2007-12-01 – Time’s Up! Direct Action – Carbusters

Time’s Up!
Direct Action in the Big Apple

By Sara Stout
In September 2007, Time’s Up! Environmental
Group celebrated its 20th birthday. Founded in
1987, by Bill D iPaolo and a handful of
volunteers, Time’s Up! has remained committed
to its original m ission of improving the
environment by empowering individuals to
become active members in their communities.
After 20 years, the group has grown to include
over a hundred volunteers and engages
thousands of people in its activities every year.
Time’s Up! started with a poster campaign
aimed at raising awareness about the connections
between everyday choices and environmental
issues. From there, the group has gone on to
support a w ide variety of projects – ranging from
protecting community gardens, to traffic calming
rides, to raising awareness about preserving rain
forest ecosystems.
Time’s Up! is unique in that it is run entirely
by volunteers. “This means that the people
involved are very passionate about what they are
doing,” says Barbara Ross, a volunteer who has
been working with the group for over a decade.
“We do what we do, not because we are getting
paid, but because we know that protecting the
environment is the right thing to do,” she says.
Barbara’s first experience with Time’s Up!
was in 1994, when she joined a “Moonlight
Ride” in Central Park: “In those days, nobody
went in the park alone after dark.” By providing
safety in numbers, Time’s Up! makes
it possible for people to enjoy riding in
the park at night. Barbara then went
on other group rides, where she gained
confidence navigating city streets with
cars. Before honing her skills on these
group rides, she rode only for
recreation. Now Barbara’s bike is her
primary m ode of transportation. She
also rides with the Time’s Up! Clown
Brigade, leading rides where cyclists
dressed as clowns give tickets to cars
parked illegally in the bike lane.
“I think some of our strongest
campaigns have been in promoting non-polluting
transportation” Time’s Up! director Bill D iPaolo
says. “M any of our other projects, like protecting
public space and community gardens have been
very successful too, but the great thing about our
transportation campaigns is that there really isn’t
a limit to how m any people could be riding bikes,
especially in Manhattan where m ost people don’t
own a car.”
Aside from leading group bike rides, Time’s
Up! has promoted non-polluting transportation
member group profile
with a variety of campaigns and activities. From
helping to introduce pedicabs in Manhattan in
1992, to campaigning tirelessly for Carfree Parks,
to pioneering the Street M emorial Project –
commemorating cyclists and pedestrians killed by
motorists, to hosting workshops teaching new
riders basic bike m aintenance, Time’s Up! has
been successful in improving the environment on
the streets of NYC and has also served as an
example for other groups around the world.
“One thing that continually impresses and reinspires
m e about Time’s Up! is how the group is
able to take on new campaigns and produce new
events thanks to the energy and focus of new
volunteers building on the work the group has
done in the past” says Hannah Borgeson, who
has been involved with Time’s Up! since the
Central Park Traffic Calming Rides started in
1993. “More so than with other groups I’m
involved with, at Time’s Up! people connect the
dots across a w ide range of issues, and m ake
everything seem intuitive and easy.”
Operating on a shoestring budget and
sometimes facing strong opposition from the
powers that be, Time’s Up! has not only survived
20 years in action, but is thriving. “In the next
20 years the issue of protecting the environment
will become even m ore im portant” Bill D iPaolo
says. “Our goal is to keep our group sustainable,
by supporting each other and working together so
that w e can continue to promote sustainability on
a larger scale.”
Congratulations and Happy Birthday Time’s
For m ore information, inspiration and the
special Time’s Up! timeline: .
Still W e Ride, the documentary about
Manhattan’s Critical Mass Bike Ride and Time’s
Up!’s efforts to defend the rights of NYC cyclists
is available from the W CN Resource Center (see
pages 28-29