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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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

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!

Why do they Hate us?

Why Do They Hate Us?

Ever wonder why there is seething antipathy towards motorcyclists in New York City?  Why are responsible riders shouted down at Community Board meetings by residents claiming we’re all a bunch of noisemaking, lawbreaking hooligans?  Why do you get a sideways glance when you’re locking up your full-face helmet to your 50 MPG commuting bike?

Sadly, a number of riders seem to be intent on creating the most hostile environment for two-wheelers by offering themselves as the worst possible examples of motorcycling.  And as the “squeaky wheels”, their behavior gets the attention while the overwhelming majority of responsible riders are ignored.

On September 4 2011, “Hollywood Stuntz” organized a motorcycle riot at the Gateway Mall in Brooklyn.

They incited hundreds of riders to meet and proceed to endanger the lives of citizens and police officers – not to mention their own – in a terrible display of squidliness.  They rode recklessly throughout the city, ignored traffic signals and swerved through the streets, up sidewalks – many with minimal gear, illegal modifications and obscured or missing license plates.

Of course, they documented their dangerous nonsense for YouTube.  The ride was advertised “for all our fallen soldiers.”  Though it may not be obvious to all, they were referring to friends of theirs who died — not actual military soldiers.  We have never met anyone in the military who would want to be represented by this sort of behavior.  (And indeed, the armed forces have a history of working with the MSF to promote rider safety.)

If you were on the ride or involved in promoting it, know that it is because of you that motorcyclists are regarded so poorly in this city.  You are doing nothing but ruining motorcycling for the rest of us.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

What's Wrong with this Picture?

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Take a good look at this picture.  The rider: suited up in the best gear money can buy.  The passenger: no gear at all!  He’s got a $200 Nolan lid, she gets the non-DOT compliant “novelty” helmet.  He’s got a $240 pair of Alpinestars with injected armor for shin, ankle, calf, toe, and heel protection.  She has a pair of ballet flats

Nobody gets to choose when they crash.  The rider in this picture knows that.  So why would he allow his passenger to be in such a risky situation?

Passengers are subject to the same risks as the rider.  Hitting the road at 30 mph feels exactly the same if you’re holding the handlebars or not.  Riding a motorcycle (especially in the warm weather) as a rider or passenger can be an enormous joy – but why unabashedly expose your friend, sibling or even your spouse to risk with no useful protection?

Riders:  Don’t give your passenger a novelty helmet, especially if you know enough to have a proper full-face helmet for yourself.  The word on the street is, they’ll appreciate your concern about their safety.

Respect your passenger and enjoy the ride together!

Petition DOT for Motorcycle-Only Parking on the West Side

Action Alert!
Motorcycle-Only Parking
in the West Village & Hell’s Kitchen

Community Boards 2 and 4 in Manhattan have approved of eleven motorcycle- and scooter-only parking spots throughout the West Village and Hell’s Kitchen. However, the NYC DOT has refused to implement all but two of them. The NYMSTF is trying to put the pressure on DOT to install the signage that New York’s communities have voted for.

We need you to write the Commissioner of the DOT and request that the motorcycle-only pilot parking program be implemented.

1. E-mail NYC DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan and Manhattan DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione

2. Write the commissioner a letter:

Margaret Forgione
Manhattan Borough Commissioner
59 Maiden Lane, 35th Floor
New York, New York  10038

3. Tell your friends and fellow riders about it by giving them this link or sharing it on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. (links at top of page)

Edit the message below to your liking but remain respectful:

Dear Commissioner,

Please promptly implement the motorcycle parking pilot areas that have already been approved by Manhattan Community Boards 2 and 4.

Motorcycles and scooters are a practical and efficient means of transportation and are an essential element of mobility and logistics in the modern urban environment.