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LARA LEBEIKO: "A History of Biking"
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LARA LEBEIKO: "A History of Biking"

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Biking in NYC grew by more than 20% last year. More people are using cycling as a means of getting around the city, or just getting fit. But it hasn't always been this way. 20 years ago, the NY …

Biking in NYC grew by more than 20% last year. More people are using cycling as a means of getting around the city, or just getting fit. But it hasn't always been this way. 20 years ago, the NY Department of Transportation was planning on installing stairs - not walkways - onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Activists were encountering heated backlash for pushing the idea of biking in the city. Cyclists were spat on, yelled at, cut off, and at times, arrested. Learn more about the early days of cycling in NYC, hear more about and what it takes even now to create a more bike-friendly city - from bike lanes to bike parking - and why this change matters to the future of the city.
@natashaf8, http://bicyclehabitat.com

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  • Oh my gosh, is she really going to talk about bikes? I spent several years in digital advertising, and in my career as a digital strategist stumbled into getting involved with marketing a bike store here in New York City. Little did I know what I was in for.
  • Bicycle Habitat is the largest and one of the oldest bike stores in NYC, as well as the country. I run the Twitter account, @bicyclehabitat and have learned to love the store. Personally, I am not an advocate; I am not a serious sportsman or dedicated messenger. I just like the exercise and fresh air. But in my time at Bicycle Habitat, I have had access to one of the original advocates of cycling. = this is more the history your grandfather would have told you.
  • But first, let’s step back a bit. The dandy horse (no pedals; Flintstone; dandelion)
  • Penny … velocipede… poor center of gravity, not the safest. (Doesn’t this look like a precursor to the Williamsburg bridge?) So was invented the safety cycle, what we know now as the modern day bicycle: low center of gravity, rear-driven bike.
  • I’m no science buff, but a few more brief facts: As bikes matured, in the1900s: Aluminum. Coaster brakes. Paving roads. -> Cycling more popular. More accessible. Blah blah science: let’s talk about New York.
  • Meanwhile there’s this place called named New Amsterdam, which we now know as New York City. (Interesting as New Amsterdam is the biggest cycling capital in the world.) Primarily a port city, around 1898 New York incorporated Brooklyn and Queens as we know it and quickly became one of the biggest cities in the world.
  • In 1811 New York started establishing its grid structure, a precursor to affording a system for growth and functioning. Through the 1800s, roads were being paved, and around the turn of the century bridges were being built to connect Manhattan to the surrounding boroughs.
  • Manhattan became widely accessible to pedestrians, streetcars and automobiles. Central Park was established for mass recreation, to create a shared green space for NYC citizens. At the beginning of the 1900s, subways were built and evolving into what we now know as the MTA; and as we all know, mass production of autos began. But ultimately it was the era of Robert Moses who built a solid (and controversial) infrastructure (e.g. BQE and Cross-Bronx Expwy), taking land by eminent domain, refreshing Central Park, instituting the Ocean Parkway land ways. Two world wars, the baby boom…and then:
  • Susan B Anthony says nothing has done more for the emancipation of women than the bicycle. It provided them with actual freedom to move, to work, to get what they need and freedom to move with pleasure and leisure. But it wasn’t until the ‘70s that cycling resurged in popularity, perhaps with the invention of the 10-speed. Speculation is out there, but regardless: there’s a sellout.
  • So, where does that bring us? Our store owner, Charlie was one of the original presidents of Transportation Alternatives, a phenomenal advocacy group here in NYC. I’ve heard stories that will make you laugh. Anyone who’s owned a store in NY since 1978 will have plenty of stories. But most recently, bike ridership is up. 20%. What’s changed?
  • Recent times (past 20 years or so): Struggle between roads and cars. Illegally painted bike lanes. 1970s- Charlie. You’d get spit on. In the 1980s, NYC banned bikes from major east-side avenues; messengers striked until it was revoked. 2009- Williamsburg. Repaint bike lanes after lanes removed.
  • Bridges were originally constructed with pedestrian and car access. Many were arrested for biking to protest for bike access on the Brooklyn bridge! Likewise, adding a bike lane to Prospect Park West’s road was a controversial effort with the community board. Some seriously heated arguments. So, while cycling has grown, hat’s changed?
  • Nothing in NY is easy. If cycling in the city has always been a struggle and controversial. what’s changed? The issue now is: Congestion + sustainability. (Travel time. Traffic flow. Efficiency. Resources. Longevity.) 2010 is the first year that more cars were junked than purchased. Trend is happening – we are trying to change our ways.
  • .4% commute by bike; 1.4% in Portland; Europe has numbers of 15-25% in many countries. However, New York’s lifestyle is conducive to bike commutes. And nationally, this year is the first year in decades that more cars were junked than purchased.
  • Mayor Bloomberg has organized a team and an intitative. Plus, folks like Ray LaHood of the US DOT, Paul White of Trans Alt, and my favorite, Janet Sadik-Kahn of the NYC DOT. “Half a million people go through Times Square each day. It's 90% pedestrians and 10% vehicles, yet 90% of the space has been allocated to vehicles. In an urban environment as complex as New York's, with more than 6,000 miles of streets, in-demand public space, and another million people expected to come here in the next 20 years, we can't accommodate everyone by just triple-decking our roads. We're changing our streetscape's DNA with more trees, benches, and good design, and with bus and bike lanes and pedestrian areas, so that it's about more than just moving cars from point A to point B.
  • One of the major goals is to create more room for bikes. You’ve probably seen the green lanes. Some are shared lanes, some are separate lanes, and some involve the bike box you might have seen, designed to calm traffic and also create more safety for cyclists. Number of cyclists has grown 20% consistently escalating as well.
  • “No one behaves”. Number of cyclists is growing, and will continue to grow. Assuming change continues, and that the administration commits- what matters? First, for pedestrians: Try a day on the road. One, because it’s fun, and two because you’ll understand the flow. Get a friend to be your guide. For bikes, Bike and Roll is cheap and easy. Free bikes on Governor’s Island. Grab a free bike map from the NYC DOT.
  • “no one behaves” – but we have to try. Have fun, go fast, don’t be a jerk. Specifically: respect traffic lights. Communicate with others. Ride with trafffic.
  • Blogger Bike Snob invented the craftiest term: salmoning. Going the opposite way of traffic. Most drivers do not want to hit you. Most pedestrians do not want to get hit. Use your lights, and don’t salmon! Also, if you commute to work, the NYC DOT passed the bike access regulation so you can bring your bike into work. Look into it. Demphasize ticketing; engineer streets to be bike friendly.
  • We have to do something about the future. From my vantage point, cycling is not the answer – but it is an answer. A few more highlights: these racks are a collaborative with David Byrne of the Talking Heads, to add some flare to the function. Garage parking is now available – and you can park your bike at work, or in a nearby garage – new regulation. Ride summer streets next year, where you can go from the bk bridge to CP. Get involved in your community boards and Transportation Alternatives. Sign Bikes Belong petition. Follow us on Twitter. Bus and bike-friendly streets are in our future. THANK YOU! 
  • Transcript

    • 1. Lara LEBEIKO
      A History of Biking
      @natashaf8
    • 2. A history of cycling.
      New York city
    • 3. A BYSTANDER. NOT a HISTORIAN.
    • 4. THE PRECURSOR.
    • 5.
    • 6. Al
    • 7. MEANWHILE…
    • 8. MANHATTAN GRID
    • 9. ESTABLISHED NEW NORMS
      1870s Central Park
      1880s Brooklyn Bridge
      1900s NYC subways
      1920s Ford + mass production of automobiles
      1930s Robert Moses + infrastructure
    • 10. THE U.S. BIKE BOOM
      1965-1975: SOLD MORE BIKES THAN CARS
      “Our nation faces a severe bike shortage”
      ~ Time Magazine
    • 11. AS WE KNOW IT
    • 12. THE STRUGGLE
    • 13. THE NEED FOR ACCESS
    • 14. CONGESTED ≠ SUSTAINABLE
      text.
    • 15. AMERCIAN LIFESTYLE
      Less than 1% commute by bike
      Majority own and commute by car
      Obesity is a major issue
      NEW YORK LIFESTYLE
      Majority do not own a car
      Most trips are 3 miles or less
      Largest thoroughfares used by individual vehicles
    • 16. ROBIN HOOD
      A new standard of mobility.
    • 17. LESS ROOM FOR CARS, MORE ROOM FOR BIKES
      1997 50 mi
      2006 100 mi
      2010 400 mi
      Goal: 1800 miles (PLANYC)
    • 18. A DAY IN THE LIFE
      PEDESTRIANS, LEARN THE ROAD
      • Try a bike. (Rent, borrow, ride.)
      • 19. Don’t walk in the lane. (You wouldn’t walk in the road.)
      • 20. Open your doors slowly. (Thanks.)
      • 21. Support alternatives.
    • LEARN THE ROPES
      CYCLISTS, LEARN THE ROPES
      • Same rights. (Take a lane.)
      • 22. Same rules. (No sidewalks.)
      • 23. Communicate. (Use lights. Use bells.)
      • 24. Ride with traffic.
    • NO SALMONING, FOLKS
      Something’s fishy about you.
    • 25. OLD STREETS ARE HISTORY.
      #BIKENYC