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BY ALINE REYNOLDS | Park Row resident Nancy Linday makes a detour during her morning commute to work out for fear of being hit by delivery bikers.
“I’ve had to dodge cyclists riding on [Worth Street] sidewalks during a snowstorm, without a helmet, talking on their cell phones,” said Linday, who steers clear of certain sidewalks near the U.S. Courthouse on the way from her apartment in Chatham Towers to the Canal Street subways.
To try to rectify the situation, Linday and other concerned Downtown residents volunteer for Nancy Gruskin, who founded the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation in the wake of her husband’s tragic death from a collision with a biker two years ago.
The foundation has established a partnership with nearly 40 Tribeca restaurants to implement five basic rules of the road for cyclists: put pedestrians first, stop at every red, ride in the right direction, stay on the asphalt and pick a lane.
“My suggestion was, why don’t we start out with one greater neighborhood in New York, saturate it, and see what kind of reaction we get,” said North Battery Park City resident George Matthews, who started pitching the “5-to-ride” initiative to Tribeca restaurants in the spring.
The restaurants have been very perceptive thus far, according to Gruskin. “A lot of them understand the perception out there, that cycling can be very lawless and that this is something they can do about safety—particularly in Tribeca, where there’s a very heavy concentration of kids and people walking with strollers,” she said.
Restauranteur Rocco Cadolini, owner of Roc Restaurant, was one of the first businesses to sign onto the pledge. “A lot of delivery people just don’t care,” said Cadolini. “I want to make sure they do the right thing.”
Ever since one of his employees was knocked down by a truck nearly 10 years ago, Cadolini has required his deliverymen to wear bright colors when on their routes.
“Everybody does what they want,” said deliveryman Eduardo Paredes, who often sees cyclists ride the wrong way on a one-way street. Having witnessed two delivery bikers slam into one another on Broad Street about six months ago, Paredes is particularly scrupulous about obeying the law. “The most important thing is to avoid accidents, so I follow the rules.”
Gina Buiuc, manager of Gigino Trattoria, is retraining all of her employees on the “5-to-ride” principles, and gives them up to an hour to deliver meals so they don’t feel the need to take shortcuts on the road. “We give them a little breathing space, so that as long as they take the food on time, they don’t have to rush,” said Buiuc.
Landmarc restaurant owner Marc Murphy is taking it a step further by sending his managers outdoors to monitor the deliverymen during slow periods in the restaurant. “We watch them in action. If they’re not wearing their helmets or doing something wrong, we write them a disciplinary form,” he said.
Gruskin’s “5-to-ride” initiative, Murphy said, is “very important—both for the safety of our employees and the people on the street.”
Moving forward, the foundation is hoping to forge a partnership with Bike New York to conduct seminars in restaurants on cycling safety. Gruskin and her volunteers hope to expand the initiative around Downtown and, eventually, citywide.