T&V has recently featured articles on residents complaining about cyclists’ behavior and the NYPD’s 13th Precinct enforcement activities towards cyclists. None of these articles point out that the real danger to pedestrians and cyclists are automobiles.
Motor vehicle crashes killed 200 people in NYC in 2018 including 114 pedestrians and 10 cyclists and left 60,000 injured. Between July 2012 and January 2019, 887 pedestrians were killed by automobiles. Generally, when the DOT installs protected bike lanes or other infrastructure to make cycling safer and easier, pedestrian safety also increases.
All too frequently whenever there is a serious crash involving a cyclist being hit a motor vehicle, they initiate ticketing activity against cyclists often at intersections and bike lanes in which little dangerous behavior is exhibited by cyclists rather drivers who block and drive in bike lanes, drivers who cut off cyclists at intersections or drivers that block the box causing cyclists to go out into traffic.
Mayor De Blasio announced on October 20th that commencing on January 1, 2018, there would be a crack-down on bicycles with electric booster motors, or “e-bikes,” including targeted enforcement, confiscations, and fines. The policy as described is:
Counter to post-Giuliani New York City transportation policy;
Counter to the mayor’s stated climate change emissions reduction policy of April 2016;
A roadblock on the way to reducing deaths and costly hospitalizations from ozone and fine particulates;
Likely to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
A hindrance to mechanical, thermodynamic, and economic efficiency.
No pedestrians enjoy being cut off by cyclists, electric or not. No cyclists enjoy having to detour around pedestrians in bicycle priority reservation lanes. No one – driver, cyclist, or pedestrian – quite knows what a mixing zone or a bike box are or how they’re supposed to work. And surprisingly, not many drivers know what “Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles” signs mean, even though the sign has pictures on it. Everyone, on or off a bike, wants their take-out food to arrive while it’s still hot. Everyone on this list can be satisfied, and in so doing, can initiate tremendous savings in lives, health, money and time.
Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood each week (space providing). All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 800 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cyclists use the bike lane near Stuy Town correctly, which author Susan Turchin would like to see happen more often. (Photo by Susan Turchin)
By Susan Turchin
We have an unspoken and somewhat unconscious agreement with each other. As pedestrians, when we step off the curb to cross the street and we have the green light, we expect and trust that traffic will stop and we will safely cross to the other side. But now, with increased bike traffic, this unspoken agreement is null and void. When our fabulous new bike lanes came into being all bets were off.
We need a crash course in how to share our streets. I have just returned from Europe, Vienna and Budapest. Two cities where bikes, pedestrians and cars share the roads with ease and respect. Bikes obey the traffic lights and actually stop when the light is red. Pedestrians do the same. No jay-walking. No bikes going down one way street in the opposite direction. Everyone obeys the rules and everyone safely shares the streets.
Case in point. Tonight I rode my bike home from work. A pleasant evening. The right temperature and Ninth Avenue has a nice down slope so the ride was easy. But…
There were pedestrians walking in the bike path all over Ninth Avenue for no apparent reason, since the sidewalks were clear. And there were countless food delivery guys on their motorized bikes riding up Ninth Avenue in the wrong direction on the one-way street. Pedestrians were crossing the streets in the crosswalks against the red light and also jay-walking in the middle of the block crossing into the bike lane without looking or right to be there. Ringing my trusty bicycle bell did not deter them.