On Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 6:30 pm, New York Universitys Office of Government and Community Affairs hosted Cycling in the City: A Forum on Rider Rights and Responsibilities, which brought students, staff, community members, and city government together to learn about and discuss bike policy, maintenance, and safety.
Over 60 guests filled NYUs Kimball Hall, 246 Greene Street, where they were greeted with opening remarks from Rosie Mendez, followed by a demonstration by bike mechanic Austin Horse from Times Up! on how to maintain a safe bike and keep it secure in the city. Finally, Josh Benson from the New York City Department of Transportation presented strategies and policies that have emerged during Mayor Bloombergs administration that create safer streets and encourage bicycle use. Gary Parker, Director of Government and Community Affairs at NYU, moderated the event.
During her opening remarks, Councilmember and co-sponsor Rosie Mendez said, The Council is calling on the city to create more bike parking; to measure success if its streets by pedestrian and cyclist safety, not the speed of vehicles; and to establish clear policy on when a bike is deemed abandoned and how the police can remove it.
The demonstration by Times Up! used the grand prize of the evenings raffle, a brand-new Gary Fisher bike, to show how minor adjustments even to a new, store-bought bicycle can improve rider safety. Many mechanics get paid to put together bikes as quickly as possible, Austin said. Sometimes its less cost-effective for them to spend the time necessary to make sure its as safe as possible.
Josh Benson of the Department of Transportation presented some of the citys strategies for improving the safety of bikers and educating the public on safe practices. Examples included traffic calming, street redesign techniques, and the LOOK educational campaign that encourages all users of the road to look out for one another. After the presentation, moderator Gary Parker commented, Clearly this administration understands biking in the city more than any other.
At the end of the evening, Josh Benson from DOT also drew the ticket for the winner of the raffles grand prize, who was thrilled to replace her bicycle that had been been stolen just two weeks prior. After the event, Director of Government and Community Affairs Gary Parker remarked, It was great having such a diverse crowd of all ages come together to learn about bicycle safety and to discuss rider rights and responsibilities.
Marilyn Dorato, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Block Associations and co-sponsor of the event, originally proposed the idea to bring together different members of the community to discuss responsible and safe riding practices. Other sponsors included Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Councilmember Alan Gerson, the Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board 2 Manhattan, and the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.