Dozens of cyclists pedal up First Avenue from 14th Street (pictured) passing 35th Street. (Photo by Jefferson Siegel)
By Jefferson Siegel
On Saturday a bike memorial ride was held to honor bike messenger Aurilla Lawrence, 25, who was killed on the night of February 28 in Williamsburg when she was hit by a truck. The truck driver did not stop.
A large mass of cyclists pedaled east along 14th Street from Union Square Park to First Avenue before turning uptown.
At one point the ride split into two parts, with one group of about 30 heading uptown into Harlem before eventually crossing the river into the Bronx, while a second group of about 50 cyclists criss-crossed downtown streets before heading up University Place, past Union Square and then up Broadway against traffic.
Police in cars and on scooters followed the cyclists as they moved throughout town. There was at least one arrest at 46th Street and Seventh Avenue.
Lawrence was the fifth cyclist to die so far this year, compared with ten bike fatalities in all of 2018.
Council Member Dan Garodnick discussing bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens in 2012
By Sabina Mollot
Council Member Dan Garodnick is aiming to rein in cyclists who flout traffic rules. Noting that the problem of bike riders failing to yield to pedestrians has become an increasingly common problem on the East Side of Manhattan, the council member penned a letter to five precincts covering the area in the hopes of getting cops to step up enforcement of bike infractions.
In the letter, which was sent to the commanding officers of the 13th, 17th, 19th, Midtown South and Midtown North Precincts, Garodnick said that it’s no longer just delivery people who can be blamed for cutting off pedestrians or riding the wrong way in the bike lanes.
“Rather,” he said, “commuting and recreational bicyclists are equally often the culprits of such behavior. I have seen I myself repeatedly and it has been reiterated to me by countless constituents.”
Other problems he’s noticed include riding on the sidewalks and riding in the right direction on the street but outside of bike lanes. In those cases sometimes Garodnick said he understood cyclists were breaking the rules for their own safety so he also asked police for more enforcement of vehicles illegally stopped on bike lanes or those who don’t yield to bike riders.
Garodnick noted that he didn’t think enforcement should come via a “ticketing blitz” on select days but be a regular routine and he also suggested more cops be deployed on bikes specifically for this purpose. He also noted that he’d been in touch with Transportation Alternatives, and the organization had since committed to doing outreach in areas the precincts believe it might be helpful.
“I have too many constituents who are afraid to cross the street,” Garodnick told Town & Village. “Not just because of the cars, anymore. We need more constant enforcement of the rules.”
Since sending the letter last Thursday, Garodnick said he said he’d heard from precinct commanders who said they were aware of the problem. Indeed, inconsiderate bike riders are often the bane of community residents who voice their concerns at monthly meetings of the 13th Precinct Community Council. While Garodnick noted that Central Park, which is in his district, has had the most high profile issue with bike infractions, the rest of the district, from the Upper East Side down to Stuyvesant Town, has just as many.
In particular, “from 14th Street to 23rd Street, it’s a regular problem,” he said. “As it’s gotten safer to ride bikes in New York City, which is a very good thing, we need to readjust and focus our attention onto the rules that apply to everyone.”