Garodnick aims to put the brakes on scofflaw cyclists

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussed bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens last week.

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussing bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens in 2012

By Sabina Mollot

Council Member Dan Garodnick is aiming to rein in cyclists who flout traffic rules. Noting that the problem of bike riders failing to yield to pedestrians has become an increasingly common problem on the East Side of Manhattan, the council member penned a letter to five precincts covering the area in the hopes of getting cops to step up enforcement of bike infractions.

In the letter, which was sent to the commanding officers of the 13th, 17th, 19th, Midtown South and Midtown North Precincts, Garodnick said that it’s no longer just delivery people who can be blamed for cutting off pedestrians or riding the wrong way in the bike lanes.

“Rather,” he said, “commuting and recreational bicyclists are equally often the culprits of such behavior. I have seen I myself repeatedly and it has been reiterated to me by countless constituents.”

Other problems he’s noticed include riding on the sidewalks and riding in the right direction on the street but outside of bike lanes. In those cases sometimes Garodnick said he understood cyclists were breaking the rules for their own safety so he also asked police for more enforcement of vehicles illegally stopped on bike lanes or those who don’t yield to bike riders.

Garodnick noted that he didn’t think enforcement should come via a “ticketing blitz” on select days but be a regular routine and he also suggested more cops be deployed on bikes specifically for this purpose. He also noted that he’d been in touch with Transportation Alternatives, and the organization had since committed to doing outreach in areas the precincts believe it might be helpful.

“I have too many constituents who are afraid to cross the street,” Garodnick told Town & Village. “Not just because of the cars, anymore. We need more constant enforcement of the rules.”

Since sending the letter last Thursday, Garodnick said he said he’d heard from precinct commanders who said they were aware of the problem. Indeed, inconsiderate bike riders are often the bane of community residents who voice their concerns at monthly meetings of the 13th Precinct Community Council. While Garodnick noted that Central Park, which is in his district, has had the most high profile issue with bike infractions, the rest of the district, from the Upper East Side down to Stuyvesant Town, has just as many.

In particular, “from 14th Street to 23rd Street, it’s a regular problem,” he said. “As it’s gotten safer to ride bikes in New York City, which is a very good thing, we need to readjust and focus our attention onto the rules that apply to everyone.”

Flatiron and Union Square BIDs gear up for holiday season

A family poses for holiday portraits at Union Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A family poses for holiday portraits at Union Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Neighborhood groups have been kicking off the holiday season this past week with events aimed at promoting local businesses as shopping destinations as well as consumer safety during a busy time of year for crime. Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner Julie Menin was on the Flatiron’s south public plaza last Thursday to remind consumers to be vigilant while shopping during the holidays and the Union Square community kicked off the holiday shopping season with free professional portraits in the pavilion on the north plaza on Sunday.

Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, said that this year was the first time portraits were offered. “We’ve been doing some new community events but this one is really to kick off the holiday season,” she said. The schedule was booked for the day and Falk noted that people were having their photos taken with family and some people even brought their pets. “We’re excited that the community is coming out,” she said, adding that this is one of the new holidays programs the Partnership is adding this season.

The Association for the Help of Retarded Children (AHRC), based in Lower Manhattan, usually takes a weekly field trip to Union Square on Sundays. They meet at the Barnes and Noble across from the north plaza and were able to get a group photo because they happened to be in the area. Leroy Dyer, the program supervisor, takes the kids on recreational trips every weekend and he said that the kids were excited that the event happened to coincide with their weekly outing.

Meanwhile, Menin was at the Flatiron Plaza doling out tips on how New Yorkers can get the most for their money during the busy shopping season. She cited the list of “10 Things Every Consumer Should Know,” which is available on the city website at nyc.gov/consumers. The list includes tips about making a budget, being alert for holiday scams and being aware of consumer rights.

Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID executive director, speaks at the Flatiron Plaza. (Photo by Cameron Blaylock, courtesy of Van Alen Institute)

Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID executive director, speaks at the Flatiron Plaza. (Photo by Cameron Blaylock, courtesy of Van Alen Institute)

“We want to support small business and make sure that hardworking New Yorkers get the most for their money,” Menin said. She added that some of the important tips to keep in mind are to compare prices and be aware of stores’ refund policies. Parents should also be particularly aware of product recalls, which can be checked through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at cpsc.gov.

“We want residents to be aware of all the great small businesses that are here, regardless of the neighborhood, but we do have a lot of both independent and national businesses in the Flatiron District,” Flatiron BID executive director Jennifer Brown noted at the event. “There’s something for everyone here. We want to encourage people to shop local and help independent businesses thrive.”