2006-01-11 Call for Safer Conditions - Epoch Times

Cycling Advocates Call for Safer Conditions

http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/6-1-11/36775.html

Epoch Times International

January 11, 2006

By Evan Mantyk

NEW YORK - Floating five feet in the air, 100 bikes glistened in the afternoon sun at the corner of East Houston and Elizabeth Street. The bikes were held high in the hands of cyclists on Jan. 8 in symbolic remembrance of Andrew Morgan, who was hit and killed by a delivery truck at that spot on June 22, 2005.

The moment of silence for Morgan was part of a memorial ride put on to raise awareness about the 21 cyclists who were killed last year in New York City. In separate groups and converging at the end, the cyclists visited 13 such sites, where small memorials were erected.

The memorial ride, put on by a local environmental and bicycle advocacy group called Time's Up!, was held to call for safer conditions for cyclists in the city.

"While cyclists know of the hazards of riding on our unsafe streets, the community at large, unfortunately, only takes notice when one of us is killed," said Bill DiPaola, executive director of Time's Up!

Twenty of the 21 dead cyclists were killed by motorized vehicles. Also, according to DiPaola, this year's number of hit-and-run deaths for cyclists is higher than ever before.

Advocates say the need for a safe environment for city cyclists has become more pressing as the number of people riding bicycles in the city increases.

"The demand for safe biking is outweighing the supply," said Noah Budnick, project director of the cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

Budnick said the increase in riders is due to the changing environment of the city.

"It's the way the economic and crime situation of the city has turned around for the better since the mid-90s, and in spite of 9-11. The city has stayed strong, and attracted a lot of energetic people," said Budnick. Also, Budnick said, the city government deserves some credit for creating traffic free greenway paths for cyclists

Budnick considers himself a regular cyclist, and said he got rid of his car two months after moving to the city.

"I like riding everyday for the exercise-not like I'm just trying to get in shape. It's about quality life," said Budnick.

Now, the city's Hudson River Greenway that runs along the west side has become the busiest bike path in the country with 1,000 cyclists passing through a given spot each hour, according to a study done by Transportation Alternatives.

Advocates say some improvements for safer cycling are under way. Last month, Community Board 4 put its support behind a plan for a buffered bike lane on Eighth Avenue that would connect existing bike paths from 14th Street all the way up to 57th Street, where the new lane would meet the Central Park West bike lane that could take cyclists all the way up to 159th Street. Now it's just a matter of the city's Department of Transportation approving the plan and putting into action.

"Hopefully, they'll approve it in the spring, by May, for national bike month," said Matthew Roth of Times Up!

Copyright 2006, Epoch Times International

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