Training wheels: Cyclists educate newbies before bike-share’s launch

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city’s much-hyped bike-sharing program is coming — and cycling activists are on a quest to make sure the sight of a blue cruiser does not instill panic into the hearts of borough riders.

As the launch date of the soon-to-be-ubiquitous bicycle rental initiative quickly approaches, advocates for two-wheelers are cheering the CitiBike plan while riding hard to mitigate the potential for dangerous encounters with biking newbies.

“There will be more riders on the road after the launch of CitiBike, so we have to start educating novice riders on the ins and outs of city riding,” said Meg Wachter, an organizer with Brooklyn Skillshare, which hosted an urban cycling class for beginners last week.

The focus of the “Beat the Fare, Learn to Ride” class wasn’t on balance or turning: instead, the session was meant to teach those comfortable in suburban and less-intense urban settings how to ride down Brooklyn’s busiest roads without missing a beat.

And with CitiBike pick-up and drop-off stations already popping up in Downtown, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, and Fort Greene in preparation for the program’s May launch, now is the time for beginners to gain confidence on two wheels, organizers say.

Some worry the tourists and local beginners who take advantage of the 10,000 citywide rental bikes may lack the street savvy to stay safe, but Noah Berland, one of the instructors at the Brooklyn Skillshare class, said the influx of blue cruisers will help all cyclists citywide.

“Infrastruc­ture makes it easier,” said Berland, who grew up riding around Park Slope and helped students learn how to interact with traffic, properly lock up their two-wheelers, and fix flats at the seminar. “As there are more cyclists on the road, drivers will be more aware and that will be better for everyone.”

A greater number of cyclists on the streets will have a traffic-calming effect, according to Caroline Samponaro, senior director of campaigns and marketing at the bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

“As the rate of bikes goes up, the rate of crashes goes down,” said Samponaro, who hopes the tourists and new borough cyclists who use the rentals will adopt a watch-and-learn attitude when riding in Brooklyn.

“It’s not that different from using the subway for the first time,” she said. “You have to ask for help.”

The program, which is sponsored by $41 million from Citibank and $6.5 from Mastercard, will offer its own free classes to beginners in partnership with Bike New Yo. The CitiBike website already offers a detailed how-to guide for aspiring riders, warning renters to yield to pedestrians, stay off sidewalks, obey traffic lights, ride with traffic, plan sensible routes, check equipment before setting off, use hand signals, avoid the “door zone,” and keep headphones off, among other advice. The page also directs riders to the city’s “Bike Smart: The Official Guide to Cycling in New York City” in multiple languages.

The out-of-town bicycle sharers expected to enter the borough across the East River bridges might not know where to find a bike lane, how to turn a Kryptonite chain into a belt, or the best turn of phrase to chide cabbies into sharing the road — and that might be a good thing, according to professional cycling educator Tim Haney.

“The tourists are a little more reserved and not quite so confident and that ends up benefitting them,” said Haney, who is planning to roll out his own series of continuing bicycle education classes through Bike New York later this year.

And for Brooklynites who feel wary about cycling, the bike-share program is the perfect way to turn a novice into a pedal-pushing pro, according to Wachter.

“If it’s a way to try urban cycling without buying a bike, that’s awesome,” said Wachter.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at

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Reasonable discourse

Brian from Sheepshead Bay says:
Much is being made on the 30/45 min ride window, but it's only a 2 min wait from when you return the bike to the dock to when you can rent another.
April 16, 2013, 2:30 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If they will truly teach them to follow the rules of the road, they will have my support.
April 16, 2013, 6:42 pm
Joseph from Mott Haven says:
45 minutes is a long time. You can bike quite a distance. I know for a fact you can get across Manhattan at it's widest points in about 15 or so at an average pace.

Eager for the coming Bronx/Upper Manhattan expansion. We lack crosstown subway connections up here. Traffic makes the crowded buses rather unpleasant too.
April 16, 2013, 9:41 pm
Rob from Williamsburg says:
When does the unicycle sharing program begin?
April 16, 2013, 9:47 pm
ty from pps says:
Yay! Did you hear that everybody! Tal Barzilai in Pleasantville, NY is willing to throw his full support behind this! I'm so excited. You don't know how much this means to everybody in New York City!
April 17, 2013, 9:53 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, I have nothing against those wanting to use bicycles, just those who happen to behave obnoxiously with them. If they are going to act the same way as many bike zealot, who have no respect for the law, they won't win it at all. I suggest you read this editorial from the Daily News and even look at the cartoon that is there as well to see the real story.
April 17, 2013, 6:02 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal... oh, sweet sweet Tal. It becomes more and more clear every day why you live in your mom's basement.
April 17, 2013, 6:31 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, you make it clear on why you resort to mudslinging and other personal attacks rather than discuss the real issue.
April 17, 2013, 6:47 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- Did *you* read that editorial from the Daily News? I don't think it says what you think it does.

Discuss the real issue, Tal? The *real* issue when it comes to you is your belligerence and ignorance. Your method is always the same... you state something that is based on nothing but your own strange worldview... fore example, "They didn't need the plaza in Times Square because the city already has Bryant Park." Folks call you out on being misinformed and ignorant of basic facts. You then cry about how abused you are, restate the SAME things without modification, and avoid providing any basis of facts. And then repeat... all from the comfort of you mom's basement in PLEASANTVILLE, NY -- 40 miles away from New York City.

(The few times you actually have provided facts, they have contradicted your dumb opinions, but you can't even recognize that!!)
April 17, 2013, 7:09 pm
Rob from NY says:
CitiBike is for quick trips. Tourists and longer riders should use the bike rentals offered by local shops and bike tourism outfits.

If you want to see whether you might exceed the 45 minutes, go on Google Maps and use the bike directions. It will tell you how long your trip should be for an average rider.

Just for a reference: I plugged in 60th Street on the West Side of Manhattan, and then made my destination Battery Park. Google Maps says it takes about 33 minutes on the Hudson River Greenway.
April 17, 2013, 7:16 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, one major difference between you and me is that I do NOT resort to mudslinging and other personal attacks that you are doing right now. In other words, I just disagree with the viewpoint, but I don't attack the person. That Daily News article was not very much in support of the program, and knowing that Streetsblog has something against it, then this must not be on their side knowing where they stand on the issue. I wouldn't be surprised if this program goes bad, and the taxpayer will be forced to give money just to keep on life support especially when Citigroup has already been given a lot of it when the recession occurred just to be bailed out. Keep in mind that there have been places such as Paris that had bicycles from their program that were either lost or even stolen, and the taxpayers had to pay to make up for those, so you can now imagine what will be the case for NYC if that ever happens. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Skillshare shows as usual that they are hurting the MTA by getting many riders to start riding bicycles just to avoid the fare hikes, which hurting the system and hardly going green when riding that was doing such as well.
April 18, 2013, 6:11 pm
ty from pps says:
Wow, Tal... that was a serious mess of disjointed thoughts. Do you drink?
April 18, 2013, 7:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't drink any alcohol, ty, and here is the link to what I was talking about earlier that I forgot to put.
April 18, 2013, 10:43 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:

Google Maps consistently gives cycling times that an 80-year old grandmother on a single speed could handily beat. It told me an hour, 40 minutes for a 17.5 mile ride from my place to a friend's place in Brooklyn. I made it in an hour and twenty minutes-fighting a 15-20 mph headwind most of the way which easily added 15 minutes to the trip. Back in 1981, I went from 125th to West 4th Street in 15 minutes flat. OK, that was pushing it, but for most cyclists in typical urban conditions figure 4 minutes a mile on decent equipment. Citibikes seem kind of slow, so maybe 5 minutes a mile. Add one minute a mile in both cases if you're not in great shape. Or figure roughly four times your walking speed. That measure seems to work regardless of physical condition.
April 19, 2013, 3:32 am
Joe R. from Flushing says:

I doubt bike share will hurt the subway. It's generally going to be used for shorter trips where people might otherwise just walk. Not too many people are going to take the subway if they're only going a mile or two. Also, in many cases bike share will be used for trips where mass transit isn't a viable option. That will especially be true if it reaches the outer parts of the outer boroughs. It might actually end up replacing a lot of shorter car trips in that scenario.
April 19, 2013, 3:34 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, just to let you know, I found that link from Queens Crap, so I am really just the messenger to that. Seriously, I am really tired of bike groups always shouting that only riding a bicycle is going green when so is walking, taking mass transit, or even driving an electric car. This is NOT limited to just one thing only. Since you claim that most NYers don't drive, then the only thing that bicycles are doing is taking people out of mass transit rather than cars. Based on how many cyclists tend to act, the bike share will just make that worse, and don't be surprised if many of the bicycles end up getting either lost or stolen, which is what happened when this was used in Paris not that long ago. Also, I don't understand why it costs so much for a ride that won't even last that long when owning one will probably save a lot more. However, I still feel that those using this program should learn to follow the rules. On a side note, I know what you said about Liu over on Streetsblog on bicycle helmets, which shows how much you would rather prefer a cracked skull over just messy hair, which you can easily get rid of with a comb that can be taken with you wherever you go.
April 19, 2013, 5:36 pm
ty from pps says:
Are you sure you don't drink, Tal? Maybe you just steal the prescription drugs from your mom's purse.
April 19, 2013, 6:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, I suggest you put down the Haterade right now.
April 19, 2013, 6:47 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
Tal, I've never said that bicycles are the only form of "green" transportation. As for whether bikes are replacing car trips or subway trips, it depends where the person is riding. In Manhattan, you might be right. In Eastern Queens where I am, there is no subway and bus service stinks. Here, bike trips can potentially replace short car trips.

As for helmets, learn a thing or two about them. They're really not all that effective. This is why I'm not a fan of them. Why should I wear something which will actually make riding more dangerous for me by impairing my hearing and vision and making me sweat like a pig? That goes double when it won't even offer any protection in the types of accidents which kill most cyclists, namely car-bike collisions. It has nothing to do with messed up hair. It has to do with wearing something which offers few advantages and lots of disadvantages.

Safety on a bike starts with keeping aware of your surroundings and keeping a cushion of space around you. It's a shame more new riders aren't taught to ride defensively like this. Just telling people to "wear a helmet and follow the laws" is doing them a disservice. Hopefully these education classes are actually teaching some defensive riding. For sure a lot of cyclists I see need to be taught that.

And you do know statistically that you're more likely to incur head injury walking or driving than cycling. If we're going to tell cyclists to wear helmets, then we should also tell pedestrians and drivers to wear them. Besides that, in the great cycling countries about 99% cycle without helmets, yet the death/injury rates are much lower than here. Safety in numbers, plus good infrastructure, does more for cyclist safety than strapping on an uncomfortable piece of styrofoam.
April 19, 2013, 8:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, I can understand why you are against helmets, because a website like Streetsblog will consider you a martyr when you will get hit. When I drive, I do wear my seat belt, which is required by law, though there is also the airbag that will come right out of the stirring wheel as well, but I think it will cause more injuries, which is why it's better to have the seat belt instead. The adult bicycle helmets are not actually made of stryrofoam, but much more hard plastic, and are designed to be areodynamic. As for the claim that they don't have this in Europe, at least that aren't a number of a cyclists who believe that the rules don't apply to them, which happens to be the case here. By your logic, then airbags should be removed since they cause more injuries than prevent them.
April 20, 2013, 5:44 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
No, what I'm against is suggesting if a person doesn't wear a helmet while cycling that it's somehow unsafe or negligent. Unlike seat beats, or even air bags, both of which have peer-reviewed studies showing that they generally prevent a lot more injuries than they cause, helmets are at best slightly effective. At worst, they may actually make things less safe. Or put in layman's terms, we tell people to wear seat belts because they generally prevent more injuries than they cause. For the same reasons we put airbags in cars, although I feel the driver should be able to disable them if they wish. Also, seat belts don't have the serious downsides of helmets. They're slightly uncomfortable but not distracting so. They don't block vision or hearing. They don't make you overheat.

Bicycle helmets have a hard plastic shell surrounding a styrofoam core. Styrofoam is a great insulator, and the body loses a lot of excess heat from the heat. That's why helmets can cause overheating. Also, the construction of bike helmets offers little protection in anything but low speed impacts of the type a child just learning to ride might experience. Learn about something before mouthing off on it. I've done tons of reading on bicycle helmets. They're about as likely to protect me in an accident as a lucky rabbit's foot. That's why we shouldn't be emphasizing them. And look at videos of cyclists in cities like Amsterdam. 99% aren't wearing helmets.

Enough with the other nonsense about martyrs and rules. Nobody on a bike wants to get in a collision whether or not it makes them a martyr. That's just stupid reasoning. And in Europe the infrastructure and rules make a lot more sense. They don't put traffic lights on every block on bike paths in Europe like we do on NYC streets. Fact-cyclists lack the power to continually stop and start if they hit lots of red lights, so in Europe they just make sure this never happens. That's why cyclists there are generally more law abiding. They would be here as well if a typical trip involved a red light every 5 miles instead of every 3 blocks.
April 20, 2013, 7:27 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, until you can change the rules, live with what is there now. Part of the reason why most are against giving special treatment to cyclists is because they tend to come at them without warning especially due to the fact that they treat a number of traffic lights and signs as decorations. Seriously, your claim against helmets are nothing but excuses especially when you make a fashion statement, but I care more about function and safety over fashion. Perhaps a helmet similar to what those riding a motorcycle would wear could do better especially when it covers the entire head, plus it's illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Overall, if you really do prefer Amsterdam over NYC, then move there especially if you love the hash that they smoke, which is probably outlawed here.
April 20, 2013, 10:04 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
Tal, a motorcycle helmet actually would offer real protection but it would be much too hot and heavy for cycling. That's why bike helmets which offer very limited protection were designed. Same thing with seat belts in cars. A 5-point harness as is used in race cars would actually be much better, but it would be much less uncomfortable than a regular seat belt. As a result, almost nobody would wear it.

I'm sure the rules for cyclists will be changed eventually. In Paris cyclists no longer have to stop at red lights if nothing is coming. Paris is a large, dense city similar to New York. If this works there, it'll work here. If NYC just didn't overuse red lights and stop signs, then they would be respected more by all groups. FYI, I regularly see cars do rolling stops at stop signs. I also see a lot more motorists ignoring red lights than just a few years ago (not surprising given how many poorly timed lights the city has installed in the last few years). I'm not talking about going through a stale yellow just as the light changes, but coming up on a steady red and going through. Cops do this a lot while they have their sirens off. That's supposed to be illegal. If the police won't even obey traffic laws, I'm not seeing why anyone else should. That includes not just cyclists, but motorists and pedestrians as well. I'm all for removing every traffic light and stop sign and just letting people sort it out for themselves at intersections. This happens whenever we have a black out. Surprisingly, the accident rate drops, so it's evidently safer.

No, I have no desire to live in Amsterdam. Riding a bicycle isn't the sole purpose of my life. My interest in bikes is threefold. One, they're a means for me to get exercise. Two, they're also useful for transportation. Three, I have an engineering interest in machines which extend inherent human capabilities. A bicycle is a great example. A person in average shape can outrun the best Olympic runner on a bicycle. Add aerodynamic fairings and the advantage is even more. We've reached over 80 mph on human power alone. Because of that, I think human-powered vehicles have enormous untapped potential with the right infrastructure. It's not just the idea of green transportation, but being able to get around very inexpensively under your own power at speeds far faster than walking. Cheap, fast transportation is a great way to empower citizens in a democracy.
April 20, 2013, 11:35 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- How many times have you come to Brooklyn this year? Exact count since January 1.
April 21, 2013, 10:12 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, in the end, NYC is NOT like any European city, it's an American city and even a world city for that matter. The rules just won't change especially when the population is way larger than a lot of them combined. Even a method that can work in small towns throughout this country would be going into harm's way when it comes to a big city like NYC. I still find it a double standard when you talk about how wrong it is for motorists to ignore all traffic lights and signs, but at the same time you have no problem with cyclists doing this. It's statement's like yours that are reason to why there is call for a ticket blitz on bicycles. Another irony is that you keep saying that bicycles should be treated as vehicles, but you don't want to be subject to the same laws as all other vehicles must follow, which also includes licensing, registration, and insurance that all others get as well. Acting like victims to the rules constantly isn't going to help your cause either, it will just create more opposition especially if you are talking to people who are more open minded and I am talking about those outside the Streetsblog, Transportation Alternative, and any other bicycle advocate groups. Another reason why there has been a lot of opposition to new bike lanes isn't just because of the rules and the usage, but also because they feel that their tax dollars should be used for things more important such as saving public schools, hospitals, and libraries, which serve a lot more than bike lanes ever do. As for motorists flouting the law, I know that there are a number of them that do, but they don't represent all of us, and I am not one of them, so quit trying to associate a few with a whole, plus a lot of motorists with myself included are always calling them out, but I never see any responsible cyclists calling out the ones that are constantly flouting the laws, but rather acting silent or rushing to their defense most of the time.
April 21, 2013, 10:20 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
Tal, read my lips-I DO NOT feel bicycles should be treated like vehicles. They're actually in between motor vehicles and pedestrians, and as such should have their own sets of laws, and eventually a lot of separate infrastructure. You're the one always saying NYC is big and crowded. Yes, it is. If it's too crowded to add bikes to the mix on regular streets, then we need to build something totally separate either above or below street level. You should support this because it will mean we won't be taking traffic lanes or parking away from cars for bikes. I'll support it because I'll finally be able to ride without cars, pedestrians, stop signs, or red lights. Also, it's not size that matters but density. Paris is actually denser on average than NYC. If letting cyclists pass reds when it's clear works over there it'll work just fine here.

As for calling out cyclists who disobey laws, I do it all the time-when the laws make sense. I HATE seeing cyclists pass crowded crosswalks at speed, or go through red lights weaving through cross traffic. And such behavior would still be illegal even if we passed a law similar to the law passed in Paris. I also can't justify wrong way cycling. It's dangerous to everyone, especially other cyclists, and it doesn't really benefit cyclists in any way I can see, except for delivery people who can make their runs quicker by sometimes going against traffic. And don't get me started on the people riding fixies without brakes, or riding without lights at night. A bicycle should have decent brakes, and lights if ridden after dark.

It's a shame you think there's absolutely nothing wrong with a set of sets and infrastructure which 95% of the time requires cyclists (and motorists) to sit and stare at empty space waiting for a light to change. I don't care if it's the law or not. It's retarded and it serves absolutely no purpose. Either NYC should put sensors in all the traffic signals to end this monumental waste of people's time, or it should remove the signals. There's no justification for the state stealing people's time for no safety or other reason, and it is stealing any way you look at it. The fact is the traffic engineers were just too lazy or incompetent to put in sensors. You as a motorist and I as a cyclist should sue to force them to do this, or to remove the signals if they won't. In the meantime I'm only stopping a red lights for three reasons: 1) Cars are crossing my path. 2) Pedestrians are crossing my path. 3) There is a police car within sight. As long as I ride safely and don't hit anything, which I never do, how I ride is my business, not yours or anyone elses. I don't micromanage your driving. I appreciate the same courtesy in return. Run all the red lights you want, speed, and so forth. So long as you do it in a way that you don't hit people, I'm fine with it. Totally law abiding drivers are often a bigger menace on the roads because the "script" the law tells them to follow doesn't always apply in exceptional situations. Case in point-you see an out of control car coming up from behind you while waiting a red light. The best thing to do is get out of the way, even if it means you have to go through the red light. There are many similar situations in cycling where the safest course of action is not what the law prescribes. In the end, I do whatever I must to stay alive, not follow a script written by clueless moronic legislators in an ivory tower.
April 22, 2013, 12:55 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, as long as you and your kind try to act as if you are above the laws, your kind will never get the respect. Acting like victims to the rules will only be calling for more ticket blitzes on cyclists. If you really want to a appeal to a more broader audience outside your website, then you have to understand that those aren't close minded people like you are. Please remember that the complaint on how cyclists act goes all the way back to when Koch was mayor, and he did originally give them the benefit of the doubt until he heard a lot of complaints from residents on how they were flouting the laws. Overall, your group is not the majority, and politicians do have to favor what most want, not to that of the few. The reason why I said that it's more important to spend money for public schools and hospitals rather than bike lanes and this program is because the former serves a lot more than the latter. Since you say it's about respect, then as a quote from the famous man known as Confucius said, "Respect is something one must earn, not demand."
April 22, 2013, 7:05 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
I think "close-minded" describes you, Tal. Tell me, why is it so important to you that cyclists and pedestrians follow laws meant for cars? You've even said we should give out more jaywalking tickets. Frankly, it's insulting that people in a pedestrian-oriented city should have to wait for cars at all when they want to cross the street. Pedestrians should have the right-of-way over motor traffic where ever and when ever they cross the street. Last I checked pedestrians and cyclists haven't killed anybody in this city in a long time even despite the fact both groups often disobey the laws. Evidently then there's something wrong with the laws if large numbers of people can disobey them, and yet things are still safe.

Funny also how you talk about acting like victims to the rules and you're the first one to complain when the city talks about installing speed cameras or eliminating parking. Guess what? Storing your car on public streets is a privilege granted by those who make the laws. That privilege can be revoked at any time for any reason and you'll have no legal recourse whatsoever. So can your privilege to drive within city limits should legislators choose to. In fact, your privilege to drive, period, can be revoked at will should those in charge decide to do so. Keep up the radical talk which others who read this will see as representative of all motorists, and those things may well happen. Remember the vast majority of NYC residents get around by subway or walking. The minute they start to realize they no longer have to put up with speeding cars and exhaust fumes everywhere, the sooner you'll start to see anti-car measures which pale before anything done before. You want to be anti-bike and anti-pedestrian, that's your choice. Be aware people in power read your posts and there WILL be consequences. You say respect must be earned. Well, you don't get respect comparing livable streets advocates to Hamas. Maybe I should compare you to Hitler because in many ways you two are a lot alike. Substitute "Jew" for "cyclist" in many of your rants and you'll see exactly what I mean. I guess your kind really learned nothing from the past. This is why your home country is less and less respected in the world today. You've become exactly what you hate only you can't see it.

And please don't even bother responding unless you want to look like an even bigger hypocrite than you already are. Many people have tried repeatedly to reason with you, but you remain intractable, much like some of those in your home country who insist they have a right kick people off land they've lived on for generations solely because their ancestors were there 2000 years ago. Guess what? We live in the here and now. A smart person changes with the times, or risks being a relic of the past. In the here and now cities are changing radically. We've realized what we've done in cities after WWII making them "car-friendly" destroyed their vitality, so we're reversing those changes. In the end of course there will be winners and losers, but the winners will outnumber the losers. If you don't want to acknowledge what's coming, well, it's your choice, but the future has a nasty habit of running over those who stand in its way like a steam roller.
April 22, 2013, 8:06 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, I find what you just said to be downright insulting, plus, I had family killed by Nazis. I believe that everyone should follow the rules. As always, I am not against those that choose to walk or ride bicycles, it's how they act that I am against. In reality, I am very much for livable, just not the way you tend to think about it. Whatever you say about me being anti-bike, I can say similar things about you being anti-car on your end. Even if all cars were made electric tomorrow, you would still be against them just for being cars. As for the bike share program, Fort Greene residents aren't too happy about where the one in their neighborhood is being located, and even find the ad to be an eyesore to them. The famous Queens Crapper really did sum this up very well over on his website when responding to the entry on that, "No, it wasn't an evil plot to undermine the MTA. It was a way to make it look like they are expanding transportation options without investing in the infrastructure necessary for real people movement. Queens and other boroughs need expanded bus and subway service, and have for decades. But that's a big investment and a big headache, so lets throw up some bike racks instead and make a big to do about it so it looks like we came up with a solution. This has nothing to do with keeping people healthy or going green. If the city wants to make a big dent in pollution levels and improve the health of the population, they would expand and improve mass transit so that more people will ditch their cars. Take the money that the city throws at developers and give it to mass transit instead." I am glad he can see through this. Truth of the matter, right and wrong can always change definitions depending on who is viewing it according to the studies of philosophy. Overall, cars are like the WNBA, because as much as you despise them, they are not going away anytime soon, so live with them. On a side note, there are many who already do see websites such as Streetsblog to be a bunch of fanatics when it comes to how people should live their lives with the roads, and the comments on the Daily News, NY Times, Queens Crap, Brownstoner, and so many others are evidence to that.
April 23, 2013, 7 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
Tal, I'm not against cars where they make sense (i.e. suburban and rural areas). I just against having so many cars in urban areas. We can drastically cut traffic levels without affecting the few who really need to get around by car in this city (i.e. those who often carry heavy loads for business or other reasons). As for electric cars, I'm all for them, the sooner the better. Once they're mainstream, I even feel NYC should only allow zero emissions vehicles on its streets.

I don't disagree that Queens and the other boroughs need better public transit, especially more subways. The problem is right now funding mass transit is out of vogue. I wish that weren't so but that's the reality. That being the case, bicycles provide a low-cost transportation option for those who can ride them. Maybe starting with bicycles is a better approach. If it ends up helping lots of people, perhaps you don't need to build new subways at all. If it doesn't, then maybe we'll finally get the money and support to expand the subway system. Either way, the city needs to figure out how to get large numbers of cars off the streets because they're causing major problems for everyone, including the drivers stuck in traffic.

I also think the city could have done things better as far as pushing bicycles for transportation. The outer boroughs are where we should have started if we want to get people out of their cars, not Manhattan. We should have built bike highways in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island using existing grade-separated infrastructure. Only once these bike highways reached Manhattan should we have started building bike infrastructure there. And I wouldn't have put protected bike lanes along Manhattan avenues. Instead, I would have build a relatively low cost elevated viaduct, the idea being you could bike from midtown Manhattan to city limits without setting foot on regular streets. Of course, this would cost more than what was built, but we would have have fewer complaints.
April 23, 2013, 7:52 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joe, unfortunately, not everyone is able to ride a bicycle. The truth is that most will use what can get them when having to go from certain distances in a shorter time even if it involves driving. If just about everything you need is within a short distance, then a bicycle does work for you, which is good, otherwise it doesn't. As for the bike share program, it's only being put in areas that are already served heavily by mass transit. If they were really important, they would have gone to the areas that hardly had it instead. The only reason why there are in those areas instead is mainly because the tourists probably won't venture out to the less transit areas much, so it's mainly about making a revenue. Try understanding the causes to why there are those who choose to drive rather than the effects, and then you will understanding why they are not using mass transit or bicycles on a daily basis rather than make such cheap shots at them. As for transit, the reason why it's been in such bad shape is when it comes to funding is that so many city residents want their fares to be heavily subsidized, which leads to those of us living in the surrounding counties forced to pay more in taxes and tolls hence footing the bill just to keep at that way, which many of us are getting tired of and way we see it getting the royal screw job. As for electric cars, even if that does happen, I still don't find it a right to deny those that are still using emissions to be banned, because many will see that as being fascist and even a regressive movement. Realtor-wise, it's more affordable to live where there is hardly any transit option available than where there is, which is why so many that are in the lower incomes have to drive to get just about everywhere, while those in the higher incomes can afford to live close enough to just about everything.
April 24, 2013, 6:12 pm
Joe R. from Flushing says:
Tal, the subway fare covers most of the operating costs, so city residents are in fact more than paying their own way on the subways. The fact is a lot of people have been turning to bikes because the subway fare is too high. Think about it. Let's say you take a lot of fairly short trips on the subway. Instead of $2.50 a ride you can pay $100 a year for bike share and do all those trips by bike. For similar reasons many people who live close enough to bike to work do so in order to save carfare. Making mass transit more expensive is only going to drive more people away from the system. The fact is NYC couldn't function without the subways. There aren't enough parking and roads to carry the numbers who would be driving if the subway didn't exist. It's in everyone's best interest, including motorists, to subsidize mass transit. By getting people who can take mass transit off the roads, those who really do need to drive can get there with less congestion. As for bike share, I fully agree it should have started in areas with hardly any decent transit, like where I live. The buses here stink. I would love to bike a lot of errands, but without safe bike parking I won't risk having my bike stolen. With bike share I wouldn't have to worry about that.

It's also a myth the only transit is subsized. Gas taxes don't even cover road maintenance of existing roads, much less expensive new projects like the new Tappen Zee bridge. And drivers don't pay for the damage they inflict on the health of the population, or the expensive wars to secure oil supplies. These things come out of the general revenue fund, and are therefore an indirect subsidy on driving.

It's also bs that it's cheaper to live away from transit and drive. Owning one or two cars is a huge expense. Typically, it costs over $10,000 annually to pay for car expenses. If a person ditches the car and lives where they don't need it, that's nearly $1000 a month more that can go towards housing. Granted, housing prices near transit are much too high, but unfortunately a lot of red tape prevents building more housing so as to drive down prices. As a result, we've built sprawl, ostensibly to help the poorer people, but in reality it doesn't work that way.

Banning non-zero emissions vehicles from populated areas is hardly fascist or regressive. There are already laws against smoking in most public areas because second hand smoke is known to be harmful. Auto exhaust is just as harmful. The anti-smoking laws may infringe on the smokers, but they're constitutional because of the greater good. It wouldn't be any different if NYC only allowed zero-emission vehicles within its borders. You do know we haven't allowed diesel trains in Manhattan for decades. That rule was never found unconstitutional. In any case, the entire thing may be moot if the present trends of number of miles driven per person continue to drop.
April 24, 2013, 10:12 pm

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