Who's doin' it?

19 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Could it be that the NYC Century ride is looked upon
as a junk ride? Well, I guess I will strike out on
my own C12 ride with the masses...unless someone else confesses to having signed on

If you have a notion to motion, please let me know. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

I normally marshal the NYC century. It's a very urban ride, with starts & stops & sometimes erratic fellow riders. You visit great places & make it whatever you want it to be. Ex: get a small posse together and commit to doing it in a disciplined manner & you've turned it into an NYCC-caliber ride. Or, like me, donate your time and energy to help others have a safe and enjoyable ride.

Anonymous's picture
george (not verified)

I ride it every year and there's nowt junky about it. You don't have to ride across the GWB, which by September I'm getting very bored of, and you get free ice cream at the end. Whats not to like?

Anonymous's picture
Sue (not verified)
I am new...

How long is the century ride and when is it? I will try something new if I think I am hack it.

Anonymous's picture
marion (not verified)
info on NTC Century Bike Tour


NYC Century Bike Tour

for info on ride."

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
The Century Of A Thousand Lights ...

... traffic lights :(

Anonymous's picture
Judith Tripp (not verified)

Worse than traffic lights, the dreaded wraps.

Anonymous's picture
jhaar (not verified)
nyc century

it's sorta like the ny marathon- not a pleasant run- but nice views and a good experience.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)


Anonymous's picture
Judith Tripp (not verified)
The wraps that were at the picnic . . . .

Perhaps they're not on the menu any more? I guess I haven't done the NYC Century for a couple of years. And they were probably just fine, as wraps go, I'm just not a big fan.

Anonymous's picture
Judith Tripp (not verified)
No wraps, wrong century!!!

Sorry, my mistake. I thought we were talking about the Escape from New York Century, instead of the exact opposite.

Anonymous's picture
hal eskenazi (not verified)
ta century 9-12

Hey, I’m good if a group wants to do a B16-17.
I always enjoy the 100 miles around the city.
Who’s in? hal

Anonymous's picture
Wayne Wright (not verified)
The NYC Century Deserves Our Support

I usually volunteer to help out with the NYC Century ride - sometimes as a marshall, other times manning a spot at the start. Let's not forget that this ride is the main fundraiser for Transportation Alternatives, and how much we all benefit from the work they've done, and continue to do, over the years.

Bike lanes in Prospect and Central Parks, expanded car-free hours in both these places, bike access to NYC Subways, the list goes on and on - these are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. It's easy to take TA's work for granted, and participating in their century ride is a good way to tell them thanks.

Sure, the route is not the most scenic one you'll ever ride, but it's also a unique look at the city by bicycle. I once got 4 flats doing this century ride, but, I suspect I'll be out there again this year.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Yours, maybe

With all due respect, Wayne.

If one believes their latest battery of fundraising appeals, TA is also responsible for a decrease in pedestrian deaths in NYC, and sundry other arrogant boasts conflating a decade of many groups' efforts into theirs alone.

And don't forget: now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of defeating the scourge of every NYC cyclist and pedestrian: car alarms.

Admittedly, the familiar arrogant tone was dampened slightly in TA's latest e-mail, giving the credit for painting new bike lanes in Brooklyn to the DOT and TA's Brooklyn committee (to my understanding, TA's sole democratic entity). But we'll see how long this newfound humility lasts.

As I wrote elsewhere on this board, TA has recently hired a new director, about whom there is some positive buzz if not hope. Paul White will be speaking publicly on Sat. Aug. 21; will it be a two-way dialogue, or a paternalistic directive?

Only time will tell if TA actually begins responding to their membership--beginning with answering e-mails, addressing member concerns and criticism by listening rather than stalking petulantly out of the room, and responding to queries from the nonmainstream media. If they find themselves shorthanded in some of these areas, they could easily enlist activist members to take charge, but in my experience this hasn't been something they cared to do.

I'm holding out for a redefinition of member activism--surpassing the occasional mailing party and signing of checks, to active participation in organizing and decision-making. I'm not holding my breath--undemocratic power is never ceded voluntarily. Nor does it inspire hope to know that TA will now deduct donations automatically from your credit card--so you don't even having to think about what you're doing.

Theoretically, TA could be a powerful force, if it were concerned with more than media soundbites and self-perpetuation. But to compare its lumbering, bureaucratic stasis with the invigorating activism of groups like Times Up here in New York (at least 2,000 cyclists showed up for last Friday's Critical Mass) and numerous shoestring operations in other cities like Portland, forget it.

As far as urban rides go, other great ways to see the city (for free) are the monthly Critical Masses (last Friday of the month, 7pm, north end of Union Square), city rides by the NYCC and the Five Borough Bike Club, and one of my favorites: Peter O'Reilly's NYC Marathon ride, the morning of the big event.

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)
TA vs. CM

"Carol a escrit regarding TA:
> But to compare its lumbering,
> bureaucratic stasis with the invigorating activism of
> groups like Times Up here in New York (at least 2,000
> cyclists showed up for last Friday's Critical Mass) and
> numerous shoestring operations in other cities like
> Portland, forget it.

Likewise, to compare TA's effectiveness in marshalling positive change for urban cyclists to the pointless, albeit possibly ego-gratifying dippyness of Critical Mass, well, forget it.

Activism is best when it achieves something other than making the activists feel good. I've yet to see Critical Mass achieve anything but upset cage drivers (who I have to share the road with the other 30 days of the month), and serve as a rolling feel-good party.

Call it a party, and do it if you must, but don't couch it in terms of activism or the false promise of ""raising awareness of cyclists."" That's achieved by having lots of cyclists on the roads each day, not a rolling roadblock once a month. And having lots of cyclists out there every day is predicated on having bicycle-friendly roads and infrastructure. And who at CM is working on that?

- Christian"

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

"I don't call CM a party, I call it civil disobedience.

And in my view, civil disobedience is what is needed to break the automobile's stranglehold on New York City streets. While we cyclists are legally entitled to share the roadways, the de facto practice of many motorists is to intimidate us by threatening physical harm, if not death, if we dare to exercise it. They do this by driving recklessly around us, passing too closely at high speed, cutting us off, even deliberately aiming at us to make us jump out of the way. Oh yeah, and there are also the inattentive cell-phone blabbers and other messengers of inadvertent manslaughter.

As for CM's capacity to make participants feel good, why Christian, you write as if that's a bad thing! However, while your opinion is presumably based on your own experience, it doesn't reflect mine. For me, Critical Masses are exhilarating and empowering, but just as frequently terrifying. Stuff happens, and you never know how people are going to react.

Yes, some motorists get ""upset"" when delayed by a passing Mass, succumbing to the hair-trigger road rage that is an unfortunate byproduct of auto-dependency. (As a refugee of Southern California, I know this condition all too well.) But in many instances, their reactions would be no different if it were an elderly blind lady crossing the street, or a garbage truck or any other obstacle blocking their passage. My response to this is, please excuse me for disturbing your life--I'm just exercising political speech. And this is New York City--you shouldn't be driving here anyways, unless you're disabled or moving furniture.

Additionally, on the Masses I've attended, the public's reaction to our passage has been overwhelmingly supportive, amused, or at least tolerant--even among drivers.

As far as building infrastructure goes, yes it is indeed necessary to facilitate the movement of cyclists and pedestrians. But it is also the movement of cyclists and pedestrians that generates the need for infrastructure. And it is the latter momentum that CMs help to produce.

In terms of physical accomplishments, you are right to point to TA's success in improving bridge access; that has been one of their main projects in the last few years, and it's paid off. When TA sets its mind to accomplish a project, it can do it. (As far as taking credit for the Greenways goes, TA doesn't deserve as much as it's taken, though I don't have ready evidence.)

However, to a large extent, TA's priorities have been formed by an unhealthy dose of realpolitik: what they think can get done is what they try to do. (Witness that stupid car alarm project.) I am informed of this hypertrophy by many people who know much more about NYC transportation politics than I do.

I have also, in the course of researching an article, run across public statements describing former director John Kaehny's belief that bike lanes would never go anywhere in New York City, and that it was essentially a waste of time to try to build them. (The ridiculous patchwork of Manhattan lanes makes this lack of priority all too clear.)

The sad fact is that TA has seen itself as a ""professional"" as opposed to grassroots organization, a kind of activism-by-proxy. Members sign an annual check, maybe marshal the TA century once a year, and get to ""feel good"" about supporting a mainstream (respectable, oft-quoted) transportation advocacy group. TA's brass decides what's in your interest, and you can just sit back and let them do the work. At their own leisurely pace, of course.

However, as a former nonprofit activist in another field, I know that such organizations are most effective when they ORGANIZE. That is, when they leverage their scant resources by serving as a kind of clearinghouse that encourages members to take action themselves. Any organization must have its priorities, but those priorities should be made clear, unlike TA which i"

Anonymous's picture
Robert (not verified)
stalinists v. trotskytes

"infighting never goes out of style

or as Oscar Wilde said (recently quoted in a NYT book review): ""The problem with socialism is that it takes too many nights."""

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

"Infighting takes place within a single organization, or is not out in the open, or is fighting without rules. This discussion concerns the merits of two different organizations, and so far seems pretty civilized. So how is that infighting?

And what is the relevance of the Wilde quotation? By invoking ""socialism"" as a pejorative epithet unrelated to the present discussion, are you simply signaling your dislike of substantive exchanges in general?

Rhetorical question: Does misquoting a witty man make us more, or less, of a wit ourselves? (New York Times book review--hot diggity!)


Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Carol wrote:

> As for CM's capacity to make participants feel good,
> why Christian, you write as if that's a bad thing!

I only posit that that's a bad thing if that's the only type of activism a person engages in. Feeling good is not inherently bad.

Additionally, I don't see the logical progression that CM helps generate the requirements for cycling infrastructure. The requirements for cycling infrastructure are by-and-large generated by utility cyclists (commuters and other) who voice their requests to city staff.

As far as the consciousness-raising effort of CM, I have previously faulted CM for failing to raise consciousness among non-cyclists.

If it does, as you describe, raise consciousness among cyclists, both serious and casual, how much better this city would be if we all advocate for more alternative transport and less car-dependence, and this, in turn, leads to further activism, then this is a benefit I had not previously considered.

BTW, since Alexander Cockburn is probably the only Stalinist left in America, you can be the Trotskyist. I'll be Maoist! Mao more than ever! :)

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
barbara (not verified)
NYCC's Escape New York Century is September 18th

...so use the TA Century as a training ride if you must and join us on the following Saturday!
We'll have lots of food, great give aways, well marked scenic routes, and the money we raise goes to two deserving organizations- Trips For Kids & Recycle-a-Bicycle.

I just couldn't resist a plug...see you on the 18th!

cycling trips