Signs of Life

A sign that a city’s effort to make cycling accessible to everyone is succeeding? Parents transporting their most precious cargo by bicycle from A to B.

Family Outing

Whether it’s by cargo bike.

Who Knew Hummer Drivers Could Be So Adorable?

A gentle nudge along the way.

Mom, Keeping a Close Watch

Or keeping a close watch.

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An even better sign that we’re doing something right is when you see kids cycling independently.

Independent | Traffic Flow Because the environment is relatively safe.

They Ride, Despite a Hostile Environment

When despite a hostile environment, kids will still ride bicycles.

Wheels Up, Wheels Down

When bicycles outnumber cars.

Wheels Up Wheels Down

When our children feel comfortable and safe enough to have fun and  ‘pop a wheelie’.

The Innocence of Spring. School Chums.
When they’re at such ease that enjoying a popsicle and some bonding with a school chum, is utterly safe, normal and enjoyable.

There are two things that will get us there. Streets designed for people (not cars) and more people on bikes.

There’s a fun easy way to get more people on bikes this weekend. Make Brooklyn Safer is having a Kid’s Bike Swap/Bike Rodeo Saturday April 14 from 11:00-1:00pm.

Whether you have children or not, you should go. Who knows how many children you will inspire to find the freedom and joy of getting from A to B by bicycle. That child you might inspire? They might be the voice of the next generation who will keep our message going forward and gaining strength.

Power to the people. Peace y’all.

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New Amsterdam

New AmsterdamSome days if you squint your eyes and imagine cycling infrastructure everywhere with different buildings in the background,  you could almost pretend you were in another city. A city where riding a bike is nothing out of the ordinary.

Old DutchWhere no one thinks it’s extraordinary to cycle to or from work.

Totally Relaxed

Where stopping by a shop to pick up a new pair of shoes while out cycling is mundane.

Snow #bikeNYC Dutch Style

Where cycling in the snow while holding an umbrella isn’t a rarely seen event and bike lanes are filled with people on bikes instead of illegally parked cars.

All Around ClassWhere everyone cycles.

Sun KissedEven moms on their way to pick up their kids at school.

Curious

Where no one blinks an eye that you’re riding a bicycle when you’re dressed nicely.

Lela RoseWhere people cycle from A to B whether it’s a nice sunny day.

Dapper on a Chill Morning

Or a grey, cold and chilly one.

Family Outing

Where when you mention the family SUV, you’re really talking about the family cargo bike.

This Isn't Amsterdam

Well, almost. We’re not quite Amsterdam yet.

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Tipping Points- Look for it in the Little Things

Sometimes when you’re looking for signs of progress towards a healthy cycling ‘culture’, it’s the little things that indicate we’re on the right track. In places where cycling for transportation is as normal as getting out of bed in the morning, no one would blink an eye at the sight of someone walking their dog by bicycle.

Doggie Walking

In NYC, it’s still an anomaly, but twice in one week, I spotted two different individuals doing just that- and by Citibike no less.

Citibike Your Dog Walk

Citibike is in the news again because the company that manages the system, Alta is in serious financial trouble and by proxy, so is Citibike. We’re all hopeful that a solution will be worked out and I like Doug Gordon of BrooklynSpoke’s argument that it should be granted public subsidies. All our other public transportation systems receive subsidies, why not Citibike?

Financial woes aside, Citibike has been a great success for NYC’s residents- adding nearly 100,000 people (via annual memberships) on bicycles to our streets. If NYC had a complete network of cycling infrastructure that felt safe and enjoyable to everyone at any age, I’d wager those numbers would be much greater.

If we look at the behavior of people on bicycles in NYC, there’s definitely been a shift since Citibike was introduced. I’m seeing more social cycling. I’m also seeing more ‘types’ of people on bicycles that beforehand wouldn’t have chosen a bicycle for transportation. Overall, there’s a more relaxed attitude towards cycling from A to B than there was a year  ago.

Vivien en Brutus

Previous to Citibike, there was only one person I ever witnessed walking their dog by bicycle. I ran into her over the years on the streets, in Central Park and on the West Side Greenway. We always exchanged a friendly ‘hello’. Her name was Vivien and her dog’s name was Brutus.

Vivian & Brutus

It was always such a treat for me whenever I spotted them- a spot of Dutch cycling culture inserted into the NYC urban landscape. Over time, I discovered she was the wife to the then current (and now former) Dutch Ambassador.

Once I was lucky to spot her husband, the Ambassador himself, out cycling Brutus for a walk. Walking the Dog

Vivien, her husband and Brutus have retired and returned to the Netherlands. I have no idea if the new ambassador cycles for transportation here- whether with a dog or not.

But it’s a small sign of hope that other regular New Yorkers- not of Dutch origin and who might not even own a bicycle- would choose to hop on a bicycle and go for a walk with their dogs. The photos of Vivien, her husband and Brutus were taken uptown- where we have minimal safe cycling infrastructure (don’t worry, advocates are working on that) and   no Citibike stations as of yet.  Downtown, where the other photos were taken, we do have a decent network of cycling infrastructure and Citibike stations galore. Naturally, this is where the most people just look ‘normal’ when cycling and going about their daily business.

Citibike Your Dog WalkPeople walking dogs by bicycle is a small sign of progress. When we see an even split between men and women cycling from A to B, then we’re really starting to get somewhere. The end measure for the success of cycling in NYC? When it’s normal to see kids cycling independently from A to B. To achieve that- we need to keep fighting for and implementing more and better infrastructure. It’s a long haul, but I’m optimistic we’ll get there.

Where will we be in 10 years? Hopefully at a better place overall. Ten years ago, even though I wished for it, I could have never predicted the first on-street protected bike lane (established in 2009) or the existence of Citibike (2013). Hell, six months ago, advocates were worried that with the departure of Bloomberg that the safe streets movement might ground to a halt. Yet here we are now with Vision Zero as a promise and a reality. The political fight going forward isn’t going to be quick or easy- but now more than ever we have people in our NYC government who see the value of safer streets (and more people on bicycles).

In the meantime, noticing these little things is like sighting the first robin of spring. A sign of hope.

 

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Flirtation and Play

Social Cycling

Cycling up First Avenue, I noticed a stylishly dressed couple behind me.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

After a point, they passed me and joined hands.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

It was such a simple and brief moment of playfulness. They were at complete ease, not only with each other but also with their environment.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

The sweet playful moment I witnessed is a great example of Sustainable Safety on NYC streets. When two people on bicycles can take a moment to flirt and play with one another rather than spend all their energy on avoiding the danger that motor vehicle traffic can impose upon our world.

Beautiful. More, please.

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Slow Down, We Live Here

Families for Safer Streets

“By the end of the 1920s, more than 200,000 Americans had been killed by automobiles. Most of these fatalities were pedestrians in cities, and the majority of these were children. “If a kid is hit in a street in 2014, I think our first reaction would be to ask, ‘What parent is so neglectful that they let their child play in the street?,’” says Norton.

“In 1914, it was pretty much the opposite. It was more like, ‘What evil bastard would drive their speeding car where a kid might be playing?’ ” – Hunter Oatman-Stanford

The above quote is from an excellent article on the history of traffic violence in the US and how motordom shifted the blame from motorists onto vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. We are all “traffic” but thanks to the self serving PR campaign of motordom in the 1920′s, anyone who wasn’t driving a car was painted as an obstacle obstructing a motorist’s pathway (and a nuisance).

Slow Down | I Live HereSo here we are, nearly a century later trying to reclaim public space.  In NYC, we’ve had a huge paradigm shift in the last few weeks.  Mayor De Blasio has made Vision Zero a priority and a reality. Thank you.

Speed 20 is PlentyRight of Way has called upon the administration of NYC to accelerate the implementation of Neighborhood Slow Zones in NYC  with a target date of March 15, 2014. It’s a bit more than 24 hours before the deadline Right of Way has set and no new slow zones have been established. So as Conrad Lumm of www.roadtrafficsigns.com (who generously donated the 20 is Plenty signs to Right of Way) states: “Sometimes it falls to citizens to bring local governments’ attention to pressing safety issues, and we applaud Right of Way for their creativity and persistence.”

Families for Safer StreetsCitizens will be taking matters into their own hands this weekend. In a period of 48 hours, Right of Way will work with and assist 10 communities to install Neighborhood Slow Zones within their districts. These slow zones are not ‘official’ and the signs will most likely be taken down within a few days. But the message will be strong: communities want the streets reclaimed for people at a human level. These Slow Zones will be a temporary gift to the citizens of NYC to help accelerate the implementation of Vision Zero

If you want to participate in the Neighborhood Slow Zone Raising action, email RightofWayNYC@gmail.com.

Families for Safer Streets

Whether or not you are gifted with a Right of Way slow zone this weekend, I  sincerely hope drivers slow down and drive as if their children lived there. This isn’t a war on motorists, it’s a movement to bring civility back to our public spaces.

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Look Closely

This young woman walking her bicycle at 34th Street and 8th Avenue caught my eye a few weeks ago.

February 2, 2014

34th Street & 8th Avenue | February 2, 2014

Fabulous style.

I was looking at the photo today and noticed something in the distance. An SUV parked in the parking protected 8th Avenue bike lane, which happens to be illegal. Also notice in the photo, there is an NYPD officer directing traffic. Apparently, his vision didn’t extend beyond the intersection.

Adding to the irony: the vehicle parked in the bike lane was an Amtrack Police vehicle.

(Not) Protecting a Nation in Transit

Bike lanes in NYC just don’t get the respect they deserve.

If you look even closer, on the back of the vehicle it says: “Protecting a Nation in Transit”.  Yeah…right…by blocking a protected bike lane?

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It’s Snowing… Again!

One could question my sanity for pedaling to my first appointment this morning. But by the time I decided to set out, it was too late to change my mind. I was at A and I needed to get to B.

Slow Travel for Everyone

Not many people, besides myself and delivery cyclists (who have no choice) would even consider braving road conditions like this- no separated infrastructure, unplowed roads with more snow rapidly accumulating and having to mix with large trucks.

Poet's Walk | Central Park

Thankfully, part of my commute takes me through Central Park. The roads weren’t plowed yet but it wasn’t too bad if you could find your path in virgin snow.

Still Haven't Given Up Yet!

People on bicycles were far and few between,  but I wasn’t alone. (I passed three other cyclists total during my round trip.)

Viking Biking

Though skis might have been a better option.

Best Option for Getting Around Today

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