30 June 2012

The Wisdom of Our Elders

As I'm sure you've heard by now, most of the US is having hot weather. 

This part of the country has not been spared.  On my ride today, I stopped in Isham Park, near the northern tip of Manhattan.  Given its location, it's quite bucolic; on a hot summer day it's not surprising to see elderly people and couples with young children whiling the afternoon away in the shade.

The man in this photo may have had the best idea of all for coping with the heat:

He must have had an influence on me:  I fell asleep, for about an hour, on a bench near the one where he was dozing.

When I woke up, he was still in dreamland.  Actually, I think he would have been in dreamland had he awakened:  The ambient light of such a hot, hazy day spreads across trees, rocks and benches like a linen gauze.  

Maybe I'm closer to that man's age than I want to admit!

29 June 2012

Remembrance Of Jerseys Past

Now I'm going to make a confession:  I used to ride in "bike clothes."  In fact, I used to have a full wardrobe of jerseys.  However, only once or twice did I ever buy matching shorts:  I usually stuck with basic black.  Then again, when I started buying bike clothes, matching shorts and jerseys weren't available, and nearly all shorts were black.

I don't plan on buying any team jerseys this year, or for the rest of my life.  However, I'll admit I did see a couple I liked:

 What's interesting about this jersey from the Basque team Euskatel is that it's not as loud as you'd expect it to be, given its combination of yellow and orange.  That, to me, shows some excellent design sense.  But even if the jersey were louder, people would like it because of all of the talented riders--some of whom have a chance to win stages of the major tours--on that team.

We all knew it was just a matter of time before argyle started to appear on team kit.  (Hipster uber alles?)  At least it was done--at least to my eye--in a very appealing way here, with an eye-pleasing color scheme.

If you like that, how can you not like the Sky team's kit?:

Team kit hasn't gotten much more fashionable than that.  The only problem I can see with it is having to wear it when making a climb on a 100 degree day.

Now I'll show you some jerseys I actually owned and rode:

 All right.  You can forgive me this one, can't you?  First of all, all you have to do is take a look at my bikes (and this blog) to know what some of my favorite colors are.  Plus, I did my young-adult riding during the '80's.  Actually, for a jersey of that era, this one is pretty tame, wouldn't you say?

Speaking of the '80's, here's another popular jersey from that time, which I owned and rode:

The Vetements Z team featured Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France.  So did this team:

 Bernard Hinault, the last Frenchman to win the Tour de France, also rode for the team La Vie Claire, a French chain of health-food stores.  This is my favorite jersey of all time, if for no other reason that it's the best use anyone ever made of Piet Mondrian's work.

Here's another version of that jersey:

Speaking of French riders and teams:  They didn't win the Tour in the '90's: Miguel Indurain, like Eddy Mercx in the '70's, was simply unbeatable.  However, French riders (e.g., Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque) and teams managed to finish second and third in more style than any other athletes in history:

There are other examples, but I always liked this Credit Agricole jersey a lot (enough that I actually paid for one!).  It's colorful, but not over-the-top, and has a rather clean, streamlined design.

I also liked this jersey, though I never bought it:

 Cofidis is the team that dumped Lance Armstrong when his cancer was revealed.  Also, they never escaped from the shadows of doping accusations and other scandals.  Still, I thought they had a pretty cool jersey.

But for sheer style, it's hard to beat those all-wool jerseys from the '60's and earlier. Too bad I never got to wear them:

Finally, no discussion of team kit would be complete without one of the most iconic examples of the genre:

I mean, who hasn't seen the Peugeot checkered flag? In their long history (which has included many different co-sponsors), the team has had some of the sport's most famous riders ride for them, including some guy from Belgium who would win five Tours de France.  Yep, Eddy Mercx began his professional career in this jersey.  And BP wasn't yet associated with an oil spill in the Gulf.

28 June 2012

Product Review: Bike Burrito

You may have noticed something different about Arielle and Tosca, my road and fixed-gear Mercians.

Lately, I've been riding them without the Carradice Barley bags I'd attached to them.  I decided that, especially in the warmer weather, I don't need a bag of that size for rides of a few hours or less. 

When I first started this blog, I'd been alternating those  bags with Bike Burritos.  You might recall that I had pink Burritos on Arielle and Tosca.

Jayme Bassett makes Bike Burritos in three sizes--Tamale, Regular and Grande--in Long Beach, California.  On her website, she offers some Burritos she's already made.  The "wet" ones are made from cordura, the others from duck cloth.  She offers a variety of patterns and colors.  If you don't see one you like (or that matches the color scheme of your bike), you can tell Jayme what you'd like or send her a photo of your bike.  She'll tell you what patterns and colors she has on hand, or can get.  

Every Burrito has two layers of fabric.  On the inside are a series of pockets.  On the Regular and Grande, one is about twice as wide as the others, which allows you to carry an inner tube.  The bags  fold over on themselves, much like the Mexican food for which they're named.

Folding over section containing inner tube and blinky.
Folding over section containing patch kit and tools.
Pulling it together.

Would you like rice and beans with this?

The pink Burritos you see in my early posts were the Regular size, made from duck cloth.  I'd taken one of them off the bike, set it down somewhere and never saw it again. The other was spending time inside my Barley bag.  Since getting the new Burritos (with the print pattern), I've been using the pink one in my handbag or backpack for pencils, pens, lipliners and other things I want to separate from the rest of the bag's contents.

I decided to buy Grandes this time.  They give more capacity:  I can carry my rear "blinky" and front "frog" light easily.  Plus, because they're longer,they can be attached in an interesting way to a B-17 saddle:

If you look in some old catalogues or British or French bike magazines, you can see tool rolls or raingear attached in a similar way.  It can also be attached to the rings on the outside of the Barley's flap. Most people attach their Burritos on the underside of the saddle rails, like a sew-up tire bag or the round TA-style underseat bag.

However you attach or use it, the Bike Burrito is a functional, stylish (or funky, depending on your point of view) accessory that looks right on a classic, modern or anywhere-in-between bike.  Jayme does a great job of making them, and she's very nice to deal with.  For those reasons, I highly recommend Bike Burritos.

27 June 2012

The Point Lookout Orca: Such A Privilege To See It

I've done this ride at least a hundred times before.  Still, every time I do it, I never know what I'll find:

Could this be the Point Lookout Orca?  Or is this proof that Pac-Man evolved from some sea creature that waded onto land--or beached itself?  Hmm...Maybe there's even more to Darwin's theories (or Genesis, for that matter) than we thought!

Some of you might see it as a claw.  That would make sense, given what I saw on the path leading to it:

All of those black dots or specks or smudges you see are crab legs, or fragments of them.  Among them were also some empty mollusk shells.  The birds of Point Lookout don't realize how good they have it:  Meals like these would easily cost $30, or more, in my neighborhood--and even more in Manhattan!

Then again, I wonder whether the people who live there know how good they have it.  I know how good things are for me when I can ride there on an absolutely perfect day

and I have Arielle to take me there.

26 June 2012

Electric Bikes

Not so long ago, if you ordered General Tso's Chicken, Curry Shrimp, a container of hot and sour soup and wontons for you and your loved one, it would be delivered on a beat-up mountain bike or a bike-boom era ten-speed.

That bike was, more than likely, rescued from trash that was set out by the curb.  Or it was purchased for a few dollars from any number of corners where thieves sold their booty.  (Pre-gentrification St. Mark's Place used to be the epicenter of this trade.)  

Now the men (All that I've seen are men) who deliver your favorite Chinese foods are likely to go to a showrooms to buy their delivery vehicles.  Most of those put-put palaces are out of the public's (and, ahem, law enforcement's) view, although a few operate openly.  The vehicles they buy now are shiny and new and those men have had to save their money for months--or borrow it--in order to buy one of these vehicles.

I'm talking, of course, about electric bikes.  The delivery men love them because they're faster (about 20mph) than most bikes and are almost as easy as bicycles to maneuver in traffic.  Best of all, from their standpoint, those "bikes" don't have to be pedaled.  And now when restaurants hire delivery personnel, they give preference to those who have those low-voltage velos. 

There are just two problems with this scenario.  First of all, electric bikes are illegal in this city.  But, as more than one police officer has admitted, the ban is not enforced because "we have more pressing issues."  There isn't any public demand to raid and close down the shops that sell electric bikes, as there is for, say, "drug dens" or houses of prostitution in residential neighborhoods.  

The second problem is that it's, quite frankly, all but impossible to penalize careless electric bike operators--ironically, because of their illegality.  Because those bikes are illegal, there is no licensing requirement for them.  So, most of their operators don't carry--or even have--driver's licenses.  In fact, one of the few operators who's been arrested--for getting into a fight with a pedestrian--admitted that he and many other delivery men don't read or write English well enough to pass the written part of the exam for a driver's license.  The lack of a license makes it more difficult to keep any kind of record of violations.

As a matter of fact, as that same operator admitted, some delivery men don't have documentation of any kind.  Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I feel pretty confident in saying that there's not much you can do with an undocumented scofflaw but to detain and deport him or her.  Most local law enforcement officials don't want to get involved with the latter (which would involve dealing with Federal agencies, which nearly all of them are loath to do), and feel there are more pressing needs for their jail space.

To be fair to delivery people, though, they are simply people who are trying to make a living the best way they know how.  Worse than them are some of the teenagers I sometimes see riding electric bikes on bike/pedestrian lanes, especially the ones that line the bridges.  The bridge lanes are almost invariably narrow and shared with runners, people pushing baby strollers and such. You know how young people (especially men) who just got their drivers' licences drive their cars. Well, they operate motor bikes with even more reckless abandon.  I am not the only cyclist who has been grazed (or nearly so) by one of them, and I am not the only female cyclist who has had to deal with a young man on an electric bike riding as close as he can, then taking off.

Since banning electric bikes has done nothing to keep them off the streets and paths, I think they should be legalized--and that anyone who wants to use one should be required to get a permit.  To get that permit, of course, they would have to take safety classes.  And, I think, electric bikes need to be governed by a different set of regulations from those for bicycles, motorcycles or automobiles.  Perhaps there could be a "points" system, as there is for automobiles, and anyone who accumulates too many would lose his permit--and his ability to get a license to drive a motorcycle, car or larger vehicle.

What do you think?  Have you seen many of these electric bikes in your community?  If so, what's your experience with them?  Do you think they should be regulated--or allowed at all?

25 June 2012

The Meeting

The scholar and critic Cleanth Brooks probably did more than anyone else to champion a generation of Southern writers that included John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren and, especially, William Faulkner.

In spite of their correspondence, which spanned more than half a century,Brooks and Faulkner supposedly met only once.  That meeting lasted several hours.  It is said that they did not talk about literature, or even anything else related to the arts, culture or history.  Instead, being true Southern men of their generation, they talked about fishing and 'coon hunting.

So why, you're probably asking yourself, am I mentioning these things on this blog?

Well, I found myself thinking about the story of the Brooks/Faulkner "summit" after meeting "Velouria", the author of the Lovely Bicycle! blog, during the weekend of the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

I discovered her blog--which, at the time, had been running for a few months--when I was recuperating from my surgery nearly three years ago.  I left comments on some of her posts.  An exchange of e-mails ensued and, within a year, with her encouragement, I started this blog.  (Now you know who to blame!;-))

Most of the e-mails we exchanged, interestingly enough, had little or nothing to do with cycling.  Although her upbringing, and much of her early adult life, could hardly have been more different from mine (or so it seemed), we both have had unusual (in different ways) circumstances that, I believe, have led us to see many things in ways that are very different from that of most of our peers. 

When she came to New York, we rode, albeit briefly.  And, of course, she was here for the show.  So it was natural that we talked, at least a little, about bikes and bicycling.  However, I would not say that it dominated the weekend.  Over dinner at Uncle George's and over coffee, we talked about, it seemed, everything but bikes.  I won't get into specifics, but I will say that I found the discussions stimulating because she seems able to get past the hyperbole and cant that too often passes for informed opinion, even among so-called intellectuals.  (Trust me:  I have lots of experience with them!)

You might say that my meeting with Velouria was an inverse of the one between Brooks and Faulkner:  Two men who knew each other via intellectual circles talked about sport, while two women who met via sport talked about culture--both the upper- and lower- case "C" varieties.

24 June 2012

WE Bike And Me

What's gotten into me? 

I mean, what's this with me and volunteering?

It's not as if I haven't volunteered before.  But within the past two weeks, I've begun volunteering with two cycling organizations.  And--quelle coincidence--it turns out that they're going to be working with each other.

I've mentioned my recent experiences with Recycle-A-Bicycle.  I intend to continue working with them as my schedule allows.  It looks like I'll be doing the same--and perhaps more--with a new organization called WE Bike.

I learned of them at the New Amsterdam Bicycle Show, where they had a booth.  Liz, a bike mechanic and youth educator who started the organization only a couple of months ago was at the booth.  And she was under the arches of Grand Army Plaza yesterday, where WE Bike was holding a repair workshop.  

She immediately recognized me.  I didn't think I was so memorable.  Even more interestingly, she mentioned my blog and my Mercians.  Hmm...It's not often that my reputation precedes me.  Is that a good thing?

Anyway, I got there a bit late.  But I went to work right away, showing a woman from the Caribbean island of Dominique how to fix a flat.  She had just purchased her first bicycle, not long after learning how to ride a bicycle as an adult.  

Yesterday, I thought she was mastering what I believe to be the first thing every cyclist should learn to do.  But she apologized.  For what?, I asked.  Then I realized she was doing something I've seen many other women do--and which I've caught myself doing since I started to live as a woman:  apologizing for no particular reason.

"You are officially in a guilt-free zone," I declared. "This circle around me"--I stretched my arms--"is off-limits for gratuitous guilt."  At first, she didn't know what to make of what I said--or, I imagine, me. But then she giggled.  "Don't worry," I said, "You'll be fine."

I was thinking about her as Liz and I talked after the workshop.  We agreed that getting more women to ride, with other women, and learning how to fix their bikes from other women, could help some--especially the young--build their confidence.  Plus, I added, it would help them become more independent. 

Then I thought about my own experiences of working in bike shops.  I don't recall seeing a female mechanic and, in those days, it seemed a lot of shops--including two in which I worked--had a "shop girl" who usually was a salesperson/cashier/hostess/Gal Friday. (I hope I don't seem sexist in using those terms:  I can't think of any others that would accurately describe those roles.)  In other shops--including one in which I worked-- such jobs, along with record-keeping and such, were done by the proprietor's wife.

In recounting those experiences for Liz, I fancied myself, for a moment, as a kind of Prometheus.  Please indulge me if it seems a bit grandiose, but I realized that when I was showing two women how to remove bottom brackets and headsets, and how to true wheels, at Recycle-A-Bicycle, I was passing along knowledge that, in my day, was possessed almost entirely by males.  And I probably wouldn't have learned those skills had I not spent the first four decades of my life as a male.

Or, perhaps--here comes the baggage of my Catholic education!--I am doing penance for all of those times I was one of those awful men who spoke condescendingly to female customers and who was less than helpful with girlfriends who actually wanted to ride bikes with me.  If the work I am doing, and expect to do, is a penance, I suppose I'm lucky:  There are definitely worse and more painful kinds of atonement!

Anyway...I have a feeling that interesting times are ahead for me.

23 June 2012

You Won't Find Wah Chu Need For This Bike Here

While riding to an event at Grand Army Plaza, I found something very interesting:

 This machine doesn't vend sandwiches, ice cream, soda, cupcakes or, ahem, a substance that are legal only in a few states, and only for medicinal purposes. It also doesn't vend fishing bait.   Believe it or not, I actually saw such a machine in Angouleme, France, when I took a bike tour from Paris to the sea at Bordeaux.

The machine in the photo vends bike parts.  At any rate, it offers the stuff people need most often:  inner tubes, small bottles of Tri-Flow and such.  It also offers the caps and T-shirts of the organization that operates it:  Time's Up.

It's located, appropriately enough, in Williamsburg, literally in the shadow of the eponymous bridge.  Next to it is a "receptionist".

In case  you're not from Brooklyn, "'Chu Need" translates as "What do you need?"  I grew up with people who asked me "Wachoo need?"  I guess "'Chu need?" is a contraction of that.

I'd love for someone to teach that in an ESL class!

Now, if what chu need is a part for this bike, you're SOL:

I saw this cute Astra mixte--which, I would guess, is from the 1960's or early 1970's, at a sidewalk sale in Park Slope, just doors from where I used to live.  The shape of the twin laterals is beyond cute:

Here's how it looks at the bottom:

Time's Up's (Strange locution, isn't it?) machine might have an inner tube that fits, but not much else you could use on this bike.  So, if you're restoring this at three in the morning, you're SOL.  To be fair, you'd be in the same situation if you were restoring a 1972 Peugeot PX10 and needed a chainring or a 1969 Cinelli and needed a spring for your Campagnolo Record derailleur.

For the record:  I didn't buy the bike, or anything from the machine.  On the other hand, I did buy some tasty things--including foccacia and sourdough bread--from a Farmer's Market.  Also, I had what is probably the best ice pop I've ever had, from People's Pops, which are made from locally-grown fruits.  I had the plum and sour cherry pop; other options offered were blueberry with herbs and strawberry rhubarb.

22 June 2012

Bike Lanes To Nowhere

Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn:  Bike Lane To Nowhere

There's a planner who's sure he knows what cyclists need
And he's building a bike lane to nowhere
What he's finished he knows, if the mayor needs their votes
With a word he can get a grant for one more 
Ooh, ooh and he's building a bike lane to nowhere.

If you're a Led Zeppelin fan, I hope you're not offended.  But after riding on yet another "bike lane to nowhere," I found myself intoning the phrase to the tune of "Stairway to Heaven."

If you've read some of my earlier posts, you probably know that I'm somewhere between skeptical and ambivalent about building bike lanes. If they're well-conceived and -constructed, they can be a boon to cyclists. Sometimes it really is nice to be able to ride without having to worry about traffic and such.

But that "if" is a big one.  Too often, I've ridden on bike lanes that seem to go from nowhere to nowhere or, worse, that begin or end abruptly.  

The latter is what one experiences when cycling along Greenpoint Avenue from Greenpoint, Brooklyn into Long Island City, Queens, as I frequently do.  Greenpoint Avenue is two lanes wide, with the bike lane on the side, in Brooklyn.  But at the bridge over Newtown Creek, which separates Brooklyn from Queens, the roadway widens to four lanes, with no shoulder and a narrow walkway on which cyclists aren't allowed to ride (although cyclists do it all the time).  

Worse still, on the Queens side of the bridge, the roadway crosses a very confusing intersection, which includes a street used mainly by trucks (It's mainly an industrial area) that approaches the intersection from behind.  Also, car and truck traffic exits a nearby expressway and turns from  Van Dam Street, into the point of the intersection a cyclist would approach when exiting the bridge.  But the traffic is approaching from the opposite direction.  

To me, it's a wonder that there haven't been more accidents in that intersection!

What's really disturbing, to me, is that it's probably not the worst-conceived lane I've ever ridden.  But since I ride in the area frequently, it's one of my biggest safety concerns.  

Perhaps just as bad as the poor conception and construction of bike lanes--and the biggest reasons for my ambivalence and skepticism--are the illusion of safety they give some cyclists and the misconceptions about safety they foster among non-cyclists.  A lane that's separated from traffic but abruptly leaves cyclists in intersections like the one I described puts them in even more danger than riding on the streets would.  This is one reason why John Forester (author of Effective Cycling, one of the best cycling books in English) has long argued that such lanes will ultimately hinder any efforts to get non-cyclists, planners and the rest of the public to see bicycles as transportation vehicles and not merely recreational toys. 

When such things are pointed out, non-cyclists don't understand why we're "ungrateful" that their tax dollars are spent on bike lanes.  And planners who don't understand what bike safety is continue to build bike lanes to nowhere.

21 June 2012

Riding A Heat Wave

This is what I looked like when I rode to work yesterday:

From Simply Bike

I figured you, dear readers,could take a joke.  If I looked like her when I rode to work--better yet, if I showed up for work looking like her after riding--I'd have a book contract or a modeling contract or some kind of contract--though, I presume, not one on me.

Truth is, I didn't go to work--or bike-riding--yesterday.  I woke up late and, as the air was already steamy, I figured I would ride in the evening.  But I got caught up in other things, including reading a book I'd been meaning to read, making pesto, working on my bikes and playing with Max and Marley. Before I knew it, the hour was late and I was falling asleep.  Oh well.  

I'll get in a ride today, even if it's only down to the Williamsburg waterfront and Recycle-A-Bicycle.  Then, at least, I can say that I didn't turn into a complete wimp in the first heat wave of the year.  

19 June 2012

This Bridge Is Out

You don't cross it for the scenery:  There are a power plant, trailer park and a container port on one side, and petroleum refineries and a rather rundown section of a gritty city on the other side.  

I used to cross it, though, every month or so.  When my parents were still living in New Jersey, I used to ride over the bridge's pedestrian lane--a ribbon of concrete just wide enough for a bicycle with dropped handlebars, seperated by a rusting iron wall about as high as the top of the average  cyclist's pedal stroke--to an intersection of a couple of highways, where I had to dodge trucks and ten-year-old Buicks driven by people who hated their jobs and put-upon housewives.

Such was the charm of crossing the Goethals Bridge.  Even if you've never been anywhere near it, you've probably seen it:  It's the bridge in the opening credits of The Sopranos. The bridge connects the only two places in the universe where the Sopranos could have lived:  Staten Island and New Jersey.  To be precise, the hulking span--which, even on a clear day, simmers in angry haze of smoke from rusting but still-functioning factories and refineries--links the most stereotypically unappealing parts of New York City's "forgotten borough" and a city that, until recently, basked in the glow of its neighbor:  Residents, in defending their hometown, would say, "Well, at least we're not Newark!"

But the bridge--named for the engineer who supervised the construction of the Panama Canal--was a link to greener pastures, to use a cliche.  Riding south from Elizabeth on Route 27, the industrial landscape would turn into a more-or-less suburban vista that included a rather nice park along the Rahway (as in the state prison) River.

I hadn't intended to ride that far into New Jersey. But I have been contemplating a ride to some of my old stomping grounds along the shore.  So, I decided to take a ride to the bridge, and to go across it.  However, a wrench was thrown into my plans.

Or, more precisely, a fence was erected between me and them.   Behind it, you can see the entrance to the path--when it was there.  Apparently, it's been removed or blocked off.  For all I know, it may have collapsed:  The Goethals is one of those bridges that always seemed in need of repair.  I'd bet that the soot those refineries and factories belch has something to do with it.

Anyway, when I turned around, I saw a Port Authority cop making his rounds.  In response to my question, he said there's no path for pedestrians or bicycles.  "Never has been," he added.

"Really?  I used to cross over it."

"But there never has been a path."

"There used to be something, on the side. It wasn't much, but I used to cross it.  So did other people."

"Well, there never was a path," he said.

Half-joking, I said, "Oh well, I guess I broke the law twenty years ago."

"Maybe you did," he said, suppressing a grin.

He then advised me of how I could go to New Jersey:  across the Bayonne Bridge, over which I have ridden a number of times.  He even gave me directions on how to get there.  The only problem is that Bayonne, while it has its charms (It was, after all, the home of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons!) , is really in the middle of nowhere.  More precisely, it's on a peninsula, and the only way off is through the bridge and a couple of highways.  At least, those are the only ways I know to go to points south in New Jersey.

So, I followed the Port Authority cop's directions past the container port, more decaying industrial buildings and marshland (in Tony Soprano country!) to Richmond Terrace, which snakes under the Bayonne Bridge and the north shore of Staten Island to the eponymous ferry:  the only way on or off the island.

On my way back to Manhattan, I thought about the ride in, when I met and exchanged e-mail addresses with a young(er) man.  More about him, possibly, later.

18 June 2012

Cyclist Fatally Doored In Queens

The stretch of Union Turnpike where a cyclist was struck and killed by a car door

What are the greatest fears of an urban cyclist?

I'd bet that many cyclist would say that getting "doored" is one of them.

It's something we all think about, particularly when we ride between traffic and the parking lane on narrow city streets.  I have been "grazed" or suffered a glancing side-blow from drivers opening their doors.

While my encounters with doors were painful, I escaped with injuries that healed with rest.  However, last night, someone on his way home from work wasn't so lucky.

A 39-year-old lighting technician whose name has not yet been released was riding eastbound on Union Turnpike, a major thoroughfare in central and  eastern Queens.  Although it's not far from where I work, I generally avoid Union Turnpike because it has the worst of two worlds:  highway traffic speeds and a parking lane where cars frequently pull in and out, or weave, as most of the Turnpike is lined with stores.  On the other hand, I can understand why he took the Turnpike, especially if he'd had a long day at work and wanted to get home quickly.  

Anyway, as he was pedaling, a driver opened his door.  The NYPD doesn't suspect any criminality on his part, probably because he remained at the scene after he realized what happened.  But even his action, and the help passerby gave the cyclist, were to no avail.  According to one eyewitness,  who said the Lord's Prayer over the victim, "The handlebar went right through his jugular" and "The blood was pouring out like a fire hydrant."  

According to Section 1214 (pdf) of New York State Vehicle And Traffic  Law, which regulates the opening and closing of vehicle doors:

No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of the vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
As police suspect no criminality on the part of the driver, they most likely believe he was acting in accordance with the above rule. I have posted it here, in case you live in New York and are involved in a "dooring" case in which you believe the driver was careless or had malicious intent.