Streams

30 Issues: Can Bikes, Cars & Pedestrians Share?

Friday, November 01, 2013

A "complete street" with space marked not only for vehicles but pedestrians and bikes. (NYC DOT/WNYC)

It's Transportation Week on the Brian Lehrer Show's election series "30 issues in 30 Days." See the full 30 Issues schedule and archive here.

Is peace possible between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians on the streets of New York? Sam Schwartz (aka Gridlock Sam at the Daily News), former NYC Traffic Commissioner and president and CEO of the traffic planning and engineering firm Sam Schwartz Engineering DPC, talks about the candidates' visions for fitting more cyclists onto crowded streets and his own proposal for promoting better cyclist behavior.

Guests:

“Gridlock” Sam Schwartz

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [64]

Chang from NYC

> When I see video of underwater living creatures, I'm impressed with a school of fish moving in such an orderly synchronized swift manner, without any schooling as far as I know. Dozens of pigeons where I live in Hudson County, make sky exercise every morning for a few minutes, flying together synchronized without any leader as far as I see. Canadian geese migrate in > shaped line without bumping to each other for long distance without GPS.
> We humans are so clumsy colliding into each other blaming others. All humans need to be in rehabilitating program watching nature shows. Maybe less efficiency in moving is the price to pay to walk on two legs with big head with two eyes in front. How funny humans would look if two eyes are on either side of head covering more angles like fish or birds! Humans can only see forward.
> So bikers may not kill pedestrians but give high stress approached from blind unexpected spot silently in high speed in surprise. Slow down, ring a bell for alert keeping some distance, especially riding in wrong direction. For red lights and stop signs, I don' think "stand through red lights and stop for stop signs" like cars are right for bikers. But bikers should understand the right of ways so slow down, yield to all and move (straight or turn) with some guilt is good enough.

Dec. 13 2013 09:31 PM
Chang from NYC

> Please make distinction of Manhattan and other boroughs when you talk about traffic situations. Not " NYC" but Manhattan Island and other boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Islands.
> Staten Islands and two boroughs near Nassau and Wechester County are just like other suburb and spacious to accommodate for all. Bike paths along tree lined wide streets are ideal for everybody.
But somewhere closer to the Manhattan, conflicts gets hotter flaming red from creamy pink. Good Example is PPW. There people thinks they can keep the habit of driving cars since they can travel to east side also. But space is very limited. No space for both car parking and bike path. Property owners with cars don't want to give up. If biking will ease congestion (not necessarily environmentally friendly in this day and age because of advance in hybrid, electric and small cars), car owners should park them somewhere first. But taking away the extra space make parking very difficult near home and some have to give up after bike path, which they oppose. So was it done for residents or for bikers who like to use PPW as bike through way when it is very next to Prospect Park.
> And Prospect Park as well as the Central Park with all huge space, can't be shared with drivers (another humans not cars). They are all for bikers only. For what reason? Huge acres of land with separate roads are not open for cars which have to go somewhere. If park drive can't be used, roads next to it will be used for more congestion. How about residents and business on those roads? And as I said before, idea of car pollution is so passé. Park is for bikers only and PPW is bike thruway also for how long?
> So basically "NYC" traffic situations are different as Apple, Orange and Pineapple: Manhattan, vicinity and W and N County borders. Draping with one piece of garment looks good only on Statue of Liberty. Three distinct areas with three different policies and discussions.

Dec. 13 2013 07:38 PM
jonathan from brooklyn

Yes, bicyclists should be more courteous, not ride on sidewalks, and not ride the wrong way. However, red lights should be treated like stop signs.

And I am sick of the false equivalency between bikes and cars. Bike/pedestrian accidents are a million times less likely to result in death or serious injury than car/pedestrian or car/bike accidents. It's not even in the same universe so all of you people who are afraid of bicycles please open your eyes to what the real killer is.

Nov. 04 2013 01:23 PM
Oh FFS

> Rosemary Flannery from NYC

> Finally someone is talking about how pedestrians are affected by rogue cyclists. I have lived in NY over 20 years but in the last few months especially with the institution of Citibikes, I have almost been hit by cyclists in the EV at least 3 times.

Translation: nothing has happened to me in the distant and recent past, but it has been not happening more frequently recently.

> In all cases, I was standing still waiting to cross the street when cyclists came out of nowhere

Translation: I wasn't paying attention

> and got within 6 inches of me even though they had room.

Translation: nothing happened, even though less of nothing might have happened had someone taken unnecessary action to prevent it from not happening, and possibly less of nothing happened anyway since really I am not quite sure what 6 inches is.

> It is jarring, upsetting and the cyclists don't even acknowledge this behaviour.

Translation: I wish the perpetrators of these non-events would realize that they aren't doing anything, but they aren't doing it in a way I find distasteful.

> When I hear my friends complain that they are ticketed for cycling violations, I say bravo.

Translation: I support the waste of finite police resources; I think that the police should continue to squander their time preventing non-dangerous behavior while refusing to enforce speed limits, yield-to-pedestrian laws, etc.; I am in favor of 200+ New Yorkers continuing to be killed by drivers every year. Bravo!

> We need stronger protection of pedestrians

Translation: We don't really need stronger protection of pedestrians.

Nov. 04 2013 02:12 AM
Arithmetic IsYourFriend from Reality, Come Visit

"BlueDahlia77

Cyclists don't seem to realize that they are just as dangerous to pedestrians as cars."

Nonsense.

How many pedestrians have been killed or seriously injured by drivers in the last 5 years?

How many pedestrians have been killed or seriously injured by bicyclists in the last 5 years?

Nov. 04 2013 01:56 AM
art525 from Park Slope

One of the rationales, one of the justifications for putting a bike lane on Prospect Park West was that it slowed down traffic. After it was installed the proponents trumpeted that the lane had successfully done that. My own experiece as someone who crosses that street every day in going to the park was that the cars were going just as fast and in online depbates the bike proponents constantly denied my own experience and dismissed me.. Now we are hearing something different. I guess whatever advances the cause at any given time huh?

Nov. 01 2013 01:41 PM

Linda from East Village:

You are so right. It is other bicyclists themselves who are the most at risk from bicyclists going the wrong way in bike lanes--often hugging the inside of the lane so that law-abiding bicyclists have to veer out into the traffic that they can't see coming(!)

I'm convinced that many of the injuries and deaths of bicyclists from cars are actually instigated by other bicyclists.

And the wrong wayers are SO ARROGANT about it.

They are supremely selfish, reckless and a menace to everyone.

Nov. 01 2013 12:07 PM

Sorry for the family's loss, the death of a child is as horrible as life can be. That said I'm not so sure that the mother's description of the occurrence is totally credible unless she was present. What did the police report say? Has anyone filed a lawsuit that might also add to our (mis)understanding of the facts?

This is a contemporaneous report of witness's observation (no reason to accept it without further investigation either)

"Witness says kid was chasing a ball across the street, right in front of his apartment building."
5:38 PM - 8 Oct 2013

" . . . Police say an investigation revealed that Samuel ran into Prospect Park West, from the east side toward the west, when he was struck by a white 2006 Chevrolet van that was traveling southbound on Prospect Park West. As previously mentioned, the operator remained on scene. The NYPD says they did not make an arrest or issue a summons, but the investigation is ongoing. . . . "

(from the comments to the article)
" ParkSlopePerson
• 22 days ago

Just so you all know, all reports seem to show that this had nothing to do with a speeding driver or a kid wh who did the wrong thing by willy nilly running into the street. This was a totally freak accident. he tripped and fell in the street , no cars were coming,"

http://parkslopestoop.com/blog/crime/12-year-old-boy-hit-by-car-on-prospect-park-west

(also see: http://nypost.com/2013/10/31/parents-plead-for-20-mph-speed-limit-after-child-is-mowed-down-in-park-slope/ )

Nov. 01 2013 12:06 PM

So many good points in the comments not made by our "expert."

Such as the installation of traffic cameras, which instantly provide scope of the problem (Chicago guy says a four day trial in that city yielded 250k violators) -- and millions of dollars to the DC area, where I've gotten several tickets by mail and in which I now drive like a saint.)

Nov. 01 2013 11:45 AM
Nick from UWS

I guess fully defensive driving and walking, on the part of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, is just not a consideration. Too bad...99.99 percent of all "accidents" could be avoided with just a split second of defensive thought and caution.

Nov. 01 2013 11:30 AM
M Gradel

@Seth - Well of course, that is what he will now do. The point is, what are the police's enforcement priorities? Are cyclists really the problem and is safety really the motive?

Nov. 01 2013 11:29 AM
Jim B from Queens

Has there been study of the dehumanizing affect of driving cars, as mentioned on the show, we do not see the people in the car ?

Nov. 01 2013 11:28 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Brooklyn

Of course we can all get along. As an avid cyclist and driver, by being considerate of pedestrians with both my bike and car, I maintain an awareness of them when operating both.

I slow down at red lights and yield to pedestrians at cross-sections with my bike. I yield to pedestrians crossing the street, and give bicyclist space as I pass them.

These actions becomes habit if one chooses to make it routine behavior. And there is absolutely no lost to me in time or stress. Hitting a pedestrian because of impatience and intolerance, to me, would be much more inconveniencing.

Nov. 01 2013 11:27 AM
otoh

[[geTaylor

Oh snap! Why would anyone ask for the actual circumstances of the child's death? Isn't it sufficient that a child died? Doesn't that mean that "as a society" we must offer "sacrifice" to the fates? If we can imagine that we might save a single life what measure is too costly to make? Nov. 01 2013 11:16 AM]]

I was at the scene where a grandmother and her two grandchildren were hit by a van.

Problem is, all were dressed in black or dark clothing and granny was jaywalking with the kids at night across a busy five-lane street.

Nov. 01 2013 11:24 AM
Henry from Manhattan

I was blowing through non-trafficked stoplights at first on CitiBike, but then it became obvious that it’s way to easy to run into a pedestrian that way, so I heed the lights and yield to pedestrians. I don’t really worrying about cars.

I try to keep my bike out of the crosswalk as well.

Pre-CitiBike era, I’ve had a couple cyclists run into me so I get.

Oh, and NYC pedestrians have a bad habit, myself included, of not waiting on the sidewalk, but standing in the street while waiting to cross, and that’s where bikes are going to be whizzing by.

Nov. 01 2013 11:23 AM
Seth

@M Gradel. For one block? You son should have gotten off his bike and walked. duh. How hard is that?

Nov. 01 2013 11:22 AM

As a walker, crossing the street I'd like a 15 sec lead. The walk sign should click earlier then. the green light for cars to turn into the cross walk.

Nov. 01 2013 11:20 AM
M Gradel

My 19 year old son was recently riding his bike home from work about 11PM, and was stopped by cops for riding the wrong way up our one way street--a street with little traffic. He was fined $140 -- the same as a car going the wrong way. Seriously?

To approach our street from the correct direction he would have to go three additional blocks in heavy traffic on streets with no bike lanes(Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue).

Our neighborhood is plaugued by bad driving: U-turns, double parking, cars turning when pedestrians are in the crosswalk, vans beeping endlessly. Among the worst offenders are police who regularly cruise through red lights. Clearly, a kid riding the wrong way up the street is not our major problem.

He believes he was stopped because the police need to show they stopped a white kid in Brooklyn. True or not, the whole thing makes my sons very cynical about those in power.

Nov. 01 2013 11:19 AM
Chicago guy

Chicao is installing speed cameras "near" schools and parks, with the result being sudden drops in the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph.

A four-day "test" of the speed cameras in one location resulted in 250,000 violations, which clearly indicates the speed limit was not properly marked. Speed cameras are primarily about revenue generation.

Nov. 01 2013 11:19 AM
Nora from Brooklyn Heights

Even as a pedestrian, I am very impatient with other pedestrians. Pedestrians jaywalk like crazy. It sets a very bad example for children, and adds to the pent-up tension of drivers in a pedestrian-clogged neighborhood. Then you get the full-speed turns of the drivers, which the current caller is talking about.

I am a rules-following cyclist, and I do really wish that my fellow cyclists would follow traffic rules better.

Nov. 01 2013 11:18 AM
Billy from Brooklyn

I'm a cyclist and I've had two close calls with cars, both of which could have killed me. Both times, I found that the motorists were upset with me for their own mistakes, and even implied that if they saw me again they would hit me.

For cars to drive recklessly and then to blame me for cycling in the first place, and to issue implicit threat, indicates to me that there's something terribly wrong with car culture in New York City. Motorists in this city are out of control and if enforcement of traffic rules for motorists isn't at the center of this debate we'll only see more accidents and deaths.

Nov. 01 2013 11:18 AM
Scott from Ramsey

What is Gridlock Sam's thought's on increasing All Red Time at intersections to allow more time for pedestrians to cross?

Nov. 01 2013 11:18 AM
Rosemary Flannery from NYC

Finally someone is talking about how pedestrians are affected by rogue cyclists. I have lived in NY over 20 years but in the last few months especially with the institution of Citibikes, I have almost been hit by cyclists in the EV at least 3 times. In all cases, I was standing still waiting to cross the street when cyclists came out of nowhere and got within 6 inches of me even though they had room. It is jarring, upsetting and the cyclists don't even acknowledge this behaviour. When I hear my friends complain that they are ticketed for cycling violations, I say bravo. We need stronger protection of pedestrians and these entitled cyclists need to be punished.

Nov. 01 2013 11:17 AM
Sara from Bushwick

One way that pedestrians could reduce their fear of cyclists is to not wait to cross against the light in the bike lane/street.

Nov. 01 2013 11:17 AM
Tonero from Brooklyn

No bikes on the sidewalk! Why do bicyclist think it is correct to do so?

Nov. 01 2013 11:17 AM
Ilana from Inwood

i feel like i'm hearing from an alternative universe - cars run red lights ALL the time! and getting eye contact w drivers is way harder if cars are SUVs and you are a kid or a short adult!! please, talk about this.

Nov. 01 2013 11:17 AM
michael from Bk NY

Lat thing

Parents please supervise your kids! There are hundreds of 5 year olds left unattended by parents sitting having barbecues or doing who-knows-what who then let their kids run into the street and cause cyclist to swerve (and crash, often break collarbones and wrists) trying to avoid these unattended children.

Again, totally unfair to blame cyclists trying desperately to be safe and getting blamed for EVERYTHING>

Nov. 01 2013 11:17 AM

Oh snap!
Why would anyone ask for the actual circumstances of the child's death?
Isn't it sufficient that a child died?
Doesn't that mean that "as a society" we must offer "sacrifice" to the fates? If we can imagine that we might save a single life what measure is too costly to make?

Nov. 01 2013 11:16 AM
Alan from New York

Where there are large trucks waiting for a red light, a bike going between them often cannot be seen by a pedestrian. When the bike fails to stop at the light, it's only dumb luck that will save the pedestrian.

I frequently encountered this situation when crossing Varick Street at West Houston.

Nov. 01 2013 11:16 AM
landless from Brooklyn

Pedestrians are endangered by cyclists on the Brookyn Bridge every day; the walkway is too congested and narrow to allow cyclists to pedal. The walkway should be dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists should dismount and walk their bikes.

Nov. 01 2013 11:15 AM
Eric from Park Slope

30 mph on Prospect Park West is incredibly FAST. I never drive over 23 or 24 mph there. It's next to Brooklyn's most popular park, in a neighborhood that's overflowing with kids.

A 20 mph speed limit -- hopefully with enforcement -- would make a huge difference in safety.

Nov. 01 2013 11:15 AM
Rebecca

Every morning I have to take my daughter across a bike lane on my street to get her bus. Even though the bus stop sign is out, and everyone is supposed to stop, bikes fly by ignoring the sign almost every morning. Even some cars don't stop either, but it's harder for them to get by. The bikers on my street also don't watch out for pedestrians at the light at the corner....they blow through the red light even if people are trying to cross.

Nov. 01 2013 11:15 AM

When a child runs unpredictably into the path of a moving car, it can be impossible to avoid. By the time he was about to celebrate his manhood, he should have been trained not to run into traffic.

Nov. 01 2013 11:15 AM
Nick from UWS

30 miles an hour is 44 FEET PER SECOND.

Nov. 01 2013 11:15 AM
J M from UWS

I was hit by a car in a pedestrian crosswalk.

Cars and pedestrians should not be allowed to go at the same time. Period.

Nov. 01 2013 11:14 AM
Suman from Prospect Heights

Is traffic speed data from across the city publicly available? E.g, average speed of cars on Prospect Park West, Houston St, etc?

Nov. 01 2013 11:14 AM
npnj

Our town (Somerset County, NJ) put in bike lanes. Yay!

Then the town and state allowed them to be converted into parking slots. Boo!

Nov. 01 2013 11:13 AM
micheal from bK NY

Hey

Ive got a coupe:

How about not painting bikes lanes with that slippery green paint???? Its the dumbest thing to do ever. In the rain they are slicker than ice!!! totally wrong. Make the bike lanes safer, clean them of all the broken glass that accumulates in them too, we can;t use them.

And how about putting some decent signs up on the Brooklyn Bridge instead of those pathetic painted symbols on the wood floor that haven't been repainted since Ed Koch was mayor!! Nobody is even looking down at the ground on the bridge anyway! It needs decent signs every 100 ft posted at EYE LEVEL in 5 different languages since everyone is a tourist that make it clear what lane is for pedestrian traffic and which is bike lane'

And as far as Propsect park, it is AALMOST ALWAYS the pedestrians who are all over the place, do not look before crossing streets and do whatever they want and then get angry at cyclists for riding by. They have NO IDEA how wrong they are, Cyclist have the most to lose in a crash and are 10 times more careful than they are. Most are so clueless they don't even realize how close they come to causing an accident most of the time. And then we loo like the "bad guys" when we have to yell in order to wake someone up out of their daydreaming cluelessness and get their attention.

totally unfair

Nov. 01 2013 11:13 AM

NYPD said that “preliminary results” show that Cohen-Eckstein “ran into the street.”
His photo show him wearing black. It was near sunset at 5:15.
5:15 p.m. yesterday when the ball rolled into the street and he chased after it. NYPD says that Cohen-Eckstein suffered trauma to his torso and was taken to Methodist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Nov. 01 2013 11:11 AM

Cyclists should stop at red lights! I cannot count the number of times that I have been nearly run over by cyclists while walking in non-midtown neighborhoods in the outer boroughs when I have the walk sign.

Cyclists don't seem to realize that they are just as dangerous to pedestrians as cars.

Nov. 01 2013 11:11 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Mr. Schwartz,

The problem with bicycles going through red lights is that motorists also do it and that bicyclists are the ones who will suffer.

I think that the police should be more aggressive about giving tickets for moving violations and bicyclists who ride on sidewalks. Bicyclists should have to take defensive driving classes every three years, just as motorists do.

I drive a car, a bicycle, a motorized scooter, rollerblades and I walk and I do all of them safely because I had good training when I was learning - including bicycle safety lessons in elementary school. As much as people may want to deny it, education is valuable in EVERY ENTERPRISE.

Nov. 01 2013 11:11 AM
Nick from UWS

"30 is incredibly slow". Screw off, go drive in the desert or something where you can drive as fast as you want. 30 miles an hour is 44 FEET PER SECOND.

Nov. 01 2013 11:10 AM
Phil from Bronx, NY

There are inconsistencies across the city districts in terms of the desire to create safe conditions for cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. We have been waging a battle the last few years here in the NE Bronx to have the area around Pelham Bay Station made safer for the residents and pedestrians. There was some glimmer of hope in 2006 when a residential street that was used by cars coming off Pelham Parkway as a shortcut to the neighborhood was switched to go the opposite direction forcing cars to use a larger service road which was wider and could handle all the traffic. Then, after drivers complained of having to spend a few more minutes going this way, the local Community Board re-reversed it and the parkway traffic and increased accidents returned. Pedestrian safety was put aside for driver convenience.

Nov. 01 2013 11:10 AM
oscar from ny

Funny how that fox we have as mayor duped these happy yuppies and their dumb bicycles like its cool or something.. They don't realize that the mayor purposely put bikes in place to gain money..also I know the mayor sent all his goons after the good judge..this world is becoming Eviler

Nov. 01 2013 11:10 AM
Miriam the pedestrian from Bronx

Is it possible for police to enforce rules for bicyclists? When I was knocked down and injured by a bicyclist running a red light, only the intervention of a couple of motorists stopped at that red light forced a policeman to lackadaisically take the cyclist's name.
In my opinion, bicycles should be registered and insured, so that pedestrians have some recourse.

Nov. 01 2013 11:10 AM
mbk from manhattan

We will never be perfect - not bikers/not pedestrians/not drivers. How about not demonizing any of the means of transportation, everyone following common sense best practices, and everyone enjoying this wonderful city!

Nov. 01 2013 11:09 AM
Janet from New York

Bicycles on sidewalks are very dangerous to pedestrians. I encounter them all the time.

Nov. 01 2013 11:08 AM

It's not about cars or bikes! (Or pedestrians or camels).

It's about roads. Use it correctly or get out of it.

Nov. 01 2013 11:08 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Why would the OMB think tickets for moving violations--the kind that actually kill people!--isn't important enough to make it...OK, now I don't remember the term Mr. Schwartz used, but something like permanently supported?

On the other hand, I don't think cyclists should be allowed to run red lights. So they have to wait at a light--what's the big deal?

Nov. 01 2013 11:07 AM
Scott from Soho

We should teach people to look both ways before crossing the street and to stop crossing the street while looking at messages.

Nov. 01 2013 11:05 AM
Hal from Brooklyn

I am alternately a pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist.
NYC law says that at the age of 15, every bicyclist must ride in the street and obey all traffic laws.
Who is responsible for educating 15 year olds on traffic laws?

Nov. 01 2013 11:04 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

The driver of the van which killed the young man -- was he charged? I'm guessing he wasn't. If he was charged, with what?
Several years ago in my neighborhood (Chelsea) a woman was killed at 9th Ave. and 23rd St. while in the crosswalk, with the light. The truck which killed her was making a right turn from 23rd to 9th Ave. The police judged that the driver of the truck couldn't see her. He was not charged.

Nov. 01 2013 11:04 AM
Nick from UWS

What do you mean, "it's not clear what is a residential neighborhood"? What an idiotic statement. ALL OF NEW YORK is a residential neighborhood because people are walking around in ALL OF NEW YORK. THE PEDESTRIAN HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY AT ALL TIMES. Who the fuck cares what is designated a "residential neighborhood".

Nov. 01 2013 11:03 AM

Re: State vs. Local revenue discrepancy -- careful who you blame though. When I address my local authorities about why they are not enforcing moving traffic violations, Sam's insight about who gets the money was exactly the explanation they, too, offered matter-of-factly.

Nov. 01 2013 11:00 AM
mgduke


Please address the crucial first step toward safe streets in NYC, which is, to reinforce the regulation that NYPD officers live inside the 5 boroughs.

During the years that NYPD officers have been allowed to live outside the city, as far away I believe as 100 miles, their enforcement of traffic rules here has changed from caring for the needs and rights of pedestrians (and even bicyclists, as I clearly remember them doing in the ‘40s and ‘50s) to caring primarily, if not exclusively, for the convenience of motorists.

The tragic, but altogether-too-commonplace, case that was brought before the City Council hearing yesterday, of the killing of a 12-year-old by a motorist, in an area where speeding is the norm, but where not even one speeding ticket had been issued by the local precinct during the entire preceding month is just one example of the current problem.

This problem will not be cured until NYPD officers are once again required to live within city limits and to commute to their station houses on public transportation wearing their uniforms.

Nov. 01 2013 10:55 AM

Bicycle-driving licenses.

Free and administered by your local precincts, perhaps paid for with bad-driving tickets.

Nov. 01 2013 10:35 AM

I think it would be helpful to talk about taxis separately
There are certainly too many cab driving around lazy people (in many cases)
The drivers themselves are too aggressive and totally disrespectful to walkers and other drivers.
The bar show be raised for permission to drive a cab and the rates increased as well to curb cab usage.

Ps Apologies to those who use cabs due to some handicap. Life's rough.

Nov. 01 2013 10:29 AM
Linda from East Village

As a Citi-bike cyclist who previously lived in Copenhagen, I have to say the worst problems I've encountered in NY are other cyclists: not signaling when they're about to speed past you, cutting off pedestrians, and--worst of all--riding the wrong way on designated cycling paths. Riding north on the Lafayette Street bike path recently, I saw two women on bikes approaching me from the wrong direction. That was bad enough, but they were also zig-zagging. I called out to them to switch to single file. They shouted back that they were having too much fun. As a result, I had to maneuver onto the left-hand care lane--and nearly got hit by a car.

Cyclists who ignore or flaunt the rules should be hit with traffic violations and fined. If that means riding with license plates, so be it.

I contacted Citibikes about the Lafayette St. incident.
Their response? Not their problem. Next step: put pressure on Citibank, which is getting such great publicity out of the Citibike program.

Nov. 01 2013 10:28 AM
Ken from UWS

The cycling culture in NYC will only change as more risk-averse people take up biking, and THAT will only happen if we keep adding infrastructure that separates cyclists from cars and trucks. And while we're physically separating them, let's separate them in the eyes of the law as well. We need to recognize that bikes are not cars and adjust our road rules to reflect that reality. For example, cyclists should be allowed to make rights on red and to treat most red lights as stop signs. The current regime of expecting operators of 30 lb. bikes to adhere to rules designed for 2,000 lb. vehicles clearly isn't working, and enforcing that absurdity is only discouraging biking.

Nov. 01 2013 10:27 AM
Chuck from Lower Manhattan

Could Mr Sam address the effectiveness of the new commercial bicycle laws that the council adopted last year that went into effect in April? Should enforcement focus on them or misguided citibike tourists riding on sidewalks?

Nov. 01 2013 10:25 AM
Ilana Wallach from Inwood, Manhattan

i'm usually a pedestrian - and pretty quick on my feet - still almost hit too many times to count. often with traffic cops sitting right there, not their job ..
i'm living up in Northern Manhattan (Inwood) - it's the wild west up here! any chance of an interactive map on this stuff?

Nov. 01 2013 10:24 AM
clkq

As someone who walks miles each day in the city, I have been almost hit several times by cyclists going the wrong way or flying through red lights. Cars need to watch for cyclists, but cyclists need to watch for pedestrians.

Nov. 01 2013 10:08 AM

Look to Copenhagen and Amsterdam for best practices and apply what works here. The key will be more protected space for cyclists, dedicated signals at intersections, and enforcement of bike lane violations so cyclists don't have to swerve around parked cars.

The other key will be to recognize with confidence that this is the wave of the future. Every city in America is looking to biking as a way to solve some of its traffic woes and attract talent. The mayor must have the political will to speak to communities about making streets safer by installing protected bike lanes that, yes, lose a few car parking spaces.

Nov. 01 2013 09:52 AM

Definitely yes! But only if a strategy were introduced that would never actually pass.

I spent several years in a city and country where bikes shared the road with cars, motorcycles, trucks, rickshaws, cattle and every and all manner of moving things. I noticed that the more educated about driving people are, the less likely they are to have an accident. When there, I saw far more roadway blood and gore, per person, in the countryside than in the city, because city drivers were more aware of proper road behavior.

I observed as motorized vehicles were introduced to what had been an exclusively bicycle-oriented city -- it seemed to take years before bikers even realized that accidents could be dangerous. Before motorcycles and cars, bikers drove without a care in the world, with an accident being simply a temporarily embarrassing event at worst.

Accidents seemed to take place because drivers were not educated in safe practices, either because auto licenses were easily faked, or because non-auto licenses were not required. If proving that one understood road rules before taking to the road -- regardless of their means of transport -- most road deaths and accidents would undoubtedly be avoided.

In the USA area in which I now live almost all (frequent) road deaths are sadly between drivers and pedestrians who were born in poor, ungoverned countries, and to whom local fake license schemes are targeted. In other words, there are thousands of folks on our roads who have no legitimate road behavior training at all -- with their demises being one consequence. Police cannot even attempt to effect driving behavior, let alone enforce actual laws. Passing out bad-driving tickets isn't "meeting quotas" so much as shooting fish in a barrel!

SOLUTION:

Road Usage Licenses, As opposed to driving licenses. Preferably combined with continuous school driving classes, perhaps as part of health class.

Any other solution is second-best.

Nov. 01 2013 09:33 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.