Sen. Jeff Klein to No Impact Man: “Hands Off My Car, You F–king A–hole”

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A couple of days ago we relayed the remarkable story of Colin Beavan’s close call with a careless motorist, which ended with the parties shaking hands. Yesterday, No Impact Man encountered another inattentive driver — one State Senator Jeff Klein — but this time there were no heartwarming epiphanies.

Here is Beavan’s account, via an open letter to Klein

Though you may not know my name, you may recall that you and I met
today under rather unpleasant circumstances on New York City’s
Broadway, just north of City Hall. You were driving your black
Mercedes. I was riding a small folding bicycle and wearing a purple
helmet.

To refresh your memory:

Traffic was moving rather slowly and you were heading in the
downtown direction, as was I. You were in the far left lane and I was
riding on the curbside of that lane, near your rear passenger door.
Suddenly, you began to veer your Mercedes to the left, potentially
crushing me between your car and the cars parked on the side of the
road.

With nowhere to go to get out of your way, and to avoid serious
injury or death, in desperation, I chose to knock on your window to let
you know that I was there and that you should avoid veering further in
my direction.

At this point, you brought your vehicle to an abrupt halt, not to
avoid hitting me, but because you apparently needed to communicate
something to me. You rolled down your window and said, "Get your hands
off my car, you fucking asshole."

I said, "You were veering into me and going to crush me."

You said, "You better not touch other people’s cars. You might find
that touching other people’s cars is more dangerous than traffic."

You may recall that Klein, along with Sen. Eric Adams, called for a suspension of bridge and tunnel tolls on holidays in order to keep as many cars as possible on city thoroughfares. Klein was also a leading opponent of congestion pricing. 

At least now the contempt we always suspected the Jeff Kleins, Richard Brodskys and Denny Farrells held for those on the other side of the windshield is, in Klein’s case, out in the open. Beavan, who serves on the board of Transportation Alternatives, is calling on Klein to meet with him "to discuss transportation policy as it relates to bicycle safety, carbon emissions, the cultivation of New York City quality of life, breathable air, and traffic congestion." Beavan is also encouraging his readers to contact Klein (718-822-2049), along with Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith (718-528-4290), in support of his request.

Please show Klein more civility than he would show you.

  • Larry

    Let’s be honest here, the bikers disobey the laws far more than the cars do. Amidst the Obama craze you guys are trying to portray yourselves as environmentalists and good citizens, but biking is just another yuppie lifestyle fetish. The mine’s-bigger-than-yours ethos applies to bicyclists same as it does to Republican SUV enthusiasts in the burbs.

    This blog occasionally defends pedestrians and mass transit, but for the most part bikes are detrimental to pedestrians and mass transit. Sure, dedicated bike lanes would be a noble gesture toward giving less money to ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia but on Broadway you guys are just as annoying as the cars.

  • Let’s be honest here, the bikers disobey the laws far more than the cars do.

    Let’s start by hearing your basis for that statement.

  • Larry

    Red lights are optional for many bikers. I don’t care if you guys break the law at 2am but most bikers have little regard for pedestrians. “Yay, I’m fossil-fuel-free!” I won’t make a global statement – maybe things are different in Portland or Boulder, but in NYC bikers act like they own the road. (You can tell the difference between the macho pseudo-liberals and the burnouts by which ones also ignore cars…a slightly higher-risk gambit than plowing into pedestrians.)

  • Marty Barfowitz

    In New York City pedestrians break the law the most and most often.

    Motorists do the most damage and destruction not only in their law-breaking but in the regular operation of their vehicles.

    Cyclists merely seem to annoy some people the most.

    New York City has we’ve spent the last 70 years designing streets and traffic laws almost entirely for the benefit and accommodation of motor vehicle users. Despite the DOT’s recent work, many of our city’s street designs and traffic laws don’t make sense and aren’t safe for people who use bikes as transportation. Cyclists, first and foremost, need to make sure that they ride safely and that they don’t scare, intimidate or hurt pedestrians. But cyclists don’t need to follow the letter of the law if it doesn’t make sense and isn’t safe for them.

  • ex-Denver

    Hi folks. I know probably no one is still reading this thread, but I just had a small quibble with the poster above who spoke of Denver as a good city for pedestrians. As someone who lived in Denver for 8 years (and fairly recently), I can say that it’s absolutely horrendous for both pedestrians and bicyclists, especially when you get out of the downtown area (and no one lives downtown anyway). The rest of the city is all cars driving murderously fast, disregarding everyone else’s right-of-way, and here’s the kicker: They can turn right on red, which means that yes, every crosswalk gets blocked turning cars. And these are the ones who honk the most–right-turners who have never learned or have forgotten the pedestrian right-of-way rule. The funny thing about honking in Denver is that it’s largely not done (which I guess is hard for long-time New Yorkers to imagine), and when people do honk, it’s usually at a bicyclist or pedestrian.

    And then there’s the fact that, in 99% of Denver (i.e., outside of the very separated downtown area), if you decide to walk somewhere, you’re liable to walk for blocks without passing another person. Sometimes the sidewalk will just disappear. It’s bad.

    Have you ever seen someone with the right-of-way, in a crosswalk, run because cars were waiting to turn right? Pedestrians in Denver actually do that. They run to get out of cars’ way when they, the pedestrians, have the right of way. I used to see that several times a day. It’s standard practice. Which may explain why I was honked at so much–for crossing at a walking pace. Again, this may be hard for long-time New Yorkers to imagine.

    Anyway, with respect to the above poster, I just couldn’t let that Denver comment pass. I hate walking in Manhattan as much as anyone (sidewalks too narrow, etc.), but after living in Denver, Brooklyn is a pedestrian paradise. The no-right-turn-on-red thing is particularly heavenly.

  • Republican cyclist here

    So, Obamanation-cult lovers aren’t the only bikers in NY.

    But seriously, I’ve been biking in New York, granted only for a couple months, but I’ve knocked on cars plenty of time to wake them up before I got run over, and never been threatened. I’ve been honked at plenty of times, but that gets easier to ignore the more it happens.

  • madfoxzz

    I think we have under-estimated the “startle factor”. I agree that people are more protective of their cars than the children in them at times, but people, when startled often immediately respond with the fight or flight response. In traffic there is no flight, so we get fight. Once people are in fight mode, it is tough for them to amp down without doing something agressive. Once the agression starts in some, it just keeps pumping until the adrenals are kaput, which is longer than the average contact so they find ways to extend it, like stopping in traffic and messing with you.

  • Jarrod

    Larry, what’s your real axe to grind? The only fanatic on this thread singing the praises to biking as some sort of messianic life quest is yourself. Most people who bike do so for admittedly self-interested reasons–for their own health, their own convenience, their own financial savings–and that slight feeling of being a bit greener is just a small bonus. You seem to believe that this somehow precludes bikers from protection under the law. I wonder, would you be as patronizing and derisive towards some driver in a Miata for honking at the SUV that nearly plowed into it because he couldn’t obey a traffic light? Would you be defending the offending driver for coming out and threatening bodily harm to his near-victim? That’s precisely what you’re doing here–in pretty much every story, except those where the cyclists admitted to being in the wrong as well, the driver endangered someone by clearly violating traffic laws, in some cases even endangering fellow drivers at the same time. We’re not maligning them for driving cars, as you seem to imply, but rather for breaking the law, endangering lives, and then having the gall to act like the wronged party and threatening to harm someone.

    In other words, Larry, if you hate cyclists so much, go change the laws. Repeal every measure designed to designate new bike lanes and areas, and overturn the old laws making provisions for bikes to coexist with traffic and pedestrians. Push through your own special Larry-law, maybe, that grants everyone second-class citizen status whenever they’re on a bicycle–that way, when you cut across two lanes of traffic in order to hit a cyclist in the bike lane, you’ll only get charged for the violations associated with cutting through traffic.

  • Larry Dick

    But Colin Beaven really IS an asshole.

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