Voting Begins in Pepsi Refresh competition

Starting today you can vote for my bike share project in the Pepsi Refresh Idea competition. You can login and vote at www.refresheverything.com/socialbicycles or vote through Facebook at http://apps.facebook.com/pepsirefresh/
(search ‘sobi’). If we finish in the top 10 we will receive a $50,000 grant for the project.

SoBi is also one of four finalists in the Innovation Erie design competition. The project is on display at the Erie Art Museum through October 31st.

Bike to School Day!

Bike to School day was a Bike Month promotion that I initiated before leaving DOT. I reached out to my friend Rachel who is a teacher at Middle School 51 and she set up a meeting with the principal, who embraced the idea. I then brought the proposed project to my boss at the DOT and it was approved just before I left. The week before the event, Bike New York conducted a ‘bike drivers ed’ and held a bike safety assembly after which DOT Safety Education did a helmet fitting and give-away. Matthew Modine and Bicycle for a Day supplied some bikes for a raffle (courtesy of Fox News!) and together we all rode on Friday, May 28th. Check out the excellent Streetfilm of the event and my Flickr set. The event was a great success and hopefully the start of an annual tradition.

SoBi – The Social Bicycle System

I haven’t updated this blog in a very long time but I am still bike crazy.  For the last year and a half I have been developing a bike share system that uses GPS, mobile communications, and a secure lock that can attach to almost any bicycle.  For more information go to SocialBicycles.com and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

Guest Post: Vincent Pinto

Female Astride Bike

Female Astride Bike

It was a hot and humid August night and everyone wanted to be outside. The sidewalk in front of Gem Spa at Second Avenue and St Marks Place was thronged well past midnight. You could sense the sun’s heat still in the sidewalk even this late. A crowd was waiting to cross Second Avenue. Two young guys waiting on bikes were eying four young women also waiting. The girls knew they were being looked at. The light changed and they crossed.
“Shall we follow them?” one guy asked his buddy.

“That’s what we’re down here for.”

I don’t know how that episode turned out, but it made a visual impression on me that led to a whole series of paintings involving figures on bikes.

Peggy posed for the painting you see here. She was my student and was seventeen or eighteen at the time. The attitude of the painting is in keeping with the scene I just described. I went on to create a number of figures more stylized than you see here—males and females regarding each other and always a bicycle playing the part connecting the figures.

I’ve had a long love affair with bikes. My first was a tricycle with blocks on the peddles. I used to zoom down the gentle hill on my street and make a sharp right at the bottom. That usually tipped me onto two wheels and it was fun. My first bicycle was a one speed, black and red heavy job. I had training wheels for a week or so. I explored all around the neighborhood with it and one day went miles from home—to visit the train yard where the subways were kept.

In decades of riding I had only one accident. Riding near my home in Brooklyn I was looking up instead of down. I didn’t see the pot hole, the bike collapsed, and I broke my elbow. The pain was terrific but the damage to my arm turned out to be minor.

In New York I’ve had three bikes stolen. But I won’t stop riding. I’ve ridden on quiet farm roads in Maine and in the heavy traffic on Seventh Avenue. Its all been great fun and the best way to see the world.

Vincent Pinto

Its been a busy month

There are a couple reasons why I haven’t posted as often this month.  First, I think I am finished ranting.   I feel that I’ve pretty much explained what biking means to me and going forward I want the focus to be on other NY cyclists.  ‘I Bike NY’ was never meant to be “I, Ryan Rzepecki, bike NY”, but rather a collective exclamation — “I Bike NY!!!”  I see so many great New Yorker’s biking, and its time to hear from other people.
IMG_0161IMG_0157IMG_0156
If you would like to contribute to the blog and share your experience of cycling in the city, please email me a pic and a short story and I can add it to the site.

The other reason that I haven’t been actively posting is I that just went through two major transitions and enjoyed the corresponding celebrations. At the end of May, I graduated from Hunter College with a Masters in Urban Planning.  The following week I turned 30.  Graduation was somewhat anti-climactic as this year my only “class” was my DOT internship.  I am still working at the DOT so besides the diploma, very little has changed post graduation.  The passing of my twenties was also not terribly sad or shocking.  I decided not to have a blow-out party and instead had an amazing steak dinner at Peter Luger’s and drinks with a few close friends.  The most exciting thing about my thirtieth was watching Liz mount her roommate’s pink beach cruiser and ride over the Williamsburg bridge to the restaurant.

IMG_0168

After my graduation and birthday celebrations I went home to Erie for a few days, and then fell right back into my chaotic New York lifestyle.  Soon after returning I was welcomed home by an “only in New York” bicycle.

Yes, those are bagels.

Yes, those are bagels.

Back at work, I did some more monitoring of Times Square for the DOT, and saw two very strange things.

A 50+ Naked Cowgirl

A 50+ year old Naked Cowgirl

And a guy doing some sort of crazy man Tai Chi in the crosswalk

And a guy doing some sort of crazy man Tai Chi in the crosswalk

In between rainstorms last week I was in the East Village looking for places to install bike racks. In the process I came across some great abandoned bikes.

Acrobatic Bike 1

Acrobatic Abandoned Bike

Abandoned Bike Yoga

Abandoned Bike Yoga

Abandoned Bike Orgy

Abandoned Bike Orgy

Abandoned bike scrum

Abandoned bike scrum

"I'm sorry that your bike was vandalized but could you please remove it so there is room for the rest of us to lock up.  Thank You."

"I'm sorry that your bike was vandalized but could you please remove it so there is room for the rest of us to lock up. Thank You."

Unfortunately, I missed the bike film festival this year, but walking by the theatre last week I did see this really cool bike…

This old school bike is like a unicycle with a training wheel.

This old school bike is like a unicycle with a training wheel.

I might have missed the BFF, but I did attend another bike related cultural event last week. Guest blogger Roos Stallinga has a piece of her artwork in the Atlantic Gallery, and I attended the opening last Tuesday.  The current exhibit features artwork related to transportation, and its worth checking out.  Below are a few pieces from the collection.

Roos's picture is in the middle

Roos's picture is in the middle

IMG_0182entrance

While at the gallery I met artist Vincent Pinto, who had a few pieces in the exhibit, including these…

Vincent Pinto

Vincent Pinto

Mr. Pinto overheard me talking about my bike projects, and after speaking with him, I convinced him to contribute to this blog.  His post will be the first in a series of guest posts that feature New York cyclists that do not belong to the spandex tribe.  Take it away, Vincent!

In the news…

NY Times City Room Spokes investigates how bike commuters deal with sweat.  Also on Spokes: Adults learn how to bike, how to find a beater bike (for $50 or less), and  bike parking problems.

Chicago’s bike parking center makes New Yorkers jealous.

A Post editorial uses the Hunter College bike study as ammunition, declares bikes (not cars) the biggest menace to pedestrians.

Depression Economics: Bikes outsell cars and trucks in 2009.

The cyclists wins TAs commuter challenge, beating a taxi and the subway from Sunnyside Queens to Columbus Circle.

Mathew Modine eloquently describes why he loves biking. Like me, the actor/activist likes to ride with his hair in the wind, but NYMAG thinks he should wear a helmet.  The League of American Bicyclists are wary of using him as a spokesperson because of his choice, refusing to link to this great videoCopenhagenize defends his choice and blames America’s love of helmets on helmet manufacturers.

Roosevelt Island begins removing bikes from bike racks.  Its good that they are taking action to remove abandoned bikes, but prohibiting overnight parking seems a bit excessive.

David Byrne reviews Jeff Mapes’ book, “Pedaling Revolution”.

Brian Lehrer has his bike stolen.  All together now: Lock the frame, front wheel, and back wheel with locks that costs nearly as much as the bicycle.  Problem solved.

Map bicycle crashes, hazards and thefts at the new website www.bikewise.org.

Schumer gets an ‘A’ from Politicycle.

DKNY sponsors a cycle clothing design competition.

Surprise, surprise — Staten Island doesn’t want bike lanes.

Sarah Goodyear discovers the beauty of slow biking.

Cops on scooters follow critical mass cyclists.

Bicycle access bill is making its way through city council (Streetsblog1, Streetsblog2, Streetsblog3, CityRoom, Observer, NYFI).

TA charts the “safety in numbers” effect that NY is experiencing.  Tom Vanderbilt posts “safety in numbers” stats for London, Copenhagen and the Netherlands.

The Open Planning Project is developing an application to make bulk order requests of bike racks.

Streetfilms covers the Tour de Brooklyn.

Park Slope BID thinks bike lane should be a double parking lane (Streetsblog and Brooklyn Paper).  A follow-up investigation by Streetsblog reveals that local businesses have a delivery problem, not a bike lane problem.  Brooklyn Paper’s follow-up editorial says, no, bike lanes are the problem.

How long is too long for a UPS truck to block a bike lane?

Fox News writer rams cyclist in Central Park.  I needed another reason to hate Fox News?

Ever wonder what a bike theft looks like?  Help me Howard has surveillance video of a bike theft that the NYPD was too busy to investigate.  I feel bad for the woman, but one more time: Lock the front wheel, the back wheel, and the frame with a heavy chain and sturdy ulock.

Streetfilms features the Queens Blvd Bike pool.

The New York State DOT kills the Long Island bike and pedestrian program.

The new plan for the Kent Avenue bike lane was presented to the community board this month.  Brooklyn Paper and Streetsblog have the details.

An accident leads to new plans to regulate the pedicab industry.

Broadway improvements go beyond Times Square, the DOT is working toward better bike lanes from Columbus Circle to the Flat Iron.

The bicycle film festival ran from Wednesday to Sunday.

Streetsblog explains how bike and ped programs are federally funded.

Let the debate begin: Do pedicabs belong in bike lanes? Though regulations are necessary, I see no reason why they can’t share the lane.  They are after all bikes, despite their carlike capacity.

LADOT compares cyclists to insects.  Get outta the way, or get squashed!

New Department of NY Health Commissioner afraid to bike in New York.  Oh wait, no, not afraid, uh, just waiting for his bike.

Broadway Boulevard, in the news…

With car-free Times Square approaching its one month anniversary, I thought it would be a good time to link to the media coverage of the project.  Overall, it seems the reaction of the press and the public has been pretty positive.  Tourists and locals alike are enjoying the novelty of the new space, even though it is still raw and unfinished.  Taxi and delivery truck drivers had obvious complaints, emergency response workers had concerns, and local businesses were not sure if the closing would be a blessing or a curse.  The beach chairs underwent excessive scrutiny, and a few cranky critics called it a “Bloomberg vanity project”, which it most certainly is not.

This project was obviously going to be controversial, and I think the Mayor showed great leadership by trusting the recommendation of his Transportation Commissioner.  As the clear favorite for reelection, the Mayor had more to lose than to gain by closing Broadway just months before the vote.  If this project had caused serious traffic problems and paralyzed the city, it would have been an embarassing failure, and could actually have cost him the election.  I think its another example of him putting politics aside, trusting the right people, and making the decision based on what is best for the city.  Anyway, below are links to the local coverage of the Times Square closure.  Enjoy…

May 24th:

NY Times: People flood the space minutes after the closure.

May 25th:

Daily News: Taxi drivers think its stupid. Business owners are cautiously optimistic.

NPR: Audio interview with transportation writer Matt Dellinger.

Huffington Post: New York’s love hate relationship with cars, and car-free Broadway.

NY Times Architecture Review: New design needs to “reflect the urban toughness of the city”.

May 26th:

Post: Street performers, sun bathers, and pedicabs rejoice.  But cab and truck drivers revolt.

NY1: Video of Times Square loungers and loathers.

NY Times CityRoom Blog: The debate rages on in the comments section.

Daily News: Hope Cohen applauds the project and would like to see Broadway closed from Columbus Circle to Union Square.

May 27th:

Streetsblog’s editor shares his experience of car-free Times Square and puts the closure in the context of the greater livable streets movement.

The Post ran three articles on the 27th:

  1. “Smooth Rush-hour Debut” – traffic is moving but emergency response workers and business owners are still wary.
  2. Amanda Peyser wrote a ridiculously uninformed editorial calling the project “ferociously dumb”.  The chairs are cheap, Europeans like it (so it must be bad), people were smoking!, and real New Yorkers must pay the price.  Must read for people that like  inflammatory drivel (O’Reilly fans?).
  3. A third article was dedicated to making fun of the beach chairs, calling them “cheesy and tacky“. Uh, for the last time, they were bought at the last minute by the Times Square Alliance and were a temporary gesture, not a permanent treatment.

News: Truck drivers complain about the loss of curbside delivery, but woman says “New Yorker’s can get used to anything and everything.”

May 28th:

Post: Broadway closure causes business boom for street vendors and naked cowboys.

May 29th:

AnimalNewYork: Video of “real New Yorkers” enjoying Times Square.

May 31st:

News: It had only been a week, but the News wants the traffic data.

NY Magazine: The informality and impromptu nature of the closure has made it a delirious carnival.

June 7th:

NY Times: Funny, those tacky, tasteless, cheesy beach chairs seem to be in high demand.

June 8th:

News: Mike Lupica thinks “Bloomberg Beach” is just a vanity project, revenge for congestion pricing defeat.

June 10th:

Post: The High Line opens, wins high praise.  Post declares it much better than “trash-strewn Times Square pedestrian mall.”

Times: The full story behind the Times Square beach chairs.

June 18th:

NY1: Times Square businesses thriving, despite the recession.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.