Chicagoans Must Be Wimps…

Background Reading

Summary

Some news from the promanade..NO BIKES!

Some news from the promanade..NO BIKES!

On the Brookfield Place plaza outside the North Cove Marina, a Brookfield security guard instructs a cyclist to dismount. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

By CARL GLASSMAN : Posted Jul. 05, 2016

A new bicycle dismount rule around the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City is getting mixed reviews—and compliance—from bike riders. But from interviews and observations conducted on Sunday, July 3, it appeared that most cyclists who obeyed the signs, placed last week at each end of the plaza, support the policy.

And based on a count by the Trib during a two-hour period, a little more than twice as many riders got off their bikes than those who did not when they saw the signs—or neared the Brookfield Properties security guards.

This past weekend, the security personnel, who do not have enforcement powers, were stationed at two locations on the plaza, motioning to errant riders who had ignored or not seen the signs to walk their bikes. Most did as they were told.

Many but far from all cyclists comply with “dismount” signs on the plaza around the North Cove Marina. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

The Battery Park City Authority on Thursday, June 30, instituted the “dismount zone” where there have long been complaints of cyclists whizzing by pedestrians, sometimes perilously close. For many cyclists, as well as pedestrians, that area provides a connection between the north and south esplanades of Battery Park City.

The new rules are part of an initiative by the Authority “to review bicycle usage on the Esplanade, and developing recommendations for the most balanced, effective use of this incredible public space,” the authority’s president, Shari Hyman, said in a statement. A yet-to-be-formed task force to include Community Board 1 members will work on the recommendations.

In the meantime, most cyclists walking their bikes said they did not mind the new rule. Cornelia Schnall, a rider from Chelsea, called it “great.” As a pedestrian, she said, she has been hit twice by bikes making the turn at the south end of the plaza. The problem, she said, are “either people who are very inexperienced bikers or the ones who think this is a racetrack.”

“This is such a tourist area,” she added. “People comes down here because it’s quiet and beautiful, so you want to have one moment of peace. I’m all for it.”

Jim White, a visitor from Kentucky who had come to the marina to look at the boats, said he didn’t see the sign as he rode past it. “Bikers should do what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “That way everyone’s happy about bikers.”

Dorron Brousard, who had ridden from his home in Englewood, NJ, on a portable bike with smaller, 20-inch wheels, said he did not think the rule should apply to cyclists like him. “These bikes have super-low gears so we can actually go at the speed of walking,” he said. “The big bikes I can see. The big bikes, they speed.”

At the June meeting of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee, the Authoritys communication director, Nick Sbordone announced the authority’s intention to have “some type of limitation or elimination of bicycle riding on the esplanade” now that the bike path along West Street has reopened.

In a statement, a Brookfield Properties spokesman said that the company is working “in support of the BPCA’s decision.” Cyclists, Brookfield said, “are encouraged to utilize the newly constructed bike lanes along West Street where they are able to travel past Brookfield Place uninterrupted.”

On the plaza, Valerie Figueredo and Adam Brenneman from Tribeca had been pushing a double stroller with their two 11-week-olds when a fast-pedaling cyclist weaved closely around them. They said there needed to be tighter enforcement of the rule.

“I understood it when the [West Street] bike path was under construction,” Figueredo said. “But now it’s open and it’s actually better for them. They can go as fast as they want.” Told that some cyclist complain that meandering tourists make the bike path impassable, she replied: “This is no better.”

Battery Park City resident Jenny Li, who had dismounted her bike, said she did not know the West Street bike path was open.

“If they can make the sign obvious that there’s an alternative route it would be a good idea,” she said.

“I say they have no right to do it,” complained Jerry Marcus, a Battery Park City resident who had been walking on the plaza and was outraged to see a Brookfield security guard tell a woman, whom he did not know, to dismount. “It’s a Brookfield rule,” Marcus said. “Who’s Brookfield to tell me I can ride my bike? This is public property.”

The woman, who declined to give her name, first called the rule “terrible.” Then she thought about it some more. “I’m torn,” she conceded. “I think it’s unfair, but if I were a pedestrian I would think it’s fair.”


TakeAways

Evidently New Yorkers are a touchier group than even Chicagoans. In response to this dismount rule one NYC cyclist was advocating a full scale in-your-face demonstration where only those willing to face the consequences of not paying their ticket fines should participate. Wow!

  • I can name several (not just one) places where bicycles are not allowed to be ridden. In fact last year we visited an installation along the Chicago River (just behind the Opera House) where a giant view camera was erected. Signs clearly indicate that you may not ride through that plaza.
  • Another would be the Midway Pleasance along Navy Pier. There is now a bike parking rack outside the front gate to the pier itself. I know this has changed because in the past I rode my bike freely up and down that area. But the city has taken action to prevent this.
  • Most notable would be the Millennium Park area adjacent to Michigan Avenue. If you are not from Chicago just know this is the area where the Cloud Gate sculpture is installed. It is often referred to as The Bean.

It makes a great deal of sense to avoid areas of mixed use where pedestrians and bicycles really don’t mix. But in NYC it appears that obeying the rules is somehow equivalent to willingly submitting to the removal of your Constitutional Rights!

Humor Abounds

One Chicagoan decided to weigh in on the Facebook discussion that surrounds this item of interest. Folks began complaining that dismount from certain bikes introduced an unwarranted hardship. The bicycle type in question was a recumbent trike.

I responded that even recumbent two-wheeler were easy to dismount and push along. But things got ‘sillier‘ as we went. Before long the examples of unreasonable dismount and push vehicles included SWB recumbents with front fairings.

Now what makes all this so ludicrous is that this discussion about rights was taking place as several African-American males were reported to have been shot and killed by police for doing things like selling records or tapes in front of stores.

But I guess if you are not a member of this select group of people who can evidently lose their lives over what seems inconsequential activity, you have to dredge up some really inane examples of how ‘The Man‘ is keeping you down.

What is quite amazing is that if you disagree with a ‘commuting cyclist‘ he promptly lets your limited experience as a ‘recreational cyclist‘ is cause for disqualification, I guess, when it comes to the weighty matters of deliberating whether to demonstrate in the streets because a ‘dismount order‘.

The fact of the matter is that most of the law abiding riders are likely ones who are ‘not commuters‘. They are either from ‘out of town‘ or uncomfortable navigating streets where evidently folks justify running red lights ‘because it keeps them safer‘. I know this to be the case following an on-camera interview with a bike messenger from a week or so ago.

Nonsense Is The Order Of The Day

We have entered a world in which up is down and right is wrong. And if you disagree you are doing so out of ignorance. Poppycock! I suggest that my Chicago friend move to NYC if he really feels as strongly as they do about their right to protect their way of life. But I reject the herd-mentality that seems to have gripped NYC and to some degree Chicago.

You always have the mass transit system for which you feign approval. If you feel threatened to the point of some sort of mad despair that you will be killed then either grasp at the platitudes that the Urban Cycling Movement has been bandying about for years that, ‘Cycling Is Safe‘. Or acknowledge that it is not and probably cannot be fixed before next Thursday and decide to find another alternative.