Unlike the Mayors of Chicago, London, Paris and a growing number of other world cities, it is exceedingly rare to hear New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg say anything at all in public about bicycling. So, we thought that this was an interesting big of reporting in The Villager last week:
After the opening ceremony for Hudson River Park’s Chelsea North section on Dec. 11, we asked Mayor Bloomberg what’s being done to improve the safety of the park’s bike path, on which two cyclists have been killed this year alone: Dr. Carl Nacht, 56, who was hit in June by a police tow truck crossing the path at 36th St., and, more recently, Eric Ng, 21, who was struck on Dec. 1 at W. Houston St. by a driver who had been drinking at Chelsea Piers and was speeding down the path in his BMW.
Bloomberg expressed his sympathy, but said bikers also have to watch out for themselves in interactions with cars. "Even if they’re in the right, they are the lightweights," Bloomberg said of cyclists. "Every year, too many people are hit by cars – and bikes have to pay attention." Bikers shouldn’t assume car doors won’t open into their path, for example, he said.
Bloomberg said he’s personally concerned about safety on the street too, noting, "I’m a pedestrian." Both the mayor and Connie Fishman, the Hudson River Park Trust’s president, said that a multi-agency investigation is being done to see how path safety can be increased.
On another bike-related topic, asked about the ongoing "war" against Critical Mass, the mayor’s tone changed. "Critical Mass is not where people just accidentally show up and 10,000 people happen to ride down a street. That idea is ridiculous," he said. "Critical Mass has unfortunately tried to co-opt the city and the law applies to everyone. And if they don’t like the law, they can try to change it. We are going to enforce the law – and any group that thinks they are above the law is sadly mistaken."