Tag Archives: bike safety

Nurds who bike. #bikenyc

Courtesy of Dmitry Gudkov

For those that don’t know, #bikenyc represents a quickly growing twitter group, tweeting and sharing everything bicycle related in New York City.  #bikenyc is a combination of petitioners, community builders, bicycle enthusiasts, commuters, bloggers, and if you hadn’t guessed by my title, tech nurds who ride bikes.

The first #bikenyc tech meetup was hosted at pivotal labs, current home of TechStars and organized by Noel Hidalgo (@noneck), Lara (@bicyclehabitat), and Michael Green (@bikeblognyc).  I happen to be interested in both the bicycling and tech communities in NYC.  Little did I know there were others like me.  The intersection of these two communities at #bikenyc is a great step towards using technology to make NYC a safer, more social place to ride.  Here are some of my thoughts regarding the future of the meetup and what I hope to see come out of it.  While I’m not a programmer, I hope to do my own part contributing through idea generation, business development, my network, etc.

  1. In order to build great products, programmers need great data.  The bike infrastructure in NYC can only be enhanced with the release of city data through open API’s.  Obviously, getting the Bloomberg administration to release this information will be a slow and painful process, but I think it should be made a number one priority.  We could hold our own version of Big Apps competition, inviting programmers to participate in a hackathon specifically for cycling infrastructure in New York.  The innovations that come out of these programs could help put pressure on the government.  Proof of use cases with the data will certainly increase the argument for open API’s.  Moreover, we need to recruit other groups that would also have a strong use for city information.  Joining forces with other transportation startups like Roadify will help apply pressure in critical mass.  From my own perspective, interning at NYC Seed, it would be tactiful to organize the large venture capitalists in NYC to apply pressure for open API’s as well.  They have a lot to gain, as many of their portfolio companies could benefit from the increased amount of data.  As Silicon Alley grows, east coast VC’s can wield a certain amount of power over local government.  It is their companies that are supplying jobs as they grow.  Our economy relies on startups for these very reasons: innovation and employment.
  2. There seemed to be somewhat of a division between the #bikenyc technologists and the #bikenyc community not-for-profit organizers. At its heart, the #bikenyc tech meetup should exist to facilitate communication between these two parties.  Those interested in enhancing the cycling community through initiatives like group rides, community board meetings, etc need to state clearly to programmers what their problems are and how they could be addressed by building online platforms and applications.  I believe the majority of #bikenyc tech meetups should be focused on bridging this divide.  We may try to model our meet-ups on the fashion 2.0 conferences. One or two questions could be proposed prior to the meetup to align everyone thinking about the same topics.  Although classifying whose an “expert” in this field may be difficult, we could invite entrepreneurs from other startups to come speak and offer their own input on how we can help them, and vice versa.
  3. Following the notion of proposing specific topics each meeting, we need to decide on a long term goal.  Whether that means increasing the number of bike lanes, getting more cyclists on the road, reducing the number of vehicles, saving bike lanes already built (PPW), or getting data from the city.  Establishing some long-term goals will help put everyone’s thoughts into perspective about what is and is not realistic to accomplish right now.

I expect a lot will come out of the #bikenyc tech meetup in the future.  There is certainly a ton of room for improvement when thinking about New York becoming a safe, friendly environment to bike.  The reasons for supporting these initiatives are simple.  Biking makes people healthy, social, and above all happy. If we can use the internet to progress this thinking, we will have done our part to make our community that much better.  Until then, ride on #bikenyc.

Oh, and shout out to my photographer/friend Dmitry Gudkov whose #bikenyc portraits you can find on his blog or by clicking the image above.  He has done a great job bringing the #bikenyc community together through his photography. And feel free to hit him up for your own picture as spring approaches!

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Jakie Chan to defend Bikes?

The CitySpoke team will be stuck in class @NYU during Thursdays City Council Meeting @ 9:30.  Nonetheless I wanted to give you all some words of encouragement!  I was looking at some old Jackie Chan footage and came across a couple of classic scenes where he uses bicycles to fight his way through his enemies.  I know we’re all looking for a peaceful settlement to the long running feud between #bikenyc and the pedestrians and drivers that feel the roads are safer without us, but in the event that this all boils down to one grand finale of a battle.. I think we’re best to be prepared 🙂  So enjoy the videos below and take note of a few key moves that Jackie makes, they could be vital to our own success! ** Note: the roads in the first video are clearly not to scale compared to the ones in NY, but you get the point.

Good luck guys!  Keep the tweets up #bikenyc as I’m very sad that I will be missing out on this meeting.

Don’t drink and ride..

..but if you do feel the urge to break open the liquor cabinet, you may want to try a glass of red wine- but not just any red wine– I’m talking about Red Bicyclette.  Its a smooth wine cultivated in the countryside of Southern France and the perfect finish to any long bike ride, especially in this cold weather.  I’ve tasted the Pinot Noir and was truly impressed.  It’s hard to find a dry red wine, with just a touch of fruity flavor, and for only $10, thats a great find!  I’ve yet to try the Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, or French Rose, but I can imagine that they will love up to my expectations.

As a second thought, if you do decide to drink and ride, make sure you wear a helmet, or get some lights, and safety gear.  As always, you can find the best bicycle products by visiting our online store.  Remember this is strictly for charity, all profits will be donated to Transportation Alternatives.

Let us know what you think about the wine and our selection of products in the comments section below!

Bike-Share Program Coming to NYC

Another win for NYC bicyclists.  The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) has finally decided to emulate european bike sharing programs like the Velib system in Paris.  A press release announced that DOT will be accepting plans from private companies to make cycling more convenient and accessible to a large number of New Yorkers.  According to the Request for Proposals (RFP), the company will absorb all costs associated with the bike share program, at no expense to taxpayers, and will share the profits with the city during an initial five year period.  A system could be in place as early as Spring of 2012 and will feature bike-share stations every few blocks for users’ convenience. Additionally, the latest bicycle technology, such as GPS equipped bicycles and solar-powered stations will be used throughout the project.  The RFP is calling for approximately 10,000 bicycles and 600 stations to be distributed throughout the boroughs.

The program will most likely operate on a membership system, and customers will be able to pay daily, weekly, monthly, or annual fees.  In Washington D.C., it costs approximately $75 for an annual membership, and we can expect a similar cost structure in NY.  The service stations will be placed every few blocks to provide maximum coverage across the boroughs and will be consistent with the city’s growing bicycle network.  The larger question is how the DOT will make room for these stations.  They may attempt to take up space on the already crowded sidewalks or eliminate more parking spaces.  Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Robert K. Steel, explained, “A bike sharing program would provide New Yorkers with another transportation option while reducing traffic.”  Eliminating parking spaces will  reduce the amount of traffic coming into the city although this will undoubtedly cause some controversy.  Nonetheless, the bike share program is a great step in the right direction for the city and its residents.

Great Wheels of Fire!

My friend sent this to me the other day, these pyrotechnics are way cool!

I’m thinking it would be quite a demonstration if #bikenyc could get a couple daring riders to perform this down the streets.

As always leave your comments below!

Police to start ticketing Bicyclists!

Thats right you heard it, the days of running traffic lights, riding on the sidewalk (not that we do that anyways), riding in the wrong direction of traffic, and not using lights at night are over. While riding down second ave this weekend, my girlfriend, Lucy, was nearly clipped by a car turning left on 10th st as the light turned yellow. Having already made it through the light, I watched as two policemen walked up to her, paper in hand.  Luckily, they didn’t ticket her.  Instead, one cop walked over to the car to reprimand the driver about safe driving with bicyclists on the road– not bad! And the other cop handed an NYC DOT Bike Smart brochure explaining bike rules on the streets and proper safety precautions while riding.  The cop also explained that in the next few weeks the NYPD will begin cracking down on bicyclists breaking the rules of the road.

Heres a few highlights from the brochure:

  • 74% of cyclist fatalities result from head injuries
  • 45% of bicyclist fatalities in New York City happen in the dark
  • Having  a bell on your bike is required by New York State Law

Riding on the Street:

  1. Act like a Car
  2. Look, Signal, Look Again
  3. Stay Visible
  4. Dont get distracted
  5. Use your Bell!

Ride Safe Guys, and follow those laws!.. at least when the police are around 😉

More can be found in this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/22/nyregion/22bike.html?_r=2