February/March President's Message

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February/March President's Message

By Ellen Jaffe 


Fellow NYCC Members,

After our jam-packed SIG Club meeting on Tuesday, February 14, with prospective Siggies winding up the stairs and out into the ground-floor bar at Annie Moore’s, it was no surprise to see that a few hundred New Yorkers sat by the “Send” button at 8am on Tuesday, February 15, when SIG and STS registration officially opened.

With everything so quickly close to full, opening day has clearly become an event as word is out that spots in our renowned program go fast!

Consider that our 2,200 member base supports a program that trains 500 riders − an astonishing ratio.

Pardon if I swell with pride that our all-volunteer engine pulls off such a complex and valued program at such an astoundingly high level.

All praise is due to our SIG and STS chiefs for their superb organization and devotion − to Mitch, Sarah, Wayne, Lisa, George, Victor, Dave, Gerald, Tamara, Laurie and to our 100+ ride leaders behind it. There is no other program in the country like our SIG and nothing that so makes the Club shine.

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One important goal this year, discussed at the first of what we aim to make an annual “SIG Leader Summit,” is our goal to keep the ride calendar full outside of SIG and STS rides for those members who are not involved in either. Naturally that takes leaders and it is leaders we will focus on this year − motivating new leaders to step up and train, partnering them with seasoned leaders.

In particular, it is clear our C ride offerings need shoring up. To this end, I will personally take any leader out to dinner on my own dime if you lead 8 non-SIG C rides in 2012.


I hope everyone has been keeping an eye on the Silent Auction we are holding in conjunction with the Kids Ride Club Benefit on March 26.

Thanks to Grace Pineda for running the show and to members who’ve contributed so many terrific items.

City Councilmember Diana Reynes is Honorary Chair of the Benefit this year.

Better buy that ticket now. We only have 120 of them. Where else will you find a Manhattan benefit for $75 at such swank digs, with food, drink, gifts and a film screening (“The Triplets of Belleville”)? The answer is nowhere else!

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About our next Club meeting . . .

It’s a certainty that Annie Moore’s will be space-challenged on March 13 when Janette Sadik-Khan, our esteemed Commissioner of Transportation, speaks at our monthly meeting.

Of anyone in NYC, it is cyclists who owe the Commissioner an unforgettable thank you. I hope we'll rock the room with ours.

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Lastly, February 15 was a milestone in the fight for traffic justice in NYC.

The scene was the first ever hearing of the City Council Public Safety and Transportation Committee to focus on NYPD investigation of motor vehicle-on-bicycle crashes . . . or lack thereof.

The tragic death of cyclist Mathieu Lefevre last October 2011 in Brooklyn, twice hit by a truck, dragged nearly half a block by a driver who left the scene and who, when found, denied any knowledge of having hit him, helped catalyze this hearing. No charges were filed in Mathieu’s death.

By 10am the hearing room was filled and an overflow room necessary.

The crowd included victims’ families and advocates from New York’s advocacy organizations and bike tribes, including deeply concerned members of NYCC.

Co-Chairs Vallone and Vacco and Committee members, notably Jessica Lapin, Brad Lander, Gail Brewer and Letitia James spoke with knowledge and force about this extraordinary lapse in the justice system, closely questioning the NYPD brass who were present − exposing for all to see the fact that summonses are almost never issued by responding officers nor are drivers cited for reckless endangerment, no matter if the driver was texting, or making an illegal turn, or distracted or on the phone. Further, rarely is a complete investigation done to learn the true cause of the crash.

Palpable in the room was a collective anger at the obvious fact that there are almost never any real consequences for reckless driving that results in serious injury or death to a cyclist − that an environment has been created whereby careless driver behavior perpetuates itself unchecked.

Finally, it was the testimony of Erika Lefevre that trumped all, as she laid out in raw emotional terms the cost to her and her family on losing beloved son, Mathieu, and having his death compounded by a defensive police department caught in its own institutionalized behavior of treating a crash as an accident, leaving her and her family without justice − forcing them to sue the police department to obtain facts of the case.

Others presented testimony, but it was the families whose stories struck home, guaranteeing this shortfall in the justice system will not recede in our consciousness until the NYPD comes onto our side and makes consequences for reckless driving as much their campaign as it is ours.

With 10,000 shared bicycles about to be added to the city's traffic stream, with bicycling-as-transportation becoming an ever more  normalized means of getting around, this issue of 'traffic justice' will continue to be an important focus of NYCC going forward.


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Finally, I'd like to share a passage from a slim memoir by Paul Fournel called 'Need For the Bike' in which he dissects the experience of cycling like no one else I've read. He writes here of Ventoux, a climb I've never done, yet the metaphor resonates.....

"The Ventoux has no it-self. It's the greatest revelation of your-self. It simply feeds back your fatigue and fear. It has total knowledge of the shape you're in, your capacity for cycling happiness, and for happiness in general. It's yourself you're climbing. If you don't want to know, stay at the bottom."


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Hope to see you on the road.







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