Grass Roots Advocacy Needed

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Anonymous's picture

"The City Council is considering Intro 685, legislation that would affirm New Yorkers' right to park their bikes at street fixtures. If passed, this bill would require the City to give 36-hours notice before seizing a bike locked to a City-owned parking meter, signpost, lamppost or other sidewalk fixture.

36-hours is short, and the bill needs a little work, but it also needs lots of support.

The bill will have to be re-introduced in early 2006, which will provide an opportunity to improve it, so for now, people should contact their City Council reps and urge them to support Intro 685. That will help carry momentum into 2006 and identify a new sponsor, since the current sponsor, Councilmember Lopez, will retire at the end of the year.

People can look up their councilmember at:"

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
What's the rush?

"Wouldn't we be better off introducing a bill that defined the, (very limited), circumstances under which the police can confiscate our private property?
They can't impound a legally parked car that has no outstanding tickets, etc.

Why should we embrace this bill if it's ""in need of work?"" We may well get stuck with a bad law instead of no law. We've done without such a bill since bikes were invented. What's the rush?"

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Re: What's the rush?

"""We've done without such a bill since bikes were invented. What's the rush?

Have you been living on a tree the last year? The NYC police has been religeously confiscating bikes locked to sign posts and parking meters! Something they have almost never done ""since bikes were invented"".

Is the bill the right answer? I haven't look at the bill that being introduced yet. I'm not saying I would even support THAT bill without first looking at it. But if you ask ""why the RUSH"", it's because the police are ""rushing"" to liberate your bike from the sign post if you happen to lock it in the wrong neighborhood!"

Anonymous's picture
David R (not verified)
Fight fire with fire

I use a mammoth On Guard lock that weighs as much as the bike does. Let'em try to cut it (they haven't had any success yet).

Maybe we should boot police cars...

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
Sue the B*stards

"As I pointed out, they can't tow cars that are legally parked, etc. I'd rather sue to have them stop their practice instead of passing a bill that grants them some right, (that they did not have before), to confiscate locked bikes.

Has any reason been given for their theft of our cycles? Is it because ""everything's different after 9/11"", or is it just a new hobby for NY's finest?"

Anonymous's picture
Carol (not verified)
Both Flanks

I believe a lawsuit has already been filed. But it makes sense to attack on the legislative front as well. The bill will have to be reintroduced in the next legislative session, and at that time more work can be done to make it better for us. But in the meantime, every cyclist who sends an email to their Council member makes a difference. Elected officials do listen to their constituents, especially when many voices are raised in unison.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
shades of Tammany Hall

I'm sure I'll get allot of flack for this....

It does not help much that NYC is a predominately and in perpetuity a one party town. It does not really matter which party, just that it's a complete homogeneous political culture comprising of a single political party. When I lived in the city I would always be marveled at the sight of seeing many uncontested races for positions or things like pick 6 out of the 10 local district judges running and are all from the same party when stepping into the voting booth.

Folks here have expressed strong support for Public Advocate candidate(s) in the past. In my humble opinion it's just more bureaucracy and would be really unnecessary if you have two viable political parties presence in this city to keep things in check-n-balance as well as lessen complacency and apathy.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)

"""I'm sure I'll get allot of flack for this....""

I'm NOT sure you'll get ANY flak for it at all!

How can you have two viable political parties presence when the voters are, as you call it, ""predominately and in perpetuity one party"" voters? Politically speaking, this town is as homogeneous as they come!

In America, it's take for granted that politics MUST be about two parties. So, it's also taken for granted those must be the two SAME party across the whole country. Trouble is, this town sits in America soil but that's about the only thing it shares with the rest of the country. The two same party does NOT sufficiently represent the differences in interests of THIS city's voter. Hence, the predominately one party town in perpetuity."

Anonymous's picture
chris o (not verified)
I agree to an extent but HELLO

"Since you got no flak, I'd hate to see your jacket go to waste.

The highest political office in this one-party town is the mayoralty. While the current Republican mayor is in many ways very liberal, he still gets endorsed by real Republicans at all levels of the state, if not nation.

You may be new to the area, so I don't know if you ever heard of a fellow named Rudolf Guiliani. He is a Republican, former Reagan Justice Department Official and US Attorney. He was mayor for 8 years, before the current Republican mayor.

16 years of Republican mayors in a ""homogenous political culture"" of Democrats. Please explain (and don't forget Staten Island)."

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
8 out of 10 New Yorkers are Democrats

"Chris, if the subject line did not say it all, please tell me, in this past November election, what Republican was on the ballot for:

- Public Advocate?
- Comptroller?

or for that matter ran in your district for City Council?

Answer, none for the first two, and probably the same for the 3rd. Tell me what NYC November election position did not have a Democrat listed?

What % of the City Council members are Democrats? How about local judges? Or Borough Presidents (4 out of 5?)

Regarding *recent* mayors, Bloomberg was a registered Democrat and changed parties merely for tactical reasons solely for running for Mayor, i.e. why enter the fray of the democratic primary, when you can run uncontested in the other party.

It's the same strategy that Rudy Giuliani had running against an incumbent mayor. Not only is Rudy a native NYCer, but he was a long time registered Democrat, the same party he started his political career as an attorney general.

Curiously enough, you failed to mention what party affiliation overwhelms the other two ""branches"" of city government: the city council and the courts.

Regarding registration and party affiliation, Democrats outnumber Replublicans in Staten Island by a comfortable margin. Additionally, 8 out of 10 folks registered in New York City do so as Democrats."

Anonymous's picture
chris o (not verified)
Republicans really secretly run the city

"Your words in your original posting were that New York has a ""complete homogeneous political culture comprising of a single political party."" I object to this overstating of the case. I am not claiming New York is split 50/50 or is Republican dominated, sorry I am not blind and dumb. But it's not our fault Republicans suck so much. Give us some half-way decent ones and they may get elected.

I don't like one-party rule either but on the other hand, things seem to be running pretty well in this town so perhaps we should re-consider.

P.S. I did have a Republican city council nominee on my ballot but he lost."

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)

"Historically, NYC has been dominated by one political party and has had it's run of troubles as a result of it. This goes way back the the Tammany Hall days. It's pretty self evident from this thread that things are not currently running ""pretty well"".

For instance, keeping this one topic, the Intro 685 initiative is a result of ""correcting"" such past political whims as well as local court rulings supporting the police with confiscating property."

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
I beg to differ

"You want flak? I found some! ;o)

>It's pretty self evident from this thread that things are not currently running ""pretty well"". <

Compare to the two-party goverment on the national level, where the chief complain is about the war on Iraq, I thought it rather self evident that this city is running ""pretty well"", when our chief complain is about bikes being confisticated.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Chief complaints? :: warning rant :::

"You are comparing decades of decay with just a few years decay over an unpopular war (which most are when fought overseas). April, you are better comparing the 50+ years currently of one party dominance of your (ancestor’s) heritage to NYC's.

Anyway, here's another local example, relevant to cycling - the public education system. NYC spends just shy of $13,000 per student per year ($13 billion budget for 1.1 million students). Only like 4 or so other municipalities in the entire country spend that amount on their public school system. Many universities have tuition lower than that figure.

So where is that all that money going? Certainly not to the school teachers who are underpaid quite a bit in relation to those in surrounding areas outside NYC. Metal detectors do cost something, but not that much. There's little capital expenditure on new schools, meaning most that exist have long since been paid off.

Likewise NYC school system does not born the cost of providing transportation or maintaining those many green pastures known as athletic fields. The NYC Public School system has trouble purchasing *bare* necessities like toilet paper (excuse the pun).

Somehow the law of economies of scale is totally absent from this picture. Perhaps it is explained by the schools system only teaching Keynesian Economics these days. (just kidding :-)

Some will argue that is still not enough money being spent. Never mind that NYC is one of the few (as far as I am aware) local municipalities that taxes income in addition to property ownership. They also collect a large fiefdom better known as parking tickets and towing (which equals or exceeds the revenue collected from taxes).

Additionally, they collect alot of taxes from corporations and that already high 8.25% (or is it higher?) consumption tax only pales in comparison to the 18%+ parking tax. Did the decay of the school systems start with Rudy or Mike? No. And neither did the decay of the MTA, bridges, and roadway infrastructure. Likewise for high housing costs and rickety maintained rentals. I'm not sure when exactly, but I will say it's been decades and for as long as I can remember.

So what does this have to do with cycling? Some ""crazy"" folks here espouse the joys of city commuting by bike (rightly fully so, IMHO) on those bike friendly, safe streets. How many kids do you see riding their bikes to school in the city?

Sure you may say few do in the suburbs, but at least it is common to see bike racks provided.

Why is this so? Is it because kids today get too much exercise already? Is it because riding the subway is just way more fun than riding a bicycle? Maybe playing video games like frogger is more fun than the real life game of cycling city streets? Maybe it's because it's too Eurpoean or Japanese for them?

Or maybe it is because while walking to school or taking the bus, they'll see bike's locked up outside, stripped of their parts or plainly ripped off.

:: rant mode off ::

On a lighter note, one big positive for NYC Public Schools + Bikes is Recycle-A-Bicycle. If you have spare parts to donate or even time, it's definitely a worthy endeavor. I recommend you check out this site. It's a novel way to clean out your apartment of unused bike parts this winter and have them used and much valued by a worthy organization.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
You object to the high parking tax and parking enforcement?

"Yeah, right. Let's reduce the slight, VERY slight enforcement of the parking laws. Let's lower the tax on parking in lots. What we want to do is encourage more driving and more cars in the city.

(I will qualify my support for a high parking tax based on its being yet another way in which poor people are screwed for being poor--that we make clogging our streets a prerogative of those who can afford it when their wealth is not a socially useful standard by which to aportion privileges.)

Incidentally, Peter's, stat. on party enrollment is wrong. Even moreso is his characterizing my and millions of others' deep, intense, objections--no, fury, no rage at the U.S. prosecution of this war as a mere ""quibble."" Peter, you don't just mis-read us; you insult us."

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
you've misread my comments.

"No, I do not object to high parking tax and parking enforcement. I wouldn't even object to it being doubled. On the other hand, it would be nice if the white hats did enforce moving traffic, but that's a much less lucrative operation for the city, isn't it.

The point I was trying to make is with all of that revenue collected, where is it going? I tried to illustrate such with the public school system. Do you care to comment about that?

And yes, I was too casual in my comments using the word ""quibble""; strike that.

Richard, which stat on party enrollment is wrong? Please specify and I'll gladly back up those numbers.

Edit: for starters, look here:,_New_York"

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Examples, examples...

"""April, you are better comparing the 50+ years currently of one party dominance of your (ancestor’s) heritage to NYC's""

Or, I can compare China to many other ""two-party"" goverment such as India, Mexico, or worse. Don't I come to a conclusion that one party rule is again running ""pretty well""?

You not only insult us (as per Richard), you insult your own intellegence at the same time.


Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
two-party goverments

Mexico has 6 viable and active political parties and India has at least 19.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
"insult to ""intellegence"""

"Your example is a completely false premise and is illogical. To illustrate such to the extreme, NYC has been a one party town for over a century. Many wars have been fought, of course and during the Vietnam war era, or shortly thereafter, the city was on the brink of bankruptcy. What does one have do to with the other - absolutely nothing.

If you wanted to point out another government that has done better than ""pretty well"", you would have been best to illustrate such with another one party government. I attempted to demonstrate how ""pretty well"" does not apply here, in NYC. China falls into that single party category, whether it takes care of the second consideration, I'll leave that up to you to decide. If not China, then either you or Richard prove me wrong with another one party government.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Singapore (nm)
Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)

While one party has a very large majority, there's also 4 other political parties represented in Singapore. And you are comparing 40 years of political history with 140 years (at least) of the same. Fair enough, I suppose.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Rads, libs, centrists, conservatives, & reactionaries --all Dems


You've brought me into part of your discussion that I haven't paid attention to. I'm not sure what the argument or point is you're making here.

If it's that NYC, notwithstanding the Years of Mayors LaGuardia, Lindsay, Giuliani, and Bloomberg, have been in the control of Democrats and thus NYC is a one-party state, consider this:

Mere party affiliation does not indicate one's political beliefs. Are you telling me such NYC Democrats as Ed Koch, Abe Beame, Meade Esposito, Claire Shulman, and Mario Proccacino represent(ed) the same political view as Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Holtzman, Charlie Rangel, Jerrold Nadler, Theodore Weiss, Mark Green, and Eliz. Holtzman? That's nonsense.

Or, if you don't know some of those receding names, on a national stage, are you suggesting Dem. Sens. James Eastland, John Stennis, Richard Russell, Henry ""Scoop"" Jackson, et al. represented the same politics as Dem. Sens. Paul Wellstone, Russell Feingold, Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Barak Obama?

If your argument is NYC TENDS to be governed by lefty-bleeding heart-knee jerk-do gooder-tax and spend Liberals, the same degree Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, etc. TEND to be governed by reactionary puppets of the interests of the rich and powerful.


Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
I it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck

"What you point out are very circumspect anomalies over a long course of history. I'm looking at the big picture.

Whether it's Democrats, liberals, Republicans, the Knights of Columbus or the Girls Scouts ruling the roost, it's immaterial. Likewise the same whether taxes are too high or too low or even breaking down further which respective types of taxes are such is immaterial.

What is evident to me at least is that the city collects allot of revenue whether it be taxes, parking tickets, parking meters, tolls, etc. and wastes allot of it. Sure waste is common to public and even private sectors, but the amount done so in this city is alarming.

One example I provided is the public school system - which by the way is one of the hallmark issues/intuitions of the Democratic party (ouch, cunning, I know
). Then there's other city infrastructure problems like it's bridges (i.e. Manhattan Bridge), public rail (MTA), roadways and buildings which crumble for starters.

I don't wish to debate these other items, because honestly, I can’t provide as much detail about them. On the other hand, I did provide some object, numerical analysis of the school system, which I think underscores the bigger problem in NYC.

Many of the problems and deficiencies I see with the city are common to a longstanding one-party rule. If you want another, immediate and close to home example, look at Suffolk County , LI - and it's recent troubles due to one party rule.

While a longstanding one-party rule is not as bad a longstanding one man rule, its less desirable than the alternative we are most familiar with.

Sure, for many things are ""good enough"", but they could be allot better. It doesn't take much imagination to see how.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
North Korea too... (nm)
Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)

"""The spectators see the game more clearly than the chess players."" - Chinese proverb

8 out of 10 is sometimes bad
born-n-bred New Yorker, currently NJ resident"

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
April, NYC can't declare war... except against bikes (nm)
Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
"That's why ""the rush"" to stop them -- with a new bill!"

Back to your original question on this thread

Anonymous's picture
Peter "Banana Guy" Kouletsis (not verified)
We just need more parties!!!

"""...NYC is a predominately and in perpetuity a one party town. It does not really matter which party,...""

I'll drink to that!"

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
Actually, there is a law which makes most bike parking illegal.

"The law prohibits locking the bike to parking meters, sign posts, etc. (anything except bike racks). The ""new"" thing is that the police are now enforcing the law which had been ignored for years (presumably in the interest of promoting cycling). As an outgrowth of the opposition to ""Critical Mass"" rides (following the demonstration at last year's convention), they are now often removing bikes locked up in contravention of this old law.

That's why a law which limits the right to ""tow"" bikes is necessary and a good thing to get going (even if the current draft isn't there yet)."

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
Thank you af

It helps to know that there is a law on the books against locking a bike to anything but a bike rack. It also suspected that we had TimesUp to thank for the warm treatment we've been getting from the NYPD.

A big fat wet kiss to TimeUp!

Anonymous's picture
David Oliner (not verified)
Its all about money

"Don't kid yourself, this is just another way for the City to squeeze some more money out of its citzens. What harm is being done by a bike locked to a sign post? File this away with the $60 no reflector bike tickets, or the $250 ""candy wrapper observed within 18"" of the sidewalk"" tickets. If you are a Billionaire Mayor these are the kinds of things that aren't a factor in your life. The rest of need a place to lock a bike, and don't have a white gloved doorman cleaning the sidewalk 24/7 in front of our house.
The other day I saw a homeless guy lying beside a car, being ticketed by a cop. You think the cop cared about the homeless guy? Nope, no money in that.
Rant is over."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Once again, you just knew I'd have to be heard from on this.

You've read me say this same thing before. Help! I can't stop myself. So here goes again....

Going through red lights is illegal. Blocking cross traffic and cross walks is illegal. Riding en masse is not illegal. If I understand Bill, one should not confront the law in order to change it. So much for the Civil Rights lunch counter sit-ins, etc.

If it's the case that some Crit. Mass riders go through red lights and block cross traffic, then even-handed enforcement of the law demands they be accorded the same do you know of drivers who've been taken to jail for going through a red light or blocking a crosswalk or intersection as some Crit. Mass riders have been? I don't.

Parked bikes are confiscated for blocking sidewalks. Have you ever seen a restauranteur cited for having chairs and tables on the sidewalk in violation of the regulations governing that? In those rare instances you see a car ticketed for parking too close to a fire hydrant, parked on a sidewalk (sic), or obstructing a cross walk, do you see them confiscated and hauled away? I don't.

The police have claimed locked bikes were abandoned which is why they broke the locks and confiscated the bikes. How many cars that had steering wheel locks do you suppose the police confiscated in the supposed belief it was abandoned?

The work record of Bruce Smolka, the cop directing and producing the over-reaction against Crit Mass was ugly since long before his siege against cyclists. As commendable as has been the record of Comm. Ray Kelly, his tolerating (or worse) Smolka is a stain on his commissionership.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)


My reason for wanting to know if there was a law on the books was not so that we can just give up and say ""they took the bikes legally,"" but it helps to know if the jack-booted thugs are acting within the limits of a bad law or if they've just gone one or two steps beyond. By all mean, protest the bad laws, but try not to come off looking bad if you want things to go your way– Critical Mass comes off looking bad.

If a car were parked on the sidewalk, it would most likely get towed, unless a cop owned it. Forget about equal treatment there.

Restaurants with sidewalk seating need permits, (to permit is to control- it's what gov't is all about).

When auto drivers start going through lights just to PO the cops and make trouble, they'll get hauled off to jail, too. Cops love jailing those who annoy them, on bike, foot or behind the wheel."

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

"Carol, thanks for the update. I'll take care of it this weekend. It's important to cultivate supporters on the City Council and to keep up the pressure on everyone else.

Very glad to see the NYCC represented on the Bike Safety Action Coalition, first by Stan, now by you! With so many cycling cycling groups now acting in concert, there are many signs of progress on cycling issues both big and small.


From T.A.'s latest e-bulletin (free subscription--go to

At the end of October, the DOT responded to the NYC Bike Safety Action Plan, which was proposed this summer by New York City bicycle advocates, messengers, clubs, racers and enthusiasts in reaction to the high number of bicyclist deaths in 2005. To date, 21 New Yorkers have died in bicycle crashes this year, compared to 15 total in 2004 and 13 total in 2003.

The DOT's response touches on about half of the requests in the Bike Safety Action Plan. DOT wrote that they will:

1. Conduct a study of bicyclist fatalities with the New York City Department of Health and NYPD.

2. Work with government agencies and advocates to develop a bike safety outreach campaign geared towards drivers and bikers.

3. Adopt new ""share the road"" signs and increase use of colored (green) bike lanes and bike pavement markings.

4. Pursue truck safety legislation in Albany.

The DOT did not respond to the Bike Safety Action Plan's requests for:

1. Aggressive police enforcement of drivers who endanger cyclists. (Note: the DOT has no traffic enforcement power, so the NYPD must respond to this request, which the agency has not.)

2. Committing to implement the New York City Bike Master Plan by 2010 and publicly reviewing progress of the Bike Master Plan by June 2006.

3. Increasing the City's bike staff and reinstating the New York City Bike Advisory Council with public meetings.

Advocates are still pressing the City to increase driver enforcement, hold regular meetings of a Bike Advisory Council, publicly review the City of New York's official Bicycle Master Plan and increase City bicycle staff. Regular public input will help City agencies develop effective safety solutions and inform the public about bicycle projects and policies.

To maximize what it has committed to do to improve cyclist safety, the City must review bicyclist collisions, not just deaths. Analyzing collisions and fatalities will create a more detailed picture of the root causes of cyclist crashes, injuries and deaths than just looking at cyclist fatalities. And, a collision and fatality study will more thoroughly inform what the City must do to prevent crashes and make streets safe for biking.

This comprehensive analysis of bicyclist collisions and deaths should recommend both immediate and longer-term infrastructure, enforcement and promotional actions to improve cyclist safety and encourage biking.

Take Action: Write to New York City Department of Health Commissioner Frieden and ask that the City study all bicyclist collisions, injuries and fatalities, not just cyclist fatalities.


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
New Political Alignment

I agree we need more parties. This way, voters can be sure of what their representatives stand for, and politicians will be less likely to disguise their true positions to garner votes. I suggest, from right to left:

- The Christian Kooks

- The Suburbanites

- The Urbanites

- The Limousine Liberals (with Kerry and Bloomberg rightfully in the same party)

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
Right John, but it's not a linear spectrum...

To find out where you stand...

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
I saw it coming

Few liberals would admit to actually being a Libertarian at heart.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
until they get tired of being mugged by the government.

These people had no problem admitting:

Many would have been considered liberals.

cycling trips