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 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.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekend Ride Gossip: Lance Sighting!!! And NYC is Getting Better all the time

Okay so when you get to ride with a couple of people on the weekend, you pick up some news: Lance Armstrong sightings!

Lance was not only seen but allegedly rode with one of our townies along the Rte. 9W to Piermont, well traveled route on either Tuesday or Wednesday of last week. In addition, he apparently slowed down enough so our New Jersey based friend could keep pace with him.

Was he visiting Sheryl Crow, his crooning ex? No, allegedly he now has an apartment in New York and is living here full time!

Can anyone please confirm that allegation?

And if true, then could that mean he might soon open another bicycle shop in addition to his new shop in San Antonio, Texas? Please tell me this is a possibility Lance, we need all the help we can get to promote cycling in the region.

The Lance sighting probably means that a lot more of you will be playing hooky this summer during the day in the hopes that you can run into the fabulously famous and handsome biking dude who won all our hearts when he won the Tour de France seven times in a row.

Hey, can you match that kind of dedication, focus and resolve? also recently got updated with all kinds of rides and ride schedules, as well as links to some hot new electronic media!

For example, did you know that there is a site now, that provides mapping for bike rides in New York City? It's a non-profit run by three enterprising people who have their hearts in cycling and still have day jobs!

Today we really have reason to rejoice about cycling in New York City. For one we have a great mayor who is finally putting some emphasis on making the city green, and a great new Department of Transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Kahn.

Since Mayor Bloomberg announced a number of anti-congestion incentives and since Sadik-Kahn took over at DOT, there have been a rash of cycling improvements city wide.

Today I also noted a whole new generation of new electronic, web-based tools and guides for cycling, a number of them newly minted by the DOT.

They include, a bicycle route installation schedule, and a special page addressing the transportation needs of cyclists.

Not only that since I began my search for bike event calendars, I found a whole new generation of websites dedicated to cycling emanating from NYC, including Charlie McCorkell's calendar, and blogs dedicated to the LOVE of cycling. These are all listed now on the NYCyclenews Bike Calendar page.

Included there is a listing for Glen's Montauk Ride. If any of you know the history behind that, the Five Boro Bike Club hosts their ride on May 18th and Glen's goes off this month on the 21st.

If you recall, Glen and the 5BBC had a falling out two years ago over the administration of the Montauk Century which was managed by him and sponsored by the club. They eventually settled out of court in a confidential agreement, but both sides still have bruised feelings on the topic. My advice, go to both rides, you'll have fun and you'll take off some weight--both physical and spiritual.

I think now that New York is finally becoming more bikable, it's time for us all to make up and be friends again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cyclist Down on 9W

A cyclist traveling northbound was hit and injured on 9W by a motorist turning left onto the Palisades Parkway last Sunday around midday.

The cyclist, Gerry Louw was riding north on 9W at the head of a group of four cyclists, when the motorist turned without warning directly in front of him.

The motorist, a woman of about 55 or 60 years old, shortened the angle of her turn to avoid Louw but hit him anyway. She was attempting to drive onto the on ramp to the southbound Palisades Parkway about one half mile south of State Line.

Louw sustained multiple lacerations, road rash and other injuries to his back, leg and other body parts: His bike was likely damaged beyond repair.

Police officers from the nearby Alpine police unit were on hand as well as Palisades Parkway police when Benepesbikeblog came on the scene.

Louw said he had the right of way, but the motorist disregarded him and turned in front of him. He also said that last year someone from his triathlon team was hit at the same intersection, in an identical manner and sustained severe injuries.

BBB has witnessed the result of a similar accident last year, where a cyclist was badly injured in the same location, again by a southbound motorist turning onto the parkway.

Louw said he is willing to work with others to improve the safety of the intersection, which he said is very dangerous for cyclists, including putting pressure on local DOT and police to install more or better traffic indicators at the intersection.

"I do want to use this to make other cyclists aware of the danger out there and to see what I can do to make the on-ramps to 9W safer, or improve cyclist-police relationships (they do not seem to like us - I wonder why?) Since we as cyclists use 9W a LOT I think we should do something about making it a better and safer environment for us," he said.

If you wish to contact Louw please leave your comment on this blog with your email address.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cyclist Dead in Matamoros

An intoxicated American driver plowed through a bicycle race in Mexico Sunday, killing a 16-year-old cyclist and injuring five others.

The race was taking place across the border from the U.S., in Matamoros, Mexico, and had Mexican and American riders participating, many of them under the age of 20.

The Brownsville based driver, 29-year-old Jesse Campos killed 30-year-old Brownsville cyclist Alejandro Alvarez, and injured Alejandro Salvador Tamez Guerra, 18 years old, Juan Machaita, 38 years old and Guadalupe Sustaita Martínez, 16 years old in the third annual Matamoros-Bagdad Cycling Tour. Two other unidentified riders were injured including a 14-year-old.

News reports both say Campos was under the influence, but one report said he was using cocaine, and another said he was drunk and had fallen asleep at the wheel.

The gender of the injured rider Guadalupe is not known, but the name is often for a woman in Mexico. Mexican races often combine fields by age, gender and ability.

A race flyer published on the Internet says the race on June 1 was to go from Campestre del Lago to the beach Bagdad, a distance of 15.5 miles or 34 kilometers. The notice said that gifts and breakfast would be given, and registration was $15 for regular participants and $10 for students--high by Mexican standards where local fun races are normally $10 and under.

The event was sponsored by two organizations, the Mexican Ciclismo en Linea (Cycling in Line), and the Brownsville, TX based Bicycle World of Brownsville. Their event notice also said, "This event is not for racing, but a familiar route where people of any age can always participate, and where many abilities can cover the course."

The event notice also said that the "race" course would have hydration points, with support from the Red Cross, Mexican transit police, Federal Police, Municipal Police, Civil Protection, the National Commission for Emergency, and a team of volunteers.