Letters to the editor, June 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Bikes not the only danger to pedestrians

To the Editor:

In advance of the Tenants Association meeting covered by the recent article “Bikes still a primary concern for ST/PCV residents” (Town & Village, June 6), I consulted NYC’s Open Data concerning collisions and injuries; this data is available to anyone. I used what I found to inform my remarks at the meeting, and I was disappointed that the article didn’t mention those remarks.

The data available on that website comes from NYPD and reaches back in time as far as July 1, 2012.

I conducted two searches covering all of zip codes 10003, 10009, and 10010 from that date through the latest date for which there is data available, April 30, 2019. I found 48 instances involving one or more bikes and no other vehicles, in which instances at least one pedestrian was at least injured. (There were no fatalities, only two instances on First Avenue, and no instances on 20th Street.)

Then I completely removed bikes from the formula, leaving in other types of vehicles, and ran the same search. I found over 1,400 instances in which at least one pedestrian was at least injured. (I encourage anyone interested to check and critique the quality of my analysis.  And as anyone using the site will see, there are ambiguities in the data.)

As one neighbor pointed out, it’s possible that a pedestrian injured by a cyclist might choose not to report the incident to police. I respectfully point out that that’s conjecture next to officially compiled data, but let’s engage in it anyway, and triple the bike-on-ped injuries, to 150. The ratio is still dramatic.

Like all of my neighbors, I want fewer pedestrians injured. Unlike many of my neighbors, I see that focusing narrowly on bikes is a woefully inefficient way of pursuing that goal.

David Dartley, ST


MCIs vs. rent freeze programs

Re: “Time to end runaway MCIs,” op-ed, T&V, June 6

Thanks to Messers Epstein, Hoylman and Powers for their thorough rundown on MCIs. But I fear they didn’t address whether those who are currently or soon may be on SCRIE or DRIE are charged MCI increases or not. Thanks in advance.

Billy Sternberg, ST

Editor’s note: We have confirmed with Council Member Keith Powers’ office that tenants in both rent freeze programs are exempt from having to pay increases, including MCIs, that are implemented after they enter the program.

26 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, June 20

  1. Regarding bike issues – the zip code 10016 was not mentioned in the article. I’m not personally aware of any injuries, but I’m sure there are many. I live in the zip for many years and with the advent of bike “lanes” and the encouragement of using bikes, the danger of being hurt has increased mulifold. Too many don’t pay attention to traffic lights – the lanes mean nothing to delivery people and plain old bike riders -they love sidewalks!!!!!! It’s difficult enough being a Senior – and there are many in the mentioned zips – now we must become totally defensive when outside. Just as an aside, has anyone given thought to the fact that the “bike rentals” -the “bikelanes” which have reduced car lanes on too many streets – have contributed to our new “congestion pricing” situation????? That plus the enormous construction and shed situation???????

    • So, I’ll try to summarize the issue at hand here:

      Bicycles ignore traffic lights while riding on the sidewalks (??) & we should get rid of the bike lanes that the bikes should be using instead of the sidewalks?

      Or should I just read this as “when are we getting rid of the bikes?”

      • Not at all Brian. Interpretation is always about the person doing the reading. This is not a black and white issue. Perhaps this will help.

        1- People riding in bike lanes -or in streets – do not observe traffic lights.
        2- Many delivery people and civilians ride the sidewalk.

        Perhaps more and better ways to teach people How to use bikes in the city – i.e. education might be helpful so that the amount of injuries referred to in the original comment would be minimized….. always look for a better” way to manage a situation.

        • I’m not afraid to be blunt on this, in part because I think we generally have the same values and goals.

          Cyclists don’t need to be educated. They have all the information that anyone thinks they should have about how to proceed in the streets. Except for cyclists who are REALLY new to this whole thing (and they learn quickly), people are making the decisions they intend to make, and the consequences of those decisions are (roughly) what they intend as well.

          This is why it’s imperative for police resources to concentrate on unsafe scofflaws and not just people taking well-informed liberties. THOSE are the dangerous cyclists (the ones causing the 2% of incidents) and we need the city to come up with a different approach if the risk of pricey traffic tickets isn’t stemming their behavior.

          I’ve heard the argument a billion times, “we can’t just let them all blow through that red light at X Street and Avenue Y”. Well, if you are seeing a lot of cyclists yield and proceed at a red light, it’s because, from their perspective, they’re proceeding after having checked for obstructions and finding it clear & passable. If you’re seeing very few cyclists pass a particular red light, it’s because it’s perceived as crazy dangerous & most cyclists won’t take the risk; those are precisely where cops should observe for cycling scofflaws, because you really want them to catch those who take wild risks & put others in danger. Meanwhile, at the other intersection where all the cyclists are going through… consider taking out the red light? It’s hardly doing anything, is it? Particularly if there is all this “passing through” behavior and the accumulated safety data doesn’t show any collisions. There are different traffic controls available that compel cyclists to delay/slow/fully yield to pedestrians but that don’t make them stand there for 30 seconds.

          (Note: average informed cyclists don’t ride near pedestrians because no cyclist wants to end up going over the handlebars for any reason, self-inflicted or otherwise. I don’t think that is expressed here enough. So if you see cyclists on the sidewalk or cutting very close to you in the street, those are the outliers and not the average ones. There’s tens of thousands of the average ones around every day! The average ones do not run ALL the red lights & are usually quite safety-minded when it comes to proceeding through intersections.)

          The sidewalk riding thing is a different issue from the traffic lights – that’s pure scofflaw behavior, most seasoned cyclists know it’s dangerous (just like they know it’s exceedingly dangerous to zoom down the block going the wrong way) and it’s the exact sort of thing that NYPD should focus on intently. As I am aware, the citations that NYPD is issuing hardly deals with this at all, and usually targets arcane distinctions in the law about equipment (these are really easy tickets to write) or about how an empty red light is not a stop sign, rather than behavior that puts bystanders at risk.

          And, obviously, any cyclist who hits a pedestrian due to their own flouting of traffic laws should be up for any/all citations that apply.

          I’ll put here a carveout for delivery cyclists: it seems the business owners do not value safety and keep hiring stuntmen bike riders and oblige them to take e-bicycles and push through as many deliveries per hour as possible. While there is plenty of personal responsibility to apply to these cyclists, the root of the problem is in the businesses that are selecting employees (with very high turnover) for speed and not for safety. The businesses are supposed to be responsible for their workers & are supposed to be getting the citations for traffic offenses. There’s something confusing going on where the NYPD simply refuses to do that. And if a rider loses their e-bike thanks to enforcement, the business hires the next crazy person with an e-bike they can find – underscoring the need to get at the root of the problem.

          Note that at no point here did I say “don’t enforce the law” or “pull police resources away from bikes and put it onto cars entirely”. I see an opportunity here to shape the law and the streets to legitimize safe behavior and to have everyone agree on expectations. We still need reasonable design to apply: If a crosswalk says “Walk” for a pedestrian and there’s a cyclist approaching it from the side expecting to go through at the same time, something is wrong.

        • Thanks so much for your elaborate and informational comment. I never assume anyone else’s intentions. You did a good job -. You certainly are entitled to your beliefs.

  2. In reply to Mr. Dartley,
    In both instances when I have been knocked down, I did not go to Dr. or report to NYPD. If instances occurred to others

    as happened to me, both bad guys left the scene of the accidents. Yes I was injured and hobbled around for days in one case and yes, I had damage to attire in second case and glasses and possessions went flying. In one case the bicyclist acted as if my fault when he going wrong way, against traffic, crowded crossing and was extremely rude. He got his comeuppance from a gentleman who witnessed the accident.
    Everyone needs to look both ways no matter a one way Street or Avenue. However, bicycle should obey signs, traffic lights and stay off sidewalks!
    Crackdowns should occur and tickets issued!! I do recall hearing a former Public Safety Officer was killed crossing 14th Street some years ago.
    Too many bicycles ridden by careless riders, not to mention too many “T” Car Services have been given access to our streets to make it lots more dangerous for
    pedestrians to get around and traffic to move! And I am outraged by the charges that are planned to drive below a certain area of the City when one lives here or whatever because
    I believe the congestion has been created by
    the likes of Bloomberg and his Citi Bike plan
    and the must be 1,000’s of Uber’s and Other
    car services that have been issued right to do
    business in the City!

    • I’m very sorry about the times a bad actor victimized you. Those events are unacceptable, and they’re what I and others are trying to reduce in frequency.

      I will address one thing you’ve said, even though it’s not entirely clear we’re in total disagreement: in case you don’t know, NYPD issues tickets very frequently during the morning commute at 20th Street where it crosses 1st Ave. It’s been going on not constantly but frequently for years. The cops stay out of plain sight and then snag the scofflaws who thought the coast was clear. So, do you think this has had an effect? I don’t. If an intersection is a real safety problem (and, well, I’m afraid the data I found doesn’t much support that as far as the bike lane on 1st Ave near Stuyvesant Town), it would be much better to have someone in uniform in plain sight *before* the intersection. That kind of prevention would be a hell of a lot more effective than tickets, which have been tried for a long, long time, to what I would argue is no significant effect.

      • Could not agree with you more. Physical presence, in uniform would be far more effective! My incidents happened some time ago; I am extremely careful now, regardless of the one way streets and traffic lights and signs. Even still, cannot tell you how many times have been extremely cautious and out of the blue a bike will come flying in front of me. Always a surprise and in most cases if I took one more step I would have been hit! Also, out of the blues, folks have appeared on sidewalks and not having eyes in the back of my head, again a bike coming from behind, with no warning often would mow me down if I took one wrong step left or right! Aside from the law, we can’t legislate courtesy and manners!!
        Finally, have particularly become concerned re 20th Street, with two way bike lanes, and situation where folks have to cross them to get to island to catch bus! I just worry about folks
        less careful in this situation.
        I do believe Police presence, in uniform, perhaps handing out flyers, actively engaging the Community, could have a positive effect. These flyers could stress the law for the scofflaws and remind folks about courtesy and manners. Lots of smiles.
        Kay Vota

  3. I am so sick of these entitled bicycle riders and their cavalier attitude. The blow through traffic lights, ride in the wrong direction and are an absolute curse the way the ride on the sidewalks. I used to ride a bicycle when I was younger, but I always obeyed the rules of the road. The riders I see today seem to think they have the right to ride anywhere and any way they want. I honestly don’t feel much sympathy when I hear of one of them getting mowed down. I feel more sympathy for the innocent pedestrians who they injure and maim. Older people can’t leap out of the way as fast as they used to and their bones break more easily and take forever to heal, IF they do heal.

      • I don’t rejoice when I hear of a cyclist getting killed or hurt, but sympathy is tempered by the memory of a little girl I knew whose pelvis was broken by a jerk riding bike on the sidewalk on 23rd Street when his front wheel jammed into her between her legs. It was an accident, but he was riding on the sidewalk illegally and carelessly. That little girl may carry scars and pain for the rest of her life. It may even affect her childbearing capabilities when the time comes. Cyclists should be registered, insured and held accountable for the deaths and injuries they inflict, just as motorists are. Until that happens I will feel nothing but fear and loathing of the majority of you.

  4. I also analyze NYC Opendata and show results similar to Mr Dartley. That is, 2 bike accidents in our area where pedestrians were hurt. One at 1st Ave & 15 St, the other at 1st Ave & 18th St.

    NYC Opendata was started by Gail Brewer when she was on the city council, but she only carried the ball half way.

    While usable, the data is messy and poorly maintained.

    If cleaned up, NYC Opendata, especially 311 and accident data could be a formidable means for addressing and tracking grassroots complaints like noise, mold, heat, hot water, construction problems and many other issues.

    Reports from this data would give good councilmen windows into what is happening throughout their districts and enable follow-up.

    More than that, the data could be used to promote accountability among city agencies and the city council. Agency reviews and individual compensation could be based in part on what is reveal by the data.

    The potential is there just waiting to be used.

    • I couldn’t find the 18th street crash on Open Data. On crashmapper.org I saw crashes near there but that site doesn’t indicate if a motor vehicle was involved.
      Without more details, I can’t be sure it wasn’t a motor vehicle driver that caused the entire incident.

      • Have go to 2016. 10/12/2016…the Off Street is 310 1st Ave which is around 18th St. It’s a pedestrian-bike accident.

  5. All NYC statistics, from every agency, are ‘cooked’, in order to make those in charge look good.
    Brian, you think that you know all the facts and answers?
    Heaven Forbid that cyclists should have to stop a whole 30 seconds for a traffic light….
    You are nothing but a self-entitled, immature, Pretty Boy and jerk.
    But Sabina must love you, since all your turgid posts are guaranteed click-bait.

    • 1) LOL

      2) Uhh I’m on the Executive Committee of your community board and it’s not really “my job” to know every piece of data in the district, but it helps me fulfill my role and make better policy for the community, and I think policies driven by solid data and survey information help people (including residents of the community who are repeatedly dehumanized by the people who think they’re the only ones who count). There are valid concerns about how to avoid traffic injuries, for example – after all, Vision Zero is all about heading toward “zero fatalities” through good design and enforcement – and I’ve discussed traffic dynamics a lot here, letting people know the logic behind the approach that the local precincts, council members and advocates are taking & trying to inspire confidence behind it. I’ve selectively criticized some things about the city’s approach (all of those e-bike seizures did a lot of good, eh? They’re now all legal because the legislature said so, even after concerns were aired out) and I’ve tried to share the logic why I’ve made those criticisms (a 15mph e-bike is not more dangerous than a 15mph guy on a 22-speed Trek; it’s plain physics). But otherwise, good policy deserves support, and we know things are working when the worst problems are that people were RUDE not that people are DEAD. (With an eye toward noting any increase in actual dangerous behavior and not just people being impolite)

      3) If Sabina truly loved me, she’d delete 75% of the comments I’ve responded to because they’re mostly abusive and non-substantive. I don’t think anything gets deleted here. Then again, I hate to see writers get bogged down in managing comments, so I’m not intending to suggest any changes around here. (Most news sites are considering shutting down comments because who wants to spend half their day flagging nasty stuff from guys named “Scorpion”?)

    • Generally speaking I agree certainly about the potential for the data to be cooked. However, in this case there’s no need. Right now there are many ways an administrator can close out a 311 complaint without really satisfying issue so they don’t have to cook anything.

      This is part of what needs to be addressed with this data. Once only good resolution options are enabled in the system, that’s when you have to be worried about the data being cooked. But there are ways of cross-checking resolutions with the person who entered the complaint.

      Now the question becomes…who is doing the cross-checking. And the best answer is the councilman. Of course following up on these complaints by generating 311 reports is going to be a lot of hard work. But that is my understanding of what a councilman’s office ought to be doing. Working hard to know and follow up on the concerns of his or her constituents.

  6. For those who don’t yet know, “Brian Van” (not HIS full, true name, either) is also affiliated with the Tilden Democratic Club, a self-described “reform” organization…which brought us those corrupt disasters Garodnick and Powers.
    Community Board 6 does not represent ANY of my concerns as a lifelong New Yorker. To be a member thereof, one has to be (or aspire to be) politically-connected. Just ask Princess Susan Steinberg of the now-impotent Tenants Association, which nevertheless seemed to acquire plenty of funding…from taxpayers, not their own limited membership. Mr. Dartley also seems to be one of the TA’s (few) adherents.
    In reality, was formerly an avid NYC bicyclist myself, and reluctantly quit because of the dangers involved (for all). But that was probably before little Brian was even born (outside of NYC?). Whole situation is 100X worse now….

  7. Does anyone read or give a rat’s ass about what this idiot Brian has to say? He is a total jerk and a bad liar. His diatribes are always incorrect and downright rude. That is the Transportation Alternatives way. Lie and keep on lying until you wear your opponent down. My father once told me. “never argue with an idiot because they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”. It never made a lot of sense to me until Brian appeared. Now I totally get what he meant.

    • LOL. But I have another piece of advise. Answer back and keep on answering. In the right frame of mind, this guy is laughable.

      • There is no rational frame of mind that sets a good landing place for any of the car-centric, anti-people ideas that dyspeptic vulgarians pass around here. But by all means, keep insisting that I’m a moron through and through. I’m sure it’ll stick after 500 times

        • Stop proving you’re a moron and I’ll stop admitting that you are right when you prove you are a moron. You forgot to mention your blatant lies.

  8. Bloomberg is responsible for the scourge of Citibike, Uber, Lyft and the useless 311 system. I would like to see all the Citibikes gathered up and dumped outside his mansion. Thank God that megalomaniacal little twerp has gone away and wasn’t able to buy a FOURTH illegal term.

    • Always wondered if Bloomberg invested in all these bikes and how much money he has made on his investment. And another thing, went to Costco today and started counting how many cars had license plates with
      A “T”! Lost count!! First somebody is making all this money overloading our streets. Bloomberg created this stupid parking in the middle of the streets to create his over expansion of bicycles. And now I am supposed to pay extra to drive in all this congestion!! I am already paying more than 12 times what I used to pay to park my car safely!! I am mad as hell!!!

  9. Pingback: Letters to the editor, July 11 | Town & Village

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