Charles Komanoff


A Bicycle Built for All

In July 2015 I scanned and posted all forty issues of the Transportation Alternatives bi-monthly City Cyclist 'zine that I curated and edited during my 1986-1992 run as T.A. president. Each issue bristles with a hard edge against cars coupled with love and passion for cycling and the NYC cycling community. Go here (this site's "City Cyclist" page) for a listing with links.

I've also scanned and posted The Bicycle Blueprint (pdf), the 160-page master plan-manifesto for New York City that I directed and edited for Trans Alt, which published it in 1993. Co-authored with Michele Herman and Jon Orcutt and designed by David Perry, the Blueprint was a summation of the visionary yet practical activism that characterized T.A. during my tenure as president (1986-92), and a beacon for urban cycling advocates everywhere. The high-res version posted here preserves the beautiful graphic layout that was lost in the HTML edition on the T.A. Web site that, until now, was the only digital version available. This is a big file (33 MB) but well worth the download.

I blog about bicycles, traffic violence, congestion pricing and livable streets for the NYC-based Streetsblog. For a compilation of my 225-and-counting pieces on that site, download this list.

Around 2018, the fierce cycling-advocacy law firm Vaccaro & White made a video clip in which I extolled their work on behalf of cyclists injured by drivers and in pushing law and policy to support livable streets. The 3-minute segment (click here) is lyrical and lovely.

Note: Many other pieces with bicycling content, including my two declarations analyzing and condemning NYC's suppression of Critical Mass rides (2004), are collected on the Web page Cars I - Who Owns The Streets?.

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Perhaps the two most significant pieces here are "The Bicycle Uprising" and my "Bicycling" chapter for the Encyclopedia of Energy.

The Bicycle Uprising, my 5-part series posted on Streetsblog in August-September, 2012, recounts the activism that defeated the 1987 NYC Midtown Bike Ban and energized cycling advocacy from the late 1980s to the present. 6,000 words, includes vintage photos, posters and covers from Transportation Alternatives' "City Cyclist" newsletter.

Bicycling (pdf), my contributed chapter for the Encyclopedia of Energy (Elsevier, 2013), is a comprehensive history, analysis and assessment of bicycle development, policies and prospects around the world. 7,000 words. (Please honor the document's copyright protection by refraining from making additional copies.)

Ride Single File? Hell No!, published June 14, 2023, takes aim at a heavy-handed, gratuitous bid to control bicyclists' conduct on the least trafficked and most spectacular place to ride a bike in the entire region, just across the Hudson River from NYC. It's also a paean to a place that is singularly meaningful to me personally.

The DOT's Incrementalism Has Failed. NYC Needs To Break Car Culture Now, published in Gothamist in August 2019, is a broadside against NYC government's largely failed "Vision Zero" initiative.

The Trial of the QB6 (pdf): March 1991 NY Newsday feature story on the ecological activism of NYC bicycling activists, centered on our trial and acquittal for blocking motor vehicles from the Queensboro Bridge bike-and-pedestrian path during 1990. Our acquittal, in 1991, marked the first successful use of a "necessity defense" in New York State. Story features photographs, courtroom scenes and memorable portraits of myself and fellow arrestees Jon Orcutt, John Kaehny, Ann Sullivan, Stephen Kretzmann and John Gray.

I composed Put Bikes Before Cars (pdf) in the late 1990s, aiming to place it in Newsweek magazine's "My Turn" column, where it might convey our (that is, cyclists') feelings about "bikes vs. cars" to a large audience. It wasn't accepted, but almost two decades later, I feel its ideas about culture and jurisprudence remain strikingly relevant.

New York City Bicycle Levels, Excel spreadsheet, last updated in March 2013.

Model to Estimate Effect of Compulsory Helmet Laws on Cycling Risks, Excel spreadsheet, June 2012.

Komanoff op-ed, "Cyclist deaths rising, and tickets for bells?", NY Daily News, 2016.

In Defense of Ghost Bikes, Streetsblog, Jan. 2007

Letter to New Yorker Magazine, Nov. 2006.

Komanoff talk, "The Need for More Cyclists", 2005.

Komanoff op-ed, "City riding hard on cyclers' freedom", Newsday, 2005.

Komanoff op-ed, "Cops should ease up on the bike rides", NY Daily News, 2004.

"China's Bicycles Are Us" (unpublished) 2004 op-ed, on the removal of bicycles from China's cities.

Pucher-Komanoff 1999 journal article, "Bicycling Renaissance in North America?"

Komanoff op-ed, "Yield to Bicycles", Downtown Express, 2001.

Komanoff 1999 essay, "Avenues for Activism: A Talk at the Start of BikeSummer"

Komanoff 1997 essay, Restoring Cycling Habitat, calling for "rights-based" cycling advocacy. This exploratory piece in Bicycle Forum was a precursor to my 2004 Traffic Justice Prospectus.

Komanoff post-9/11 meditation, "River Road, Still Here"

Environmental Benefits of Bicycling and Walking, Full text (80 pp) of Komanoff Energy Associates' 1993 "Case Study No. 15" of the National Bicycling and Walking Study, for US DOT's Federal Highway Administration.

KEA study for FHWA, "Environmental Benefits of Bicycling and Walking" (PDF)

Komanoff 2001 letter, "Safety in numbers? A new dimension to the bicycle helmet controversy" from Injury Prevention.

My 2001 letter in Journal of the American Medical Association, rebutting exaggerated claims on "drunken cycling" (PDF)

My 1997 Staten Island Advance op-ed, "New York Needs a Verrazano Bike Path," reprinted in Transportation Alternatives' 'City Cyclist' zine in 2002

Intro-summary of NYC City Planning Dept's 1997 feasibility study of Verrazano bike-ped access

Ride With Us: A Letter to Jerry Brown, 1996 letter urging the former (and future) governor of California to embrace bicycle transportation.

Earth Day and Bicycle Power, April 1993 essay for "in Traffic" magazine

Transportation Alternatives: 1400 Strong And Growing, 1991 interview with Komanoff and T.A. staff during the final year of his presidency. An invigorating portrait of urban bicycle activism at its most radical, creative and effective.

My 1990 New York Times op-ed Bikes Just Lack 'Curb Appeal', written in the run-up to the Gulf War, has taken on an elegaic tone in the wake of the destruction of the twin towers eleven years later.

My January 1988 NY Observer op-ed, "The Bike Ban Is Bad Medicine," was an early, earnest and lyrical defense of NYC cycling. View as image (PNG) or download as pdf.

My 1978 New York Times op-ed Rights for Urban Bikers, though tame in retrospect, was radical at the time for the sheer fact of championing bicycling in America's largest, densest city.