Author Archive

Pests Take Over Bicycle Lanes

September 26th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

New York City cyclists face yet another hurdle in the never-ending battle for cyclist rights: insensitive pests obstructing bicycle lanes. It appears that as the NYC Department of Transportation completed its commitment to build 200 miles of bike-lanes throughout the five boroughs, inconsiderate lane squatters equally augmented their commitment to claim public space reserved for pedal-lovers.

In the past few years, cyclist advocates have protested against careless drivers who block lanes and have been responsible for unfortunate deaths and accidents. Shortly after a police car was spotted parked in a bicycle lane late last year, Hunter College reported that cars do not respect bike lanes 60 percent of the time. Both parked and while in motion, vehicles are frequently seen in the lanes, seemingly oblivious to the traffic rights of cyclists.

This year alone, a city official’s car, a boat, and a baby in a carrier were all caught taking refuge in bicycle lanes. With the rising trend of illegal multi-use of bicycle lanes, what do the city’s cyclists have to say? And what is being done to ensure respect of these designated bicycle havens?

Josh Gosciak, an avid cyclist for the past 25 years, recommends that the NYPD play a role in the assertion of cyclist rights.

“Intensive training for all new recruits at the academy about bicycle safety, traffic rights, and misuse of the lanes, would help alleviate some of the tensions on the street,” he said.

Lisa Zwick, who depends on her bike for transportation, shares Gosciak’s view of welcoming police participation.

“Bike lanes need to be taken more seriously. We need to put enforcement and get cops out there to ticket people,” she said.

In the quest to fight against bike-unfriendly pests, the Bureau of Organized Bikelane Safety group is taking matters into its own hands.

In Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, a Park on a Park(ing) Spot

September 20th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

On Friday, September 17, 2010, Park(ing) Day NYC took over parking spots all over the city to show what a few feet of public space, colorful imagination and community collaboration can offer. In the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, Gray’s Studio Café, Gnarly Vines wine shop and the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project teamed up to create an outdoor patio lounge and a face-painting station for the community. Studies show that a new look for parking spaces can boost the health of urban community members. Park(ing) Day surely brought a lot of merriment and community interaction to Myrtle Avenue.

Common Insect Is All For ‘Do Ask, Do Tell’

September 12th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

By Jacqueline Vergara

“Honesty is the best policy” is a well-known Benjamin Franklin quote. According to a scientific study released earlier this year, ants could not agree more. The ubiquitous, six-legged creature upholds the value of honesty in order to ensure collaborative effort and, ultimately, ant colony success (NY knows all about this pest’s achievement). In accordance with this principle, on Thursday a federal court asserted the right of gay U.S. military personnel to be open about their sexual orientation while serving in the colony-like armed services.

On Friday, the LA Times reported that Judge Virginia A. Phillips declared the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy unconstitutional, citing First Amendment and due process rights violations. In 1993, Congress passed a law banning openly gay men and women from wearing the military uniform. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy allowed homosexuals to serve, as long as this personal characteristic was not discussed or disclosed.

The Log Cabin Republicans political group challenged the policy in 2004. After 6 years, Thursday’s ruling brings momentum to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal efforts.

The Courage Campaign, a California-based online activist network, has began a grassroots campaign to pressure Senator Harry Reid to bring the “don’t ask, don’t tell” issue to the Senate floor on September 20th. Iraq war veteran Lieutenant Dan Choi expresses his support for the repeal of “don’t, don’t tell” on his website.

Whether the Obama administration and the Justice Department will uphold the ruling remains unclear. The Washington Post reports that an appeal is not discarded.