 ruled that “The death and illness of New Yorkers from air pollution and vehicles are far greater harms than that created by disorderly conduct.”
Photo: Ari Mintz/N.Y. Newsday.

Read the latest news on this subject.

On March 14, 1991, a New York County Criminal Court judge acquitted six clean-air activists of disorderly conduct charges stemming from a traffic-blocking protest on the South Outer Roadway of the Queensboro Bridge. Their actions protesting the partial closure of the only bicycle and pedestrian route between midtown Manhattan and Queens were just and necessary given the grave and imminent danger from air pollution, reasoned Judge Laura Safer-Espinoza. The decision was a moral victory, not only for the six bicyclists acquitted, but for all New Yorkers who seek breathable air and better transportation choices.

Transportation Alternatives initiated weekly protests on the Queensboro Bridge in June 1990 to keep the bicycle and pedestrian lane open to non-polluting transportation. The City Department of Transportation had failed to inform the bicycle community of its plan to convert the lane to motor vehicle use during the 3-7 pm evening rush period, for six years of bridge reconstruction. DoT reasoned:

The availability of the outer roadway [Queensboro Bridge Bike Lane] to vehicular traffic during the rush hours facilitates the rapid movement of traffic out of Manhattan. By doing so, traffic congestion decreases and air quality improves. [16]

The Mayor's Office reasoned similarly:

While we regret the dislocation to the bicycling/pedestrian community, the likelihood of increased pollution and the potential for gridlock without the use of the extra lane poses an unacceptable alternative. [17]

Judge Safer-Espinoza rejected this reasoning, emphasizing “the grave harm [that] is occurring every day” from automobile pollution, and rebutting the DoT's premise that more roads mean less pollution. The Judge wrote:

Former [City] Commissioner of Transportation [Ross] Sandler gave undisputed testimony that New York City would have to reduce vehicular traffic in order to come into compliance with the minimum standards set by the EPA for air pollution.... Furthermore, Sandler testified that the net effect of giving vehicles more space to travel, which has been the constant trend over the last fifty years in New York, has not resulted in an increase in average automobile speed which would decrease pollution, but rather in more cars going at a decreased rate of speed. [18]

Judge Safer-Espinoza's decision echoed the findings of international transportation researchers Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenwor-thy that adding road space to keep traffic flowing smoothly actually produces more emissions than limiting or reassigning that road space. While individual vehicles tend to pollute less when they move along, city-wide emissions increase overall as motorists make use of the additional road space. In effect, cities that build more roads and parking spaces find that the volume of cars expands to fill the roads. Further-more, “car cities” generate urban and suburban sprawl which make investments in public transit and bicycle facilities less productive. [19]

Sadly, Transportation Alternatives' victory in the courts did not restore 24-hour bike and foot access to the Queensboro Bridge. The Dinkins Administration continues to resist steps to limit vehicular traffic significantly. While City officials talk of the need to reduce auto use, improve transit and, occasionally, enhance cycling and walking, the status quo remains that motor-free transportation must fend for itself on streets where the car is king.

NOTES:
16. Lucius Riccio, NYC DoT Commissioner, letter to Transportation Alternatives, March 27, 1991. In a Sept. 23, 1991 letter to T.A., DoT Acting Records Access Officer Joseph Biancco acknowledged that DoT had conducted no studies or analysis to support its contention that pollution is reduced by reserving the Queensboro Bridge bike lane for motor vehicles.
17. Sharon Landers, Special Advisor to the Mayor, letter to Transportation Alternatives, July 24, 1991.
18. Emphasis added. The decision was reprinted in full in The New York Law Journal, March 25, 1991, and is available from Transportation Alternatives.
19. Jeffrey Kenworthy and Peter Newman, Cities and Automobile Dependence: A Sourcebook, Gower Technical, Brookfield, VT, 1989, pp. 142-150, Table 5.


a) Bad Air
b) Pollutants and Damage They Do
c) Pollution Control: Too Little, Too Late
d) The Bicycle Solution
 Trial of the QB6: The Fight for Clean Air in NYC
f) Chapter 18 Recommendations
Table 18: Know Your Poisons: N.Y.C. Pollution Scorecard
Sidebar: Clean-Air Legislation