Strike : More Room for Cars, But Bike Pools Still On

Mayor Bloomberg revised Manhattan traffic restrictions at a press conference this afternoon. Noting that Wednesday's morning commute was heavier than on the first day of the transit strike, the mayor said he was "adjusting" the city's contingency plan to help ease the gridlock caused by having certain streets and avenues closed to regular traffic.

"Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, which previously had been open primarily to emergency vehicles from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., will now only have one lane reserved for those vehicles and the other lanes will be open to general traffic," Bloomberg said.

No word yet on what that means for bikers, who previously had been able to roam those traffic-free streets at will.

But tonight's bike pool from Columbus Circle is still on, and will continue each night of the strike at 6 p.m. In fact, Times Up plans to pedal a "Sound Bike" so folks can better enjoy the ride.

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"We'll definitely still do it. If they give us a hard time we'll just go another route," says Barbara Ross, a Times Up volunteer, when asked whether going down Fifth Avenue was still an option.

Times Up is also leading bike pools across the Manhattan Bridge, leaving at 9 a.m. every week day of the strike on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, then heading uptown on Sixth Avenue to 59th Street, picking up and dropping off cyclists along the way.

And to encourage more first-time riders, Times Up is also offering free bike repair services at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., as well as free hats and gloves to commuting cyclists, who may not be as prepared for the chill as they should be. They're even cobbling together inexpensive used bikes, starting at $40. To get one, go to their storefront at 49 E Houston Street (between Mott and Mulberry) from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"We're trying to get as many people biking to work as possible," says Times Up executive director Bill DePaolo.

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