Skip to content
by Noah Kazis
I’ve been wondering about Access-A-Ride lately, mainly because I’ve heard all the stories about the inefficiencies and the extremely high per-ride cost. Doesn’t help that whenever I see AAR vans on the road, they’re almost always empty, and more often than not being driven recklessly.
What are the ground rules of the ADA settlement that create the system the way it is?
For example, why is the MTA required to pick people up at home on a scheduled basis, versus say, pick ups/drop offs at designated locations?
It seems like a system that forces its’ users to schedule days in advance, provides uneven & unreliable service, and costs the MTA a fortune to operate is a disaster all the way around.
Also check out the NYT story “36 Hours in Montreal.” It touts the city’s bike infrastructure and bike infrastructure as reasons to visit.
Whoops. Meant to say the Montreal story touts the city’s bike infrastructure and bike sharing program.
Access-A-Ride’s all over the country have extremely high cost-per-ride, not just New York. Most people I’ve talked to in transit management have come to the conclusion that home pick-up and drop-off is a requirement under the ADA. I’m inclined to agree based on the widespread practice, although I know very little about the statute.
It’s probably more instructive for us to look at the overall cost of AAR service rather than the cost per ride.
As far as the driving habits of AAR drivers, well, you get what you demand New York. Vehicles and pedestrians steadfastly refuse to obey the rules of traffic. It’s a cultural thing and probably not going to change until we import a bunch of Northwesterners and Minnesotans.
Good lord! Why do people need to chat on cell phones on the subway or at the stations? No more personal space. Left at the station, well actually left at the street, wait no left long ago. Lots of people who can’t be alone.
RE:Pelham Parkway trees…Cutting down all the trees is kind of a typical old school DOT response. “Oh the road is dangerous because people drive too fast and might run into the trees? Cut ‘em all down.” No talk of figuring out how to make people drive more slowly and safely.
Post has a story touting NYPD’s ticketing efforts against cyclists:
There’s nothing new here–NYPD has been ticketing cyclists at this rate for years, especially on the Upper East Side. 11 summonses a day is actually low for that area, compared to the numbers I’ve seen for 2006 and 2007.
Looks like NYPD is trying to condition public opinion in advance of the CBS2 “bike bedlam series” about to start. I like how the picture shows a parent and child cycling on the sidewalk together on an extra-wide sidewalk across the street from Century 21, where there are no bike lanes. The copy says “cops are handing out more tickets to cyclists like these.”
That kid is legal on the sidewalk, you idiots! Talk about sloppy reporting …
One thing in the article that may be true, and that needs to be changed, is the assertion that cycling violations are the #1 quality of life complaint on the Upper East Side. Maybe it’s a definitional sleight-of-hand: reckless driving is categorized as other than “quality-of-life” violations by NYPD, so cycling violations beat out graffiti and street vendors on the UES as #1 quality of life violation.
No doubt, this #1 status also reflects the perspectives of the specific people who tend to turn out to the monthly Precinct Council meetings to complain. That’s something that can be changed!
I’ve been calling 311 and making complaints about speeding automobiles, reckless driving but they often just refer me to the local precincts so that is definitely where the action is on enforcement. Obviously it would help if the direction came from the top too!
When they make bicycles that have loud engines and alarms that go off at 1AM while you’re trying to sleep, I will be the among the first to join that quality of life campaign.
Did anyone see the video of the bike messenger going the wrong way in a bike lane and knocking a pedestrian flat on his back? The cyclist (salmoning; clearly in the wrong) had the temerity to berate the pedestrian for jaywalking — saying that it was the pedestrian’s fault for getting hit.
I saw this on BikeSnob last week. Here is the post, scroll down for an image, but unfortunately it looks like the video is no longer accessible:
I bring this up in the context of the Post article and the CBS2 series. Crappy journalism to be sure (well, the CBS2 series hasn’t aired yet, but I’m sure it will be), but there is some serious bad attitude against cycling: some of it (let’s be honest) is justifiable. If anyone saw that video, you know what I’m talking about. It was horrific.
By the way, it seems to me that now that the protected 2nd Ave bikelane is in place, there is a lot more salmoning going on. My perception may be wrong, but I’ve been biking down 2nd Ave every weekday for more than 10 years right after work — lately, I notice a couple of salmons every day between 14th and Houston. In fact, I almost got doored last week because I accommodated a salmon, letting her ride on the inside, closer to the sidewalk. It’s a shame, because the new bikepath one block over on 1st Ave is open for business….
WSJ: Pedestrian Safety Will Guide Massive Street Makeover
David K: Never accommodate salmon. That’s just rewarding bad behavior.
Agreed, you should crowd them over to the point where they nearly have to stop, and verbally abuse them at the same time.
How often do we see commercial cyclists actually obeying traffic regulations?
It’s become commonplace to see commercial tricyclists from organizations like City Harvest riding in Washington Square, where no biking is permitted at all, or riding on the sidewalk. Take a ride in the Bleecker Street bike lane, or any other stretch that lined with restaurants, and you’re likely to see more commercial salmon than commuters and recreational cyclists going the right way. It’s even more annoying when these commercial cyclists are on motor assisted bikes.
Sure there are plenty of commuters and recreational cyclists bending the rules but it’s the delivery guys and messengers who really provide the media fodder.
Stacy, I think you are right that more salmoning goes on among delivery people, but I also see a lot salmoning from people who aren’t trying to make a buck on a bike.
Ian and Shemp — long ago, I resolved to at least force an oncoming salmon out into traffic. I probably do it 1 in 10 times. I’m not confrontational, and it seems that salmons always hug the curb. But I do agree with you both.
Full information on the DOT pedestrian safety plan here:
They do hug the curb or the parked cars, that’s why you can squeeze them in without actually threatening anyone’s life.
Nod, Shemp. I make it a point to verbally abuse every single salmon I see, unless it’s a beautiful woman.
I took some video footage of a trip down the Second Ave. bike path last week, at 3 pm on a weekday. There’s definitely a problem with cars and pedestrians, but also with cyclists. At the end of one there’s a guy riding counterflow trough a red light, who curses out a skateboard rider and a pedestrian who are crossing with the green, in the crosswalk that the cyclist is illegally invading. (I usually try to keep these kinds of interactions extremely civil, but under the circumstances I had to give him a taste of his own medicine!).
After all the work the cycling community has put into getting these protected lanes, these lazy people who can’t bother to travel a block out of their way in order to ride with the flow of traffic really have to be called out (in as civil a manner as humanly possible).
And we’ve really got to do someting about the commercial cyclists, as Stacy points out. In my view, the best approach is to make the employer of the commercial cyclist responsible for paying the ticket. There’s legislation on that sitting around in Albany, but it hasn’t gone anywhere.
This last post by Bicycles Only is very well put. I also think T.A., Bike NY etc. need to get a lot tougher than “Biking Rules” in bitching out these salmon and others who are making it harder to continue progress for bike friendly streets.
As for bad behaviour by cyclists, if the city wasn’t broke it could have a bunch of police officers, also on bicycles (with a possible electric assist to run down miscreants), to stop it.
Depending on the danger caused offense, to oneself or others, the cyclist could either be given a lecture, or have the bicycle removed to a location where it would be retrieved after a safety video was watched.
But the city has no money for that sort of thing. They’ll be downsizing the number of officers to pay rising pension costs for a decade.
It’s bad to ride the wrong way in a bike lane, but it’s even more stupid that we have these one-way streets as wide as freeways. We need contraflow lanes please!
David_K I’m not saying non-commercial cyclists aren’t salmon. I’ve come across a fair number of middle aged, middle income salmon in the Sixth Avenue bike lane just south of The Container Store and Bed Bath &Beyond .
But for every 25 or so commuters and recreational salmon there are probably 100 or more commercial cyclists salmoning, blocking bike lanes, running red lights and riding on the sidewalk.
I was quite surprised the first time I saw one of the guys from City Harvest riding through Washington Square Park, and on the sidewalk around LaGuardia Place. After all, City Harvest is a “good NFP” and I’m sure use tricycles as a way to promote a greener image. Perhaps a telephone call letting them know their trikes are creating a potential nuisance would encourage them to mend their ways.
Continuing that thought, maybe if most commercial cyclists were more easily associated with the businesses who employ them they might try to act as better ambassadors.
As a longtime NYC cyclist, I have some pretty ambivalent feelings about the new 1st / 2nd ave bike lanes. I rode 1st Ave last weekend, and have been observing the 1st ave lane during the morning rush for the past two weeks as I drive my scooter to work. First, I have seen more accidents since these lanes were installed (has anyone else noticed this?); Second, you have to ride really slow to avoid peds and turning cars.
I have seen two car / bicycle accidents in the lane in the past week. This morning at about 30th St there was a SUV with a smashed rear windshield, a bike on the ground, and ambulances… When I rode the lane last weekend, I had several near misses with peds (and turning cars) despite the fact that I was traveling VERY slowly. It will take a huge change in NYC ped / car culture before people stay out of these lanes, and am truly afraid that a pedestrian will be killed before that happens, and it will be the end of the bike lanes.
And you can’t ride quickly in these lanes. It remains that the only way to ride quickly (about 18-20 mph) is to ride in the street. At least with the painted (non-separated) lanes, you could move back and forth.
I am a strong supporter of the current DOT commissioner; I want this to work, and am willing to change the way I ride – but I am afraid this is being set up to fail.
I agree with Paul.
Dont fight the salmon, fight the policy that makes so many streets one way
I love the first and second avenue bike lanes, despite my total agreement with the commentary about occupancy by motor vehicles and pedestrian oblivion.
The loss of a car travel lane makes traffic flow more regular, and somewhat slower; maintaining an even 25mph in a single lane is far easier now than it was when first avenue was a speedway with no signals before lane changes.
And newbies probably appreciate the green stripes more than I do.
jass: Contraflow lanes would be more dangerous to pedestrians as long as red-light running is as rampant as salmoning. When it comes to critics of cyclists, fighting that fight won’t help change opinions.
Jass, Paul: I see plenty of salmon on two-way streets, riding on the wrong side of the street.
Fight the policy of schools not to teach students how to bike correctly.
“These guys deserve an award -- Delancey Street Associates, L+M, BFC Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners. And to Council Member Margaret Chin -- turning parking garages into affordable housing is brilliant.”
In response to "Attention EDC: Big Development Projects Don't Need Parking After All"