cyclists mobilize to support safer and greener cycling infrastructure | by Mayee Yeh | October 2021


“It’s not a good city if biking means risking your life,” said Laurie Garrett, developer of ‘The Tube’ bike safety proposition.

People carrying signs stand behind rally organizers and speakers (back to front, left to right) Flynn Nesbit, Mostafa [Last Name], Oliver Sullivan, Lincoln Restler Board Member, Adam Gottesdiener, Laurie Garrett and Oscar Fishman
Photo by the author.

Gathered in Brooklyn Borough Hall with their bikes by their side, a group of high school students from across boroughs tried to get direct approval from future New York Mayor Eric Adams to build a cycle highway and promote the cyclist safety.

The Tube NYC co-founders Oscar Fishman, Adam Gottesdiener and Oliver Sullivan organized the rally and joined speakers like Lincoln Restler, District 33 Council member, and Ryan Lynch, Eric’s chief of staff. Adams at Borough Hall, to share their support and strengthen the need for green infrastructure.

“200 road deaths this year. 100 cyclists and pedestrians have died on our streets… We need to double and double the investment in the secure network of protected cycle paths, ”said Restler.

With them, other cyclists of all ages have come together to stress the immediate need for green and safe infrastructure and to underline how constantly and unfairly they are endangered by factors they cannot control.

Photo by the author.

” I want to come back [from college] not to dodge cars and worry about doors slamming open and open, ”exclaimed The Tube co-founder Oscar Fishman and senior at Stuyvesant High School.

Mostafa Jalal, a senior at Brooklyn Tech, revealed the lack of bike paths in his neighborhood, and the nuisance he faces on a daily basis. “Nothing is more disorganized than biking in Queens. You have to constantly check left and right for crazy drivers, make sure you’re not next to speeding cars, and keep an eye out for pedestrians running on the streets.

Activist Robert Green, a member of Open Plans NYC, an organization that advocates for car-free spaces, put it succinctly, adding, “I can get anywhere in this city fast, but I can’t. not to do is to go anywhere in this city in safety. . “

As the rally progressed, people slowly gathered behind the speakers, neon neon signs in hand. “END TRAFFIC VIOLENCE,” some wrote. “PAINT IS NOT PROTECTION” and “BIKE LANES> BIKE LIVES” were also found in bold.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett developed The Tube, the transportation proposition that gave the organization its name. The Tube is a cycle highway, much like a typical highway, but prioritizes the needs and safety of cyclists. The system would use abandoned transport infrastructure (such as tunnels, rail tracks, etc.) and reuse them not only for more practical use, but also as a means of promoting travel between boroughs.

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According to a 2018 study, only 45% of New York residents own a car, with that ratio (22%) more than half in Manhattan alone. But even with this seemingly small number of cars, cyclists still have to fight for their place on the roads. “Every supposedly safe and painted route is a competitive route; it is now a competition between the delivery man, the legitimate biker, the person on a scooter… the jogger, ”Garett said during his speech. “We are all trying to compete for a very small space while still allowing vehicles to dominate every piece of land in the city. “

Sullivan, co-founder of The Tube NYC and senior at Edward R. Murrow High School, shared his frustration with the lack of safety that current cycle lanes offer and the lack of respect accorded to them.

“No more lines painted in the street [are] performative bandages and don’t address the real problem, “Sullivan said,” Some painted lines … don’t offer any protection and cars show no respect for those lanes. The police, the figures expected to enforce the laws supposed to protect bikers, themselves violate these regulations by parking twice in the cycle lanes and contribute directly to inhibiting the daily movements of cyclists.

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Hilda Cohen, co-founder of StreetsPAC, focused on the widespread accessibility of The Tube. She also insisted on the practical but contradictory danger of cycling in the city, especially for children. She asked the parents: “Once [your] the kids are too big for your bike, will you let them ride in these lanes? Are you going to let them roll when the paint is the only thing stopping them from having a tractor-trailer? “

Gottesdiener, a senior at Brooklyn Tech and one of the co-founders of The Tube, advocates for infrastructure that prioritizes the safety of cyclists and non-auto commuters, as have many cities across the country. international. They also call for action and tangible change from the Department of Transport, rather than empty promises.

“Other cities around the world are embracing cycling for what it is: it’s a zero carbon way to get around, exercise, interact and explore the world around us”, Gottesdiener said, the crowd around him applauding in response. Taking Denmark as an example, which has been adapted for commuter efficiency with things like highways, he said: “We see possibilities everywhere, things we could have.

Denmark has more bicycle lanes, the United States has more bicycle-related deaths per capita. A regular at CitiBiker, even citing it as his way to get to the rally on Saturday, board member Restler said Vision Zero, New York’s plan to reduce road deaths and injuries, is not working. Engineering, enforcement and education are inefficient, he says. “If we really want to get people out of their cars, that means we have to invest in cycling infrastructure so that it is safe to move around. “

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Ryan Lynch, Eric Adams ‘chief of staff at Borough Hall, who has spent the past seven years working with him to improve road infrastructure and contributed to Adams’ key cycling policies, also spoke.

“[Adams has] a platform that has 300 protected lanes in the first four years in office, ”explained Lynch. Earlier this year, Adams unveiled plans to create miles of protected bike lanes in his first four years, even going so far as to include freeways, perhaps like The Tube. “And with partners like… all these kids behind us… we’re going to make it happen.” He concluded by saying that he planned to work with those present at the rally; While not a direct endorsement, his lyrics suggest hope not only for The Tube NYC, but cyclists across town as well.

At the heart of The Tube NYC movement, many adult speakers observed the number of young people in the crowd, with Garrett dubbing them “the Thunberg generation”. The adults praised Fishman, Gottesdiener, Sullivan, and the dozens of their peers who accompanied them for their intransigence and presence. “What adults mostly want is just to carry on with the same inertia that got us to this moment,” said Green, whom many adults applauded. He expressed his appreciation to The Tube NYC for renouncing complacency and recognizing the need for appropriate change.

“You have to put yourself in front of people, you have to convince them that what you want is doable and that what they are doing is wrong,” he said. “You have to wake them up from their fog… We are going to have to act directly if we really want to change this city.

At the end of the rally, Fishman reflected on what that drastic change could be: “I imagine a world where kids don’t have to see white painted bikes locked to a traffic sign. I want to see people replace their bike keys with bike pitch keys. I want people to be able to cycle to work without fear of being killed in the process.

“I want a really safe New York, and we don’t have it today.”


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