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    Actually, I would disagree. The approaches can be tough to navigate, yes, but none of the Harlem River bridges have any hills remotely approaching those of the East River bridges. Cycling over them is physically a cakewalk! That’s why the improvements suggested in the article would probably go a very long way to encouraging cycling.


    Richard Garey

    The Washington Bridge absolutely needs to be addressed. There are a number of options: (1) Do an elevated walkway similar to Brooklyn Bridge (2) Widen both of the existing walkways (3) Do a single wide walkway on the southern side and eliminate the north walkway. As it stands now it is very dangerous.



    You are correct! Thanks. I was still able to edit. I live in Brooklyn and still have much to learn about the Bronx.


    Richard Garey

    I believe you walked the Washington Bridge. The Alexander Hamilton bridge is I-95 and there is no pedestrian walkway.


    Richard Garey



    “A Harlem River Bridge program would need to address these issues and more, all the way to the Broadway Bridge.”

    No, you mean all the way to the Henry Hudson Bridge, which already has an existing bike/ped crossing that is used quite frequently despite its narrow width and signage prohibiting bikes (MTA Bridge and Tunnel looks the other way on bike usage, thankfully).

    These mini-white papers are great, but what would be even cooler is if Mr. Orcutt would engage with some of the comments that have come up from his pieces.



    I’m not sure that’s true. I often see cases where some people comment that the parent shouldn’t be charged for the accidental deaths of their child, whether in a hot car, swimming pool, or with a firearm, just to give three of the more often discussed scenarios. The argument often boils down to “losing their child is punishment enough.” (Of course, there are notorious exceptions such as the man recently accused of intentionally killing his child in a hot car.)

    But yes, the tolerance given to killing by motor vehicle is even greater than that, and while some people do try the “the knowledge that they killed someone is punishment enough”, it carries less weight given that the driver in most cases didn’t know the victim.



    I often point out that there is NO OTHER area in human behavior where we excuse actions causing death because it was unintentional. This is my approach to those not involved in safe streets advocacy:

    In what other situation do we make excuses for the person who caused the death? No one started rationalizing the actions of the train operator after the MNR crash last year. No one insisted the parents whose children died in hot cars shouldn’t be charged because they didn’t mean any harm. So why do we accept this? In every other situation we expect there to be consequences when someone’s actions directly result in death, regardless of intent. So why don’t we have that expectation when the incident happens to involve someone driving a car?



    Willis Ave Bridge ain’t bad. Nice and wide shared use path (enough to handle the volume) with reasonable bike lane connections at both ends.


    Joe Enoch

    These REQX/Alta Citi bike “negotiations” are troubling. They have been “close” for months now. The longer they wait, the longer the two sides dig into their trenches and worse, the longer we go without any substantial change.

    Alta has its head up its ass and unless a private venture or the city takes charge, I am VERY concerned about bike share’s immediate future in our city.


    Jonathan R

    None of the Harlem River crossings are as easy to traverse for bicyclists as the Williamsburg Bridge. The Washington Bridge at 181st St is about six feet wide, so pedestrians have to squeeze to the side as bicyclists ride past.

    Maybe we could start by converting the stub of the Harlem River Drive north of exit 24 into a two-lane road with parking and stop lights so Manhattan residents could walk down through Highbridge Park and cross the street to the river.


    Jonathan R

    This sounds like a great plan… for Portland.

    I don’t recall ever seeing a midtown Manhattan cross street with motor vehicles speeding at more than 7.5 miles an hour. It is true that drivers often use the odd-numbered streets in the West 30s to head to the Lincoln Tunnel, but they are not going more than 7.5 mph.

    Under your proposal, commercial drivers would drive further, causing more pollution, to get to their destinations on cross streets. Double parking, which is often cited as a bugaboo by city bicyclists, would not be affected. I don’t agree with you that this plan would make midtown “a pleasant place to bike and walk.”

    As Joe R. helpfully points out, the stifling traffic levels are the biggest obstacle to increasing bicycle mode share.



    And even if she didn’t have the right-of-way, what kind of society condones manslaughter-by-car? Unless she just RAN in front of the car, there should be some consequences to this ‘accident.’



    Most trips are short, speed isn’t the impediment to biking for transportation. Objective and subjective safety are the top issues. Then lesser issues like storage, showers etc…Better surface facilities (without needing to cut motor vehicle traffic levels significantly) could increase the number of trips made by bike an order of magnitude. There is a tremendous amount of room for growth.



    We took a walk on Sunday to check out the High Bridge from the Bronx side, they are working on it! Will it be done by the end of 2014? Based on the untouched approach section we saw I don’t think so. We then walked over the Washington Bridge into Manhattan. Bikes and pedestrians seem to have each taken a side (bikes uptown, peds downtown) although there does not seem to be any signage designating this. It is not a nice walk with cars zooming by at highway speeds just a few away on the other side of a 3-4 foot high cement wall.



    This is more than windshield perspective: from the reports, it looks like Franklin Reyes Jr. is a criminal too when he is not driving.



    “Preliminarily, both of them had the right of way”
    This pretty much sums up the attitude of the NYPD: Drivers always have the right of way.


    Mark Walker

    The face Franklin Reyes Jr. shows in court is the face of windshield perspective. At first I thought it showed remorse and apparently the judge interpreted it that way too, at least initially. But now I recognize it for what it is — an aggrieved face, the face of someone outraged because he’s been forcibly reminded that laws apply to him. He’s mad because he got caught. Isn’t this the attitude of every deadly driver?



    Yeeeah….that’s pretty much exactly the thing “right-of-way” is established to clarify, is it not? Both could have the green light, but only one could have right-of-way.


    Joe Enoch

    Yeah, I had to read it twice to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I mean how is that even possible?



    I think the sane way to deal with most anti-social behavior, at least the sort where people are put at high risk but not actually harmed, is to fine it high enough to prevent most incidences of it, and use the fines to alleviate the costs of the harms when someone is harmed (for example, pay for prison for the people who really did kill someone driving unlicensed, or whatever).

    In other words, think in terms of the idea of “calculus of risk.” It even applies to nuisances like littering, where onerous fines are reasonable because the costs of cleanup and enforcement are high relative to number of people who are caught.



    “Preliminarily, both of them had the right of way,” an NYPD spokesperson said.

    Gathering back up the pieces of my head that just exploded after reading that sentence, I am so sick of the sentiment that accepts that killing a fellow human being through inattention, rushing, not following the law–whatever–is an “accident.” Scared to prosecute people who do this because you’re afraid one day you might be on the wrong side of that prosecution? Tough luck–start driving like operating a 2-ton piece of machinery is an actual responsibility with potentially deadly consequences.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir saying that here, but how do we get the NYPD to understand that, much less average Joe? (or maybe I have reversed who will be harder to convince….)



    This must be a joke. Sure we have come along a lot but there is no way NYC is the best cycling city in the country. We may get there some day, but this is a sever exaggeration. Not until NYPD policies and behavior reflects this.



    This should be a criminal offense, is it not already?



    Yup. What, no crackdown?



    I’ll see your Eight Amendment and raise you and raise you civil forfeiture. Forget your car, it can be used to steal your house if you give the whiff of having committed a crime. Even “Libertarians” are getting upset by it, at least when it happens to whites.

    (Aren’t we in the post-constitutional world anyway?)



    I wonder why DOT wasn’t already working with NYPD on enforcement at the intersection before now.



    I’m sure that your opinions are a much better basis that DOT’s research on proven effect of traffic calming when streets are put on a ‘road diet’. You should call them up immediately!



    So, are the police ready to start enforcing Intro 238 yet?


    Jonathan R

    Eighth amendment (excessive fees), but what’s up with the parents? If your kid (or anyone) had stolen your car and run someone down, would you EVER let him borrow your car again? Buy a home safe and lock those keys away.



    RE: Franklin Reyes. They really need to pass a law that allows for the impounding and sale of cars as a penalty for driving with a suspended license. Obviously exceptions could be made if people could reasonably claim they were unaware of the suspension (such as from unpaid tickets). This will make people think twice about giving up their keys.



    Yes, but don’t we all feel safer as cyclists? now that 4300 tickets have been given out like free donuts?



    The ridiculous recidivism of Franklin Reyes got me thinking how many times dangerous drivers in deadly or serious crashes drive away, and are never named. “It was just a tragic accident, that’s all. You can’t blame the driver, he didn’t mean to do it. He already feels bad and we don’t want to ruin his life.” We (the public) have no way of knowing whether the driver was a recurring menace, and to what extent these maniacs are coddled by our system. I hope we see this change. It’s sad to lose so many people this way.



    And how many summonses were given to police officers who park on bike lanes during Operation Safe Cycle? And I don’t even mean those who park temporarily while harassing cyclists or buying donuts: let’s start with those who use the bike lanes for long-term parking.



    Seriously. Maybe someday the NYPD will actually respect the laws they are supposed to enforce and the people they are supposed to serve and protect.



    Perhaps that vast expanse of asphalt could be turned into a roundabout. Safer for everyone, and no turn restrictions.



    We all know there is a long way to go, but I think we deserve the award. Yes many other US cities are easier to cycle in, but NYC has come a longer way. The NYC DOT used to be openly hostile to cyclists, the Williamsburg bridge and it’s bicycle speed bumps of doom come to mind. I remember riding along streets in Manhattan the 1990′s and hitting a chickane which put so much air between me and the street that on landing several spokes went flying and I had an instant flat. Today what were once some of the most dangerous parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn are safe enough to take my children without undue worry. The 25 mph defaut speed limit was a great win for safer streets and camera enforcement of traffic laws will be transformative. I was a skeptic when getting just 20 cameras was counted as a safe streets win, but I think it has opened the eyes of a large portion of the public to the extent of the problem we face with bad drivers on our streets.



    Thanks! Well explained.

    Along 8th and 9th where I ride, I often still have to weave around drivers nosing left into the bike lane, where they idle (or, worse, inch into the crosswalk) while pedestrians finish crossing. Since they still have to wait for the crosswalk to clear, I can’t quite wrap my head around why so many drivers do this. Oh, well.



    NJ Gov Christie is about to ban red light camera, but the Blas wants more in NYC. They are a scam, read all about them.

    Rosy the Gym Rat


    Kevin Love

    Sure, and it rains quite often in The Netherlands. Very few places in the world are ideal in terms of weather, terrain, etc.

    But so what? We’ve got gears for hills and clothing for winter. Neither should be a big deal.

    By US standards, Minneapolis or Madison, Wisconsin (where I spent 12 years of my life) are pretty good for cycling even in the winter.


    Eric McClure

    This reminds me of awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize.

    –Hilda, for the win


    Max Power

    Oh, come on. It’s only cyclists who are scofflaws. When motorists routinely violate a traffic regulation, it’s because the traffic regulation is wrong.



    The $64,000 question here is this: Is there anyone at DOT with Jon Orcutt’s vision and clout who can be the driving force behind such changes and get them scheduled and built?


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    I work a regular 9-to-5 shift. But, even with those regular hours there would be no time for 1000-mile months if I didn’t take days off. I use almost all my vacation days during the summer months, just to ride as much as I can.

    I hope you can ultimately get back to logging heavy miles. I totalled 5857 last year; and I am ahead of that pace this year, despite the terrible first three months. But I have read that winter is expected to come early and be harsh this year; so I doubt that I have a realistic chance to get to 6000 miles for the year.


    Joe R.

    That’s really impressive. One these years I may well finally break 1000 miles for the month but it may not be until I retire. With my latest consulting gig there often isn’t time for sleep, never mind riding. At least my last four years until this one were decent. I totaled 11,510 miles from 2010 through 2013.


    Joe R.

    I mostly agree here, especially on the quantity versus quality part. I’m not sure however if protected bike lanes can really be considered part of a backbone network. To me they’re more like last mile facilities after you’ve done most of your trip on a greenway/bike highway. The latter are what we need a comprehensive network of so you could go from, say, Eastern Queens, to perhaps the North Bronx without needing to go on regular streets except for the last parts of your journey. Protected bike lanes can only form an effective part of such a network where they’re on a street which parallels a park, cemetery, railway, or shoreline, such that the protected bikeway doesn’t intersect motor traffic. In that case, they’re functionally close to greenways. Everywhere else they function more as last mile facilities.

    NYC’s biggest obstacle to increased mode share in my opinion are the stifling traffic levels. In the final analysis there’s not a whole lot we can do on many streets to make them better for biking. No matter what you do, the levels of vehicular and pedestrian cross traffic are a major impediment to efficient travel. The only real solution is to separate the bike network from all that, or at least separate what is considered the backbone portion of the bike network.


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Thanks for the kudos. I do love hot weather; in fact the weather this week is actually what made me go ahead and finally do this long-mulled plan.

    We got a week of glorious weather after a depressingly cool August; and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. Riding home on Tuesday when it was 90+ degrees was perfect for me. I’ll take that weather every day.

    Despite the coolness of August, I totalled 947 miles, after having done 1065 in July. So, while I didn’t quite make 1000 for two months in a row, I did average more than 1000 a month for the past two months.

    I’m just sad that it has to end.


    Joe R.

    Won’t happen. The minute they require bike license plates either nobody will be riding or nobody will get them.


    Joe R.

    If they would count recreational cycling mode share would be quite a bit higher in the parts of the city you mentioned. I never understood why the only cyclists who count are the ones going to work.



    well put.