Another cycling post? Kind of. But it’s broader.

Corbin Kappler posted a piece — I found it because he put it on NYRR’s Facebook Wall — “The End of a NYC Cycling Era.” Seems NYPD is ticketing cyclists who run red lights in Central Park when the Park is closed to traffic, at least during the week. (I don’t know about weekends; I ran there this morning and did not see anyone pulled over.) It’s a $270 ticket.

Since cyclists have been “running” red lights since bikes were invented, or probably since red lights were invented, which probably came later (except, of course, for the “oldest” red lights which have been around pretty much forever), one doubts that there is a sudden up-tick in cyclist-pedestrian accidents in Central Park. When I lived in the City I sometimes rode with a nightly 7pm group, which could get large, and we never stopped at a red light. Since the Park is more crowded than it was 25 years ago, I don’t know if that ride still happens.

I’m thinking that it’s a revenue-generator for the City.

If cyclists, why not runners? I don’t know how many red lights I ran today. But that’s irrelevant. The issue is using the Park.The proposal that the Parks Dep’t switch traffic signals to flashing yellow on the road, and flashing red for crossing the Drive, seems remarkably sensible. In his post, Kappler writes:

I passed a woman that looked like Mary Wittenberg of New York Road Runners. If she and her organization were to fight the proposed suggestion of yellow lights, the cyclists would certainly fail. If the cyclists were to band together and then fail, the laws would most likely continue to be enforced due to the heightened public awareness of the issue.

What do you think about this situation? Do you have any ideas of how cyclists can continue to train in such a populated city? As a runner, would you oppose morning-time blinking yellow lights in Central Park?

I can’t think of a reason not to support this (as reflected in my comment on Kapper’s post).

On last Sunday’s New York Running Show the topic was “Social Media.” Well here’s an example of using those media, Facebook in this case, to spread the word. Another was this posting, also on NYRR’s Wall, by Amy Shapiro, “Dear CPTC: thanks for blocking the entire 72nd St. transverse last night. Are you a running club or a standing club?” The two items remind us that we’re not alone out there. Both in Central Park and at the Rockies, of all places (with Westchester Track Club), I’ve had trouble with running or tri clubs being oblivious to the fact that they’re not alone out there. People who would never (I hope) think of standing in the inside lane of a track, or jogging there for that matter, seem fully capable of doing the functional equivalent elsewhere.

It’s not the charity runners. Their leaders are conscious of other users. Last week when I shouted after passing a group with some who had crossed the double line on Cat Hill to “tighten it up please” I heard a leader shout at her charges to keep in (Paul T had a good chuckle at that; he asked me later why I didn’t yell at a later group and I said, “No. They were fine.”) and when I’ve seen groups on the Bridle Path the leader will often signal with her hand that there are runners  coming the other way.

I headed back to the Park this morning, running solo this time, but getting in 1:40, with the to-and-fros stretch from Marcus Garvey Park. Going counterclockwise, I ran as I always do when alone, right to the left of the double white-line. Boy did I piss some people off. No, you go around me (referring to those coming clockwise). When I go clockwise, I stay to the inside of the single white-line. When I must deviate, I look and if I absolutely must cross into the biking lane, I signal. This is a habit I learned as a cyclist, where people use hand signals to alert those behind of trouble (a sewer grate or a pothole) or a turn.

And while most runners keep in, there’s a unfortunate number who have no qualms about running wherever they want. Obliviousness is one word for it. Rudeness is another. They seem to either don’t know or don’t care that having to bob-and-weave around people makes riding harder, and more dangerous. I once asked a group to tighten up, and one wanker among them asked, “Are you serious?”. Yeah, I am. Pretty much always when it comes to stuff like this. These are simple things. There’s plenty of room. If you’re running, stay inside the double line. If you must wander outside, keep it as brief as possible and make sure it’s clear to do so.

One sympathizes with NYRR in its efforts to keep the bike lane clear before races. Many runners seem not to understand that if we consistently fail at that, we make it harder to have the City and Parks Department allow our races. We’re forced to have races, even in Central Park, earlier and earlier. (The bike races go off at an ungodly hour so they are done before many others come into the Park.)

So endeth the lecture. Go in Peace.

Edited to Add:

Here’s a video that was put up on another cyclist’s blog which my teammate Sebastien directed me too, the piece The 46 Traffic Lights in Central Park.

The video will also provide some context for those trying to figure out what I’m taking about. The first shot is on East 90th at about 93rd Street. The second is just north of Tavern-on-the-Green (i.e., the Marathon finish). It’s comical how much deficit-reduction the City could enjoy just by writing tickets to tourists (and natives) at that one spot.

Also, the topic of CPTC came up last night on the New York Running Show, with Brenn (a CPTCer) defending his club. I may have been a bit harsh on the club (of which I was, after all, a member). The point remains, about paying attention and being considerate. Amy Shapiro, in turn, posted the following on Facebook, “Hey, Joe. For the record, this happened at about 8pm and it was the whole transverse.”