Seen & Heard: Greca Restaurant Opening Forecast

••• From L.: “You may already know this—maybe everyone knows this but me—but there’s apparently a bunny rabbit on the Rockefeller Park lawn. Saw it hanging out in front of the bushes near the river and then hopped back in.” News to me!

••• Greca, the Greek restaurant coming to the northeast corner of Truffles Tribeca, said on Instagram it’s hoping to open by the end of September. And it posted this pic of a sandwich on koulouri bread from a menu tasting.

••• Jeff Zimmerman’s work is always worth checking out; there’s some at R & Company’s summer show.

••• The reader known as Hudson River reports that the Philosophy skincare/fragrance company is opening across from Tumi at the World Trade Center mall.

••• Charles Komanoff, environmental policy analyst and biking advocate, sent in a delightfully thorough report from the Community Board 1 Quality of Life Committee’s discussion about the Five Boro Bike Tour.

The discussion commenced at 6 pm sharp and lasted till around 7:15. That was an absurdly long amount of time, necessitated in part by the ponderous pace of Bike NY’s community affairs director Sharon Pope, who seemed to speak at ¼ speed vs. the rest of us. That notwithstanding, there was a full airing of views, some provocative brainstorming, and, for the most part, a spirit of comity.

No resolution was proposed, no vote taken. Nevertheless, there was a clear consensus that the sound-amplification machinery is largely if not entirely unnecessary and can and should be dispensed with, starting with the 2018 ride.

The next step, as dictated by committee chair Pat Moore (who, as always, presided beautifully), is for Sharon to submit a proposal as to sound provision for the 2018 ride. Pat urged Sharon to do so within two months, Sharon asked for three in light of her crammed summer schedule.

There was considerable discussion of actual noise levels at the May 7 (2017) event. [A TC reader’s] July 19 email to CB1 was read aloud in its entirety by Pat. I summarized my May 8 memo reporting my noise measurements at the starting intersection and from a nearby apartment. A couple who live on Park Row—I believe her name is Julie; I didn’t get his name, but he’s a sound engineer and spoke with quiet (haha) authority—distributed a handout summarizing their May 7 noise measurements at various locations on Church St from Canal Street down to Warren Street. No one disputed that the noise, while probably slightly diminished in 2017 from recent prior years, was extraordinarily excessive.

Sharon’s defense and/or explanation of the amplified noise appeared to turn on two points: (i) safety requires that the riders hear instructions to get ready, start, stop, etc., not just at the 8 a.m. grand start but as subsequent “waves” are launched over the next few hours; (ii) the on-site sound techies appear to follow their own imperatives to bring the noise, as it were, even in the face of objections from citizens or even BikeNY reps. (Later, I hinted at a third possible issue: the desire of ride sponsor TD Bank to maximize the impact and reach of its adverts.)

A possible solution emerged from attendee Betty Kay, a physical therapist who moved to our area following her recent retirement: let the ride instructions be disseminated not through mounted speakers or even bullhorns but via a smartphone app to be made available (for free) to participants by Bike NY and/or TD Bank. The app would convey progressively precise countdowns allowing riders to prepare for departure, without any need for amplification, and in such a way that people could safely stow their phones before pedaling off. Another attendee, Jeff Ehrlich, proposed digital signboards to supplement the info delivered by app/smartphone and also convey adverts for TD Bank and/or other ride sponsors.

I wasn’t alone in regarding Betty’s idea as a stroke of genius. In my imagining, the hush during the final seconds would resound more powerfully than the stereotypical steroidal shouting through a p.a. Or, the crowd itself could count down the final seconds. Either would be vastly more human—and humane to nearby residents—than amplified yelling.

Inevitably, there was discussion of moving the ride start out of Tribeca. Sharon gently noted—using more diplomatic language than mine here—that the 5BBT’s presence here largely predates the advent of “Tribeca” and most of our residences here. I added that the course up through the Village and the Midtown canyons is an essential and iconic part of the ride, and, thus, is not to be dispensed with lightly; and that the ride fees (plus sponsor tabs) fund Bike NY’s terrific bicycle education programs—the subtext being: the ride is fabulous, let’s get rid of the amplified sound and, in that way, have our cake and eat it too.

3 Comments

  1. This community affairs person seems tone deaf to me. The sound at the starting line is 99% unrelated to any safety instructions. It’s rah-rah speeches and the Jackson 5 blasted at high volume. There is no excuse for that. Videos from the 2017 start:

    youtu.be/fDdpA4rg0HU
    youtu.be/mUHGvensyCM

    She cannot reasonably claim that the bike tour has no control over its own sound people. If really true, they should not have any amplified sound at all.

    Finally, saying “we were here first” is no justification for unreasonably disturbing legal area residents, especially if the bike tour cannot control their own sound people they pay for. They could IMO easily move the start south along Church Street to the more commercial WTC area without any loss of the “course up through the Village and the Midtown canyons.”

  2. I really appreciate Charles’s work here. I love riding the bike tour with my sons, but the noise is grating even for participants.

  3. Their comment of we were here first..
    So were the Native Americans and that didn’t help them in the industrial revolution…get digital and get creative to improve safety for both the riders and residents…

Comment: