Nancy Gruskin Launches Delivery Cyclist Safety Campaign

Nancy Gruskin, who founded the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation after her husband was killed by a cyclist in Midtown two years ago, launched a new campaign to educate delivery cyclists about the rules of the road this morning. The “5 to Ride” campaign will ask restaurants to pledge to teach their delivery cyclists five basic rules, grouped in this mnemonic order:

  • Put Pedestrians first
  • Stop at Every red
  • Ride in the right Direction — with traffic
  • Stay on the Asphalt, off the sidewalk
  • Pick a Lane, and stick with it (This one is intended to encourage cyclists not to weave between cars.)

Gruskin has focused her organizing on Tribeca to start with and has signed up more than 40 restaurants so far. Participating businesses get a decal to put in their window and pins for their working cyclists advertising their commitment to safe cycling. “The public can vote with their wallets,” said Gruskin.

Gruskin was joined by Bike New York’s education programs director Rich Conroy and City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca. “It’s imperative that all cyclists, whether riding for commuting, work or fun, know and follow the rules of the road,” said Conroy. “More resources should be available for commercial cyclists.” Bike New York will work with the Gruskin Foundation to provide additional safety training for restaurants that request it.

Vacca focused his remarks on the importance of education and safe behavior. “Whether you’re on two wheels or on four wheels, you have to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he said. When Streetsblog asked him after the event about possible engineering solutions to improve bike-pedestrian relations, he said that any design had to be site-specific and turned the conversation back to the pledge campaign.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Again, a fine list of rules.

    I wonder if folks could come up with five additional similarly simple rules to keep those on bicycles safe from cars, not duplicative with the above.

  • cycler

    I think that this isn’t, on the face of it a bad idea. I appreciate that instead of just demonizing and blaming cyclists, Ms. Gruskin has tried to improve the situation through education and outreach. Additionally it’s important that this is translated into other languages for non- English speaking delivery people, and that the restaurants really support through their policies instead of merely giving it lip service.

  • Seems rather inane. Do “restaurants” like Eye Vision Associates
    and The Municipal Art Society even employ delivery cyclists? But if it helps cut down on the number of salmon and sidewalk cyclists then why not?

  • brent

    I know the intentions are positive. What it really demonstrates to me, however, is that safe cycling initiatives are met with encouragement. Safe driving initiatives are scoffed at.

  • Joe R.

    I made a comment of CBS2’s site suggesting changing number 2 on the list to “Yield to every pedestrian or vehicle on red” so as to more realistically reflect the reality of riding on city streets, but other than that, a good set of rules.

  • Suzanne

    Um… Why does she have those horrible “Bike Bedlam” videos on her homepage? I’m an advocate of pedestrian safety but those pieces of dog poop do nothing more than position this as a false war between bikes and peds. Not to mention the fact that they’re full of lies.

    Not that I disagree that people need to ride as carefully as possible. And, however true it may be that cars kill far more people than bikes (one in NYC in how many years, compared to hundreds by car every year), and however true it may be that the numbers of people killed by bikes might be statistical anomalies analagous to being struck by lightning, it’s still true that her husband would be alive if that cyclist was going the right way down the street.

  • Glenn

    Again, the focus on safety is admirable, but I feel that without dealing with the demand side of this equation, it’s not going to be very successful. And without advocating for street redesigns, it will never fully achieve the goals.

    Back to the demand-side, How can I get something like that to hand the delivery guys when I tip them?

  • dporpentine

    I’m with Suzanne–take down “Bike Bedlam,” Nancy Gruskin, and I think you might be interested the safety of all the people who use streets and sidewalks. Until then . . .

  • Joe R.

    I’ll third what Suzanne and dporpentine said. Of all the things she could have put on her website, why did Mrs. Gruskin choose one of the most polarizing, inaccurate pieces of sensationalist reporting I’ve ever seen?

  • l

    To top it off, Tony “Mobile Two” Aiello is hosting a fundraiser for the foundation.

    She’s doing some admirable work given her loss, but the CBS2 connection is dispiriting.

  • brent

    come to think of it- why not get Fresh Direct truckers to “Put Pedestrians first” and “Stop at every red”.

  • Daphna

    Nancy Gruskin has been at every community board meeting and every city council hearing over the last two years touting her story and bashing cyclists and making her strongest argument possible against putting in any safe bicycle infrastructure. She has spoken out vehemently against giving any protected space to bicyclists on the streets. Now she is sneaky and has changed her message so as to put people off-guard, but she is completely anti-bike.

    She just doesn’t get it. I wish her husband had been killed by a driver. Then she would be a strong advocate against dangerous driving, which is needed. But dangerous cycling does not really exist. Her campaign cloaked in “safety” has the true aim of discouraging cycling.
    Bicycle accidents killed 7 people in the last decade in NYC. Meanwhile, motorists killed over 3,000 people in NYC in the last decade.

    Cyclists are saving living by being on the streets because their presence, and the presence of bike lanes, are making drivers be more careful. Cyclists are a lot of the reason why deaths from motorists have declined. So people should be welcoming cyclists and thanking them, instead of trying to make it harder for them to get around.

  • Pandabear

    This is extra stupid. Delivery workers are paid less than the minimum wage; they work for tips. Obeying traffic laws means slower deliveries means fewer tips. We can’t expect desperately poor workers trying to care for their families to shoulder the costs of safety regulation. It’s not realistic or fair to do so, and we don’t do it in other contexts–when the mine workers show up without hard hats and start dying, we punish the mine instead of chastising the workers, because it’s the mine that has meaningful choice in the matter.

    I hate how reckless delivery cyclists are. Apart from having to dodge salmon or sidewalk-riders, every time I see one run a red at night (without lights) I think of the kids that might wind up orphaned if the worker gets hit by a car. I’d love to see someone do something about it–something that would actually work, and actually place the responsibility where it belongs. Reform would start with a fair minimum wage for delivery guys, so that they don’t need to engage in life-threatening behavior to earn a living wage. At that point, I’d like to see heavier fines for reckless cycling–imposed on the restaurants, not on the workers. If restaurants start paying $500 for red light violations, they’ll train their guys to obey the law, and they’ll staff their delivery operation in a way that avoids the need for unsafe riding. Hopefully cops will be more willing to ticket unsafe delivery cyclists (the lions share of ‘rogue riders’ I see) if they know it’ll hit the employer and not the sub-minimum-wage worker trying to pay his or her family’s rent.

    All of this would be expensive; it would piss off rich people who own restaurants or live off of take-out. But it might actually work, whereas finger-wagging at poverty-level workers won’t do shit.

  • Suzanne

    Wow. That’s just sad. And completely illogical of her, considering that bike infrastructure would only make peds and everyone else safer… Unless her real goal is simply to roll back all our advances and get all bikes off the street.

    Still, it doesn’t change the fact that her husband died. So we need to keep pushing for safe bike infrastructure, for her husband as well as all the other thousands of people who died unnecessarily. Even if Gruskin just doesn’t get it.

  • Daphna

    Somebody should stop and think about safety. I keep seeing these same 4-5 rules stated as if they contribute to safety of cyclists or of others around them, and I do not believe these principles advance safety in any way.

    1) Of course cyclists yield to pedestrians. Cyclists know that pedestrians do not look and are oblivious and disregard all traffic rules. Cyclists know this and know that pedestrian will not yield, so any cyclist who does not want to get hurt him/herself is going to yield. Cyclists can not hit a pedestrian with impunity. 95% of the time the cyclist would be the one hurt. So telling cyclists to yield or put pedestrians first is unnecessary because they are already doing that out of self-preservation.

    2) Red lights were designed for motorists. Pedestrians do not follow them. Cyclists should be in the same category as pedestrians regarding red lights. Stopping at them inconveniences the cyclist, and does not add any particular safety for other road users. This is just a tactic to make cycling more unpleasant and less functional (getting their slower) so fewer people will choose to ride.

    3) Riding in the wrong direction is extremely uncomfortable. No rider likes it and no rider needs to be told not to do it. If some riders still go the wrong way, it is because that choice is either much safer or much shorter for them. They would not choose the discomfort of wrong way riding for any other reason. The reasons why contraflow riding is the safest or most efficient choice for them need to be looked at to see what infrastructure would help curtail this behavior.

    4) Sidewalks are uncomfortable to ride on: they have seams in concrete very 5 feet. Asphalt is much more comfortable. A rider choosing the sidewalk is doing so because he/she does not have enough street space, not because he/she likes the sidewalk. Cyclists don’t need to be lectured about staying off the sidewalk because they will stay off it out of their own comfort as long as there is street space available. But if the sidewalk it the only safe place or the only place to pass period, even with a rule, it is going to be very hard to make cyclists obey it since the alternative is so much worse.

    5) Pick a lane and stick with it?! Well, all cyclists wish they could do this but they are at the mercy of motorists going every which way in vehicles weighing 2,000-6,000 pounds. It would be wonderful to be able to ride a straight path on a street but that is not possible. You have motorists changing lanes, turning, pulling over suddenly, opening doors, pulling out of a parking spot, etc. This is not a realistic idea. This behavior change would have to start not with cyclists, but with the driving behavior of motorists.

    Cyclists can not be the ones to start making the streets safer. They are too lightweight (physically) and there are too few of them. The education needs to start with motorists. And whenever possible new street designs that encourage slower driving should be implemented.

  • Joe R.

    Thank you for the excellent analysis, Daphna. Only thing is I would add more qualification regarding rule 2 as time savings is only part of the reason many cyclists don’t stop for red lights. Cyclists actually place themselves in far greater danger by stopping at lights. When stopped, they can get hit by cars trying to jump ahead of the queue by driving in the far right lane (which is usually empty near intersections where no parking is allowed). This happened to me more times than I care to think about. And when the light changes, cyclists are in the middle of cars jockeying for position. This is akin to being in a pack of herding rhinos. It’s a great way to get hurt or killed. I much prefer to be on the other side of the light, preferably a few blocks down, when it changes.

    Anyway, I too am tired of having that same set of “rules” thrown in my face as if nobody would ever get hurt or die were they to be followed. This is really what the anti-bike side just doesn’t get. None seem even willing to listen to cyclists explain why they behave as they do. What you wrote is as good a summary as I’ve ever seen.

    It’s also disheartening to hear that Mrs. Gruskin is anti-bike. I want to believe her and be on her side given the horrible tragedy which happened to her, but every time I go to her site I just get these vibes that something isn’t quite right. To my knowledge she hasn’t reached out to any cyclists to get their side of the story. She readily invites those who have been hurt by cyclists to “contact her” in the comments sections of news articles, but never anyone else. She has to be willing to have some dialogue with everyday cyclists if she is really for safer streets. And like you said, street safety in the end needs to start with motorists. Much of the so-called “scofflaw” behavoir exhibited by cyclists is a direct survival response to aggressive driving and poor cycling infrastructure.

  • Chris O’Leary

    Sorry, Joe R. and Daphna, but the law is the law. Follow it, and stop at red lights, or you’re ruining it for the rest of us.

    I don’t want to get into another flame war about this, but it’s awful that people who consider themselves cycling advocates do more to turn the tide of New Yorkers against us further while I try to set an example every time I ride. Every time I hear someone say, “all cyclists run red lights,” I get annoyed, because I don’t, and I know so many people reading this do.

    Look, your safety argument is one I can understand. But the law is the law. If you want to lobby to change the law, by all means, please do – but I think we have much more pressing concerns as cyclists in New York City right now.

    Belittling someone’s campaign to tell people to follow the law does nothing to help the image of cycling in New York when we’re already forced up against a wall by a media that hates us and wants to turn everyone against us.

  • Noah Kazis

    I can’t read Gruskin’s mind and don’t know why her website is designed how it is, but for some context, I think this Gothamist interview provides a pretty comprehensive guide to how she’s thinking about the issues.

  • Joe R.

    Chris,

    You’re basically saying then that obeying the law is more important than my safety? Fine, but will I or my next of kin be able to sue the city if I get hurt/killed while stopped at a light? Sure, getting the laws changed is really ultimately the best course of action here, no arguments there. Realistically though, given the bike hate in the media, what would be the chances of that? I doubt any legislator sponsoring an Idaho stop law, or a law to make sidewalk riding at low speeds legal, would even get a cosponsor, let alone have the bill passed. Even cycling advocacy organizations like TA won’t touch something like an Idaho stop law, instead advocating for the slippery slope of selective enforcement. Well, we’ve all seen how well that works. As predicted, most of the cyclists ticketed during the last three months weren’t part of the small minority of problem cyclists, but just happened to be an easy target.

    My overriding point though is the other side won’t even LISTEN to what we have to say. They don’t ask us why do we run lights or ride on sidewalks, and what can we do to make it stop, or perhaps even allow that these practices aren’t necessarily dangerous. That alone speaks volumes on their motives. I’ll make bets every cyclist could religiously obey every law out there but it wouldn’t change a thing. For starters, nobody would notice or care. And then the anti-bike crowd would want to raise the bar further with yet more laws, perhaps a helmet law, or licensing, or a silly, citiwide, ridiculously low speed limit which applies only to bicycles. Make no mistake-they want us gone. If existing laws aren’t enough to discourage cycling, they’ll make enough new ones until that happens.

    Regarding the anti-bike propaganda spread in the media, in my opinion this is the constitutional equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. I’m just waiting for a motorist to intentionally run down some cyclist, then admit he/she was spurred on by the relentless bike hate in the media. That would be grounds for a class action lawsuit, or at least a cease-and-desist order to the media. Reporting news is one thing. Making it up/sensationalizing is another.

  • Daphna in no. 15 is right on target.

    My two cents (and I’ve said it before): if you’re a bicycling advocate, you should be advocating for people on bicycles. That includes cyclists who run red lights and go the wrong way. These are responsible adults who choose to do this, and as Daphna points out, nobody ever asks why are responsible adults running red lights? It’s certainly not because people on bikes are all amped-up thrill-seekers.

  • Daphna

    @Chris O’Leary
    What is needed is for more people to bike. More people biking equals greater safety for all bicyclists as motorist behavior changes due to the increased number of bike riders. Everything should be done to get that number up including building infrastructure, and treating cyclists with respect and appreciation, and letting them travel at reasonable speeds.

    You say “but the law is the law.” Well, the law is not applied at all to the largest group of NYC street users, pedestrians. The law is also not applied in any consistent way to motorists, who are the most dangerous. Motorists regularly run red lights. At any intersection in Manhattan in the daytime you can see an average of 3 motorists go through the red light. Yellow means stop if it is safe to do so. That law is never followed and never enforced. Motorists speed on the Avenues at speeds that are double the limit. Rarely do I see anyone actually going the limit unless congestion prohibits speeding. Motorists make left turns where they are prohibited. Motorists without the required 2 passengers drive in Central Park during the morning hours restricted to HOV – all against the law – all done with impunity.

    So the law is not actually the law. It is not being enforced against pedestrians. It is not being enforced for motorists.

    Some in the cycling community seem to think that by following laws that don’t make sense that they can earn some good will. This will not happen. People who do not want change and do not want bicycling are using bicyclist behavior as an excuse for their anti-bike stance. But even if there were perfect cyclist behavior, even if cyclists followed the laws that don’t make sense, even if cyclists were exemplary and were the only group of street users following the laws, the anti-bike people would still be anti-bike. They just use cyclist behavior as their excuse for disliking it. If they could not fault behavior, they would fault something else about bicycling as the problem.

    Cyclists are never going to have a good image until their numbers are higher. Quantity is needed because that will lead to acceptance and to viewing cycling and normal and as part of NYC.

  • Maani

    Daphna:

    With due respect, you’re exactly the kind of dangerous zealot who is giving a bad name to some bicyclists.

    First, this article is about DELIVERY bikers: i.e., restaurants, etc. It is NOT about recreational bikers – though it might as well be, since it should apply to them as well.

    Second, just because YOU may find those five rules silly for some reason – claiming that “of course bicyclists” follow those rules – you are dead wrong. Most delivery bikers do NOT follow ANY of these rules: they don’t care a whit for pedestrians, red lights, or riding the wrong way on a one-way street, and they ride on the sidewalk constantly. They are a serious menace, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities. And no, Pandabear, their need to make a living does NOT trump my safety, or that of everyone else.

    Third, delivery bikers often don’t even have the ALREADY LEGALLY REQUIRED gear: helmets, bells, lights, and an identifying piece of clothing or bike attachment (i.e., something with the name of the establishment, and a phone number). And the owners of many of these restaurants also do not follow the ALREADY LEGAL REQUIREMENTS of keeping a log of deliveries, and making sure their bikers have the legally required equipment.

    As noted, however, despite your claim, alot of (and arguably most) recreational bicyclists do NOT follow these five rules either. They “time” their speed re red lights so they can whiz by a pedestrian “just in time” (causing the pedestrian a near heart attack), they most certainly DO ride the wrong way on one-way streets, and they ABSOLUTELY ride on sidewalks. In fact, when I politely ask a delivery biker who is riding on the sidewalk to either ride in the street or walk the bike on the sidewalk, in most cases they comply. However, EVERY SINGLE TIME I have asked a recreational biker to do the same – just as politely – they either tell me to “f— off,” give me the finger, or otherwise tell me to mind my own business.

    I don’t know what planet you live on, but it damn well isn’t NYC.

  • Daphna

    @Maani
    Delivery cyclists should not be put under greater scrutiny than other cyclists. The additional requirements that the City Council passed against them should not have been done. Just because the City Council passed a law and made something legal does not mean that it was a good, well-thought out, or necessary law. I am bothered that the law was passed, not that delivery cyclists are not following it. Those regulations are aimed at harassment, not safety (whether the City Council is able to acknowledge that fact to themselves or not).

    A man riding a bike delivering food is every bit as vulnerable as a man riding his bike home from work or as a man riding for exercise. If they are on the streets, then they are all equally vulnerable to motorists. Delivery cyclists do not ride with any less common sense and self preservation than other cyclists. They should not be scapegoated.

    More cyclists of any nature on the roads are a good thing.

    The bicycling community needs to encourage more bicycling and not scrutinize each others’ behavior.

    Anti-bike people, in searching for a way to legitimize their fear of change and dislike of bikes, latched onto cyclist behavior as their excuse for their anti-bike sentiments. The cycling community should not focus on behavior. Behavior is not the problem. Pedestrians and motorists have far worse behavior than bicyclists but you do not see a news media backlash against them or a ticketing blitz against them. That is not because of their good behavior, but because of their numbers; they are regarded as normal and accepted. Cycling needs to reach that point.

    We need to be friendly to each other and support each other and get more people biking and try to get support for more protected bike lanes!

  • John Murphy

    umm… as anyone should know, “Rule 5” is “HTFU”

  • Maani, working cyclists are targeted because they are the most politically powerless among us and it is assumed, correctly in some cases, that other cyclists will be happy to throw them under the bus. The same dynamic has produced an adult helmet law only for this class of cyclist–and class is an apt word.

    Apparently the various spiteful laws targeting working cyclists are not working, which is unsurprising. UWS residents may boil over with rage at the sight of someone else’s dinner being whisked by on the sidewalk, but not a half hour later they are at home and feeling peckish. Do they fret over how gingerly their own dinner is delivered? No, most seem to “vote with their wallets” for the cheapest food that tastes good–and that has not disappointed them in the past with a slow delivery. Oh, the irony.

    It is not a particular aim of mine, but if you do want to increase compliance with the bans on counterflow and sidewalk riding the most effective way is to provide safe bicycle routes that go in the directions people want or–in the case of working cyclists–need to go. So why are those who are enraged about non-compliance not employing their caps-lock keys to demand the things that will actually improve compliance, instead of more rules that produce nothing but opportunities to complain and hold grudges? I guess the impression that measurably safer streets are not what they are really after.

  • Chris

    To Daphna and Nathan’s points, I see delivery cyclists in bike lanes on the streets that have them (as opposed to the streets which don’t) so the new infrastructure is definitely being used. PPW is a great example of this – sidewalk riding has dropped by a huge amount since the bike lane was installed.

  • JK

    Educating commercial cyclists and their employers is best done as the type of public health and education campaign typically done by the Department of Health. The absence of Chinese and Spanish language educational material, and slogans and culturally targeted messaging, makes this campaign near meaningless as anything but a PR exercise. If Ms Gruskin wants is truly serious about changing the behavior of commercial cyclists, she should ask City Hall to convene a task force which includes DOH, DOT, Consumer Affairs NYPD and City Council and advocates for immigrant groups and cycling advocates and talk about a long-term messaging and enforcement campaign. NYC is immense and complex. Anyone taking a serious look at this issue finds that commercial cycling issues are intertwined with issues of workforce exploitation, undocumented workers, workers comp, and even failure to document wages and payroll taxes. Acronyms that spell out “PEDAL” are not going to make much of an impact on actual behavior on the streets.

  • Suzanne

    The problem with delivery cyclists is that it’s not a problem that’s easily solved. As Daphne and others have pointed out, it’s not even really a problem with the delivery people themselves but with the fact that the laws don’t punish their bosses when they encourage them to ride as quickly (and dangerously) as they can to get the food to their customers. But the people you really need to go after – the restaurant owners – are a heck of a lot more powerful than an illegal immigrant making less than a pathetic minimum wage.

    At the same time, while all this energy and ink is being given to “rogue cyclists”, the real problem is, again, complex and not easily solved. Cars kill people. Cyclists, with very few exceptions (probably fewer than those killed playing football) don’t. This was a tragic accident. And it actually WAS an accident, unlike every time a sleep deprived, text messaging idiot plows into a pedestrian or cyclist. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change the cycling culture to one of more civility and consideration but, quite honestly, moralistic finger wagging isn’t going to do it. All that does is play into the hands of those who want to frame cyclists as The Problem.

    If we want to encourage a more civil street culture – for pedestrians, drivers *and* cyclists – the way to do it is to engineer the streets in such a way that *that* behavior is encouraged, and not the other way around. And the one thing we can do to change our street culture is decrease the number of cars.

    I don’t know if there are any studies but anyone who’s been on the roads can attest to the fact that the single greatest factor in how aggressively or how lawfully drivers drive is how many of them there are. When traffic is light, they behave like human beings. When the roads are packed, like retarded homicidal maniacs on crack. Cyclists will learn they don’t have to ride so defensively when drivers stop acting like homicidal maniacs. That’s the time to start harassing the holdovers who can’t get with the new program.

    There are lots of things we can do to disincentivize driving – congestion pricing; charging market rates for street parking instead of giving it away to car owners gratis; increasing the range, speed and convenience of the transit system; taxing the crap out of cars and gas to raise the cost of driving – but one of the best things we can do is to build lots and lots of bike lanes. Bike lanes reduce speeding and remove cars by disincentiving driving and incentivizing riding all at the same time.

    … Then again, it’s a hell of a lot easier to pick on some poor, powerless and vulnerable illegal alien. Hang on while I get my finger to full finger wagging strength.

  • Joe R.

    This guy is (or rather was) a perfect example of the type of person being targeted here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/nyregion/22victim.html?scp=5&sq=casino%20bus%20crash&st=cse

    With everything this poor guy had to worry about when he was alive, do we really think a pledge with the acronym “PEDAL”, in a language he probably barely understood, is going to make a difference? We need to go after both the restaurant owners and also their customers. Customers have come to expect fast, “free” delivery. Restaurant owners push their employees to deliver within a certain time frame. And the delivery people themselves often owe human traffickers big money, so they have their own incentives to earn as much as possible. It’s a complex problem not easily solved, but of course the other side doesn’t want to hear that. In their mind, handing out flyers and telling everyone to “obey the law” will fix everything. If only life were that simple….

  • Driver

    Just a point, IMO fast delivery is about more than just time spent waiting, it is about getting fresh hot food, not food that was hot 15 minutes ago. Nobody wants cold rice or soggy fried chicken, and a decline in the quality of delivered food will cause people to vote with their wallets.

  • Joe R.

    Good point, Driver, and yet another reason why this is going to be a very difficult problem to solve. It’s also why I think making restaurant owners liable for fines will help us here in a strange, convoluted way. The restaurant owners will be between a rock and a hard place. If they encourage their delivery people to do everything by the book, they’ll lose customers, guaranteed. If they don’t, they’ll pay heavy fines. Either way it impacts the bottom line, and in turn the tax revenue these restaurants pay to NYC. NYC may not listen to us, but money talks. Many restaurant owners have political connections and “other” ways of getting their way, make no mistake. End result will HAVE to be an end of NYPD harassment of cyclists, and possibly also a reform of cycling traffic laws. They can’t just stop harassing delivery cyclists as that would be selective enforcement against commuter/recreational cyclists. Moreover, this gets the restaurant owners on our side. The politicians who don’t want to play along with them won’t get campaign contributions. These business owners as a group have the power to put groups like NBBL in their place so fast they won’t know what hit them. Get a few restaurant owners pissed, I can guarantee everyone involved with NBBL will quietly slink away, and you’ll hear no more noise from the other bike haters.

    That’s my take on it, anyway. When you can’t win on your own, you forge alliances with those who have a common interest and more power. Besides that, I love Chinese food, and would hate to see these take-out places go out of business. At least they’re providing a needed service for the community, which is more than I can say about NBBL.

  • Driver

    End result will HAVE to be an end of NYPD harassment of cyclists, and possibly also a reform of cycling traffic laws.

    I disagree Joe, I think a more likely scenario is owners pay the fines and pass on some the costs to customers and absorb the rest as the cost of doing business, and some might go under in the process. Look at the 10’s of milions of dollars the city extorts just from UPS and Fed Ex each year in parking fines. If those corporate giants don’t have the political power to mitigate those enormous costs, I doubt any restaurant group will have much impact.

  • Joe R.

    I’m not sure it would do much for a multinational corporation like UPS or Fedex to get involved in city politics. Those tens of millions of dollars are nothing to either organization. It’s a shame though they don’t fight it because we need more legal loading zones. On the flip side, a few thousand dollars a week in tickets is a major hit to a restaurant. When it hits all of them, and especially when the costs are passed on to customers, you could potentially get a pretty large grassroots movement. Well, if Liz Krueger’s bill becomes law, we’ll see what effect it has.

  • Driver

    Those are tens of millions of additional dollars they could be making. Even if it a small amount in relation to overall profits, tens of millions is never “nothing”.

  • Ben

    If bicyclists simply followed the rules of the road that automobile drivers are subject to, as required as written in the law books, then we’d have fewer problems. Several bad bicyclists simply think that they are not subject to the law.

  • Driver

    Ben, I hope that was tongue in cheek.

  • dporpentine

    I agree that the “bikes need to obey the law; this is the most pressing social issue of our time” stuff is coming–for the most part–from the wrong people. And I think it’s a serious waste of energy to be ticketing cyclists when I see cars and trucks and every stupid motorized vehicle in this city seriously endangering all kinds of people (themselves included) with the most casual, day-in-day-out air imaginable.

    But so far as I know, no one really knows what sort of biking behavior is safer because there are no reliable statistics about it–just some patchwork studies of this or that. So if you advocate law-breaking, please don’t claim you’re for it because it *is* safer. It just *feels* safer–to you. The same way that obeying the law *feels* safer to me.

    And the idea that people on bike who break the law are “responsible adults” . . . Maybe–maybe–some people break the law solely for defensive reasons. But I see plenty of people who have to know that they’re endangering themselves and others but who presumably feel like they’re good enough cyclists to be able to avoid any problems. Like the two commuters I saw this morning, one of them salmoning up Tillary (Tillary!) and barging into a thick crowd of pedestrians crossing Jay and another one pulling into the intersection (against the light) at Navy and Sand and making the bus driver (who had right of way on a very green light) have to jerk the bus to avoid hitting her. And then this idiot light blower on my ride home, who buzzed me at an intersection in order to blow the light and had to slam on his brakes to avoid getting killed.

    I refuse to advocate for jerks like that. The same way that I refuse to stop fighting the NBBL/SOS/Gruskin crowd that wants to paper over the atrocities of car culture.

  • Joe R.

    Fair enough, dporpentine. I know we’ve had our differences on the subject, buy you’re right that people like me should qualify themselves by saying that doing what I do feels safer to me. It may or may not actually BE safer. Or perhaps what you do actually is safer given where and when you ride, and the same for me. That’s a variable which needs to be taken into account. I’m on the road generally after 8 or 9 PM, except occasional day rides on weekends when traffic is light during daylight hours. You ride during peak times of the day. Realistically, how many lights could you *safely* pass even if you wanted to that time of day? Not many from what I see of traffic.

    The truth is even though I pass lights when I can safely do so, I just don’t get the type of behavoir you’re describing at all. I’ll bet if you did a CAT scan on some of these people you see, they would have empty space between their ears. My definition of being able to pass a light is when there are no pedestrians within ten feet of my lane in the crosswalk (better yet none in the crosswalk at all), no vehicles in the intersection, and no vehicles approaching the intersection which are closer than about half a block. Even then I’m covering the brake the whole time and on full alert should something unexpected come up. I certainly don’t consider a red light “passable” if there’s a twenty foot gap between cars crossing, or 3 feet between two pedestrians in the crosswalk. The dangers of passing a light that way far outweigh any hazards you might have being in the pack of accelerating cars when the light changes. Not to mention it’s exactly that kind of behavoir which pisses off people. Even on my night rides, some intersections I just have to wait for the light due to traffic, and that’s just fine.

    But yeah, the message to some cyclists to clean up their act really needs to come from other cyclists, not NBBL, Nancy Gruskin, etc. I certainly don’t think papering them over with tickets is a good idea. It’s blatantly obvious from what I see that some of these people just never learned proper judgement and bike handling skills. I’m not faulting them for it, either. It took me a while, too, and often by trial and error just seeing what works best, learning from mistakes. We need skilled cyclists to give classes to the kinds of people you see to help them get with the program. I’m guessing if these people were shown what to do, most would be receptive. I’m sure they don’t like being scared of their wits with the close calls either, but they just haven’t learned to ride in such a way to avoid them.

  • dporpentine, I appreciate your comments in no. 37.

    I once saw a woman riding downtown, the wrong way, on Clinton Street’s rather narrow bike lane. She had a kid on the back of the bike. Instantly I realized that she believed that riding the wrong way on Clinton, but in a bike lane, was safer than riding with traffic without a bike lane on Suffolk. This was a couple years ago, before they painted the bike facility on Suffolk.

    The reason I found this so obvious was that she had the kid with her. She had taken the time to get out of the house with her family and go riding and had made the decision that it was best to ride the wrong way though in the bike lane.

    Now maybe it’s a reach applying the same concept to the three reckless people you saw riding yesterday in downtown Brooklyn. Maybe you’re right, that they felt that they were skilled enough riders to maneuver around the bus, for instance (and in the case you describe, they actually were, because the person didn’t end up crushed under the wheels of the bus).

    Where your argument about what actually is and is not safer breaks down is here, boiled down to this: If you can’t trust your own judgment about safety, you should really just stay home and not get on your bike at all. As a bicycling advocate, I can’t support that. I want people to get on bikes and ride.

  • Anonymous

    First they came for the Bike Messengers, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Bike Messenger.

    Then they came for the Bike Racers, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Bike Racer.

    Then they came for the Delivery Bikers, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Delivery Biker.

    Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • ddartley

    Right on, battlescar. I had the same thought myself the other day.

    There are plenty of self-proclaimed bicycling “advocates” who very freely and publicly toss bombs at other cyclists/groups of cyclists. All that does is help the anti-bike partisans divide and conquer. Those conversations are fine to have relatively privately, but they do no good, only harm, , when we bash each other.

  • ddartley

    Have to multi-comment because Disqus is f’d up for me. Can’t see what I’m typing.

    Sure, I see plenty of bad behavior by delivery guys, but one of the many reasons I’m not going to bash them publicly is because their very existence highlights one of the things that are great about bikes–they are the BEST, by far, way to get around a city quickly for local errands. That is something everyone in the city should learn to appreciate, before they–or worse, we cyclists, bash delivery guys. There are better things we can do than bash them.

  • ddartley

    Have to multi-comment because Disqus is f’d up for me. Can’t see what I’m typing.

    Sure, I see plenty of bad behavior by delivery guys, but one of the many reasons I’m not going to bash them publicly is because their very existence highlights one of the things that are great about bikes–they are the BEST, by far, way to get around a city quickly for local errands. That is something everyone in the city should learn to appreciate, before they–or worse, we cyclists, bash delivery guys. There are better things we can do than bash them.

  • ddartley

    Have to multi-comment because Disqus is f’d up for me. Can’t see what I’m typing.

    Sure, I see plenty of bad behavior by delivery guys, but one of the many reasons I’m not going to bash them publicly is because their very existence highlights one of the things that are great about bikes–they are the BEST, by far, way to get around a city quickly for local errands. That is something everyone in the city should learn to appreciate, before they–or worse, we cyclists, bash delivery guys. There are better things we can do than bash them.

  • dporpentine

    Wow. Equating a bike-related education campaign with the Holocaust.
    That’s some serious trolling.

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