November/December 1996, p.2
Mayor Pledges More Bike Route Miles, More Bike Racks
Mayor Giuliani has pledged in his annual Management Report to install fifty miles of new bicycle routes and 700 bike racks in 1997. The Mayor had promised six miles of routes and 33 racks for 1996, a goal the city says it has met with the St. Nicholas Avenue bike lane and 150 new racks. With more than $35 million in Federal funds to promote bicycling, the city should have much more ambitious plans. What's missing is a will to spend money where it matters.
The city is prone to sticking racks and routes in out-of-the-way places where they're easiest to install rather than in obvious heavy-use zones. The central business districts of Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn suffer from a bike parking crisis, with piles of bikes locked to trees and onto railings.
Likewise, progress on installing new bike lanes continues to be painfully slow. The lanes most recently installed or planned (34th Avenue in Queens; and St. Nicholas Avenue, Lafayette Street, Hudson Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan) have taken an average of almost two years from proposal and design to installation. At this rate, we won't see those 50 new miles for another 42 years!
Perhaps the bullish DOT head Christopher Lynn will bust a move for better cycling. Recently, however, the agency has shown signs of heading in the wrong direction. Monthly problem-solving meetings between T.A. and DOT bike and pedestrian planners have been suspended. The agency lacks a full-time bike coordinator, and the Mayor's office has released funds for only one-and-a-half of the five Federally-subsidized bike program staff positions.
Remember, the goal is to encourage cycling. Here's what it will take to translate the Mayor's goals into action for city cyclists:
It seems that thieves keep swiping the power cables leading to the lights on the Williamsburg Bridge bike/pedestrian path, the latest infuriating explanation for the complete darkness on the bridge path. At T.A's urging, the commander of the 90th Police Precinct (who was appalled after his own pitch-black bike ride on the bridge), and Councilmember Ken Fisher's office have asked DOT to install secure lights and video cameras to monitor the bridge.
If you just want to ride in safety and are fed up with excuses, join us for the 2nd Annual "Light It Up" Rally on Thursday Nov. 14 at 6:30 at the Manhattan entrance. Bring lots of lights.
City Council transportation chair Noach Dear introduced a bill this September that would have made helmets compulsory for all cyclists, in-line skaters and skateboarders. T.A. and a dozen other skaters and cyclists testified against the bill, calling it punitive, unnecessary and misguided. While T.A. advocates the use of helmets, requiring their use would discourage cycling and skating and would unfairly single out cyclists and skaters. (Far more head injuries would be prevented by requiring all motorists to wear helmets.) Further, a compulsory helmet law does nothing to address the cause of dangerous cycling in New York: dangerous driving.
T.A. instead recommended that the City Council take steps to reduce traffic, institute traffic calming measures, post "Share the Road" signs, and educate motorists as to the rules of the road-that cyclists and skaters have the same right to road space as their motorized counterparts.
T.A. and the NYPD have teamed up to fight bike theft. Last issue, we reported on the scope of NYC's theft problem, and based on that article and the hundreds of postcards readers mailed in, the NYPD has responded. Combat Bike Theft will incorporate an educational security brochure for cyclists, a pilot theft reduction plan in a high-theft precinct (with sting operations targeting traffickers in stolen bikes), and a better registration and recovery program.
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