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Old 09-19-07, 11:11 PM   #1
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Has anyone here cycled in NYC? I'm going to be renting a bike and cycling in Manhattan for 3 days. I need safety tips since cycling in NYC will be intense.
Also, from what I've read, limos, taxis and busses are a special hazard to bicyclists in NYC. Limos really surprised me, are they a problem?
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Old 09-19-07, 11:22 PM   #2
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Obligatory Lucas Brunelle vid:

That's about it for NY cycling. Have fun :-)
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Old 09-20-07, 08:37 AM   #3
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Between 1996 and 2003, 225 New York City bicyclists were killed and nearly 3,500 were injured by cars. A new advertising campaign being started today aims to make New Yorkers more conscious of bike safety, with fairly striking — and surreal — images of bike lanes veering off the road and onto the wall or onto the hood of a car.

The ad campaign, known as LOOK, was created free of charge by the advertising agency Publicis in Seattle. The ads will run on bus-stop shelters, the rears of buses, phone kiosks and the tops of taxis; at gas stations; and on postcards that will be placed in restaurants around the city. The ads will also be featured in Time Out New York and New York magazine and broadcast on local radio stations.

In September 2006, the city released what it called the first comprehensive analysis of bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries in New York City. “The report showed that nearly all fatal crashes were the result of poor driving or bicycle riding behavior, particularly driver inattention and disregarding traffic signals and signs,” the city’s Department of Transportation said in a statement. “This LOOK campaign was designed to combat that.”

In addition to improving motorist and cyclist awareness, the city, last year, committed to doubling the number of on-street bicycle lanes and paths in three years, improving collection of data on bicycle injuries, and increasing enforcement to keep cars from parking in bicycle lanes. Also, new bike racks have been installed. The city unveiled an official bicycle helmet, and a law took effect requiring bicycle-riding delivery workers to wear helmets.

“At D.O.T. we’ve committed to expand the city’s bicycle network at an unprecedented pace, and today we’re asking all New Yorkers to do their part to make our streets safe,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner. “The idea behind this campaign is simple — we’re asking everyone to accept responsibility to look out for each other on the city’s streets.”

Ms. Sadik-Khan was joined by Lorna Thorpe, the deputy health commissioner for epidemiology; Betsy Gotbaum, the city’s public advocate; Paul Steely White, executive director of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives; and the New York City Bicycle Safety Coalition, a partnership among city agencies and advocacy groups and the American Automobile Association.
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Old 09-20-07, 10:18 AM   #4
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It's really not THAT crazy. I've always taken my bike when I've gone there on vacations. Just act like you belong there, like in any other city and you should be fine. Just make sure not to get too caught up in looking at everything while you are riding Overall drivers there are actually pretty good. Seems that a lot of the drivers (and there are plenty of bad ones too) in some bigger cities, though a little more aggressive actually watch out a little better since they encounter a lot of cyclists. In my city (120,000+ people) some drivers completely freak when they see someone riding a bike on the streets.

Also, try not to limit yourself to Manhattan, if you have the time, definitly try crossing all of the major bridges that bikes are allowed on (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Queensboro, GWB...), not only do you get to check out the bridges slower and up close, you can get some AMAZING views of Manhattan itself, and there are a lot of really sharp neighborhoods in the other boroughs. Make sure to get a detailed map of all the boroughs though (like Rand McNally), because a lot of neighborhoods outside of most of Manhattan aren't setup on perfect grids.

Above all HAVE FUN!!!! If you haven't been there before (and even if you have), it's an awesome city!
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Old 09-20-07, 10:40 AM   #5
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Believe it or not, I felt safer riding in NYC than where I live now, Maine. There is so much going on in NYC that drivers tend to be more aware of everything. And bikes are more accepted there than I found anywhere else. Ride on!
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Old 09-20-07, 10:45 AM   #6
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that's a great ad poster!
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Old 09-20-07, 11:08 AM   #7
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Riding in Manhattan traffic is great fun, really! It's fast and you have to be a bit aggressive, but there are a lot of bikes. It's not quite anarchy... but close.

Taxis are not too bad; their drivers are professional, in their own way, and many of them are one step away from being unemployed, which makes them pretty cautious. I got run off the road by one this morning; I pounded on his roof as he veered into me at about 13 mph. He was really upset, I think he envisioned deportation back to PRC! I had to pat him on the back and tell him it was okay.

Delivery trucks are bad, too, but not the worst.

Yes, limos are a real problem, but they, too, are professional drivers.

Police cars are the worst. They are not professional drivers, and they're above the law; and their eyes are on the sidewalk most of the time. I've had police cars push me out of the bike lane about three times, just like today's taxi, and they were not even faintly apologetic about it.

Note: the poster is cool, but it's made by a firm in Seattle, eh? Wonder if anyone told them that NYC bike lanes are on the left side of the one-way streets. This tends to keep them away from buses, which is good; but otherwise I don't really see the point.
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Old 09-20-07, 11:12 AM   #8
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limos probably refer to black lincoln town cars, not the stretched limo you rent for prom (although you gotta watch those as well).

bike lanes can appear on both sides of the street. some are left and some are right. i've been unable to determine an exact reason why they switch around.
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Old 09-20-07, 03:48 PM   #9
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Relax and enjoy your riding in NYC. I don't find it bad at all. If you haven't visited that city in a while, you'll be surprised at just how tame the traffic has become. It is now against the law to lay on your horn. You'll hear some short honking, occasionally a renegade horn-blower, but, in general, folks have learned to drive in NYC without all the noise and obnoxiousness that used to be the norm. Things seem a lot cleaner to me, these days. The city is no more (perhaps even less) crime ridden than many. I would not hesitate to ride the subways most anywhere in NYC.

Also, I second the advice to visit the bridges if you have time. The Brooklyn Bridge is just fantastic - great view and the bridge design will impress you. GWB will give you a spectacular view back down the river at Manhattan. You can cross out of NYC into NJ and ride up Route 9, I think it is, along the rim of the Hudson. You'll see some absolutely beautiful scenery.

All in all, it is just a great place to ride a bike. Have fun, and report back to us on your experience.

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Old 09-20-07, 06:43 PM   #10
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If you're afraid of cars, ride along the West Side bike Path. Cars going across town travel at 3 mph so you feel safer in that regard. I happen to believe that riding in Mahattan is excessive. Once you reach midtown, get off the bike and start walking. New York City is ment to be traveled at 3 mph.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Wonder if anyone told them that NYC bike lanes are on the left side of the one-way streets. This tends to keep them away from buses, which is good; but otherwise I don't really see the point.
Passengers Side Doors vs. driver's side doors. I always ride on the left side on one way streets.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:16 AM   #12
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I haven’t cycled in NYC in ages but when I did the two biggest issues for me were buses that tried to squeeze you out and pedestrians that try and cross the street from anywhere. The buses were more of an irritant then a real hazard and after awhile you can kind of predict the traffic conditions which get the peds out crossing the street so you need to slow down if you don’t have good visibility of all the places they might pop out from (that’s both from the right and the left.) Generally pedestrians don’t look for traffic until they are in the space that cyclists use.

On a side note I always liked riding when the street was mostly taxi drivers. There are some unwritten rules you have to go by (like being predictable) but basically respect what they are doing and they respect what you are doing. It is when they are discharging passengers that you have to be careful, it's all about the turn over time and getting that initial fee so that’s when they take chances. I would imagine that limos would be a similar issue but I never encountered it.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:50 AM   #13
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Peds haven't changed. They'll cross at any break in traffic, even if you're zooming at them and have the right of way. Buses pull into bus stops. Bus stops are every few blocks so watch for bus stops and if you're next to one, slow down and pull around the rear of it if you're approaching a bus stop. Watch out for peds hailing cabs cuz cabs will cut off cops, cabs, cyclists, their own mother, just to pick up a fair.

Pick up a bike map from wherever you rent the bike or at any LBS and have fun. Bring your own helmet and make sure to lock up securely.
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Old 09-28-07, 06:22 PM   #14
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Clarks, If you are nervous about riding in NYC traffic the greenway around Manhattan is always a good way to go. You can bike carfree all the way up and down the Westside by the river and the Eastside (except between 39th and 63rd street).

If you believe there is safety in numbers there are a lot of cool group rides in NYC. The Time's Up midnight Park rides are always a lot of fun.

Feel free to PM me if you want me to forward you info on a group ride and enjoy your time in New York!

Last edited by Izengabe; 09-28-07 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 10-03-07, 09:19 AM   #15
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Get the official bike map, and stay on those routes.

If you are riding near parked cars; ride slow/brake fast. Baby carriages, small children, car doors, pedestrians (on cellphone) pop out of nowhere.

In general ride predictably and know what is going on behind you before you change lane or turn.

Ride slowly on the 'multi use' bike paths, pedestrians move about randomly.

Carry a multi tool in case your brakes get out of adjustment.

If you are in a challenging situation, stop dismount get on the sidewalk.

Always look behind you if you are going to turn or even move a few inches one way or the other.
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Old 10-03-07, 02:20 PM   #16
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I go back to NYC two or three times a year to cycle around the city. On weekends the traffic is not bad at all (can't comment on the weekdays).

The usual things to watch for -
-traffic, cars and buses squeezing you
-car doors opening suddenly
-pedestrians stepping out in front of you, sometimes deliberately
-left hand bike lanes
-road conditions, lots of potholes, plates, gratings, rough paving, debris, etc. Last year I came across a big metal plate that had shifted leaving a 12 inch gap looking down into a very deep hole.

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Old 10-03-07, 02:59 PM   #17
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Have to agree that it is fun to ride in NYC. Be aggressive, take up space, and make yourself very visable. Watch out for brain dead people.
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Old 10-03-07, 09:22 PM   #18
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I lived and worked most of the summer in NYC this year and last. In fact, where I was working is visible in the ad picture background- I just tried to see if I could see my bike in the background because I passed them the day they were shooting that photo. I racked up about 1300 miles in the two months I was there and loved riding in Manhattan.

I agree with those who suggest:
  • pick up the NYC bike map at most bike shops- it's free.
  • use the West Side path but watch for turning traffic and all the other hazards of any crowded MUP.
  • Central Park is a blast especially when cars are banned but watch for the bozo pedestrians, bikers and others.
  • look at the Bike map for cross streets and avenues with bike lanes and use them until you get used to riding in the city.
  • The Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges are a blast.

Here are some videos I shot while riding in the city this summer:

8th Avenue bike lane up to Columbus Circle.

The Central Park Crime Scene Slalom.

A Brooklyn Bridge ride

NYC is a great place to ride!
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