Monday, July 11, 2005

Ninth Precinct holds bicycle safety meeting


NINTHpre2, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Looks like our friends at the NYPD hosted a meeting with the people to better community relations. Here is one person's experience at that meeting:

I hope they were listening...
I went to the NINTH Precinct Safety Meeting & the officers there seem very sincere in their efforts to find "solutions to save lives & prevent injury" & to "reach out". I have to give these individuals A for effort.
They had prepared a Power Point Presentation complete with video of dangerous cycling practices. ie. "Don't assume the driver will see you." & "Watch out for other cyclists." Personally, I was BORED & INSULTED.
It would be GREAT/PERFECT for showing to beginner cyclists, maybe in the NYC Public Schools. I can safely say that as a group, we were WAY over-qualified & several times knew more about the law than the police did !
Attempts to talk about the Parking Lanes while we waited to begin were shuttled aside. "We'll get to that later, after the presentation."
When we asked about the illegal parking, we were told that "incidents have to be reported" before they know [& can do anything] about them. One guy said, "Do you mean we're supposed to report every time there's a car or truck in the "Bike Lane ?" [What do YOU think?]
So…the meeting hadn't started yet…I went outside to find a police truck parked in the "Bike Lane". When I re-entered, I told them I'd like to report a vehicle parked in the "BL" [as is usual in front of the 9th]. They gave me dirty looks & moved it but if you go over there RIGHT NOW, it's a good bet you'll find official cars using their new parking area.
They gave us some nifty reflectors [the kids will love 'em], cookies, & a lot of flyers. The one I found most interesting was from NYState. It is fairly extensive, lots of info but…in the section on car driver safety, it DOESN'T ONCE SAY "STAY OUT OF BIKE LANES". They're not mentioned to drivers AT ALL. Before I left I told them "If the issue is safety & what you can do, the number ONE thing is to keep the lanes, such as they are, clear."


Also , a rep from the City said that NYC Corporation Council is telling the City to start "discouraging" people from locking bikes to street signs. She shrugged when I suggested that the City is trying to cover its patootie after cutting bikes from said poles during Critical Mass. If you look at the NYPD website, you'll find a flyer that recommends locking to same poles.
The subject of bike parking came up. NYC says to use the installed bike racks. Someone asked, "And how many blocks do I walk before I find one?"
I'M LOSING PATIENCE WITH THESE PEOPLE.

5 Comments:

Blogger joseph said...

just wanted to say i like your site. my blog moves a lot slower than yours, but then again, i'm posting from columbus, ga. i'm trying to get together a critical mass down here after reading about your and other new yorkers experience with them. it will be our cities first one ever, so do you have any tips or words of wisdom for me? thanks. joseph.s.grimes

2:09 PM  
Blogger joseph said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Michael Green said...

Joesph, Glad to hear from you. I think the best advice is to be positive and non-confrontational. I saw a video at the 05 bicycle film festival about a critical mass in Oklahoma. Anyone who wears anything remotely close to a biking outfit is called a "faggot" from a passing pickup truck. There were about 5-10 people on that critical mass. But they keep at it. NYC started CM in 1996 and would often have the same numbers. Year after year they struggled and now the ride gets into numbers close to a thousand. Bob Marley said it best: "the race is not for the swift but who can endure." Try not to block traffic, ride single file if you have to. Be friendly to the motorists and maybe even have literature about CM to hand out with facts on it about the number of rides in 300 cities, etc. Then when numbers begin to grow, take the lanes. The best advice I can give you is communication is key. Talk with the cops, tell them what you are up to, where you are going, what is your intentions. Try your best to explian that Critical Mass is a leaderless bike ride and that it is not a protest. Talk with people on the ride, especially people being confrontational. Critical Mass is just a refection of your local community and how it can funtion and get along and how you make decisions in a quick amount of time. It's a learning experience. I hope this doesn't sound to preachy. Good Luck and feel free to send in reports.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Michael Green said...

Joesph, Glad to hear from you. I think the best advice is to be positive and non-confrontational. I saw a video at the 05 bicycle film festival about a critical mass in Oklahoma. Anyone who wears anything remotely close to a biking outfit is called a "faggot" from a passing pickup truck. There were about 5-10 people on that critical mass. But they keep at it. NYC started CM in 1996 and would often have the same numbers. Year after year they struggled and now the ride gets into numbers close to a thousand. Bob Marley said it best: "the race is not for the swift but who can endure." Try not to block traffic, ride single file if you have to. Be friendly to the motorists and maybe even have literature about CM to hand out with facts on it about the number of rides in 300 cities, etc. Then when numbers begin to grow, take the lanes. The best advice I can give you is communication is key. Talk with the cops, tell them what you are up to, where you are going, what is your intentions. Try your best to explian that Critical Mass is a leaderless bike ride and that it is not a protest. Talk with people on the ride, especially people being confrontational. Critical Mass is just a refection of your local community and how it can funtion and get along and how you make decisions in a quick amount of time. It's a learning experience. I hope this doesn't sound to preachy. Good Luck and feel free to send in reports.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous drewo said...

Thanks for the update on the bicycle safety meeting at the 9th precinct. I can understand your reaction about the meeting ultimately being a waste of time. One gets the impression that the cops are holding this meeting to fulfill some kind of community-relations obligations -- just another thing they can check off and say "hey, we're in contact with the bicycle community". If I was there I would have been tempted to dismiss their safety "recommendations" by telling them that "most of the citizens in this room have been cycling in New York longer than you guys have been on the police force". You have to be direct with these guys, otherwise it's just another pile of paperwork they're trying to shove out of the way. Thanks for telling them about their own vehicle in the bike lane.

Joseph in Atlanta: best of luck with your CM ride down there. I'm not sure if telling the cops in advance about the ride is a good idea. Let them find out on their own. But try to be as polite and civil as possible -- public relations is very important, particularly when you are just introducing yourselves to the general public. From my understanding of car culture in Atlanta, y'all need CM down there in a big way!

3:13 PM  

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