Friday, November 3, 2017

Still We Ride - Candlelights, Memories, and Strange Scenes over Manhattan

Tuesday morning before the attack on the Hudson River bike path, I joined some activists with Transportation Alternatives calling for safer streets for all cyclists.  I had been screamed at earlier in the week as i rode home from Yoga.  Get in the bike lane, they yelled.  Police cars were parked there.  Its a pretty common thing.  People in cars honk, let out their steam, and use their cars as weapons to intimidate cyclists.  When they run us over, cops tend to declare 'no criminality suspected.'

On one ride, the police chased us up the Greenway.

We are all connected to this path from downtown.  An injury to any group of cyclists on this path is a reminder that all cyclists are  vulnerable.

Immediately after the accident, many of us got on our bikes and rode to greet other cyclists, to check in, to connect, and support each other.

Kids still walked about, with their friends.  Community members passed out candy, determined to stay connected. 

My friend Nadette posted the words, "Still We Ride" on facebook, referring to the movie and slogan for the cycling movement after the city cracked down on those participating in Critical Mass Rides arresting hundreds of cyclists during the Republican National Convention.

We talked about the present moment, but our memories of past moments were with us all day.

Photo: Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Referring to a story in  New York Magazine with the headline,"How New York City Could Have Protected Those Cyclists and Pedestrians" my friend Wendy wrote: "It made me so sad to see the overhead view of this scene, with the Ghost Bike memorializing Eric Ng clearly visible in the corner. He was also killed by a car on the bike path. We need bollards, slower speed limits and enforcement of motor vehicle laws that will protect all of us in the 'non-smoking lane'."  

Wednesday morning I rode around looking at the city.

New Yorkers were out there riding and thriving, gawking and going crazy. Cops and onlookers were outside at the Cooper Union. what happened, i asked one photographer what happened.
"murder suicide." she shrugged and the police put up more yellow tape. The crazy beat goes on.

Thursday I rode to join the candlelight vigil by the crash scene.
Please join us for a candlelight march in Hudson River Park to honor the victims of Tuesday's heinous act of terror. The vigil will be held on Thursday, November 2. We will gather at 6 PM at Pier 40's south turnaround, marching south along the esplanade to N. Moore Street, paying respects at designated points along the path, and convening for remarks at Pier 25.
  • 6 PM: Gather at Pier 40 (at West Houston Street)
  • 6:30 PM: March south along the esplanade to Pier 25
  • 7:15 PM: Convene at Pier 25 (at North Moore Street)
We invite all to gather together and stand as a community of support.
 Riding by the path, I saw people gathered by the old ghost bike for Eric Ng.  A woman was praying. A man was putting up more flowers, media and police zooming about, controlling and documenting the horror. We're all a little jittery, the world trade center across the street. 

Still we ride.  

Riding, I recalled what New York was before 2001 and the subsequent attacks. 
"My community was under attack long before this," explained a friend involved in AIDS activism, shortly after the attackis. 

In class my students and i tried to imagine talking to the man who drove the car onto the bike path, killing the folks from Argentina in town for  a high school reunion. 
During the vigil, kids played and held candles, many wearing #10 Messi Argentina jerseys. 

Cyclists zoomed by, with the sun going down in the distance.

Still we ride.

cyclists still cycling

State Must Remove Dangerous New Barriers on Greenway, Install Proper Security Measures

New York, New York - Transportation Alternatives released the following statement today from Executive Director Paul Steely White regarding yesterday’s haphazard placement of concrete barriers across the Hudson River Greenway.

Statement from Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives:

“The installation of dangerous concrete barriers across the Hudson River Greenway bike and pedestrian paths is an ill-advised and unacceptable solution to a critical security problem. New Yorkers are particularly anxious about biking right now, and the city should be actively encouraging more people to ride, now more than ever. Instead, by installing these brutal barriers, Governor Cuomo is creating another safety hazard and actively discouraging bikers, walkers, and commuters from using one of the country's vibrant public spaces. The 20 foot linear jersey barriers installed across the greenway by the Governor’s State DOT are particularly dangerous, as they are channeling two-way bike traffic into one lane, effectively putting north and southbound cyclists on a collision course.

The Hudson River Greenway is the busiest pedestrian and bike path in North America -- it is used and beloved by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every year, and the city and state's current ‘solutions’ fail them in spectacular fashion. We need to protect our public spaces without making them uninviting and difficult to use.  

Focus group and survey findings from our upcoming BikeNYC 2020 report conclusively show that cyclists avoid streets that are inhospitable to them, or that reinforce the suspicion that biking is dangerous. And so when the city fills bike lanes with enormous concrete barriers, further limiting what precious little dedicated bike space is available in the city, they aren't just making commutes for thousands of New Yorkers slower and more dangerous -- they're actively reinforcing the false idea that New Yorkers should be scared to bike right now. This is a sad stance for our elected leaders to take this week.

‘Temporary’, as these barriers are purported to be, might as well be ‘forever’ in New York bureaucratic parlance. The city needs to publicly establish a hard timetable for removal of these barriers and implementation of more thoughtful solutions that maintain the safety and integrity of the greenway.

There are smart policies the city can instead implement right now -- like bollards -- that will largely and inexpensively eliminate the risk of traffic violence, without prioritizing fear over health and well-being. Until bollards can be installed, we insist that the State and the City refine the placement of their concrete blocks so that the integrity of the busiest bike path in the country can be maintained.

New York won't be cowed by traffic violence -- and we will show that at a rally on World Day of Remembrance, Sunday, November 19th. Until then, we call on the city to redouble their commitment to the Vision Zero campaign, and smart infrastructure improvements city-wide.”

Transportation Alternatives is also announcing the launch of a petition, calling on the City and State to immediately remove these concrete barriers, and instead install permanent, precisely placed bollards on high volume bike and pedestrian paths citywide. In October, U.S. Representatives Dan Donovan and Adriano Espaillat introduced the Stopping Threats on Pedestrians (STOP) Act - federal legislation to fund these bollards and other smart tools to reduce traffic violence - in the House of Representatives. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced a Senate version.

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