Amoeblog

A BIKER'S DREAM: INNER CITY STREETS FREE OF CARS

Posted by Billyjam, August 25, 2008 12:15pm | Post a Comment

Cycling down a completely traffic-free Park Avenue in the heart of New York City over the weekend, I was reminded of the numerous futuristic or Sci-Fi movies in which the Big Apple is abandoned after some major disaster.

Last year's I Am Legend (available on DVD at Amoeba) -- in which Will Smith and his canine companion wandered a deserted midtown Manhattan -- specifically sprung to mind as myself and other cyclists, hikers, and skaters, unhindered by any autos, passed by the raised street level outside Grand Central Terminal at Park and 42nd Street, heeding the city's invitation to "Play. Run. Walk. Bike. Breathe." 

The reason there were no cars two days ago, and also on two previous Saturdays this month, was because it was the third and final weekend day in the first ever city initiated Summer Streets program. From 7AM to 1PM, all autos were banned on Park Avenue from 72nd on the Upper East Side all the way downtown, essentially connecting Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge -- a seven mile long distance, all traffic free!

But what made this whole cycling experience so special is that it is normally impossible to do a bike ride like that, at least in such a stress-free way.  Like most major cities, the best way to see New York is by bike, but the problem is that cycling round Manhattan is far from safe. Typically you take your life in your hands, maneuvering your bike through New York's congested auto-dominated streets, on weekdays especially, with erratic drivers (including lots of yellow cabs & buses) unpredictably accelerating and cutting you off or worse. And as for the few bike lanes on Manhattan's major thoroughfares: drivers notoriously ignore them and cut off cyclists all the time. I personally know of several NYC cyclists sent to the hospital due to negligent drivers.

Continue reading...

IF YOU TAKE A PHOTO YOU ARE SUPPORTING TERRORISM

Posted by Billyjam, August 2, 2007 12:01am | Post a Comment

I understand that many of the readers of this AMOEBLOG may not dwell in New York City or be anywhere even close to the East Coast, but the issue that is planned to be protested today (Thursday, August 2nd) in NYC -- fighting the possible ban on our freedom to take photographs in public places in New York City -- is something that seriously affects all of our civil liberties.

Here's the deal with this latest possible ban (bear in mind it may not even happen or may not be enforced even if it is made law) as reported recently by the New York Times and by a New York City politically charged group called NYC 911 Truth.
They say that the proposed banning would essentially mean that any non-insured still photographer or filmer, solo and more specifically a team of camera operators, would be targeted by this proposed ban that calls for a requirement of a one million dollar liability insurance policy in addition to a permit for various photography and filming actions that occurs for more then 10 minutes.

Reportedly the city claims it is only enforcing and "adjusting" old permit laws, to justify these actions. The police department has stated it will begin enforcing the laws, as of today August 2nd. Hence the planned protests for today, which are scheduled for protesters to begin gathering at 4:30PM today (Thursday August 2nd) at City Hall, downtown New York City to challenge the Mayor Bloomberg-enduced ban on filming and photography. 

If indeed this ban were to fully go into effect (and even in these crazy post 9/11 paranoid times seems unlikely, but possible), the implications would be very great and far-reaching. For example, at one NYC Critical Mass gathering I attended some time back (like in SF, also held on last Friday of the month) there were countless cyclists (unfairly in my opinion) arrested by the ever-vigilant NYPD, who packed them into the backs of Paddy Wagons and hauled their asses off to jail.