Last night, New York City Dept. of Transportation Senior Policy Advisor Jon Orcutt spoke to the New York Cycle Club. He had several vitally important messages for cyclists:
– The NYC DOT is 100% behind improving bicycle infrastructure. There are wonderful projects in the works and we are going to see a huge growth in cycling AS LONG AS the Bloomberg administration is in office. For example, the new bike share program is going to be huge and run by experienced international vendors. The bike parking plans are everything we could hope for. And much, much more.
– When Mayor Bloomberg leaves office, there is no assurance that the next mayor will be in favor of cycling (during the last election, Bloomberg’s opponent said he planned to remove bike lanes). Furthermore, a VERY vocal minority is speaking out against cyclists.
Therefore, in order to maintain the advances, cyclists _MUST_ get involved in local politics and advocacy and actively work to protect cyclist rights. We CAN NOT AFFORD to sit on our asses and passively accept the favors. Active engagement includes: writing letters to the media; on-street protesting against laws that hurt cycling; community advocacy; joining and attending community board and city council meetings; joining and funding advocacy groups (such as Transportation Alternatives and Bikes Belong); observing all street laws; doing anything else you can think of that promotes cycling, STOPS backlash, and helps solidify gains.
– The New York police dept. has been directed to ticket cyclists regularly. No one wants to hear this. But the status quo, of cyclists riding however they please, is entirely unsustainable from any perspective, especially the political and practical. The administration, which supports cycling 100%, can not be seen to condone or coddle law breakers. Also, in the political realm, it is impossible to argue that cyclists should not be ticketed until after all the motorists start driving properly; it’s not going to happen. Orcutt did not give a time table for this, but presumably this more aggressive stance starts immediately and we’ll see abundant ticketing in the spring, as cycling picks up.
– All this goes for New Jersey cyclists as well. YOU MUST GET INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS. NOW!
THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
RIGHT NOW: Stop bitching about the unfairness of it all and how motorists do the same stuff and get away with it. This accomplishes nothing and creates a culture of apathy. THIS WILL KILL CYCLING.
TODAY: 1) join Bikes Belong and Transportation Alternatives and pay at least double the basic joining fee, if not more; and 2) make a commitment to get personally involved in grass roots advocacy.
TOMORROW: 1) write your local city council member and mayor in support of cycling and bike infrastructure; 2) find out when your community board and city council next meet and make a commitment to attending the meeting in order to personally, face to face, voice your support of cycling.
THE NEXT DAY: 1) write your local news organizations in support of cycling and safer streets; 2) Volunteer with a cycling advocacy group to help their efforts.
FOREVER: Obey the road rules, engage in the community. (Law breakers will never gain the hearts of the community, which is what we need to do.) Never let up. Once a month, _DO_ something that supports cycling in the political and public realm.
Orcutt’s bio (he’s also a cyclist).
NY Cycle Club meeting summary
(Hey, look, it’s Robert Matson in the red shirt, front row.)
Bikes Belong: http://www.bikesbelong.org/
Transportation Alternatives: http://transalt.org/