Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Nightmare Starts

It is no surprise that after the mourning comes the fighting.

As many friends of Camille Savoy have said, Savoy would not have wanted too much bickering.

Nevertheless, the finger-pointing and the anger has begun to mount as cyclists react to the facts in Savoy's case--and how these have been handled in the press.

What's more, cyclists say, they think this driver will get away with murder, and things will continue as before. They also decry what they see as a system that allows motorists to break the law without reprimand or fault, while a man lies dead from their negligence.

Photo: Cyclist Andreas Meyer attaching ghost bike he made for Camille Savoy on Dec. 6, 2008. Meyer never met Savoy.

The mainstream press reported that both cyclist and driver shared fault for the accident. But the Bergen County prosecutor's office has not determined that--and until they do--such as determination cannot be made by the accident report. 

Further, cyclists point out in endless emails behind the scenes, that New Jersey state law requires drivers must yield to cyclists and pedestrians in the road, and exercise due care when driving around them.

This particular driver for whatever reason, did not do so. It is the Bergen County prosecutor's office responsibility to determine why Wha Kim, did not move around Savoy. 

It is also their responsibility to determine why she was she driving on the white line--which is not legal. Giving her another driving test is useless now, since she has had time--and motive--to study up.

More importantly, the prosecutor's office should be looking for other reasons she may have had to drive badly that day: did she forget to take her medication that day? Was she on the phone?  Was she supposed to be wearing prescription lenses ? Did she need glasses but didn't own a pair? Or was she physically unable to drive? Or, the prosecutor's office will need to determine, if Wha Kim actually knows the rules of the road.

All of these questions need to be answered before the investigation is deemed complete.

Chapter 8 of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Manual states:
"Bicycles, skateboards and inline skates:
A motorist should always leave plenty of room when following or passing a bicyclist, skateboarder or inline skater. Under New Jersey law, each of these individuals has the same rights and responsibilities as a moving motor vehicle."
Yet for some reason, drivers in New Jersey seem to think that cyclists need to "stay" in the shoulder lane--even though for many years it wasn't even legal for cyclists to ride in the shoulder in New Jersey, said Stephen Bauman who worked as a cycling leader for the American Youth Hostel for many years. That confusion in itself has led many cyclists to wonder where they are supposed to ride.

For example, even the Englewood Cliffs police department were not informed that the shoulder on Rte. 9W was going to be removed when the area between E. Palisade Avenue and Clinton Avenue, was repaved several years ago. That shoulder had been used by cyclists for years for the approximately one mile distance, but now cyclists compete with cars on their left and huge gaping grates on their right, to make it through to a safer area (after Clinton).

What's more, it appears that some motorists are deeply confused about their responsibilities as drivers.

This excerpt from a post by a driver to BBB when Savoy was still alive perhaps demonstrates a misconception that in itself will lead to more crashes and deaths (unedited text):
This article speaks of NJ MV Law (title 39). Yes, a bibyle is a vehicle and has just as much right to the roadway as a motor vehicle (MV). However, just like when another MV is attempting to change lanes, it has to yield to the MV already in that lane. ..... I wish nothing but a fast and healthy recovery for the cyclist, but lets be fair and just.
This misinterpretation begs the question: how could this driver have passed the New Jersey driver's test? The only way is if the test itself insufficiently tests for a driver's knowledge on how to manuever around cyclists. Or, the driver themselves have faulty--or perhaps even selective--memory based on their desired method of driving.

In this case, the desired method of driving, could be seen as will-oriented--I will go where I want when I want to, regardless of whom is in the way--unless it is a danger to me specifically. And they have to get out of my way, even if they cannot see me (but I can see them).

Is this perhaps the logic we are dealing with in New Jersey--backwards? So now cyclists are required to see behind them that a car is driving on the white line, and has no intention of giving space? Wow, that's pretty darn scary.

Will the Bergen County prosecutor's office see this subtle fact? Will they come out with a thorough investigation? Why not ask them? Their number is 201- 646-2300. Ask for John Mullanelli.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hundreds Ride in Frigid Weather to Honor Fallen Cyclist

Over 100 cyclists honored Camille Savoy yesterday in a memorial of his life by riding to the site where he was hit and holding a small ceremony.

The sanctity of the event was marred only by the lack of clarity among New Jersey citizens about the rules of the road--and the law--when it was reported later that the police report showed that the motorist and cyclist shared fault for the incident.
Photo of Savoy this past Septmber at wedding of Jerry Zoppi's daughter
With temperatures hovering at a wet and chilly 34 degrees, cyclists from all parts of the New York and New Jersey region gathered at the George Washington Bridge, and rode to the site where Savoy was hit last November 9 by a motor vehicle.

Savoy survived multiple hits to his body, but he died later due to severe brain injuries on November 26.

Friends like Van and Betsey Gothner, both also cyclists, got up at 5 a.m. to travel from Massachusetts to help lead the ride for their dear friend. Other friends who preferred to drive behind the group, like Jon Tulis who traveled with his family from Philadelphia, patiently motorcaded behind the cyclists at an average speed of 10 mph to the site 6 miles north, near Rio Esplanade in Alpine, NJ.

Cyclists from the New York Cycling Club, Strictly Bicycles of Fort Lee, NJ, Major Taylor of NY, NY, the Ave A Razorfish Cycling Team, Third Nature of Teaneck, NJ, Jay’s Cycle Center team of Westfield, NJ, and others bundled up in multi-layers of lycra to make the trip.

At the scene, Andreas Meyer had placed a ghost bike that he constructed (with help from Strictly Bicycles) and painted on Saturday, which he chained around a handmade wooden cross made by Savoy's good friend, Jean Claude Garcia.

Garcia who was with the group on Sunday, had attached a copy of his painting of a man cycling through the woods, and underneath he had written, "Race to heaven my friend."

Ellen from Ghost Bikes brought a stenciled sign that reminded us of Savoy's life--and that at this spot he was killed.

BBB spoke of the importance of Savoy's life, and asked that everyone present now were being knighted bicycle change agents--to prevent incidents of this kind from occurring again.

She also said a tree would be planted in his memory--something the New Jersey Department of Transportation could not remove from behind the wall.

Van and Betsey Gothner spoke of their long time friendship with Savoy, and how they had often enjoyed riding with him in Masschusetts where Savoy had a home. "He would not even have been here in this cold--he didn't even own a pair of tights, or go out if there was a drop of rain," Gothner noted. On the ride up Betsey Gothner noted that Savoy maybe was enjoying this unusual tribute to his memory, ironically in weather he would never have ridden in.

Savoy was hit and killed on a perfectly clear day--the only obstacle to his safe ride, a driver with a bad driving record who drove close to the line and ignored New Jersey motor vehicle law--to move around cyclists traveling in front of them.

Jon Diamond, his voice choked with emotion, spoke with his wife by his side, she with tears trailing down her pink-with-cold cheeks.

Diamond spoke about how Savoy would come to his jewelry shop in the diamond district every day to talk about everything and anything. Not even an experienced cyclist, Diamond had donned a helmet--at first backwards--swathed himself in warm street clothes, and mounted a steel frame street bike to make the trip for his friend.

Charles Hamley also spoke of his friend who enriched his life. Clarence York, who said that he and Savoy had been very close, choked back tears and said he was unable to speak.

Another friend, Gerry Zoppi said that Savoy was a very cautious rider, and used to warn him not to ride when the conditions weren't good. "We called him Monsieur Mama," said Zoppi.

Another friend offered almonds from a bag that was saved from Savoy's apartment before it was cleaned out: "He would have liked everyone to have one," he said.

Meanwhile, in a sting to Savoy's memory, local news reports of the event said that the police report "backed by an eyewitness – said that the Englewood woman and Savoy were apparently both at fault for riding two close to the white line." Such an assertion cannot be made until the Bergen County prosecutor's office has completed their investigation.

Even so, the statement is also a reminder of the collective ignorance of New Jersey vehicle and traffic law--perhaps a mental block among New Jersey residents---which says that motorists are responsible for moving around cyclists who are ahead of them--regardless of conditions. The reason for this is simple: cyclists are not even technically supposed to be in the shoulder--unless it is a designated bike lane. They are only required to be as far right as possible. But if they have to move out--and nothing in the accident report said Savoy did move out--the driver behind is supposed to slow until they can pass safely or they are supposed to give ample room to the cyclist when they passed.

In a previous post by a reader to BBB, when Savoy was still alive and struggling for his life in the hospital, the reader (possibly a motorist) wrote (no corrections made to their post):
This article speaks of NJ MV Law (title 39). Yes, a bibyle is a vehicle and has just as much right to the roadway as a motor vehicle (MV). However, just like when another MV is attempting to change lanes, it has to yield to the MV already in that lane. The driver cannot just pull into another travel lane and expect other MV's to stop. The MV attempting to change lanes needs to let traffic clear and make sure it is safe before it can change lanes. THIS IS THE SAME TO BICYCLES. This article is bias and places blame only on the motorist who struck the bicyclist. I wish nothing but a fast and healthy recovery for the cyclist, but lets be fair and just.
Cyclists at the event complained bitterly that motorists routinely speed and ignore basic traffic laws, cutting them off at intersections, and coming within inches of them when they ride.

As cyclists began to leave after the ceremony, they were barked at by the police officer through a loudspeaker system. Although it is standard operating procedure for officers to use the car's PA system for crowd control, because they are not in cars, the sound is jarring. It's also a reminder of the secondary status they often assume on our nation's highways and byways.

Not that the Alpine Police Dept. had not been sensitive to Savoy's plight: they assisted in every way possible to make the memorial safe, sending their officer there to sit for over an hour.

Lt. Michael LaViola of the Alpine police also spent hours with BBB assisting in the identification of the spot where Savoy was hit. LaViola is no stranger to pain: his 20-year-old son died this year of cancer. Later, two Bergen County police officers heading his son's funeral procession on motorcycles crashed on the State Line hill going north on 9W, and one lost his leg.

But if only the state took more care in addressing the NJ motor vehicle manual, which does not even specify how to drive around cyclists; or in preventing the driver from renewing her license when she had a bad driving record. (Turn to Chapter 8.)

And if only such police vigilance could have been present that day when Wha Kim struck Camille Savoy, barking at her to stay away from the white line ---perhaps he might still be alive today.

Something to ponder for the inventors among you, an automated white-line, motion response barking tool, manufactured for all highways and roads that have spaces dividing motorists from cyclists and pedestrians. A pressure sensitive reader embedded in the white line using micro-chip technology could also send a message to the local police station alerting them that some nudnick motorist is driving on the line.

Please email jbenepe@msn.com with your photos and comments.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Weather report

For those of you who do not believe:

The Weather Channel says SUN (no precipitation) by 9 AM tomorrow morning
Weather Underground for Fort Lee, NJ
Radar for Fort Lee, NJ
Chance of snow flurries only 30 percent predicted by Yahoo weather.

40 percent chance does not cancel. Over 60 percent chance, riders not expected to show.

However, since friends will be traveling from afar, this event WILL NOT BE CANCELED.

Those of you who do not want to ride and wish to drive, please meet at the bridge with your car.

This event will still take place.

BBB

UPDATE ON SAVOY RIDE, Dec. 7, 2008

Many of you are wondering if the ride will be taking place tomorrow.

As of right now at 7 P.M. Saturday night, YES, the ride is taking place.

At 10 PM tonight we will make the call ONLY if a drastic weather report indicates heavy snow. But reports of 30% chance of flurries will NOT cancel this ride. Please check back tonight or first thing in the morning.

It will however, be VERY cold. Please bring an extra layer, and chemical hand warmers. You can expect to have to wait twice, once at the bridge, and again at the location some 5 to 6 miles north.

Again, we are producing three maps to outline the route. Above is the first part of the route, from George Washington Bridge, to E. Palisade Avenue.

If you are late, you can still make it.

At this point, because the markings are very clear you will have no trouble finding the location unless a goblin (either a very wicked goblin or someone who doesn't want to honor Camille) comes and takes down Camille's shrine .

The second part of the map is from Floyd Road and Palisade Avenue, to Sage Road. (see below)

The third map is from Sage Road and 9W (Sylvan Avenue) to the location right near Indian Head Road, and also south of the turn off to Rio Vista Esplanade in
Alpine, NJ. It you are driving you can go straight up 9W to the location. (See last map diagram).

A number of people have contributed to the organization of this ride, and to the honoring of Savoy. Although someone had destroyed the markings set up by us to mark the spot, BBB was touched beyond words (yes it is possible) by the simple, beautiful gestures by his friends and acquaintances to create a memorial for him. BBB refuses to give it away--you will see once we arrive at the site, what they have done.

BBB will also bring a car to the bridge, in case someone has not been prope
rly prepared and needs a ride. There will be room for three bikes and four or five person, with one
responsible driver, (not BBB).

This way if you come and the snowfall is too great to contemplate, you can be one of those who ditches the bike and takes the nice, warm car.

Other surprises will await us at the location. It will be exactly 29 days, perhaps to the hour, that Savoy was hit when we arrive around 10 A.M.

Other notes:
The south side of the bridge is scheduled to be open and cleaned since workers left metal shavings there this morning. If it is closed for some reason, use the north side. Be prepared to walk up and down metal stairs if you do.

Several groups have planned group rides to the bridge. Among
them are:
  1. The New York Cycling Club group, they are leaving from 72nd and Riverside Drive in Manhattan at 8:20 A.M. Please contact Chris Hartmann at hudsonhartmann@gmail.com for more info or if you want to catch them on RSD.
  2. The Third Nature group, who will be leaving from Teaneck, NJ, at 8:15 A.M. Their address is 1382 Queen Anne Road, telephone 201-833-0009, or visit their website, www.3rdnaturecycling.com
  3. NY Velocity team, from New York, NY
  4. Members of the Major Taylor Team, New York, NY
  5. Individual friends of Camille's traveling by bike from the Westchester area (Alfred and Leon);
  6. Strictly Bicycles Team from Fort Lee, NJ
  7. Friends of Camille's who are traveling great distances. Some will ride with us, others will take their cars to the location.
For those driving from the North along Route 87, either cross the Tappan Zee Bridge, get off at Nyack, NY (first exit) and drive south on Route 9W until you reach Alpine, NJ. Continue south past the turn-offs to Closter and Cresskill, NJ, and a couple of miles down you will find us.

OR--you could drive down to the GWB, get off at the first exit to Fort Lee, bear to your right immediately, follow the road in a 180 degree turn, and proceed down hill to Hudson Terrace. We will be starting the ride right there. Take a left onto Hudson Terrace and find a parking spot.

If you are driving from points SOUTH (like from Pennsylvania) take Rte. 95 almost to the bridge UPPER LEVEL. Stay to the RIGHT, take THE LEMOINE AVENUE EXIT, go straight through the first lights and then the second (Center Avenue), the third lights (Lemoine Avenue) then the fourth past the bridge, down the hill and take a left at Hudson Terrace (fifth lights) and find the first parking spot you can find. Hudson Terrace is the very eastern most road next to the Hudson River without going under the bridge and cliffs. We will be several feet past the underpass to the GWB.

We will see you see you in the morning.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More on Savoy Memorial--And Car Companies in DC

Today BBB received a photo from a friend of Camille Savoy, Rob Glick. 

It was simply a depiction of Savoy's bike a short time after he was hit.

Glick would have had to have gone over the police line for this shot, but in doing so made aspects of the accident clear: the bike was not run over twice (1), and judging by the damage to the back of the bike, including the wheel and seat, Savoy was struck from behind with tremendous force (2). 

Again, the severe damage to Savoy's head leads one to believe that he was subsequently run over by a car traveling behind the Subaru. The driver of that car, Michael Passow, was the only other witness to the incident. 

Also, the severe break of his bike implies that the speed of the motorists greatly exceeded the speed limit of 45 mph (since he would have been traveling at about 20 mph).  Most bikes will sustain even a direct 90 degree strike without breaking (Mine survived a combined 60 mph hit.)

The bike damage and implied direction of the strike also implies that the driver suddenly swerved (because if she had been proceeding straight all the while, she more likely would have clipped him and sent him sideways.)

Please email me if you have more information about the incident, at jbenepe@msn.com. 

More information on the memorial: the latest weather forecast predicts a 30 percent chance of snow flurries, and 36 degrees. The ride will proceed if that forecast stays the same. Please check this blog for updates after 10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6.

There will be good friends of Savoy coming to the event from distances well over 5 hours. Many of them are close, long time friends who will come and join us either in the bike portion or will drive to the location. Again, motorists, please park some distance from the "spot". 

Andreas Meyer will be constructing a ghost bike, with an old cast-off supplied by Nelson Vasquez , owner of Strictly Bicycles (that big shop you are watching being built along Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, NJ).

Some people may be assembling after the ride at the private home of a friend of Savoy's. For those making the ride all the way to Piermont or Nyack, there will be spontaneous assemblies in those locations.

The ride will be cancelled for rain, but will not be cancelled for "snow flurry" forecasts below 50 percent.

And, On Capitol Hill....

Lawmakers, including our own Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer, (D-NY), met with car company executives in Washington, D.C. again today.

This was the car companies' second trip to the capitol to beg for money, and this time the bill was higher, $38 billion in aid from us, United States taxpayers.

Now, let's think about this. Chuckie Schumer should know this already since he rides a bike every week. If we spent $38 Billion dollars on rebuilding our roads and highways to include safe passage to bicycles, pedestrians, and other non-motorized transport (such as pedicyles), we wouldn't have to worry about spending money on oil or drilling in the Alaskan wilderness. 

We could also reduce the 45,000 people killed by cars every year, the hundreds of thousands more killed by asthma, lung cancer, and other environmental diseases caused by automotive use.  Not to mention the animal lives saved, and the reduction of deterioration to our natural resources with secondary pollutants, like car solvents and oils which enter our water sources, damaging our water--and animals forever.

What's more, with that money we could build fantastic parks, byways free of cars, and bike parking facilities around the country. 

Not to mention, we could use that money to refuel our investment accounts which were depleted by about 40% when the big banks decided to gamble with our investments.

If the U.S. government does decide to fund those companies, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, it would be a travesty. They have been making cars that burn excessive fuel despite progress by their foreign competitors, (a trend led primarily by Toyota). They have failed repeatedly to introduce energy saving cars, or to provide advanced designs in anticipation of consumer tastes. Instead, they have churned out the same massively big, heavy, energy-hoggers over and over and over again.

All in all, BBB suggests that this is not good fiscal policy. Please, do write to your senator and urge them to send those pathetic car companies back to Detroit where they belong--and to give the money to alternative transit.

Here is the link to Chuckie Schumer's contact page.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Spot Found, More Details on Savoy Memorial

It was a gray day today with the sun barely appearing when BBB went to meet with Lt. Laviola of the Alpine police department to determine where exactly Camille Savoy was hit.

Savoy was hit by a driver from behind on November 9 while he was traveling north on Rte. 9W. He went through the windshield, then up over the top of the car, and then fell to the ground, according to the latest update from the Alpine police dept. 

Savoy was unable to overcome massive head injuries last Wednesday, Nov. 26, and
his medical team is said to have advised his family that the cyclist would not be able to recover.

BBB walked to a spot that looked about where Savoy had been hit, leaned down and lo and behold, found what appears to be his splintered pump among the leaves. Buried about a foot away, was (ostensibly) his water bottle with some sports liquid still remaining. And not too far from the bottle, lay the broken chain--ostensibly from his bike. 

The proximity of the items, and how shattered they are--the chain ripped off his bike and no longer a circle-- is a testament to how violently Savoy was struck.

Also there was the black grill cover of a car light, and not too far--lay a red car light cover.

BBB created a mini-shrine composed of the little parts which we thought were his, adding long sticks and stones, plus some blue plastic from the road to mark the spot so that passing cyclists can identify the area. 

As BBB draped the silver chain over a tree fragment, it looked ironically like a Christmas ornament. 

For those cyclists who are coming to Savoy's memorial ride (see previous post) on Sunday, Dec. 7 (rain date, Dec. 14) leaving from the GWB at 9 AM, or anyone who wants to place flowers, here is a picture of the closest utility pole across Rte. 9W from his accident spot. 

It is the third utility pole north (on the west side of the road) from the mulch yard.  You should be able to see Savoy's shrine almost directly across the street.  This is just south of the Indian Head Road.

The driver of the vehicle that hit Savoy, Wha S. Kim, 71, of Englewood, NJ, was given a ticket for careless driving, said Lt. Laviola. 

Her driver's license is also currently under review, as well as her driving record, he added. Under these circumstances she will need to re-take her licensing exam he noted. It was not clear if she will be allowed to drive at this time.

It is still unclear from the accident report just how and why Savoy's head was so badly injured, and his bike flattened beyond recognition if he had only been hit once--and only with the right front side of Kim's Subaru. 

The Bergen County prosecutor's office still has not finalized their investigation into the incident. 

Many of Savoy's friends are shocked, hurt and angry at his death. "He was such a sweet man," said his friend and frequent cycling partner Alfred. "I can still hear him talking now. I just can't believe he is gone." Savoy is said to have gone out alone on Sunday because he could not ride on Saturday: normally he does not ride alone, said Alfred.

A note for those of you who are driving to the location on Sunday: Please park as close to the sign just north of the site that reads "Rio Esplanade", and walk south about 100 feet to the marked spot. 

Ride for Camille, 1954 to 2008

Memorial ride for Camille Savoy, 54
Cyclist who was hit on Nov. 9, 2008, and died on Nov. 26th, 2008.
Meet: Sunday Dec. 7th
Raindate: Sunday Dec. 14th
If necessary, second raindate, Sunday, Dec. 21st
Time: 9 AM
Location: New Jersey side of the GWB, Hudson Terrace. For safety please meet just north of the bridge, on the grassy area off the road.
Length: Approximately 6 miles to the location, and then on to Piermont, NY and back (roundtrip is 30 miles).

You are not required to do the entire ride, and the return from Piermont will not be organized or in formation. 

Ride will leave once all people have arrived, approximately 9:15. However we do ask that you arrive on time because people of different abilities will be represented and we would like to organize the ride so that we are riding two by two. 

We will also at that time go over the route. Please if you plan on coming, a strict two-abreast policy will be requested. 

The ride will go at the speed of the slowest rider, so PLEASE be patient, and respectful if you are a fast rider. 

Several very nice and accomplished people many of whom have had a number of years of experience with memorial rides and with ride management, have agreed to lead the ride or assist in its safety, including Leo Parascondola, Charles Komanoff, Richard Rosenthal, and dear friends of Camille, Jon Diamond, Rob Glick, and others who will be added to this list at later edits. At the time of this writing, Capt. Tim Ford of the Fort Lee police dept. who is a rider with Strictly Bicycles, might also be riding with us.

There will be a 15 minute memorial service where people can speak publicly about Camille at the location where he was hit. Please dress warmly or bring a light jacket to cover yourself when we are stopped.

There will also be some cars that will be driven to the location for those who do not ride. Parking arrangements near the spot will be arranged with the Alpine police dept., Please contact Jon Diamond, who is organizing car rides, jsdiamond@gmail.com

The Route
  • Hudson Terrace North, to Palisades Avenue
  • Left on Palisades Avenue straight through the light to Floyd,
  • Right on Floyd.
  • Floyd almost to end, then 
  • Left on Van Wagoner Drive*, and right again on Johnson Avenue to Sage (past the ball yards), 
  • Right on Sage to light.
  • Then left on 9W to the location (this will be posted tomorrow.) For reasons of safety, the group will hold traffic at this light to make sure everyone can pass or will re-gather just north at 9W where there is a shoulder.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Camille Savoy: May 27, 1954 to Nov. 26, 2008

Camille Savoy, 54, struck by a motorist on Sunday, November 9, has died.

He died at approximately 6 pm tonight, at the Hackensack Medical University Hospital, in Bergen County, NJ, said his friend Van Gothner.

"His injuries were just too great," said Gothner, referring primarily to severe damage to Savoy's brain.

Savoy was not responding to treatment and he did not recover from the serious blows he sustained from the accident.

His family will inform the cycling community about arrangements for his bereavement.

For some, this might be a Thanksgiving that they will never forget. After the accident two weeks ago so many cyclists traveling on 9W have said they feel very nervous, and unsafe--riding on the road where they say cars speed routinely, or turn in front of them, or cut them off with impunity. Now, with Savoy's death, they may feel even more unsafe.

Benepes Bike Blog will be organizing a ride from the George Washington Bridge that commemorates his life, leaving at 9 am and arriving at 10 am at the spot where he was hit, either this Sunday, November 30, or the following weekend.

Please email jbenepe@msn.com if you can assist in the organization of this ride.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Police Report Details Savoy Crash

The police report detailing the events of Camille Savoy's crash says that both the rider and the motorist were traveling close to the white line that separates the shoulder from the main lane of 9W.

According to a witness, the placement of the vehicle and Savoy's bicycle on the roadway near The Esplanade in Alpine, NJ were about the same, when the car driven by 71-year-old Wha S. Kim from Englewood, NJ, struck Savoy from behind. The car is registered under the name of Hae Jong Kim, also of Englewood, NJ.

The report is one of the first indications of what took place that day, though it warns that a final determination of the cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office. 

Such as procedure is necessary in a crash that results in a critical injury, to determine among other things, if the driver was driving in full competence, such as with prescription lenses or drugs, or if the motor vehicle was fully operational at the time of the crash.  Past driver records can also be reviewed in such a case.

A witness who spoke off the record to BBB said that Savoy first was hit by the front of the car, a Subaru Forester, then went into it's windshield, over the top of the car, and onto the ground. Savoy's head injuries are critical and constitute the most significant of his multiple injuries.

One witness to the crash, Michael Passow, who was traveling behind Kim's vehicle, told police that both Kim and Savoy were traveling close to the white fog line when the cyclist was suddenly struck.  Kim also made a statement, and said that she was traveling north on 9W when the cyclist "came into her lane of travel and she struck the said cyclist with the front of her vehicle," said the report.

The report notes, "Cyclist was unable to give statement."

Passow's statement is sure to be one of the most significant in the event of a legal action against the driver by Savoy or his family, because he is the only observer of the accident who is ostensibly not biased. 

Savoy's black Lemond bicycle was crushed beyond recognition.

New Jersey state law says that motorists must be mindful of cyclists on all roads, and traveling on the shoulder by a cyclist is not a given, particularly since there are no bike lane markings there. The shoulder is a multi-use space, allowing cars to stop there. Therefore both cyclists and motorists must coexist on both spaces--the roadway, and the shoulder.

The crash is still being investigated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office, and a final determination of the cause of the crash may not be announced for a few more weeks, warned the report.






Sunday, November 23, 2008

Savoy's Condition Still In Flux: Details of Other Crash Coming to Light

The cyclist who was felled by a car two weeks ago today, is still in critical condition at Hackensack Medical University.

Camille Savoy, 54 who was struck by a motorist on November 9, is in a medically-induced trauma. He sustained severe head injuries in the crash, despite having worn a helmet.

Friends have theorized that after being sent through the windshield by the motorist, a 71-year-old woman, he may have gone over the top of the car and hit his head again.

Family members and friends of Savoy have been streaming in to the New York, New Jersey area. Many are looking for places to stay. If you have a couch or a free bedroom for them to stay for a couple of days, please email jbenepe@msn.com.

Cards can be sent to the hospital in his name: The Hackensack University Medical Center, Patient Camille Savoy, 30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601.

Meanwhile, details of another crash that took place that weekend, on Saturday, November 8, are coming to light.

A couple riding a tandem on Orangeburg Rd. near Blue Hill were clipped by a woman driving an SUV. The driver went close around the couple and turned in front of them, hitting their bike and throwing them to the ground, said witnesses.

As the lead rider lay on the ground, unable to move, his wife lay a few feet away, unconscious, blood streaming from a gash in her head, and through her nose. The driver left the scene of the crash.

Both riders, a couple in their late 40's were injured, he with a broken hip, and she with a smashed collarbone.

Witnesses to the crash said the driver, a woman, is quoted by witnesses to have said on her return that it was not her fault that the two riders had been hit.

She was not ticketed, even though under New York state law, it is a crime to leave a scene of an accident.

Apparently the woman and the police officer knew one another: they kissed good-bye before she left, said witnesses.

BBB was unable to obtain information from the Orangetown, NY police department, who would not comment on the crash.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Details On Terrible 9W Crash

It is now five days since Camille Savoy's terrible crash on Route 9W and some clues as to the nature of the incident are slowly coming out.

Although no official word on the cause of the accident has been issued by the Bergen County prosecutor's office, and officials at the Hackensack University Medical Center where Savoy is being treated have not upgraded his condition, friends who have visited his bedside are providing key information about his condition and the man himself.

Although not confirmed by the Alpine Police, the driver is said to be a 71-year-old woman, and by all indications, she struck Savoy from behind, sending him through her windshield. Based on the severities of the injuries to his head--he was wearing a helmet--it appears he may have gone over the top of the car and struck his head again, said a friend, Van Gothner. Some have theorized that based on the condition of his bike, he may also have been run over by again by another car.

Savoy's condition is still quite dire and he continues to be treated in a medically-induced coma. The injuries to his head are the most severe, and are cause for concern among the medical team, who without an accident report, have not been able to determine the exact cause of his head injuries.

Savoy also sustained fractures to his spine, a broken ankle, and other injuries, and remains on a ventilator.

Medical personnel at Hackensack are waiting for his body to repair to the point where he can brought out of a coma, said Gothner, who visited him today. "It's wait and see," he noted.

Two of Savoy's five sisters have come to the area to see him. His elderly mother lives in Paris, and is not well enough to travel, and his father is deceased.

Many of Savoy's friends, some of whom are located in a community in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, are coming to the area and will be seeking places to stay among the cycling community.

Savoy's Cape Cod friends are also the locus for Best Buddies International, a program that Savoy belongs to that encourages the social integration of persons who have intellectual disabilities and was founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the son of Eunice Mary Kennedy, and brother of Maria Shriver (wife of California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger). The group is known to use bike riding as a fund-raising medium.

Among his friends Savoy is known as an avid bike rider who would go out every day for a ride when he vacationed with them. He had recently bought a new bike, said friends.

Savoy was born in Senegal, and grew up in Paris. He is a jewelry designer and has designed a number of pieces for Tiffany and Co., but his core business is one-off pieces said Gothner.

Meanwhile words of sympathy co-mingled with a sense of burning outrage over the accident, and heated posts between what appears to be one or two drivers posting to BBB, and cyclists, took sides on the car vs. cyclist debate.

But the words of support for Savoy, a man whom many of us have never met, but whose destiny could well have been our own, and whose life now hangs in the balance and in our hearts, have drowned out the debates.

Cards (not flowers) can be sent to the hospital at: The Hackensack University Medical Center, Patient Camille Savoy, 30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601, tel: 201-996-2000.

Those people who think they might have a room or a bed for family and/or friends to visit for a few days should email Jbenepe@msn.com and the information will be passed on to his friends.

Please note the following corrections were made on Nov. 15 to this post: Savoy's community of friends are from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, not Maine; and two of his five sisters are currently visiting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cyclist's Prognosis Uncertain--An Outpouring of Sympathy by Community

Cyclists are still reeling from the news --and the scene--of cyclist Camille Savoy who was tragically struck last Sunday. And while details of Savoy's injuries--and the exact cause of his accident-- have been slow to come out, an outpouring of sympathy and wishes for his recovery have filled the E-waves.

While traveling north on Rt. 9W, a popular route for cyclists that normally carries from 2,400 to 3,500 cyclists a weekend, Savoy, 54 was struck in the vicinity of Closter, NJ, by a motorist who apparently clipped him and caused him to fall.

The scene was met with horror by passing cyclists who saw the ground strewn with a flattened bicycle, a front wheel crushed some 20 feet away, and a pile of torn multi-colored lycra still another 20 feet further away --presumably where Savoy had been cut out of his clothing by paramedics trying to treat his injuries.

"Camille has made some, albeit very modest, progress," wrote a friend Van Gothner to BBB. "He remains in a medically induced coma and the doctors hope to bring him out of it this weekend. Two of his five sisters have arrived and are with him. The prognosis remains uncertain," he said.

Savoy sustained a broken back, a broken foot, head injuries, and his lungs are filled with blood, according to the last report from Van Gothner.

A spokeswoman for the Hackensack University Medical hospital where Savoy is being treated, said she was unable to release an update from the earliest assessment of his condition which was listed as "critical."

Messages of concern, friendship and love poured out onto the pages of BBB and local discussion groups of the FIve Borough Bike Club. Wrote Sharon F. on BBB, "[Savoy] is one of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever met. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers."

Another person who remained anonymous wrote, "I’m a frequent rider on 9-W. It is heart wrenching to hear about this accident and I hope for the safe recovery of the cyclist."

Wrote another, "My husband and I rode by the scene of the accident shortly after it had occurred... We knew that the injuries were serious and stopped to pray for him then and will continue to keep him in our prayers."

A family who knows Savoy wrote, "Camille is an amazing athlete and wonderful person. He has been like a part of my family for as long as I can remember, and now my three boys adore and admire him as well. I ask that everyone who knows Camille or someone like him send thoughts of healing to him. I believe that it makes a difference. Love, Strength, Healing to Camille and his family. DD, Ben, Matt, John."

Another friend wrote: "He is an extraordinary person, great friend and much loved. It will be some time before the full extent of his injuries are known. Please keep him in your prayers."

A member of the Five Borough Bike Club, one of the largest local bike riding clubs, posting to the group's shared email said that he spoke to a "lieutenant" at the Alpine police station who appeared to attribute some blame to Savoy for riding close to the white line.

Wet leaves heavily carpeted the ground and filled half the width of the road's shoulder, a fact that some cyclists have theorized may have led Savoy to move closer to the white line that separates the shoulder from the northbound car lane. But still there has been no official word from the Bergen County Prosecutor's office on how the accident occurred.

Only the prosecutor's office can make a determination of cause, and the local police station is not party to that investigation.

Chapter Eight of the New Jersey state department of motor vehicles,
states that "a motorist should always leave plenty of room when following or passing a bicyclist, skateboarder or inline skater. Under New Jersey law, each of these individuals has the same rights and responsibilities as a moving motor vehicle," it says.

And while cyclists do have the responsibility to ride as far to the right as possible, they are specifically entitled to move to the left when there are impediments.

According to New Jersey DMV regulation, 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11, , "Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care ... A bicyclist may move left under any of the following conditions:... 2) To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right," says the regulation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

City Proposal Would Require Bike Parking


The Bloomberg administration is proposing zoning regulations that would require bike parking facilities be created in all new large buildings.

The proposal will be subject to a public review period that begins next Monday, and would require enclosed and secure spaces for bikes in new multiresidential, commercial and institutional buildings, according to a report in the NY Post.

Despite the bike friendly face of the current administration, New York is still far behind many European cities in the protections, facilities and bike lanes it offers to cyclists.

For one, bike sharing programs abound in cities like Paris and Lyon, France. The bike sharing program in Barcelona, Spain, is offering third generation technology enabling riders to pay a yearly fee, and "loan" bikes with a credit card facsimile.

There are also programs in Pamplona, Spain; Rennes, France; and Düsseldorf, Germany. "Even Rome, whose narrow, cobbled streets and chaotic traffic would seem unsuited to pedaling, recently started a small trial program, Roma’n’Bike, which it plans to expand soon," reported the NY Times yesterday.

Cyclist Still in Dire Condition

The cyclist who was struck by a motorist this past Sunday is in a medical coma at the trauma center at the Hackensack University Medical center in New Jersey.

Camille Savoy, 54, was struck from behind by an SUV, and went through the car's windshield. He has a head injury, a broken back, a broken ankle and his lungs are filled with blood, according to the source who spoke on condition that he not be identified for reasons of privacy. Savoy was in a medically induced coma for reasons pertaining to his treatment.

The Bergen County prosecutor's office is still investigating the accident. A spokesperson for the Hackensack medical center said Savoy's condition is still being determined: on Sunday, he was listed in critical condition.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Identity of Fallen Cyclist Now Known


The cyclist who was hit by a motorist yesterday while traveling north on Route 9W was revealed as Camille Savoy, 54, of New York City, said Captain Beckmann of the Alpine, NJ police dept. Savoy's family has been notified

The cause and circumstances of the accident are still under investigation, said Beckmann. But riders who passed the accident scene yesterday were confronted with a crushed bicycle and littered personal effects of Savoy's bike jersey.

Savoy is listed under critical condition at the Hackensack University Medical center's trauma unit. 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cyclist Hit by Car in Critical Condition

A 54-year-old male cyclist traveling north on route 9W was hit by a motorist at around 10 am this morning.

Alpine police responded to the emergency on a straightaway a few miles south of Closter Dock Road, and the cyclist was removed to the Hackensack Emergency Medical Center for trauma, where he is listed in critical condition, said Captain Jerry Beckmann.

Cpt. Beckmann said the nature of the rider's injuries, and his identity are not being released pending notification of his family, but he confirmed that the rider was from New York City.

By any cyclist's standards, the scene was horrific: the familiar flashing lights could be seen from a distance, and cars were backed up in both directions. As you neared the scene, you could see a twisted, flattened bicycle on the ground, its front wheel lying some distance away.

Another 20 feet away was a pile of torn lycra of the many colors one often sees on a team jersey--yellow--black, blue, pink. Motorists and cyclists were allowed only to pass on the far left--as far away from the accident scene as possible.

"Today was a gorgeous day, hence we get a lot more riders on a day like this, and many of them want to get their last ride in," said Beckmann, who said his police team handles a number of accidents between motorists and cyclists every year.

The accident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor's office, said Beckmann. No other cyclists were harmed in the accident, and it is still not clear how it occurred he said. The police will not release any information until an official determination of the cause of the accident is made.

"Anytime an officer responding to a scene sees serious personal injury," they make an assessment as to its seriousness and whether to call in the accident investigation squad. However, many cyclists who witnessed the wreckage thought the cyclist could not have fared well---and many feared the worst.

The scene was closed off so that any indicators of how the accident occurred--skid marks, the distance of where the body landed from the bicycle, and other essential marks, would not be disturbed prior to the arrival of the prosecutor's office. At 1:45 pm in the afternoon, the ground was still be combed over by a police officer in a yellow safety vest wearing gloves, as he put contents from the scene into a large plastic garbage bag.

"There are hundreds of cyclists that traverse 9W every weekend," said Beckmann who said this is one of the "unfortunate" things that sometimes happens. "All the cyclists and the motorists equally need to share the road and be cautious."

When asked if Beckmann had seen the latest article in the New York Times published today that said that the number of pedestrians and cyclist fatalities and accidents had risen sharply in New Jersey this year, and if he could comment anecdotally for the 9W area he said they did not have numbers for the area, but "those [NYT reported] statistics probably speak for themselves."

Some cyclists theorized that wet leaves may have played a role in the accident. Yesterday, Saturday, a cyclist traveling past Tallman State Park in Sparkill, NY, about 5 miles north of today's accident, was struck by a motorist as he rounded a blind corner: he also was taken to the hospital with serious injuries said an officer with the Piermont police dept. The officer said off the record that wet leaves played a role in that accident as the cyclist turned the corner, hit the leaves, and slid into the pathway of a motorist coming around the corner.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New Bike has no Seat!

This is pretty hilarious: a bike called the Randy Ross Stepper: it has no seat.

But the funniest thing is the video--with semi-porno, scratchy music, it shows models in G-strings "stepping" around outside in Palm tree lined avenues.

I can just imagine what their calf muscles are going to look like!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lance Announces Will Ride Tour with Astana

Disappoints on BBB bike advocacy question
September 25, 2008
Interbike, Las Vegas

This past Thursday seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong announced he will be riding for Astana for the 2009 Tour de France . His first race with the team will be at the Tour of California.

Armstrong said he is riding his eighth TDF to help raise money for cancer awareness for his not-for-profit, Livestrong, and will not be making a salary, keeping prize money, or receiving any bonuses for his participation. The length of time he plans to ride for the team is limited to a year, he said, at the end of which he intends to resume “other endurance competition.”

The announcement was made on the second day of Interbike, the largest get-together of bicycle industry businesses in the U.S. being held in Las Vegas from Sept. 24 to 26.

But at the same time he dodged a pointed question by Benepesbikeblog about what he will do to help make roads safer in the U.S. "Forty-five thousand people died because of cars last year, and many more from cancer from the exhaust of cars. Bike riding in the U.S. is still incredibly dangerous. Even here in Las Vegas it is impossible. What can you do to help make cycling safer?" she asked.
All cameras turned to Benepe who was wearing Hotvelociti's "Ciclismo es Ilicito" jersey signifying her contempt for people who tell us to get off the road, "you don't belong here."

Armstrong said he understands: he is not sure he would even allow his children to ride on the road because it is not safe. "That is why we need more trails," he noted, adding that it was government's job to make cycling safer.

"But government is taking too long," replied Benepe. "Change takes time," replied Armstrong.

The interchange was picked up by a handful of international news outlets, who thought the advocacy angle was more of a news item than Armstrong's team announcement. Some came to BBB afterwards to express their concern that it was the only important theme of the entire presser, and disappointment that he did not answer the question--and with his answer, that some found weak.

"At a press conference [Armstrong] stipulated to the disappointment of several US bike industry leaders that he will not use his name for cycling advocacy. When asked what he could do to get more people cycling outside the sport he answered: “That’s an issue for the Government”, reported Bike Europe.

The question is a good one and deserves to be answered properly by Armstrong: although it is admirable that he is leading the fight for cancer research, his work does little to help cycling. As a major world leader in the sport, he could make a tremendous difference for cycling around the world--much more than he could for cancer research. For one, he could motivate people and governments to make changes that are long overdue such as adding spaces on roads, and increasing penalties for drivers, and to move faster to convert facilities and options for cyclists.

One writer for Bike Europe said that the only thing that will work to make drivers more careful around cyclists is to send them to jail when they strike a cyclist--even if it is the cyclist's fault, said Jan Willem von Schalk after the presser. He noted that this law has been adopted in his hometown of Amsterdam, to great effect.

The BBB questions did lead to some soul-searching among American media usually so preoccupied with the next race, the next drug, and the next hot team. Wrote blogger Rich Kelly on the InterbikeBlog.com, "racers complain about unsafe drivers, or poor road conditions, but for the most part, our contribution to advocacy has been limited to complaining to the police officer who has pulled us over for not riding single file."

Armstrong's announcement was not without what has now become the standard audience heckling by Greg Lemond, previous tour winner who sat in the front row and questioned Armstrong about the legitimacy of his previous wins, and the testing for illegal performance enhancers during the years that he was TDF winner.

Lemond insisted twice during questions that Armstrong should be revealing his VO2 max, his historical VO2 to establish a baseline, and his current VO2 to determine if performance enhancers are being used.

Since 1997, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised more than $260 million to fight cancer.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More on Critical Mass Fracas: Could officer face criminal charges?

The press has been working overtime to divulge the police officer's behavior at last Friday's Critical Mass, when he pushed Christoper Long to the pavement, and then lied about it on his official NYPD report.

The officer was apparently a 23-year-old rookie, and there is no word yet about why he acted as he did.

If he doesn't get fired for his inappropriate behavior, he certainly will get fired for lying on his official report. Lying on a government document being used to document a criminal charge may also constitute fraud.

Therefore, I predict that not only will the rookie face civil charges from the cyclist, Christopher Long, he might also face criminal charges for lying.

Besides the video camera, there are a number of witnesses who were behind Long who saw the whole thing. Some of them have spoken privately behind the scenes and are aiding in Long's defense. Others were actually quoted in the press.

Here are some of the links:
Newsday: Rookie Cop Caught on Video Pushing Bike Rider
Information Week: Video Of N.Y. Police Officer Shoving Bicyclist A YouTube Hit..
in the article they mention it was viewed 260,000 times (that's in 2 days basically). This morning it was 727,583!!!
GaySocialites.com: New York Police Officer stripped of badge after tackling bicyclist [amazing video]
...And 333 other news articles.

This post by NY-1 News, added some new info:

Apparently the NY police union has come to Officer Patrick Pogan's defense, saying he asked the rider to stop because he was riding erratically.

But upon viewing the video, Mayor Mike Bloomberg said he thought the officer was out of line:
The police union is coming to the defense of that officer. President Pat Lynch of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said Officer Patrick Pogan “took action” when he observed the rider creating a “hazardous situation for the public.”

Lynch, who was unavailable for an on-camera interview, issued a statement saying the video shows the rider did not stop, like "any reasonable person" when approached by the officer.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday it looks to him like Pogan crossed the line.

“It looked to me to be totally over the top and inappropriate, but the police commissioner is going to or is in the process of doing an investigation. I don't want to prejudice any investigation,” said Bloomberg.

And, on the story about Seattle Critical Mass, some riders chime in.
And scores of other stories on the Seattle mess

Some of this is sure to cause controversy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NYC Critical Mass: Put Cuffs on the NYPD

Most of you may know already what happened at last Friday's (July 25th) Critical Mass in New York.

A New York City police officer is videotaped ripping a cyclist off his bike, and throwing him to the ground at the monthly event that draws between 300 and 500 cyclists.

The moment was captured on video tape and posted on YouTube for all to see.

Although there is no videotape of what the policeman saw, the rider did have a bike bag strapped on his back--making it look perhaps like a gun--and there is also no sound captured of what the policeman or the cyclist said--the cop's behavior is hard to explain.

But eyewitness accounts--one anonymous, said she was behind the cyclist, and he was just minding his own business and enjoying the ride when the cop came at him and threw him down. The cyclist, Christopher Long, of Hoboken, N.J., wasn't wearing a helmet, so the officer's action could have killed him, wrote anonymous posters to ebikes.

What's worse, the NYPD officer lied on his arrest report, saying that the cyclist deliberately hit him and caused him to sustain injuries, according to FoxNews .

Long was arrested because he was obstructing traffic in Times Square, a criminal complaint, according to police records. He was charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

The police report said that Long, 29, deliberately steered his bicycle into the officer, causing both of them to fall to the ground.

Good thing the videographer was there: it shows the officer deliberately--and aggressively--moving towards the cyclist and taking him down.

An isolated incident? Not so, say many writers to ebikes, a popular electronic exchange in New York.

Said Jesse Rechtschaffer, who often participates in the monthly ride, "This past May CM I was also arrested at Times Square. They grabbed me, threw me to the ground and stomped on my head. I'm glad I was wearing a helmet, " she wrote. The icing on the cake? Recht was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Many other cyclists reiterated her account, accusing the police of routinely using their badges as an excuse to rough up cyclists.

They are also glad the real behavior of police is finally being shown to the world. "I'm glad this cop was disciplined so quickly and I hope he's fired and charged and convicted of assault himself, " said Rechtschaffer: " I hope that now that the NYPD has egg on their face about this, that they will change their ways."

Martin Sarna who rides his bike to work every day was shocked recently to see a Ghost Bike memorializing Amelia Geocos, a 24-year-old rider, at First Avenue and 49th St., along his bike route to work. That's why the recent events make him so angry:

"The cops treat every critical mass ride like a riot -- they get themselves crazy. I've seen them preparing for them at Union Square. I asked a cop what was going on (because so many cops were assembling in one place with riot gear) and the guy said "it's a riot." Later that
night I found out that it was just that month's Critical Mass ride," wrote Sarna.

"I think the cops should be less antagonistic towards cyclists and more about enforcing protection for them," he added.

That note rings true for Critical Mass rides around the country: In Seattle, an aggressive motorist trying to exit his parking spot during a Critical Mass ride there was allegedly roughed up by cyclists. The matter was reported widely in the news: the cyclists, not the driver, who was driving a 3-ton weapon into a group of defenseless cyclists--were arrested.

A commentary by Ken Schram on Komo News in Seattle came out squarely in defense of the motorist, and lambasted the Seattle police for not doing more to regulate cyclists.

Schram misses the point entirely: he should blame the lack of passable, safe, and ubiquitous bike routes in Seattle, New York, and all across the United States. All Schram need do is take a trip to Switzerland, Copenhagen or the gem of all examples in safe bicycle transit, Amsterdam, to see how a city should cope with cyclists.

The city administration needs to work harder to make changes to the street infrastructure, but in the meantime, they need to put cuffs on the police force.

Friday, June 27, 2008

IKEA, the Waterfalls and Stolen Bikes

Summer months are always chock full of cycling stories. This week I'd like to highlight a couple.
As a journalist I just completed a video webcast story on the new IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It's the first IKEA in the five boroughs: prior to now, anyone seeking the inexpensive Swedish furniture and meatballs had to head out to Paramus, or Elizabeth, NJ.

I took the Water Taxi to Red Hook from Pier 11 in Manhattan, which is 2 blocks south of the South Street Seaport. Most subway trains will get you there, but if you are riding, just take Broadway all the way down to Lafayette St., until past City Hall, wind your way over via Fulton St. to the water. Use this handy NYC bike map to find your way!!! Amazing, New York government is getting better and better every day.

Water Taxi employees said bikes were allowed on the Water Taxi which for two more weeks is FREE! Some cyclists have reported being turned away with their bikes, so you should contact their main office prior to committing to the ride.

Daniel Lieberman, founder of E-Bikes, a private electronic exchange, takes bike riders to the nearby historic tram parked behind the Fairway--at least once a year. Right behind the caboose is the two-year-old Brooklyn Fairway. Did you know that Manhattanites are taking the trip from lower Manhattan to IKEA and Fairway? Lieberman will be taking his bike tour on July 13th as part of the 50-mile "Brooklyn Ultra Perimeter" ride, posted at the Five Borough Bike Club site day ride page (see directly below for link.) The ride meets at 8 am at City Hall--and you already know how to get there because you accessed the NYC Bike Map, above, right?

Also this weekend, the Five Borough Bike Club (5BBC) will be taking riders on a 20-mile tour to see the new waterfall installations along the East River by Olafur Eliasson. The ride starts at Columbus Circle at 57th St. and Broadway at 7 pm on Saturday, June 28, and will be led by none other than Josh Gosciak, Jim Zisfein, and Susan Levine (Gosciak and Zisfein are frequent contributors to the political musings about cycling in New York on E-bikes).

New York Cycle News also lists all the major ride listing sites and clubs in the area.

Now for some bad news. One reader wrote to me about a stolen bike this past weekend. It is probably not the only bike that has been stolen in the past week, but my guess is the declining economy combined with greater bicycle usage during the summer months will lead to many more happy fingers. One word of advice: if you have a nice bike, don't leave it outside. Recently, I rode to an appointment, and asked a local car garage to mind my bike. They were reluctant at first, because they did not have a bike policy, but I made a money motion with my fingers, and said "money." They put my bike in their locker room. For a $5 tip, it was worth the peace of mind.

Here is her notice and a photo of the bike:
"...I left it at work on Morton Street in the West Village and just am so sick about this. I had the NYC Kryptonite lock, but that couldn't stop whoever (may you rot in hell) from slipping the bike out.....Whoever knows it's whereabout's and leads me to it....there is a generous reward.... It happened on my birthday this past Thursday, June 19th. " Please email bella1212@aol.com if you see the bike.
(It's a 2-year-old Bianchi).
Wrote Charlie McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat at 244 Lafayette St., possibly one of the coolest bike shops in New York, (you can visit him on your way down to the IKEA ferry, say hi from me,) "The highest rates of return is when the bike is spotted outside the delivery place that bought it. I would check around at the various delivery places in the neighborhood in which the bike was stolen."

You can also check 8th Street and Cooper Square on the East Side where an informal stolen bike marketplace is set up. Sometimes the crook will be hawking your bike within 24 hours of it being stolen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Lance Sightings

My last blog (see below) about rumors of Lance sightings were quickly followed by calls from the first hand reporters.

Though unwilling to be revealed publicly for this article, the New Jersey-based rider said (through his wife) that he encountered Armstrong south of Piermont, on Rte. 9W. He saw the group up ahead, and not knowing who they were, caught up with them, only to find it was Armstrong riding with a "beautiful blond woman dressed in white," who "seemed to know what she was doing," on the bike. Four or five other men were riding with the woman, whom he could not identify.

When they approached the intersection in Palisade, NY, just north of State Line, Our Informant powered up the hill going 15 mph past Armstrong and the beautiful blond, and at the top of the hill found Armstrong right behind him.

OI said they rode together nearly to Clinton (about 8 miles) talking about his dog (OI named his dog "Lance" after Armstrong, to which Armstrong replied, "I hope it isn't a Chihuahua, because I don't like those kind of dogs.")

Armstrong was riding a checkered yellow and black Trek, and a yellow Livestrong helmet. They also discussed cycling in Italy (OI returned not too long ago from a two week stay riding in the Alps. They talked about Max Lelli and Fontanelli);and Armstrong described how he had taken his son to Yankee stadium to "pull the lever" for the game. Finally, they discussed the music biz, said OI.

When OI returned home, he told his excited family whom he had ridden with, but he still could not identify the beautiful woman that was riding with Armstrong.

OI's teen aged daughter said, "I bet it was Kate Hudson," and she went to the Internet and brought up a photo and sure enough, it was Hudson.

Okay, enough gossip. That wasn't the only Lance sighting, I was told. Another New Jersey cyclist ran into Armstrong last week.

And it was only by mere coincidence that I wrote his name and spoke about the progress the city is making in cycling: ONLY today it was announced that the city will be closing one long street-way--sort of a long extension of Park Ave. from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge, for three Saturdays in August from 7 am to 1 pm, as a sort of experiment.

In a photo in today's New York Times discussing the measure, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is pictured with DOT Commish Janette Sadik-Kahn, Armstrong, and other well known faces. We also learned that there will be a yellow bike program --that is, free bikes for the using--associated with the program.

According to another report, NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver manuevered a yellow bike program in lower Manhattan this summer which started last Friday, the 13th and is dubbed Bike Around Downtown Bicycle Sharing Program.

So this city is finally becoming livable, after all these years.