Bicycles and copters on the U.W.S.

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By Helen Rosenthal
What do bicyclists and helicopters have in common? Both can and often do have a negative impact on our quality of life on the Upper West Side.


For those of you who know me, you know that I am a bicyclist and a fan of increasing opportunities for casual cycling and bicycle commuting. I’ve supported bike lane expansion, and I hope to see Citibike come to the UWS. However, bicyclists who do not follow the rules of the road endanger all of us. Residents of all ages email, call, and speak with me about their “near misses” with cyclists who:

· Go the wrong way in the bike lanes

· Go the wrong way on the street

· Bike in the car lane on Columbus, where there’s a bike lane

· Don’t stop at red lights

· Wear headphones, talk on the phone, or even text while they are biking

· Speed on Riverside Drive coming from the West Side Highway

· Speed on the Central Park Loop and the bike path in Riverside Park

Bicyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road are a menace. They do not seem to be aware that they share the road with pedestrians.

I’m working on legislation that would require restaurant delivery people to wear reflective vests that include restaurant and ID information in large and reflective lettering, so when people see delivery bikes not abiding by the rules, they can report them accurately.

We urge everyone to use 311 and call our office with your 311 complaint number. If you report to 311 online, search “biking” to find the right place to report the incident—NYPD will get your complaint and contact the restaurant owner.

I’ve also started working with Transportation Alternatives to develop a strategy to educate bicyclists about the rules of the road, including the restaurant delivery bikes. I’m hoping that by working with the cycling community, we can implement some constructive suggestions.

Helicopter noise is another quality of life issue—the noise on the weekends is particularly relentless. I’m sure you know that our elected officials have worked on this issue for years and have had successes in raising the altitude of the flights and stopping sightseeing over Central Park; tourist helicopters now go up the Hudson River.

A Helicopter Symposium hosted by Congressman Jerry Nadler, who has been a relentless advocate in this issue, was held in March, and a meeting with the Mayor’s Office and the Economic Development Corporation was held in June. On my website you can read a letter from all the local elected officials to Mayor de Blasio calling on him to put a stop to the tourist helicopters.

Many conversations have been taking place at various levels as officials at the city, state and federal level advocate to end all tourist helicopters. I am currently working with my City Council colleagues to keep this issue at the forefront of our discussions with the administration.

The city leases the helipad space to the tourist operators for tens of millions annually. I believe the city should forgo this revenue and end the leases.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side on the City Council

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