Inebriated Columnist Issues Fatwa Against Kamikaze Jerks

stevedunleavy.jpgLast week, columnist Steve Dunleavy used his 400-word rant-space in the New York Post to urge the city’s cab riders and motorists to throw open their car doors in front of "pedal punks" riding their "maiming machines," and, "take back the streets" from bike-commuting "kamikaze jerks." 

City cyclists, already feeling vulnerable after a month of heavy casualties and a widening and increasingly bizarre NYPD bike crackdown, are pretty upset about the column and the e-mails have been flying.

Before getting too worked up, it is worth noting that this is the very same ruddy-nosed, blackout drunk Steve Dunleavy who was once arrested for public intoxication in Des Moines, Iowa, who was once found unconscious by a co-worker and presumed dead, and who was once mugged while passed out on a midtown park bench and then returned to work and nearly vomited on the metropolitan editor’s desk

While we should probably be more focused on getting Dunleavy into a 12-step program than reading his hungover rantings, my friend and colleague Charles Komanoff was so astounded by the "Kamikaze Jerks" column, he actually fact-checked it.

In the column Dunleavy quotes a taxi-industry pal named Vincent Sapone:

"I have a good friend of mine who was hit by one of these crazy [bike-riding] nuts and he was off work for nine months. He still walks with a cane and really has never been the same since," Sapone was saying.

So, Komanoff rang Mr. Sapone. Here’s what Sapone said about his "good friend:"

His name was Patrick. I’m not sure of his last name. It was so long ago, 17 or 18 years. We worked in the same building. I believe he was crossing Sixth Avenue. I didn’t see it. I heard that the bike hit him. His neck was injured and he had to get a rod in his leg. He needed a cane. I saw him four years later, with the cane. He died a few years ago. Heart attack. I guess that was 15 years after he was hit.

So, this is news to Dunleavy and grounds for a drunken fatwa on all city cyclists — a single, unfortunate, decades-old crash. Frankly, it’s kind of amazing that he remembers it at all. Komanoff, who runs an activist group called Right of Way, writes:

Since "Patrick" was injured, however that may have happened, New York City drivers have killed over 4,000 pedestrians and 400 bicyclists. In that same time no more than a dozen pedestrians have died here from collisions with bicycles. Like Patrick’s injury from being run into by a bike is such a rare event that it’s "big news" when it happens, unlike the routine hecatombs mowed down by cars and trucks. But Dunleavy and his friends at 1 Police Plaza want the bikes off the street. So in Dunleavy’s world, one friend-of-a-friend long-ago "Patrick" trumps a few hundred well-documented here-and-now Andre Andersons.

  • How does a man like that even hold a job, nevermind have a coveted opinion column in a city newspaper that wants to be taken seriously.

    As for Mr. Dunleavy, I feel bad for the guy. His sociopathic rantings are really just a cry for help. But he should be getting therapy from a professional, not unleasing his rantings to an entire city.

  • the sad reality is that plenty of large vehicle driving meat-heads read that paper, and this will only fuel their pre-existing hatred of the “pedal punks”

    i mean the editor of the paper had to agree to that column right?…evidence of the pure hatred for cyclists by some people

    what gives?

  • AD

    Drivers have killed 4,000 pedestrians and 400 cyclists, but how many other drivers have they killed?

  • AD

    That is, a single, unfortunate, decades-old crash relayed to us by hearsay.

  • Nicolo Macchiavelli

    Also, you should add up the auto-centric add revenue the money-losing Post earns. If you just count up the inches it is a huge proportion of their “revenue”. Even more if you consider the auto-centric character of their Pocono “real estate” section. City hating and auto loving go hand in hand.

  • As someone who bicycles in New York City, I will stop buying the New York Post. Wait, I stopped doing that years ago because it was the Republican Party’s version of Pravda or was it because the Daily News had better comics? I think it was the rants by right wing nutjobs like Dunleavy.

    Maybe some sort of cosmic justice from God in her infinite wisdom will prevail and he will walk into the path of an oncoming taxi (preferably an SUV for full irony) whilst in a drunken stupor.

  • Now, now Toby and Eric, let’s not stoop to their level. That’s exactly what they want. We are better than that!

  • Ian

    An alternative perspective…

    New York City is the only locale in the nation that can “do business” as fast as it can. This is because an information infrastructure (phones, internet, etc.) is complemented by a system of physical transport (messengers) that allows for miracles like getting a contract sent downtown in 30 minutes, or printing/correcting/reprinting and delivery to client in an afternoon.

    There is no comparison. Fedex is overnight. A decent messenger service, less than 1 hour. Without the biker, the concentration of commerce in Manhattan would be that much less valuable because the synergy wouldn’t be physically connected. You can’t put a price on it. It makes New York.

    Oh, Mr. Dunleavy, fyi, those “kamikazes” (who are trying to make a decent paycheck, not give themselves for their country) make about $400 a week and don’t get health insurance.

  • anna

    I’ve been out at a bar mr. dunleavy frequents, and the bartenders’ favorite drunk story about him is that he was once having (drunken) sex with a woman on top of a snowbank in the middle of the night, was hit by a snowplow, and broke his hip. Don’t know if that’s true, but he’s definitely an alcoholic of legendary proportions.

  • pensivepuppy

    Bicyclists behave toward pedestrians the same way they claim automobile drivers act towards them.

    Try crossing any of the roads inside central park on a Saturday afternoon and see what happens – bikes refuse to stop for anyone in a crosswalk – they just yell indignantly at the peds and barely avoid hitting them. They must feel secure in the fact that they go by so fast no one can call them on their offensive behaviour. They’re complete jerks.

  • poopy pants

    Yeap, some bikers are assholes.

    But it’s the car drivers that are regularly killing everyone. If we had a decent bike-transit system, and some clear rules on bike behavior–along with reducing 75 percent of all cars–this city would be much better.

  • Richbiker

    Hey PensivePuppy–an alternative perspective on Central Park Bikers & Peds:
    Some of what you say is true about bikers in CP, but most of us don’t act that way. Have you ever ridden a bike in CP to consider the flip side of the coin? Like:
    -Peds who can’t seem to swivel their heads to look for traffic, while they cross anywhere they please (not just the cross-walks).
    -Peds who cross on a red.
    -Peds who choose the longest diagonal route (not the shortest perpinducular route) across the CP loop, often in groups occupying all lanes (not at the x-walk) at one time.
    -Runners who run against the flow of traffic in the traffic or bike lanes. Or peds who think the traffic lane is a sidewalk.

    I’m a biker who has saved more peds from their own cluelessness than the number of peds injured by bikers in CP over the past 150 years. I always wonder why cyclists should take more responsibility for ped lives than the peds themselves are willing to take for themselves.


  • pensivepuppy

    Rich – I agree with you for the most part about ped behaviour – they shouldn’t be out walking in the lanes where bikes are when there are decent paths available for walking. Doing that just makes the situation worse.

    I take one exception with what you wrote though: “Peds who cross on a red”. If there were bike riders who stopped on a red, then it would make sense. But if bikes don’t obey the lights, what’s the point in requiring peds to obey the lights? I’ve seen peds waiting for the light, but I’ve *never* seen a bike waiting on a light. In fact I’ve been nearly run down in a crosswalk by bikes blowing through a red.

    I have ridden in CP. My attitude is that neither of us has a “right” to the road – I don’t expect peds to move out of my way. I don’t stop for the lights, and don’t expect peds to either.

  • amy

    Speaking of dooring bicyclists, love this blog entry:

  • He still walks with a cane despite being dead for a few years?? Impressive…

  • Stephanie Sorenson

    Had a cyclist hit me last summer – out of the blue – crushed my elbow – emergency surgery and 6 months to try to get my arm to extend. He told emt he didn’t need to be taken by ambulance bc he was not hurt and an ER doctor in Brooklyn – park and rec for River Park lost the report. Police were not called bc Parks and Rec’s said they would cover it. My husband did snap a photo of him……I was standing leaning on a bench when he hit me Sat. at 1pm flying with my kids with me and all families out…..It’s a disgrace….would love a public interest story with his picture in it.
    Thanks, Stephanie


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