Sunday, July 24, 2011


By Ron Gabriel, Art Director, SVA MA

The video does try to offer a solution (not only point out problems) by working in tandem with a street-level campaign with a clear focus on interconnection (NYC Goes Three Ways). The video is intended to live on a website that clearly discusses the bad habits that were highlighted in the video. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists each have a section that points out long-standing bad habits, and how to help break them. The bad habits addressed on the website are marked with text on the left hand side of the video.

To those who think the accident stats in NYC are not bad, and the street system 'regulates' itself, I disagree. The problem with a barely-functioning system is that it becomes very difficult or impossible to introduce change. And the same people who are obsessed with statistics and percentages are also obsessed with accident stats. But this is the wrong approach. Quality of life is the ideal and is not necessarily reflected in 'low' fatality stats. The conflicts highlighted in the video may be nothing more than invasions of personal space (or not) — but repeated block by block, day by day — they amount to an important quality of life issue, whether or not someone ends up dead or 'only' with a broken hip.

We are fortunate to live in a city trying to modernize and evolve. It is not good enough to be satisfied with old (selfish) thinking, behaviors, and street systems.


If you have trouble seeing the entire image, ckick on the link:
3-Way Street from ronconcocacola on Vimeo.

Posted by RonConCocaCola at 6/10/2011 10:27 AM | View Comments (8) | Add Comment

NYC Goes Three Ways

By summer 2010, the expansion of bike lanes exposed a clash of long-standing bad habits — such as pedestrians jaywalking, cyclists running red lights, and motorists plowing through crosswalks. The old habits exacerbate attempts to expand ways to use our streets; existing disfunction makes change more difficult.

My master's thesis project at SVA focused on one intersection as a case study. The video aims to show our interconnected role in improving the safety and usability of our streets. The campaign is named '3-Way Street' and is made up of a poster series, a video and website.

The website is still under construction while a possible partner is found.

Music: "Peter Gunn" by Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy, won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental of 1986. Available on iTunes.


B'klyn cops target 2-wheel scofflaws


Last Updated: 9:57 AM, January 7, 2011

Posted: 2:45 AM, January 7, 2011

Comments: 43

Brooklyn bikers, beware!

Officers throughout the borough are under orders to target rogue cyclists flouting city traffic laws -- particularly those riding on sidewalks, running red lights and zipping down streets the wrong way, police sources said.

The juiced-up enforcement, which quietly kicked off this week, is an expansion of an already-ongoing operation to rein in lawbreaking cyclists that began in Manhattan.

Patrols will especially focus on Downtown Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Williamsburg, where cycling has become a primary means of transportation for many hipsters and other residents.

'SICK OF IT'! Cops and Brooklynites are fed up with cyclists like this guy, shamelessly going the wrong way on Court Street yesterday.
'SICK OF IT'! Cops and Brooklynites are fed up with cyclists like this guy, shamelessly going the wrong way on Court Street yesterday.

A police source in Williamsburg called the effort "prolonged enforcement" -- not a "crackdown" with quotas.

"It's from now until forever; there is no set time," he said. "Bicyclists should travel like vehicles and must obey the same laws. The department and the people are sick of it!"

In Carroll Gardens, cops are regularly flooded with complaints of cyclists riding on sidewalks and heading the wrong way along main roads like Smith and Court streets.

Most complaints, a source said, have come from stroller moms saying they've been hit or cut off by two-wheelers riding on sidewalks.

Fines are set at the discretion of the judge -- but they usually begin at about $50 for first offenders.

Caroline Samponaro, a spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives, said the bicycle advocacy group welcomes the increased enforcement but hopes cops will concentrate on preventing "the most dangerous behavior on city streets -- car speeding."

"Bikers don't want any special treatment. We have a responsibility to follow the rules like everyone else," she said.

Some Brooklyn cyclists polled yesterday said they'd follow the law -- but others questioned why they should be pulled over for "minor infractions."

"People who bike the wrong way should be ticketed, but if we're talking about fining people for not signaling before turning or equipment violations, then I have a problem," said Robert Ghedini, 29, of Park Slope.

Cyclists' collision course 3,830 accidents by 2-wheel heels

Last Updated: 6:20 AM, December 21, 2010
Posted: 1:13 AM, December 21, 2010

Somebody hit the brakes!

There's been an alarming 16 percent spike in vehicle and bicycle collisions over the past year that investigators blame in large part on rogue cyclists who have turned city streets into demolition derbies.
There have been 3,830 accidents involving bicycles, including 12 fatal ones, so far this year, compared to 3,294 in 2009, city statistics show. The East Village and Downtown Brooklyn have the most accident-prone intersections.
"This was a catastrophe in the making as soon as they put those bike lanes up around the city," said a cop in the East Village, the epicenter of collisions even with several bike-only lanes.

James Messerschmidt
CRASH PEST DUMMY: A cyclist cuts in front of a car yesterday near Union Square, as bike accidents mounted for the year.

"They are arrogant. They think they now own the road and think they can do no wrong," the officer said. "Some even yell at police cars saying they have the right of way."
Other danger spots include both sides of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
"It's crazy. The volume of traffic, careless bicyclists and too many turns in too many directions is a recipe for disaster," said a traffic-accident investigator. "Most times they don't obey [laws] and that leads to chaos."
Commercial drivers say they live in fear of hitting bikers.
"Man, it's a pain because they truly think they can just do whatever they want to do," said Manny Sosa, a UPS driver for 15 years.
Some 17,500 people commute daily by bike -- up from 8,500 in 2006, according to the Department of Transportation.
"We have too many bicyclists that are bad actors, so to speak. Too many bicyclists don't obey the rules," said Councilman Jimmy Vacca (D-Bronx), chairman of the Transportation Committee. "If they don't, they deserve a ticket just like any driver."
Cops handed cyclists 29,545 tickets in 2010, compared to 27,555 last year.
Bikers, however, blamed drivers for the rise in accidents.
"I get hit in some fashion probably every couple of weeks," said Chris Gewecke, a bike messenger. "I'll get 'doored' or something by someone getting out of a cab or a truck. They just don't see you sometimes, or they don't care."
Additional reporting by Chuck Bennett

City must end this 'cycle' of violence


Last Updated: 7:35 AM, August 19, 2010

Posted: 3:35 AM, August 19, 2010

It's hell on wheels out there. Police say they're cracking down on demon bicyclists, papering lawless delivery men and two-wheeled street hogs with tickets like expensive confetti. But just 48 hours after the city announced it was handing hundreds of $50 summonses to assassin wannabes who ignore stop signs and dart giddily on sidewalks, terrorizing senior citizens and small animals, it was business as usual.

As you can see at right, it isn't safe on two feet.

"There's a certain green superiority complex," said Village resident Margarita, 36, the victim of a near-miss. "They're obnoxious."

And lethal.

A visit to a new bicycle lane in the East Village yesterday, the brainchild of a mayor who can't stand cars except his own, revealed Dodge City. Bicycles zoomed the wrong way on a one-way path, ignoring traffic lights, helmet laws and decency.

Taking my life into my hands, I stopped deliveryman Ivan Zamora, 25, as he ignored signs and rode in the opposite direction of arrows painted on First Avenue. He removed his noise-blocking headphones.

"I think it's OK" to ride the wrong way, said Zamora. "The cops no give me a ticket."

Just then, I saw a policeman roaming the bike lane, and asked if he planned to write summonses for lawbreaking riders. The cop said no, explaining that he specialized in ticketing cars, not bikes.

From out of the blue, a bicycle sped around the corner, ignoring a red light, an intersection filled with pedestrians, the cop. And me.

It's official.

You see them coming from the corner of your eye, if you're lucky. Fearless bike riders, whom Mayor Bloomberg and his minions see as the green glory of New York, have morphed into what a police spokesman said was the Upper East Side's No. 1 quality-of-life menace. It goes further. You hear it in the close-call stories shared by every pedestrian ever to tread the sidewalks. You see it in the crutches borne by a colleague who survived a hit.

"It feels like civil war," declared Nancy Gruskin of New Jersey.

She should know.

Last year, Nancy's husband of 16 years, Stuart, an athletic 50, was run down in Midtown by a bike deliveryman riding the wrong way on a one-way street. Three days later, Stuart died of head injuries, leaving behind 12-year-old twins. The deliveryman faced no criminal charges.

Nancy has dedicated her life to making streets safer. It doesn't help that the government is in deep denial, plunking down some 200 bike lanes since Stuart was killed, and failing to enforce the law.

But while Nancy's research -- and reams of anecdotal evidence -- indicates things are increasingly desperate, the city says there's no problem. The Department of Transportation reports that last year, 49 pedestrians survived bike hits. The official number has decreased from 2001, when 130 bike-walker accidents were recorded.

The numbers belie a recent Hunter College study that found, among other outrages, that a whopping 37 percent of bike riders routinely blow through stop lights. More than 10 percent ride the wrong way. And helmets? A joke to two-thirds of cyclists.

But a spokesman for the bike group Transportation Alternatives, which bike-safety activists contend has achieved outsize influence over this administration, insists that cars are the real culprits.

"Bicyclists and pedestrians are fighting over the scraps given over to cars," said deputy director Noah Budnick.

Still, Nancy isn't the only one suspicious of the city's rosy bike picture.

Jack Brown once ran the Hi-Ho Cyclery bike shop. Now, he runs the Coalition Against Rogue Riding, an organization he founded after a 2005 epiphany. Walking four blocks in the rain through the East Village, "I nearly got clipped five times" by bikes, he said.

"It felt like I was in a bar fight -- you never know where it's going to come from next. I was shaking. I was in shock."

Bicycle riders who run roughshod over the city should face the law. If not, bike lanes must be painted over, criminals stopped.


Weiner, Bloomberg & Sadik- Khan :"The Lighter Side of Rogue Riding"

For City’s Transportation Chief, Kudos and Criticism/ By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM/
March 4, 2011 NYT

ON a balmy night last June, the city’s Congressional delegation gathered for dinner at Gracie Mansion. Representative Anthony D. Weiner, who aspires to live in the mansion someday, knew he would have only a few minutes with the host, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. So he brought up the hottest topic he could think of: bicycle lanes, and the transportation commissioner who had nearly doubled the number of them, Janette Sadik-Khan.
“When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing?” Mr. Weiner said to Mr. Bloomberg, as tablemates listened. “I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”
Mr. Weiner, a brash Democrat from Queens, had expected a bit of banter with his longtime adversary. Instead, Mr. Bloomberg adopted an exasperated, welcome-to-my-world expression. “His answer was, ‘Tell me about it,’ ” said a person who was there, one of two who recounted the tale. The mayor, some guests said, made it clear that Ms. Sadik-Khan was off on her own.

March 21, 2011, 5:19 PM City Makes a Calculated Case for Bicycle Lanes By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

The Bloomberg administration released an unusual two-page communiqué on Monday laying out its arguments for bicycle lanes, the subject of what one magazine has labeled the “newest urban culture war.”

The memo (pdf), written by Howard Wolfson, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of communications and government affairs, uses statistics to demonstrate improved traffic safety and cites community-based support for the lanes, which have sprouted up under the supervision of Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner.

Mr. Wolfson wrote that his memo had been prompted by a cover story in this week’s New York magazine detailing the recent civic controversy, which has now spilled into court after a group of Brooklyn residents filed a lawsuit calling on the city to remove a lane along Prospect Park West.

Some advocates have portrayed bicycle lanes as a way to nudge New Yorkers toward a more progressive, European-influenced version of city life, but Mr. Wolfson’s memo focuses more on concrete safety gains recorded by its traffic engineers.

He wrote, for instance, that injuries to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists typically drop by at least 40 percent and sometimes drop more than 50 percent along streets where physically separated bicycle lanes are installed. The memo notes that the number of bicycle crashes that lead to injuries or deaths has fallen in the last four years, even as cycling’s popularity grows.

The memo also points to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week thatfound that 54 percent of New Yorkers agreed with a statement that the lanes are a positive development “because it’s greener and healthier for people to ride their bicycles.”

Mr. Wolfson also noted that major bike lanes, like those on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan and Prospect Park West, had been approved by the local community board, and that the Transportation Department has held dozens of public meetings on the projects.

“Bike lanes are part of the city’s future,” Mr. Wolfson said in a telephone interview. “Will these save lives in the next year? You bet.”

Critics of the lanes have lodged a range of complaints, from lost parking spots to increasingly difficult driving conditions, aesthetic problems, and a risk to pedestrians from bicyclists who disobey traffic laws.

Some opponents have also faulted the Transportation Department for withholding or selectively disclosing traffic data related to bike lanes; the Brooklyn lawsuit accuses the city of deceptive practices in installing the lanes.

City Council Hears Sides of Bike Lane Battle By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM Published: December 9, 2010 NYT

The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, sang a self-written song about bicycle lanes to the tune of a popular selection from “The Sound of Music”: “These are a few of my favorite lanes.” A 40-year resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn, testified that an influx of cyclists had made her afraid to cross the street in front of her house. A group of cycling advocates wondered why the city would reject a nimble, environmentally friendly mode of transportation in favor of bulky, polluting automobiles.

John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times“Bike policy is all about trade-offs,” said James Vacca, the City Council’s transportation committee chairman, at a hearing on Thursday.

The battle of the bike lanes, a civic discussion that has turned increasingly contentious and common at community boards and dinner tables throughout New York, made its way to the City Council on Thursday. The theatrics seemed to survive the transition.

Dueling protests, vicious invective from both sides and good old New York-style kvetching have been hallmarks of the bicycle debate since the Bloomberg administration began installing hundreds of miles of bicycle-only lanes throughout the city.

Thursday’s oversight hearing was the first time that Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, sat for formal questioning from city politicians about the implementation and enforcement of the ambitious new cycling network she has been overseeing.

“Nobody disagrees that using more bicycles is a good thing, but in a city where traffic is horrendous and finding a parking space is difficult, bike policy is all about trade-offs,” said James Vacca, the chairman of the Council’s transportation committee, as he introduced the hearing.

But Ms. Sadik-Khan firmly defended her department’s actions, countering a barrage of questions from council members who were irritated and enraged about the subject.

“While there are inevitable growing pains as cycling moves from the margins to the mainstream, its growth in New York is already delivering substantial safety, mobility and health dividends,” Ms. Sadik-Khan said. “The city’s bicycle program, with your assistance and support, is a huge success.”

The discussion touched on topics like the proper regulation of conduct on the road (Ms. Sadik-Khan said she planned a major advertising campaign featuring celebrities who would warn cyclists “to stop riding like jerks”) and whether the city had sufficiently solicited the views of people in communities where bicycle lanes have been installed (the commissioner said yes; several council members said no).

Advocates argued that the lanes encourage a safer, more environmentally friendly mode of transportation while making the city safer for pedestrians. “You’ve got to lay the tracks before you run the train,” said Noah Budnick, a deputy director at Transportation Alternatives, a cycling and pedestrian advocacy group.

Opponents lamented the loss of parking spaces and traveling lanes for automobiles, as well as complaining about what they labeled an imperious approach by city officials.

Jessica Lappin, a councilwoman from the Upper East Side, has introduced a bill that would require the Transportation Department to release detailed information about traffic accidents, including a count of those involving bicycles. Transportation officials have said the Police Department keeps the data, and Ms. Sadik-Khan testified that she had not yet read the bill, an assertion that Ms. Lappin seemed to doubt.

“I will tell my staff that despite our negotiations, I guess the top of the agency is not engaged,” Ms. Lappin said after her questioning of Ms. Sadik-Khan.

In her remarks, Ms. Sadik-Khan emphasized that she believed bicycle lanes provided significant improvements to street safety, and offered statistics showing fewer pedestrian injuries and a slower flow of traffic where lanes had been installed.

But when asked by Mr. Vacca how many people in the city ride bicycles every day, Ms. Sadik-Khan could not immediately produce an absolute number. Mr. Vacca said he was surprised that the city would engage in a large-scale change to the city’s roads without a more precise count of how many New Yorkers might use it.

“We don’t have the number of cars in the street, either,” Ms. Sadik-Khan replied.

Mr. Vacca responded: “Maybe we should have those numbers, too.”

(Officials later cited a survey from 2007 that showed about 500,000 New Yorkers identified themselves as regular cyclists.)
A version of this article appeared in print on December 10, 2010, on page A30 of the New York edition.

Portnoy's Lament

Testimony given Dec 9, 2010 at oversight hearing of the Transportation Committee of the city council. Chair: Jimmy Vacca.

By Jack Brown

*Refer to above NYT Grynbaum account. **Note Jan 6,2011 the sustained program of bike law enforcement began by the NYPD.**

It feels like we may be at the point towards a responsible bike culture in New York that was reached at the end of Phillip Roth's celebrated novel "Portnoy's Complaint".Portnoy's psychiatrist after listening to his catharsis says "Ah now ve may begin" This Oversight Hearing can form the basis for a coordinated effort to address the various concerns of the city agencies that go into forming a functional productive bike culture. The effort must be cooperative, consistent and considered. Everything that it has not been up to now. The Coalition Against Rogue Riding advocates responsible enforcement as the backbone of a law abiding cycling community. It is the bottomline where responsible bike communities work. Why not here?

By withholding the services of the NYPD it merely increases the sense of impunity on the part of irresponsible bike riders and undermines the credibility of the police department. In my opinion a lose lose situation. When I see adults cycling with youngsters on their bikes-without helmets and against the flow of traffic that constitutes child welfare endangerment. When I see cyclists on battery powered bikes riding every which way but right I know something needs enforcement.

It is time to establish a task force to consider the various and increasingly urgent issues necessary to promoting a responsible bike culture. Clearly the scattershot approach currently employed is a significant failure. An exercise in zealotry. It is time that a callous disregard for public safety is recognized for what it is and not conflated with a green ideal going toxic. I urge the transportation committee to exercise whatever powers it has to formally establish a task force to pursue this goal in a considered and knowledgeable fashion. It is my belief that the public would respond with appreciation and that a coalition of elected public official will bring the resources of their offices to advance such a process.

Jack Brown CARR
Coalition Against Rogue Riding