Transit Strike: 13 Bridges have Bike access, Parks Dept. Offers Bike Parking
By Jen Benepe
Dec. 20, 2005--Last week a strike was possible on Friday. Tomorrow, Tuesday Dec. 20, it is more than possible. Why? Because the Transit Workers Union (the TWU) had to show a good effort at negotiations before calling a strike, which they did all of last weekend.
But according to reports, president of local 100 of TWU Roger Toussaint and Peter S. Kalikow, the MTA chairman, appear to be playing a cat and mouse game in the negotiations, accompanied by posturing gestures resembling gauntlet-throwing.
Therefore, I believe the probability of an MTA strike affecting bus and subway transportation on Tuesday morning is greater than 60 percent. PATH and AitTrain service will not be affected because they are run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The good news is the city has shown an effort to accommodate cyclists by publishing a list of all the bridges with bike/ped access, and creating bike parking in five centrally located parks around the city from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (see below). They have also indicated that orange cones will be added to the edges of many bike lanes, to further protect cyclists from car traffic.
The bad news is that the majority of people, driven by the media's almost complete neglect of cycling as a mode of transportation, will follow the meager reporting by piling into cars and sitting in traffic to and from work. Even the city administration has paid more attention to cycling than the local news media. In an entire hour watching NY-1 News, they have not even mentioned cycling as an option. And the New York Times in their coverage of bridge crossings reported that the south path of the George Washington Bridge was open for pedestrians and cyclists, which has been closed for months now (the north side is open, the south side is closed).
So, How to Get to Work?
Last Friday I gave you detailed instructions on how to prep yourself to ride in the cold (see below). The most important factor in cycling to work (or wherever your destination is) will be dressing for the cold. Given that the weather is predicted to be between 25 and 40 degrees through Wednesday, you've won a reprieve from the weather gods. Therefore, you will only need one layer of tights, one hat, one good pair of gloves, and one less layer on your upper body. Warmer weather is expected on Thursday and Friday, with highs of 48 degrees. This is practically balmy, so if the MTA is still striking then, you'll have no excuse for your boss when you choose to walk instead of ride.
Weather tactics include leaving your home as late as you can in the morning, and returning home as early as you can. The more sunlight there is, the better. It means you'll be warmer, and there will be less ice on the ground. Watch for melting snow, it could still contain touches of ice. And if it rains, you'll need a waterproof jacket, and waterproof pants. If you have neither, and it's just drizzling, you should at least get a plastic detachable fender for your bike to prevent spraying up your back and butt. Without a fender you will feel like you're wearing cold, wet diapers. When you arrive at your destination, always, always change right away out of cold, wet clothing, or you're practically guaranteed a week of the flu.
If you have any hesitation about riding, think of all the famous people who ride in inclement weather, beginning with Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner who is known to train for hours at a time in freezing rain; New York Senator Chuck E. Schumer, who has been seen on his bicycle riding from one event to another in sweatpants; and New York City Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff who has been known to ride in rain, snow and sleet. With all these role models, and weather predicted to be so much milder than it was tlast week, you have no excuse not to ride!
Although DOT asks that cyclists walk their bikes on pedestrian-only paths, obviously you should use your judgment. Always notify a pedestrian before you pass by giving them a head's up, and indicating on which side you plan on passing. Also, you must slow down when you pass--fast passing can lead to serious accidents.
It is even more likely you might be able to weave your way through fields of cars who are "parked" in traffic on the streets and roadways. When you arrive at your destination, use the Parks Department sponsored bike parking, or talk your way into your building or local garage with sweet persuasion. Post 9/11 in October 2001, Transportation Alternatives, a bike-advocacy group, estimated that the number of people commuting from the outer boroughs to Manhattan grew by 50 percent--from 100,000 to 150,000. There is every reason that we will see a similar conversion of commuters to cycling if we see a strike on Tuesday, even in the cold weather.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Access
From the NYC Department of Transportation
"Residents and commuters are encouraged to walk or bike, especially during rush hours. Bicyclists are encouraged to keep to car-free greenway paths and on-street bike lanes (some of which will have orange cones along them for added protection from car traffic).
The following bridges into and out of Manhattan offer designated bike and pedestrian lanes ;
Henry Hudson Bridge
Macombs Dam Bridge
Madison Avenue Bridge
Third Avenue Bridge
University Heights Bridge
George Washington Bridge, north side - New hours: closed 12 am to 5 am
In the event of a strike, the Department of Parks and Recreation will offer temporary bike storage at the following parks:
Washington Square Park
Tompkins Square Park
Union Square Park
Madison Square Park
Bicycle storage areas, which will be created using moveable barriers, will be staffed by the Parks Department from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Laminated signs marked, "Temporary Bike Storage, Transit Strike" will direct cyclists to the storage areas."
Source: NYC Department of Transportation