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Your voice for safeR cycling in New York since 1990

The First 10 Years – 1990 to 2000


An informal group of bike-riding long-time state employees began to meet monthly to discuss how the impending Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) might impact New York by supporting an expansion of the existing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Among the members of the “Chain Gang” were Ivan Vamos (NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, OPRHP), Lou Rossi (NYS DOT), and Dave Wilcox (NYS DOH).

ISTEA was enacted in December of 1991, ushering in accelerated efforts by the state government, including the creation of the New York State Bicycling & Pedestrian Coordinator position. Nationally recognized bicycle advocate Jeff Olson (Alta Planning) served in this role during the early years. The Chain Gang began creating relationships with local metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) such as the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) to establish a regular meeting of the MPO/Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. OPRHP, through Ivan Vamos, served as host for the NY Metropolitan Transportation Committee (NYMTC) NY Metro Bikeway – Walkway Working Group, a bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee in NYC.

Over time, the Chain Gang was joined by local cycling club members Al Cannistraro and Herb Alfasso (Mohawk Hudson Wheelmen), Brooklyn activist and healthcare professional Irene Van Slyke, legendary bike frame builder Ben Serotta, and former NYC DOT Commissioner Eliot Sander. With the influx of these new volunteers, The Chain Gang began advocating for bicycles and expanded infrastructure across the state.

In 1993, NYBC officially became a federal 501(c)3 non-profit funded predominantly by the Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club. Other cycling clubs such as the Westchester Cycle Club and Rochester Bicycling Club also provided early support and funding. Their financial assistance enabled the all-volunteer NYBC to begin statewide outreach through regular mailings.

A landmark Greenway Plan for NYC was developed through the collaboration of NYBC with 25 state agencies and groups and 15 contributing staff members, listed in the plan adopted in the fall of 1993. A notable success from this plan is the Hudson River Greenway in New York City, now one of the busiest multi-use paths in the nation.

2001 – 2011

history2With an early Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) grant, in 2001 NYBC began an analysis of four representative urban counties with high bicycle and pedestrian crashes with motor vehicles. In many locations, simple improvements were suggested to improve these dangerous areas and reduce bicycle and pedestrian injuries and deaths. The publication in 2002 of NYBC’s Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety report targeted educating grassroots advocates regarding the best changes to bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure in their regions and specific communities.

NYBC worked with numerous stakeholders during the subsequent years to enact the Safe Passing Law, Safe Routes To School and develop Complete Streets legislation - all of which help lay the foundation for more and safer bicycling in NYS. 2011 saw the culmination of NYBC’s multi-year effort to establish a Complete Streets Law to guide the efforts of municipalities around the state. These laws paved the way for further public and private collaboration to improve safe cycling around New York State. NYBC members have always been instrumental in alerting elected officials to the need for more, better, and safer communities.

2012 - present

Through continued funding by GTSC as well as our other fund-raising efforts, NYBC has developed an extensive array of bicycle and pedestrian education and safety materials. To date, NYBC education instructors, board members and volunteers have delivered hundreds of presentations around the state to a wide range of audiences – from local advocacy groups, bike clubs, and schools to key planning, engineering, and education staff within all levels of governmental entities. NYBC has expanded the Education staff and deployed seasonal Safety Ambassadors to localities with higher instances of bicyclist/pedestrian and vehicle conflicts such as Western New York, Central New York, and Long Island.

NYBC continues to partner with local grassroots advocacy organizations to support their initiatives at the community level as well as bring larger issues to the attention of state legislators on behalf of New Yorkers everywhere. Local community impact projects are in-process statewide and we have worked closely with NYSERDA to develop and deploy a Complete Streets Curriculum for local and regional planners and agencies to ensure bicyclists and pedestrians are included in transportation plans.

NYBC continues to champion campaigns such as defining 3 feet as the minimum safe passing distance to give a bicyclist when overtaking on the road, increased penalties for drivers involved in “hit and run” crashes and creating stronger bike and pedestrian curriculum on the New York State driver’s exam. We are also continuing our work on the final phase of the Empire State Trail extension on Long Island.

Our most recent legislative and advocacy achievements include passing of law to make clear definitions of e-bikes in New York, successfully achieving Bikes on Board of trains. Additional campaigns include bike education focused in underserved communities throughout the state and creating a state fund for Complete Streets projects.

NYBC is also enlisted by local governments as a consultant to promote economic development through bike-based tourism. NYBC monitors progress at the statewide level using Bike Friendly Communities criteria developed by the League of American Bicyclists.

Throughout our history, NYBC has depended on passionate volunteers and members to fund and support the overarching vision of when bicyclists and pedestrians are safe, respected, and fully integrated into the transportation system. If you are not already a member, take a moment to be part of the solution. Together we are building a more bike-friendly New York.


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