All is not rosy in the Big Apple…

We’ve covered a few positive NYC-area articles in the recent past…the Alta Bike Share program to be unveiled sometime this year, and the upcoming Bike Expo New York in the spring. We’ve also touched on the “bicycle backlash” as bike lanes and infrastructure gets installed on the streets of the Five Boroughs.

Looks like there’s more backlash coming…James Vacca, chairman of the City Council Transportation Committee, has some tough new rules and crackdowns for cyclists on NYC streets:

Vacca says, “We’ve got to make it clear that when you use a bicycle you have to go the right way on a one way street, you have to obey red lights, you have to stay off sidewalks. You have to consider motorists and pedestrians. You have to consider all users of public space in the city.”

You can read the full rundown of proposed legislation and find links to two interviews with Vacca by clicking here. Many of the legislative proposals target delivery cyclists…but it is unclear if that includes bike couriers. Obviously, ALL cyclists stand to be affected in some way by these proposals. Some of the proposals make sense, but as various news articles and bike advocates suggest, perhaps a similar focus should be committed to cracking down on vehicular scofflaws instead of blindly targeting only the two-wheelers.

If you’re an NYC resident, we’d love to hear what you think about these proposals and the perceived “backlash” as the city steadily becomes more bike-friendly.


  1. MelissatheRagamuffin

    Vacca says, “We’ve got to make it clear that when you use a bicycle you have to go the right way on a one way street, you have to obey red lights, you have to stay off sidewalks. You have to consider motorists and pedestrians. You have to consider all users of public space in the city.”

    MelissatheRagamuffin says: I’m sorry, but I don’t see the problem with that. Of course I don’t live in NYC, so I don’t have any dog in this fight.

  2. Ghost Rider

    As I mentioned in my commentary, some of the proposals and perhaps the underlying motive are sound and logical, but the bigger picture indicates that cyclists are being targeted… while the folks who drive insanely, double-park in designated bike lanes and other vehicle-based lawbreakers are not receiving the same focus.

    Ultimately, getting EVERYONE to safely and rationally share the space (cars, cyclists and pedestrians) should be the goal…not just targeting one group of users.

  3. Kevin

    I understand there is a potential for these proposals to get out of hand. But, I have to agree with Melissa. I live in CO where we have many bike lanes and wonderful trails to use to get across the city. Too many of the bicyclists abuse their ability to out maneuver traffic or abuse sidewalk rights. I feel if you’re on the road as a vehicle then follow the rules of the road as a vehicle and same goes for sidewalks…
    I understand where you’re coming from though too ghost too many times vehicles abuse the road and make it dangerous for everyone. As we make changes for bicyclists and get our fair share out here, we’re also going to be a target for those who have been abusing the system.
    Let’s post fairly against those who abuse and help those along who are not…

    Just my 2 cents…

  4. Ghost Rider

    Yes — this is a topic we’ve talked about here over the years, and one for it’s own dedicated article:

    Cyclists oftentimes aren’t doing themselves any favors by believing themselves “above the law” — many DO follow the rules, but the ones that don’t are the ones who get all the attention. The same applies with motorists.

    Nevertheless, targeting one group instead of ALL users is counterproductive and smacks of a growing-pains-style “witchhunt” — as more cyclists take to the streets, they’re getting way more enforcement attention. Is that a good thing? Yes and no…yes in the sense that it sends a message that two-wheelers have to stick to the rules, but no in the sense that if enforcement action doesn’t target other road users at the same time, there is unfairness afoot.

  5. BluesCat

    Riding on the sidewalk is permitted by Arizona law, but a community can put in place ordinances which override that.

    Riding a bike in Phoenix virtually REQUIRES riding the sidewalks at times, and whenever I do I try to be a “good cycling citizen” and slow it way down to just slightly above walking speed … for the most part.

    I can think of only one time when, for me, citizenship goes out of the window: that’s when a pedestrian or another bicyclist is oblivious to me or others because he or she has a *@!# set of earbuds in their heads.

  6. harry krishna

    when i was there for two weeks in mid ’80’s, i got real tired of dodging bicycles on the sidewalks. i took my bike (bad idea) and had no real problem operating as a vehicle.

  7. Japhy Ryder

    Also not from NYC, but have visited and agree with harry. I agree that everyone should get the same treatment, but I am open to being “targeted” if that only means I’m expected to obey the existing/fair laws.

  8. karen

    Whether in the car or on my bike, I’m pretty rules bound and make every effort to obey the law. Bicycling infractions such as pedaling the wrong direction in the bike lane or on the road do specifically target cyclists since it is a problem peculiar to some cyclists ( a minority, I agree, but an incredibly irresponsible one). NYC has been doing big things to increase bike commuting and, yes, has been met with some resistance by those who resent what they see as an invasion into their space. They feel targeted, too, no doubt.

    Look, as a city employee (not NYC) for quite some time, I’ve fielded plenty of calls from motorists angry because they received tickets for speeding, running stops signs, illegal parking, etc,and they always feel their ticket was completely unjustified and that officers could make better use of their time. Where I live, we need more enforcement of cycling infractions, not less. The same could also be said of vehicular infractions as well. I won’t feel targeted either way.

  9. Champs

    “[Bicyclists] have to consider motorists and pedestrians.”

    So long as he also adds “motorists have to consider bicyclists and pedestrians” and “pedestrians have to consider motorists and bicyclists” I’m fine. But he won’t.

  10. d.d.abs

    true, bikes are kinda being targeted. the last bike ticket i got was for crossing from the bike lane on a bridge (a shared pedestrian / bike path) to the bike lane on the street at the base of the bridge. There were two police giving tickets to every bike that came off the bridge. I asked how i was supposed to go from the bike lane on the bridge to the street and they didn’t have an answer. Anyway, two months later when I had to go to court to pay this, all the tickets they gave to bikes that day were dismissed, so it was bogus, but proof that sometimes bikes are easy targets.

  11. Ghost Rider

    @Champs — yes, EXACTLY what I was getting at. Thank you.

  12. Mir.I.Am

    So SAD but TRUE:

    Auto-centric thinking can be reflected in said “tough new rules”.

  13. bkCommuter

    I commute in nyc daily, and would love for something to be done about people riding the wrong way down the street. Can’t stand salmon forcing me to swerve into traffic or into parked cars or pedestrians. It’s dangerous for everyone, when someone rides the wrong way down the street.

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