NYC DOT’s Lost, Secret Motorcycle Study

Unreleased: New York City Motorcycle Safety Study, 2014

Unreleased: New York City Motorcycle Safety Study, 2014

In 2014, the NYMSTF was invited by the NYC DOT to “give input” on a motorcycle safety study. We were very excited to do so, and attended a small meeting in January at 55 Water street.

We were excited about this meeting because, to the best of our knowledge, New York City Department of Transportation had never conducted any motorcycle study – about safety, or anything else.

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Just a Joke?

Is destruction of property just a joke?

If you ever had a doubt how many of the non-riding public regard motorcyclists, this should clear things up for you. Today Demetri Martin, humorist and one-time contributor to The Daily Show, took a cheap shot at motorcyclists:

The difference between a row of motorcycles and dominoes depends on how nearby the motorcycles owners are.

Let’s break that joke down a bit. Martin is not-so-subtly proposing that his fans should go out and knock over motorcycles. Preferably, a whole bunch of them. Because it will be funny. And, his fans have picked up on this suggestion. From his Facebook post, some typical comments:

Jessica Clark: “This is to good– haha!!! I like how bikers are getting offended— it’s not like he is actually going to knock your bike over dummy- IT’S A JOKE!!!”

Tom Allard: “It’s a joke you fucking cry babies!”

What Jessica and Tom don’t understand is that, for riders who have the temerity to park in Manhattan, getting knocked over isn’t a joke – it happens all the time. Sometimes it happens by accident, but even in those circumstance, it is vanishingly rare that the person who caused the accident ever leaves a note. As Mr. Martin suggested, “if the motorcycle owner isn’t nearby”, just laugh it off.

More insidious in Martin’s “joke” is the underlying assumption that motorcyclists are a segment of our society which deserve no respect. How far is it from knocking motorcycles over for “fun”, to knocking over motorcyclists for fun? Not too far, as we see from another one of Demetri Martin’s fans:

James Odell Dugger: “It’s more fun door checking them on the highway.”

Is assault with a deadly weapon also a joke, “James?” Motorcycle road fatalities have failed to decline in the past several years – a period over which pedestrian and bicycle fatalities have been strongly reduced. Given that 75% of all motorcycle serious road injuries are as a result of another driver failing to yield, not many motorcyclists will file James’ comment under “humor.”

Maybe Demetri Martin can make a joke out of that for him?

Sadly, this prevailing attitude — that people who ride motorcycles are unworthy of being treated with very much basic human courtesy — is why anti-motorcycle rage-a-holics are allowed to continue as far as they are, as demonstrated by the story of Stephen Mara last year.

The grandson of late Giants owner Wellington Mara was charged with five counts of arson after he twice set fire to motorcycles parked near his East Side apartment, police said Tuesday.

Stephen Mara, 26, played the firebug on Halloween and again early Tuesday, torching motorcycles on Lexington Ave., around the corner from his apartment on E. 26th St. in Kips Bay, police said.

Not only was this particular “anti-motorcycle-rager” allowed to progress to the point where he committed arson – but it was not even the first time he did it! Does he bully any other type of people? Did any of his friends or family try to stop him? Ever?

As of this writing, well over 3,000 people have “liked” Martin’s “Joke.” We hope that Demetri might read some of the comments from motorcyclists in response to his “joke” and perhaps learn that acting like a bully isn’t funny to the people on the receiving end of it.

Motorcycle Show Parking, and New Threats to NY State Motorcyclists

The book has closed on the December 2013 International Motorcycle Show, and we’re ready for a vacation!  Unfortunately, there’s some urgent business we have to get to before we can take a break, which we’ll get to in just a moment.

For all of you we met at the show, THANK YOU!  It is always great to speak with the riders, and the show provides a great opportunity to hear what issues are important to you, as well as to test out what issues we are working on, and better practice how we might pitch them to the public.  We’ll be talking about our issues of focus in upcoming emails.  If you’re not on our mailing list, please sign up now!

No Parking! (Except for Bikes)

As most of you are probably aware, this year we succeeded in securing motorcycle-only parking at the motorcycle show!  We could not have done this without your help, as well as help from Advanstar (the company which runs the Moto-show).

Weather was a bit of a mixed bag (as it usually is for the show).  On Friday quite a few of you took advantage of the parking.  Saturday was snowing, so only the hardiest riders dared go out.  Bravo to you!

This was a learning experience for everybody.  It is our hope that this will establish a precedence, so that next year it will not be as difficult to provide a way for riders to ride to the show!

Friday Show Riders!

NYC! Only the strong survive.






Now, on to the bit of urgent business we alluded to earlier.

We need your help with this.  The AMA sent out an alert a couple days after the motorcycle show which concerns every rider in New York State!

New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-New York City) has prefiled legislation that would amend the administrative code of New York City to prohibit more than 50 motorcyclists to gather as an assembly and ride without paying for and obtaining a permit from the New York City Department of Transportation.

This is, of course, a blatant violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution which protects the right of peaceful assembly. It also will not solve the very real problems Senator Espaillat is trying to solve on behalf of his constituents. It is important that all NY State riders, as well as any rider who might travel through NY State act immediately to express your concern to the Senator:

Finally, THANKS for all your donations!  The fund drive has been very helpful.  We more than covered our costs for the motorcycle show, and we have resources which will carry us into the new year.  If you have not already donated, please consider helping out!


West Side / Dyer Ave. Parking Update

Last night, Motorcycle Parking was on the agenda for Manhattan’s Community Board 4 (CB4) Transportation Planning Committee after the abrupt removal of the traditional motorcycle parking on the Dyer Ave. triangle at W35th st. Members of the NYMSTF as well as local riders, residents, and business owners attended to express their opinions and resolve to address motorcycle parking issues.

Jesse Erlbaum spoke and provided the following presentation: West Side Parking Dyer

The following was resolved:

  • Request DOT implement the three motorcycle only parking locations approved in June 2010 but never implemented
    • Southwest corner of W22nd St. & 7th Ave., 28’ or 7 motorcycle &
      scooter spaces. (#1 in handout)
    • Northwest corner of W28th St. & 8th Ave., 24’ or 6 motorcycle &
      scooter spaces. (#2 in handout)
    • 38th st. E of 9th Ave., starting 15’ from the fire hydrant, 24’ or 6
      motorcycle & scooter spaces. (#7 in handout)
  • Request DOT implement two new motorcycle only parking locations:
    • 520 9th Ave. North of bicycle rack. Room for 8 motorcycles. (#4 in handout)
    • 9th Ave., S of 40th st., West side, north of bicycle rack. Room for 7 motorcycles. (#5 in handout)
  • Request to PANYNJ to implement motorcycle only parking North of Dyer Plaza Triangle, across 36th st., suggested by ChekPeds. Room for 12 motorcycles & scooters. Currently Port Authority property; raised, curbed area. (#9 in handout)
  • Request DOT to implement motorcycle only parking at the endcaps of every bicycle corral where striped space is created but there is no room for a car.

The above was approved by all board members, save one abstention and one vote against. We’ll post the full text of the resolution when it becomes available.

Next, the Transportation Planning Committee will present their resolution to the full CB4 board for approval, Wednesday, June 5, 6:30 p.m. 119 Ninth Avenue (betw. 17th and 18th Sts), Fulton Auditorium. This will also be a public hearing and it will be important for riders to come to show their support for the resolution. Finally, it will be up to the DOT to execute the community’s wishes and establish these parking areas.

Action Alert! Motorcycle Parking on Dyer Ave. and Midtown West

Community Board Meeting
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
6:30 p.m.

Community Board 4
Transportation Planning Committee
Geffner House Piano Room
351 W. 42nd Street, Manhattan

As promised, the New York Motorcycle & Scooter Task Force has gotten the Dyer Ave. Triangle / Midtown West parking situation on the agenda for CB4.

Last week, motorcycle parking on the Dyer Ave. triangle at W36th street was dismantled with just 24 hours’ notice to riders.

We fear that loss of this sanctioned motorcycle parking zone will lead to a switch to more automobiles, or to parking their two-wheelers on sidewalks, as they try to avoid being knocked over by cars. In September, 2010, Manhattan Community Board 4 (CB4, which represents this area) resolved for end-of-block motorcycle-only parking at three locations, to resolve the problem of two-wheelers getting knocked over, and to create “daylighting” visibility for pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately DOT refused to implement these spots.

Our suggestion is that the following action be requested by CB4 resolution and promptly implemented by DOT:

  1. Change in parking regulation for the two identified zones (520 9th Ave. and 462 9th Ave), to clearly posted “Motorcycle Parking Only” signage.
  2. Further request to DOT to implement the zones approved by CB4 in 2010
  3. Identification of additional zones in the vicinity of Dyer ave triangle, sufficient to accommodate about 15 additional vehicles (approximately 60 feet of curb space).

Here’s what you can do to get back parking for your motorcycle or scooter.

1. Show up and be prepared to speak about your needs for parking in the neighborhood. Be on time, polite, clear, and brief. Explain how you live, work, or shop in the area, and what your transportation options are (or aren’t). How many miles per gallon do you get, how much room do you need to park, how often do the trains run when you get off work? When riders in the community speak, representatives listen.

2. Help us get the word out. We need you to forward this e-mail to a friend who rides. It’s the only effective way for us to reach motorcyclists.

3. Be prepared. Help us scout out alternative parking spots for motorcycles and scooters. Reply to this e-mail and we’ll hook up with you to photograph and document potential spots. We need help putting together a package of pictures, diagrams, and resolutions for the committee to outline our program. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. This is your parking – now’s your chance to fight for it!

Stay Visible & Be Aware in Stop & Go Traffic

On a motorcycle or scooter, you’re smaller and less visible. However, you’re quicker and more maneuverable (and probably don’t have a cell phone in one hand and a latte in the other), so you have the ability to respond quickly in a dangerous situation. Take a look at the scene below:

Generated via
You’ve probably been in this situation before: a stop-and-go backlog at an exit ramp (like the Brooklyn Bridge exit off the FDR Drive) where you wait patiently in line. The driver in the green sedan is a line-cutter, or an out-of-towner, or an inconsiderate jerk, and he’s going to jump in line right before the exit ramp. Especially if a large vehicle is nuzzled right up to your rear, you might be completely invisible until the last second.
Think about your lane position when you’re in this situation. If you stay to the left of your lane, you’ll be more visible in the line of traffic. If you stay to the right, you’re less visible,
but further from impact, and possibly closer to an emergency exit if your right-of-way is violated. Always have an exit route planned to ditch out into another (clear) lane, shoulder, or ramp. Be aware of those behind you (even in other lanes) while you’re “just” waiting.
If you follow the vehicle ahead of you too closely, you might get pinned in. If the driver behind you is tailgating, try to get him to back off by using a hand signal:


Even if traffic is moving well, it’s always a good idea to do a head-check over your left shoulder for those who might try to jump in front of you at an exit ramp.

As a two-wheeler you’re entitled to the full use of your lane. It’s to your advantage to think about lane position as a strategy to staying safe.

Have other urban riding tips? Let us know.

Have You Been Hibernating?

Temperature in the Northeast is hovering around freezing. Is it a perfect time to go riding?
Most riders pack it up as soon as the weather starts getting cold. It’s understandable – for many, motorcycling is primarily a social activity, and who wants to hang out outside with friends in the freezing cold?
On the other hand, some riders keep going all year. If you’ve never done this, consider the following:
1. The roads are all yours. Few other riders out, means that your favorite roads will be empty of traffic.
2. Fewer Entanglements. Few other riders also means you will not be subject to the summer tradition of harassing roadside checkpoints conducted by the police.
3. Keep your skills sharpened! Riding through the winter means that when spring comes, you are at the top of your game. In fact, because your skills are so sharp, you will even more keenly be aware how dulled every other rider has become, once spring does bloom.
If you are riding this winter:
1. Today’s rain can become tomorrow’s black ice. If temperatures overnight dip below 32F, any water on the ground will be ice in the morning. This includes splashed-out puddles, drips from overpasses, and road defects. Expect ice  anywhere and everywhere.
2. Cold tires can be slippery. Not only MotoGP racers are subject to lower traction from cold tires. In cold temperatures, you should be a bit easier on the gas and brakes for the first 20-30 minutes of your ride.
3. Clean that salt off! If your bike gets covered in salt from the road, try to wash it off before too much time has passed. Apply chain lube more frequently in winter to keep grit away.
4. Heated gear is a marvel. Buy yourself a heated jacket liner and heated gloves. There is no reason you can’t be warm as toast, even in February. You’ll wonder why you didn’t sooner.

The local government of Devon, UK produced a hilarious Attenborough-style documentary on the deleterious effects of hibernation on motorcyclists. Check it out:

Secret Life of Bikers
Secret Life of Bikers

Union Garage: Serious Gear for the Urban Rider


Union Garage on the Columbia Street Waterfront, in Brooklyn opened in October, 2012 with the goal of offering great motorcycle gear to NYC’s under-served riders. Their focus is on quality jackets, boots, gloves, and helmets that offer genuine protection but still look appropriate around town or in the office. From these boots, which are not only armored and breathable, but have a top patch at the toe for under your shifter…

…To this “Opera” Jacket that is seriously stylish yet boasts CE armor, a thermal waterproof liner, and back protector:

We had a chance to sit down with owner Chris Lesser and talk about how he got started in the business, and what’s special about Union Garage. His first motorcycle was a 1975 750cc BMW bought in 2001 for a cross-country trip. Six thousand miles and thirty states later he’s hooked for life. Four years ago he left a job as a gear editor for a mountain bike magazine in California to move to New York to be with his (now) wife. He worked as a full-time freelancer until opening the doors at Union Garage last fall.

What do you ride?

I love the old BMW twins and currently have two bikes on the road: a 1983 r80ST and 1976 r90s.

Are you originally from NYC?

Nope, I’ve been here for four years, which about as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere. I’ve previously lived in CT, VT, CA, MD, TX and Germany.

What inspired you to open up in Brooklyn?

There are plenty of repair shops in the city-we’re on the same block as three great ones: Moto Borgotaro, Moto Pistole, and Scooter Bottega. But when it came to finding quality gear locally, there really wasn’t much to choose from, which is surprising for a city of 8 million people. My partner Peter Boggia from Moto Borgotaro and I saw an opportunity to provide a service and build a business, so we opened up in a space next door to his shop. And so far the shop has been really well received. We’ve found there’s a really under-served market here.

What sort of selection do you have in stock?

We carry a curated selection of gear from some of the best brands in the industry. We’ve found a niche in providing gear that provides protection and performance without looking like traditional motorcycle gear. We’ve got some great-looking jackets, boots and gloves for that work off the bike as well as on it, but still offer real protection and functionality. We also carry full-on technical Gore-Tex touring gear and some race suits, and try to have something for everybody.

How is Union Garage different from other shops?

What makes us unique is that we concentrate on actual motorcycle gear: helmets, jackets, boots, gloves and essential accessories. Most of the motorcycle shops in the city are mostly concerned with selling bikes, and gear is an afterthought. And there are a lot of motorcycle-centric shops out there that have a few helmets and jackets on display, but mostly sell lifestyle apparel that looks great but won’t do a lick of good if you go down or get in an accident. We try to have it both ways-good looking gear with a technical component. The only lifestyle items we carry are t-shirts and magazines-the rest is designed to make your life better while riding a motorcycle-or in the event you come off said motorcycle.

“Motorcycle” has become a look, and for good reason: Motorcycles are cool! But there’s more to it than just playing dress-up. There are serious consequences involved with riding a motorcycle or scooter, and New York City presents its own unique demands. That’s why we’ve set a high bar for both safety and style.

What brands do you carry?

REV’IT!, Schott, Lost Worlds, Lee Parks Design, Churchill, Halcyon, Bell, Sidi, TCX, Stylmartin, Nolan, Otterwax, Kryptonite, Platepuller

What’s your stance on motorcycle safety and riding in NYC?

Our stance on motorcycle safety is evident in the product we carry. We don’t and won’t sell something we wouldn’t ride ourselves. No “novelty use only” helmets. No re-purposed work gloves. No leather product that wouldn’t hold up in a slide.

Case in point: we are still looking for the right motorcycle jeans to sell in the store. There are plenty of options out there none we’ve felt comfortable putting on the rack. We’re looking at a couple companies and should have solid options on the rack by springtime.

Ultimately, investing in the right gear is a personal decision. We’re here to provide quality options and information. Sometimes just explaining the difference between CE Level-1 and CE Level-2 armor is enough to get people thinking about what they choose to ride in. There’s plenty of terrible looking motorcycle safety gear out there. You have to want to wear the right gear, and finding the right product makes the decision to ride with protection an easy one.

 Union Garage

103 Union Street, Brooklyn NY.

Winter Hours: Thu-Fri 12-6; Sat 11-5; Sunday 12-5; and by appt.

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The Benefits of Lanesharing

The practices of lane sharing and filtering, where motorcycles and scooters are permitted to pass between rows of slow-moving vehicles and to move to the front of queued vehicles at traffic lights, (road and traffic conditions permitting}, is common in most of Europe, the UK and Asia and is legal in California.  Laws prohibiting these practices remain throughout the rest of the United States, and the justification seems nebulous.  We are inclined to blame ignorance and envy.

Objections to lane sharing (also called threading, white-lining, filtering and/or lane splitting) are typically attributed to poor confidence in motorists.  In 2010 Arizona’s lawmakers passed a bill to legalize lane sharing, and Governor Jan Brewer defied the will of her constituents and vetoed it.  The director of the Arizona’s Office of Highway Safety said his biggest concern is that it would create confusion for drivers.

Some temporary confusion would have been far preferable to the grisly deaths of four motorcyclists – and the grave injuries of five others – who were run over from behind and dragged 75 yards by an out-of-control garbage truck in Phoenix whose driver was “fishing for papers”.

The Hurt Report – long considered the bible of motorcycle safety in the United States, and a foundation upon which much of our motorcycle -related regulation and legislation is built – concluded that lane sharing improves overall motorcycle safety by preventing rear-end collisions.  Likewise, the US DOT’s FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) reveals a 30% lower fatality rate for rear-end collisions with motorcyclists in California where lane sharing is legal and commonplace.  A recent study in Michigan indicated that almost 9% of serious motorcycle accidents were caused by automobiles colliding with motorcycles from behind.

According to the NHTSA, a motorcyclist is 37 percent more likely to die in a crash than a passenger vehicle occupant.  Protective gear can only do so much.

Lane sharing provides vulnerable motorcyclists an escape route from collisions.

Lane sharing is not only safe, it is also a practical solution to urban and highway traffic congestion.  Lane sharing allows better utilization of available roadway, does not impede other traffic, and helps promote the use of vehicles which are more space-efficient, more fuel-efficient and “green”, and which don’t need to repeatedly circle the block or idle while double-parked as their pilots hunt for elusive parking spaces.

Non-motorcyclists may not realize that a responsible rider using a full-face helmet and protective clothing can be uncomfortably and even dangerously hot in stop and go traffic on a warm summer day.  The resulting heat exhaustion leads to foggy thought processes and unsafe vehicle operation.  By allowing a motorcycle rider to keep moving and find his or her own breeze, those risks are mitigated.

The NYMSTF encourages all motorcyclists to lobby their elected officials to strike laws prohibiting lane sharing and to promote laws and policies which enable motorcyclists to safely filter past stopped and slow traffic.

Help the NYMSTF enact lane sharing legislation in New York State!

How to be a Motorcycle Passenger

Riding as a passenger (or “pillion”) on a motorcycle can be a great way to enjoy life on two wheels. But there’s a lot you might not know about how to keep it safe, fun, and secure for you and your rider!

How Motorcycles Work:

  • Motorcyclists lean to make turns
  • Riders shift their body in the seat for proper angle and balance.
  • Turning with the handlebars only happens at low speed.
  • At a stop, the rider puts his or her feet down to keep the bike upright.
  • The rider uses hands and feet to shift gears and brake.
  • Tires, exhaust, and engine parts get very hot.

Gear Up:

  • Wear a good helmet that fits you snugly without being tight. It should not move around on your head.
  • Wear tough (leather, kevlar) clothing that blocks wind. Even if it’s summer, wind is always cold.
  • Don’t forget ankle‐supporting boots and gloves.
  • No loose, flapping clothing, jewelry, or ponytails. Keep it tucked snugly or do without.

On the Road:

  • Mount when told by grabbing the rider’s shoulder, putting your left foot on the left peg, and swinging your right leg over the bike. Sit down on the passenger seat and get centered. Give the “Ok” only when ready.
  • The rider may have you hug their waist, put your hands in their pockets, or hold a strap to stay secure.
  • You and the rider should be “one unit” – stay with their body: don’t lean more than them, but don’t resist leaning.
  • In turns, look over the rider’s inside shoulder in the direction of the turn.
  • Keep your feet & weight on the pegs at all times, even when stopped.
  • Try to keep your back upright when braking and avoid knocking helmets together.


  • Ask before you move: wait for the rider’s “Ok” before you get on or dismount, change position, or grip.
  • Plan a “shoulder tap” signal if you need to stop or are uncomfortable.
  • Ask what route you’ll be taking, at what speeds, and how often you’ll stop. You have a right to know!
  • Smile, wave to children and onlookers, and show the world you’re having a good time!