Saturday, May 22, 2010

InfoLadies



"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

DSC_8978
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.

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Correct use of the bicycle lane on the Williamsburg Bridge.


DSC_9012
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.

DSC_9008
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.

DSC_9018
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:

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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.


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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


paved


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.

restored

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...