Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bikers vs. Cabs: Williamsburg Bridge

Here's what went down: At the base of the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg bridge, there's a spot where cars, especially cabs, drive over the sidewalk when they don't feel like waiting in traffic on the bridge to Manhattan. So, they drive head-on into cyclists coming off of the w-burg bridge bike lanes. There are accidents all the time from cars hitting cyclists at this intersection, and it's even worse when the cars are driving over the sidewalk. Was watching this tonight, when some heroic cyclists decided to take matters into their own hands and put up a barricade.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


"Armed with a netbook, medical supplies and a bicycle, Bangladesh's InfoLadies are giving millions of poor people access to crucial information on their doorsteps that will improve their chances in life." Read more...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Witnesses Wanted: Williamsburg Cyclist Struck & Injured

Williamsburg Cyclist Struck & Injured

Williamsburg Cyclist Struck & Injured
5.8.10, 3AM at Roebling & N. 4th

Stefan, a Williamsburg cyclist was struck by a black, 4-door, Ford livery cab at 3AM on Saturday morning, May 8th, 2010.

The driver claims Stefan blew a red light, but we need additional info because Stefan blacked out due to head trauma.

Stefan has 5 broken ribs, a broken shoulder, a broken back, and a broken foot.

Did you witness this accident. Contact Mike with any info: 410-409-9787

Spread the word.

We all know how recklessly the cabs and livery cabs drive - often far exceeding the speed limit and playing aggressive games with each other and cyclists. Please re-blog and spread the word to help find witnesses.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How to use the Williamsburg Bridge

Correct use of both a smile and a bicycle basket from Sweden.

As spring gives way to summer, more of you will be out there on your feet and bikes crossing the Williamsburg bridge. The purpose of this post is to help you use the bridge correctly. I know, it's scary that I need to write a post to help people get across a bridge, but it seems that even with signs painted on the path every few feet, some people not only don't understand how to use the bridge, they're certain they understand how - in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Correct use of the bicycle lane on the Williamsburg Bridge.

Incorrect use of the bicycle lane by pedestrians.
Sneak attack danger is high.

Recently, the lovely Jennifer and I took a trip across the bridge for a ride down the east side of Manhattan. There's nothing better than riding along under the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny day with cool air from the river blowing over you. (Until you get to the tourist explosion at the piers, but that's another post.) On this trip, however, we encountered so many people walking on the wrong side that by the time we got to the middle of the bridge and encountered a pair of runners, I'd had enough.

Correct use of being-very-pretty-and-looking-like-one-should-be-in-the-country when one is in fact in the urban jungle.

Just as I was grumbling to myself, the runner on the right decided she was going to let me know that I was riding on the wrong side. I replied that actually, she was on the wrong side, and if she'd look at the signs painted right in front of her, literally under her feet, she'd see how the bridge works.

Granted, it's a little counter-intuitive and one might think that everyone just stays to the right. But you don't. On this bridge, the Bicycles stay to the right, like cars - and the pedestrians or runners, or whoever doesn't have a vehicle under them goes against the traffic. This is sensible, because if someone is approaching you on a bicycle, you want to see them, you don't want them to sneak up on you from behind. How do you know which side to walk on or ride on? There are signs painted all over the bridge with iconographic pedestrians and bicycles and even arrows, it's actually all very clear.

It's actually all very clear.

As you can guess, my hint about her failure to see what was right in front of her wasn't taken kindly. She said "No we're not, I run on this bridge all the time, you're on the wrong side."

My cycling partner later told me that the moment she heard this exchange she could see the blog post I was going to write appearing before her. And I had pulled out my camera to gather a little evidence so I could demonstrate how not to use the Williamsburg bridge.
  • If you're running, walking, or on foot (sans bicycle) stay in the left lane.
  • If you're on a bicycle, stay in the right lane and pass on the left.
Do not do this:

Incorrect use of the bridge. Note the failure to see what is right under their feet. These people are stupid, yes, stupid. They aren't ignorant because I told them and the little stencil told them and they still didn't listen.

Oh, but crossing the bridge and navigating around the stupid people was worth it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Bike Ride That Changed My Life


Sometimes, I feel like my brain is turning into pudding. I like pudding, especially soy pudding, but this isn't a good feeling. It's a sense that your mind is fogged over and your body is soon to follow until you just poof out of existence, log out of life.

I felt like that after work today. I'd spent 8 hours sitting in front of computers, and remotely controlling computers in other rooms, and doing other network things. It was mind-numbing.

work sucks

So, when I got home, I took my bike out in the rain and headed across the w-burg bridge to Manhattan. Even just quarter-way across I knew that I had fixed the problem.

w-burg bridge

My blood was pumping again, my mind was clear, all was well again. The bike rides that change your life don't have to be epic journeys across France or races through all the boroughs, or even a whole day of biking, sometimes they can be a ride in the clouds and rain to clear the fog out of your brain. You know it's one of those rides, when an hour later, you still feel like you're there, flying through the sky and nothing will ever stop you again.


84th Precinct Looks the Other Way

If you know about my interest in religion and technology, you know why this is even more interesting to me!

The First Presbyterian Church on Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights has been giving parishioners cards to 'allow' them park in the bike lane. Local police don't seem to care - but really? Let's turn the tables - what if local bicycle riders started chaining their bikes to the church? We know how that would end.

84th Precinct, do your job and get these cars out of the bike lane!

Peter Kaufman blogged this video of the illegal parking:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I would rather have the graffiti...

blocking everything

They left it driverless and parked in the crosswalk while they painted over some scribbles. This, and NYC is cutting social services.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hey spitting cyclist...

The other night, a friend of mine was spit on by a cyclist. If this doesn't totally surprise you, you must also live in NYC, land of the special breed of asshole bikers. He had the right of way, was walking across the street and when he didn't run to get out of the way (so the bike could run a red light) the guy on the bike responded by spitting on him, like some kind of evil human-visitor hybrid child.

Hey spitting cyclist, is this your mom?

In response to this incident he made a great point, saying something like: 'Until bicycle advocates can get these kind of people under control, they're not going to get very far with their cause.' I couldn't agree more.

Morons who run red lights, ride the wrong direction and break other traffic laws on bicycles undermine everything that we bicycle culture advocates work for. He's justified, I think, in wanting to lobby for stricter bicycle legislation after this incident.

I also think part of the issue here is that NYC doesn't have a positive, shared cycle culture. There is a cultivated rebel-attitude with some cyclists. They're against the grain and against the world - and thereby also against traffic laws and pedestrians and everything else that stands in their way as they hurtle down the dark streets at night, with no lights paying no attention to where they're going.

I'm not one for laws, but traffic laws make a lot of sense. You have, on the one hand many-ton masses of metal hurling down the road, then you have all these delicate packages of bones and flesh walking across the roads, and then you have some more delicate packages of bones and flesh precariously perched on two temporarily balanced wheels flying down the road as well. Without traffic laws, and car/pedestrian/bicycle friendly infrastructure, that combination is a disaster.

But in a society where you have strong bicycle infrastructure and culture, the asshole who rides the wrong way on a bike seems as crazy as someone driving a car the wrong way down a street - and he'll get called on it.

Rush Hour
Danish cycle infrastructure/culture at rush hour.

Cycle culture is a beautiful thing, as you dear readers know, one can even ride safely while drinking a beer.

I've written before about the delivery guys who ride the wrong way, without lights, in bicycle lanes and act shocked when they encounter you going the right way. I've written about the run-red-lights-or-don't debate, these are persistent problems. And NYC keeps building these beautiful but limited bicycle lanes that run for small stretches or aren't segregated from car traffic or are removed because of neighborhood complaints, but it doesn't seem to be getting any better out there for cyclists or pedestrians.

So, what's next, what do we do? Do we legislate the bicycles, register the cyclists, enforce the traffic laws, increase penalties?

Hey spitting cyclist, is this your mom eating lunch?

On the one hand, traffic laws must apply to bicycles, on the other hand, there are so many places where you can ride in a bicycle lane and it suddenly ends or turns into a sidewalk, at which point you find yourself unintentionally breaking the law. So how do we enforce traffic laws when there isn't a bicycle infrastructure to enforce them within?

What's the most important thing we can do to move toward building a solid bicycle culture in this city? I argue it's infrastructure, other ideas?

At the least, I hope we can all agree that the spitting cyclist is an ass and he should have his cycling privileges taken away, along with his ability to salivate surgically removed...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Special tights day?

madison sq park

Madison Sq. Park, a few weeks ago

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Naomi Klein on Cop15

A great interview with Naomi Klein on what's happening in Copenhagen and how it relates to Copenhagen's creepy efforts to brand and commodify the city.

Katherine Goldstein: You've written about how aggressive the Danish police have been towards mostly peaceful protesters thus far. On Saturday, 1,000 people were arrested, mostly for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What's your reaction to this?

Naomi Klein: There are so many wonderful things about Copenhagen, like the biking culture and the wind power that I think a lot of us have been impressed with. But the city has invested a lot in the branding campaign of Copenhagen being Hopenhagen, and that their city can be a part of this historic agreement for the future. Because the city is so invested in this positive image, they are willing to act aggressively. But this is so much bigger than that. This is everyone's planet. What is happening in this conference -- there's more at stake than Copenhagen's image concerns. The police have arrested activists and organizers preemptively of tomorrow's march, like Tadzio Mueller. It's reckless to take leaders who are advocating non-violence out of the game the night before a protest.

Read more... or watch

Bicycle blocade

Originally uploaded by Henrik Digital

Removing the bikes

Originally uploaded by Henrik Digital


Solidaritet med de aktivister og demonstranter i København.
Solidarity with the activists and protestors in Copenhagen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Repainting the Bike Lanes in Williamsburg

Perhaps if the racoon-eyed-brats in Williamsburg didn't dress like a horrible disco accident...

...the hasidic community wouldn't have demanded the removal of the bike lanes. But, I respect both groups freedom to wear whatever they want - and the bike lanes won't go away so easily...

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Neutralize your Airline Carbon Emissions

It's actually easy, and free!

A cross country (USA) round-trip flight is about 890 kg of C02 per passenger. The average American's meat consumption contributes 1,360 kg of CO2 per year. So, for each flight cross country, go vegetarian for 8 months.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Danger! Kidnappings of Innocent Bicycles!

The NYT reports on an increase in kids commuting to school by bicycle. I grew up riding my bicycle to school every day, as do many people all over the world, but in NYC, that's considered a bit strange for a kid. How strange? Well just take a look at the paranoid comments in response to the article:

"With the kidnappings of innocent children reported in the papers all the time, wouldn’t it be safer for all if they could just go back to past times and walk to a school in their own neighborhoods? "

"Great. Now you will have all these children riding bikes to school so that the crooks and thieves can beat up the kids and steal their bikes to buy crack!!

Or worse, you will have crazy NY drivers running these poor kids over as they ride through the crosswalks!!

It’s a great idea if you live in Iowa or Nebraska!

Not in NYC! This would be a bike thief’s trifecta!! Or worse, experience a sharp rise in vehicular homicide as these kids get run over by drunk and unattentive (cell phone and texting freaks) auto and truck drivers!!!

And this is why we pay the DOE employees a King’s ranson in salary to come with ideas that will place our school kids in avoidable, mortal and physical danger!!"

"...It is very common for children who go alone to end with criminals and molesters...."

"Will there be added funds given to each school where racks are installed for security to guard the racks?"

Criminals, Molesters, Helmets!

How to Kill Someone and Get Away with it

Just go to Arizona and make sure your victim is riding a bicycle (in the bicycle lane) and then hit them with your car:
"...Jerome was killed on his bicycle Sept. 3, a month before his 85th birthday.

Jerome was about a mile from the home he shared with his brother when he was struck from behind by a Toyota Camry... Jerome, a cyclist for about 10 years, was in the bike lane wearing a helmet and reflective vest.

[The driver] who was not impaired, was cited for driving in the bike lane and for not giving a cyclist three feet of space, both civil violations. It’s unlikely he’ll face additional charges...

Erik Ryberg, a Tucson attorney who has represented cyclists for five years, says the tool is in place to criminally prosecute in such cases but nobody is willing to use it.

Ryberg says negligent homicide would be a reasonable charge but has never been applied when a cyclist has been killed by a driver.

“They reserve it for more serious cases of negligence than just driving,” he said."


Waste Not

The installation "Projects 90: Song Dong" just closed at MOMA. Song Dong, a Beijing artist, worked collaboratively with his mother to sort out and display the stockpiles of potentially useful items she had been saving in her home.

While it's surprising to see that there weren't any bicycles in the collection there were some related supplies... Perhaps the bicycles of a Beijing household are too precious to give up?

Projects 90: Song Dong
Seat covers

Projects 90: Song Dong
Sturmey Archer Box

As a former gallery owner and an artist-against-the-art-world, I have some elaborate opinions on installations like this which would probably bore you all - so let's stick to how the public received it. Here are the comments I overheard as I walked around the exhibition:

"I don't know why, but this is special."

"I think the categorization helps too."

"I guess if you took everything out of our house..."

"The house must have been bigger than I thought."

"It's an art show."

"I feel like I've gotten my $5 worth already."

"That was a good MOMA-run."

NY400 Bike Share

NY400 Bike Share

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Dutch arrival in what is now New York, the Consulate General of the Netherlands and some Dutch corporations held an event called "Holland on the Hudson" as part of the wider NY400 celebration. The Bike Share offered the free use of a Batavus bike for 6 hours.

I'm sure the native people of North America would have preferred neither, but I can't help thinking we would be better off today if we were still under Dutch rule.

About NY400:
"This year we celebrate 400 years of enduring friendship between the Netherlands and the United States. Four hundred years ago, a Dutch ship called the Half Moon guided to the shores of what is now New York City with Captain Henry Hudson at the helm. This led to the establishment of New Amsterdam and the New Netherland colony. Some 167 years later, in 1776, the Dutch were the first to salute the flag of the United States of America. NY400 celebrates the free spirit, openness, entrepreneurship and tolerance of those Dutch-American pioneers, and their continued relevance today and beyond."

NY400 Bike Share

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cyclists are not to blame - Or at least, rarely.

Gregory sends us this article from treehugger.

"While there is a public perception that cyclists are usually the cause of accidents between cars and bikes, an analysis of Toronto police collision reports shows otherwise: The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection and either failing to stop properly or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third involved a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. The study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents in this study...." Read more