The Weekly Carnage

Fatal Crashes (14 Killed This Week; 458 Killed This Year)

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Photo: G.N. Miller/New York Post

  • Manhattan: DWI Driver Kills Delivery Worker (NY Post, Newsday)
  • Yonkers, N.Y.: Driveway Death as Car Rolls Over Owner (Journal News, Newsday)
  • Related: Car May Have Been Out of Gear (Journal News
  • Bedford Hills, N.Y.: Driver, 20, Charged After His Brother Dies (Journal News)
  • Newark: Pedestrian Killed (NJ.com)
  • Queens: 12-Year-Old Boy Hitches a Ride on a Truck and Is Killed (Newsday)
  • North Patchogue, L.I.: Cyclist, 37, Struck by Car and Killed (Newsday)
  • Flanders, L.I.: 2 Drivers Killed in Head-On Crash (Newsday)
  • Hamilton, N.J.: Crash Kills Driver; Passenger Critical (Times of Trenton)
  • West Babylon, L.I.: Pedestrian Returning from Hospital Killed by Car (Newsday)
  • Holbrook, L.I.: Man, 21, Dies on Hamburger Bun Run (Newsday
  • Shirley, L.I.: Daughter, 23, Dies as Mother Hits Tree (Newsday)
  • Nanuet, N.Y.: DWI Charge After Head-On Crash Kills One (Journal News)
  • Freehold, N.J.: Man Killed as Motorcycle and Car Collide (Times of Trenton)

Injuries, Arrests & Property Damage

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Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News

  • Patterson, N.Y.: Driver Seriously Injured in Rollover (Journal News)
  • Brooklyn: Teen Cyclist Pinned by SUV Is Saved by Passers-By (Daily News)
  • Manhattan: Taxi Misses Road, Ends Up In Dry Cleaners (The Villager)
  • Brooklyn: Officer Hurt in Hit-and-Run (NY Post)
  • Brooklyn: Man Critical After East New York Hit-and-Run (NY1)
  • Knowlton Twp., N.J.: SUV Flies Off Road, Injuring Five (Star-Ledger)
  • Sunrise Highway, L.I.: Wrong-Way Driver Causes Scare (Newsday)
  • Yonkers, N.Y.: 3 Injured in 2 Accidents During Car Chase (Journal News)
  • New Cassel, L.I.: Motorcyclist Loses Leg in Collision With Car (Newsday)
  • Monsey, N.Y.: Sanitation Worker Hospitalized After Hit (Journal News
  • Princeton, N.J.: Truck Spills Garbage, Closing Road (Times of Trenton

Following Up

  • Old Bridge, N.J.: Student in Critical Condition Dies* (Times of Trenton)
  • Manhattan: Ped Killed at West Street Was Video Producer (Villager [scroll])
  • Charges for N.J. Driver After Death of Brooklyn Couple (Star-Ledger)
  • Brooklyn Man Indicted in Livery Driver’s Death (Newsday)
  • Jersey City: Charges for Off-Duty Cop in Deadly Crash (Jersey Journal)
  • NYPD Cover-Up Alleged in Fatal Brooklyn Hit-and-Run (Newsday)
  • Cops Say Rye Student Who Died Had Alcohol and Marijuana (Journal News
  • Civil Suit Filed in UConn Hit-and-Run (Newsday)

Trends

  • 3 New England States Team Up for Road Safety (Newsday)
  • New Jersey Towns Take a Walk on the Safe Side (Star-Ledger)
  • Doe Raising Two Fawns in a Staten Island Cloverleaf (S.I. Advance)

Opinion

*Crash was on Aug. 14; added to this week’s fatality totals. 

About the Weekly Carnage

  • Larry Littlefield

    Missed a new one. 17-year-old on bicycle runs red light, car guns and hits him, in Brooklyn.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/08/31/2007-08-31_pinned_bikeriding_teen_saved_by_muscle_m.html

    I’ve been thinking — perhaps licensing bicycle riders for on-street riding away from one’s own block or two isn’t a bad idea, if combined with a major public and private school investment in training. The licensing age would be age 12.

    Not only might such a policy lead to safer riding but also if everyone did it as a matter of course in school it could turn bicycle riding in to a rite of passage similar to getting a driver’s license today, but four to six year’s earlier. It could make it more desirable in that sense.

    Of course if the license were imposed and there was no such training program, it would just be a way to push bicycles off the street. But just think of the social investment and culture involved in training people to drive automobiles. In much of the country, driver’s ed is taught in high school rather than by private schools as in NYC.

  • steve

    Larry,

    I like the concept of safety training and rite of passage, but I am concerned that the licensing scheme would be extended to adults. At some stage in the growth of bicycling licensing for adults might make sense, but we are nowhere near that stage and would only stifle the growth of bicycling if we did it now.

    The DoT has a bicycle safety training curriculum and there are numerous private-sector organizations that do training as well. And, or course, there is the fundamental role of parents who should be out there bicycling with their kids until they are sure they are safe on their own.

  • Johnny Walker

    Let’s not forget the injuries caused by cyclists.
    Let’s be fair.

    Three I witnessed in the past two weeks:

    On Hudson River Park shared pedestrian/bike pathway, a speeding cyclist hit a walker, causing minor inury, but sent himself to the Hospital, he was speeding so fast and recklessly.
    On a pedestrian shared path.

    On Sixth and Prince, a cyclist hit a pedestrian who was taken away by EMS. Oh, the cyclist rode away btw.

    On Houston and Bdwy yesterday, a taxi driver and bike messenger were arguing on who cut who off in this very dangerous intersections. Fair enough!
    But then the cyclist whips out his chain, starts vamping on the taxi driver, until pedestrians intervene, take his chain, hold him till the cops come and arrest him.

    The narrow Pedestrian Walkway on the side of the road (not a sidewalk) in EastHampton township was overrun by cyclist who flagrantly ignored the signs to stay off.

    As a confirmed pedestrian, I find cyclists more reckless than drivers.

    So, Transportation Alternatives should be looking out PRIMARILY for our interests and expose the accidents and bad behavior caused by both cars AND bikes

  • Ian D

    A couple of articles from this week’s Villager:

    Taxi misses road, ends up in dry cleaner (Villager)

    And following up to last week’s story of a pedestrian fatality on West St. (it’s buried on a page, so I’ll cut&paste):

    Video man: Our Police Blotter earlier this month reported that Tim Royes, 42, was fatally struck by a car in Chelsea at 1 a.m. on Mon., Aug. 13. What wasn’t mentioned was that Royes was a top music video editor and director in England and also was well known in New York and L.A. He had just done the video for the new single by Melanie C (formerly Mel C, formerly Sporty Spice) and also had worked on Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” video. His videos for bands like the Sugababes were known for a “wet look,” drawn from his work in fashion.

    “Apparently, he was staying at a friend’s place in Soho,” said Karen Alchin, a longtime friend from Australia. “We know he was on his way back there that night from a club. We don’t even know what club it was. … His huge, lovable personality made him stand out from the crowd, which is what makes his death so very sad, such a waste.”

    [from The Villager]

  • steve

    Johnny,

    I assume you are familiar with the 10-year study showing that bicyclists kill approximately one person in NYC for the hundreds that cars kill each year. I do not know a similarly authoritative source on the number of injuries caused by bicyclists, so I’m not sure your experience reflects what’s going on generally. I am out on the street just about every day, I have seen bicyclists collide with pedestrians or other bicyclists about 3 times in as many years, and two of those were were non-serious collisions involving my own kids.

    When you characterize bicyclists as more reckless than motorists, are you counting speeding?

    And I doubt many people endorse road rage by cyclists, motorists or pedestrians, but in any event I don’t think the messenger incident you mention is on-point.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Get real, Johnny. Even if cyclists were the biggest assholes in the world and spent every moment in the seat recklessly and agressively trying to run down and chain-whip every pedestrian they could find, they couldn’t kill or injure as many people as well-meaning, non-agressive motorists kill and injure “by accident.”

    Absolutely, agressive cyclists are a problem and should be discouraged, but let’s keep some perspective.

  • Dan

    Johnny,

    Fun as it is to bitch and moan in some blog’s comments section about rotten cyclists, maybe you should go start a pedestrian advocacy organization if you don’t think TA is getting the job done.

    Personally, I’m impressed by the tenacity and staying power TA showed in helping to get these $5 million worth of downtown brooklyn ped safety measures finally built (see the post above about the mural). That was a 10 year fight. Lord knows Harris Silver’s ped advocacy “organization” wouldn’t have stuck around for that long to get the job done. Its just much easier to complain.

  • mork

    The best way for you to effect the greatest positive change, Johnny, would be to get your own bicycle and demonstrate to the world what you consider the proper and correct way to operate it.

  • Johnny Walker

    Amusing that the cycling respondents shift the onus on me to improve the bad behavior of their comrades, instead of resolving this important public safety issue on their own. Ever hear of peer pressure, folks?

    More amusing is the blatant refusal to address my other comment in #3 regarding the narrow, 3-ft wide, EastHampton Township’s Dedicated Pedestrian Walkway that is overrun by cyclists despite signs that restrict it to PEDESTRIANS ONLY!

    This very morning, a teenager on his dirt bike had the audacity to whistle to get me to move off the path into the grass so he could pass. A dirt bike that didn’t want to ride in the dirt!! You understand the arrogance some bikers display?
    ( I won’t even reference NYC sidewalks for the sake of brevity)

    Bottom line: a bully or a fool behind two wheels is no better than a bully or a fool behind four.
    They are both bullys and fools.

    And if this blog were fair and credible, it would headline the accidents caused by both reckless drivers and reckless cyclists against the walking public.

    That was my point. Capice?

  • Larry L. and Ian D., thanks for the updates and for improving my list. I’ve added your three links into the post.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Johnny, there will always be bullies and fools; I’m not putting onus on anyone to eliminate them. My point is that cars make it easy for bullies and fools to kill and maim; it’s a lot harder on a bicycle. Take away the weight, and you turn a big threat into a smaller one.

  • Dan

    Johnny,

    Compiling a “weekly carnage” of pedestrians injured by bicyclists would be difficult. News stories of such events are virtually non-existent. Perhaps this is due to a conspiracy of the bicycle advocacy-industrial complex. But more likely it’s
    because the number, severity and reporting of such incidents is so incredibly low.

    I’m sorry that a child on a bike harrassed you during your Hamptons vacation. Some cyclists are jerks. I saw a careless pedestrian nearly destroy a bike commuter on the Hudson River Greenway last week. That’s life. People can be selfish and careless. Good urban design, tranportation policy and cultural change can do a lot to help people interact more healthily in public space.

    Maybe you need to spend some vacation time at Rockaway Beach rather the Hamptons. Likewise, some weekday rush hour time walking around Jackson Hts, Queens rather than the Hudson River Greenway would give you a bit of perspective on the cycling scourge that you believe is menacing NYC and Planet Earth.

    What you’ll notice as soon as you leave the elite comfort zone in which you appear to live is that NYC has basically handed over its entire public right-of-way to motorists. All other users, whether they be on bikes, in bus seats or just wearing shoes, have been pressed into the margins.

    This conflict between bikes and peds is mainly a symptom of that.

  • Dan

    Likewise, johnny, if cyclists have over-run a walkway in E Hampton perhaps that indicates a demand that is not being met. Instead of yelling at cyclists maybe you need to join up with them, go to town hall and help get some bike facilities built.

  • Johnny Walker

    Angus,
    Your comparison with the different weights of the wheeled vehicles is valid.

    However, I observe that drivers, since they face the loss of driving privileges and increased insurance and possible lawsuits and even arrest, more often seem to obey the law – and thus appear less reckless – than cyclists who face no real sanctions, and more often ignore the law to the disregard of the walking public, who comprise the vast, vast majority of travelers.

    I am referring primarily to cyclists running red lights and riding on sidewalks, as well as going the wrong way on a one-way street. This is something cars simply do not do.

    Although the bikes weigh less, the fact that their operators are more often more cavalier and reckless than drivers are, the reckless manner in which many of the cyclist operate their vehicle increases greatly the chance of injuries from accidents than if they observed the laws as well as drivers do.

    Hence, this is the basis of my comments on all the crazy cycling accidents in the past two weeks, while not having seen a car personally injure someone in years. (Btw, Of course cars cause more accidents. There are myriad more more car-miles traveled per annum than bike-miles.)

    If NYC cyclists rode like Dutch cyclists (whom Streetsblog extol), I wouldn’t be writing this.

    Hence my call for equal inclusion of accidents and injuries caused by cyclists. If you want to be fair, that is.

    After all, Streetsblog is the official blog of the NYC Streets Renaissance whose Statement opens with: “New York is a city best enjoyed on foot…”.

    If this were true, then more emphasis on this blog should be placed on protecting walkers from reckless vehicles of all types.

    To berate drivers weekly and ignore cyclists is specious and spurious. To whitewash cycling accidents does not help the general public.

    Sadly, this site seems to be just a medium for cycling enthusiasts.

  • Johnny Walker

    I am adding this to counter the snotty little comments just posted on #12 and #13 by Dan while I was composing my last post.

    Damn, where and how I choose to spend my weekend is none of your damn business. You arrogantly assume that I am vacationing when I go out East.

    Incidentally, I have spent much more of my vacation time on Brighton Beach, and Jones Beach, and Breezy Point and Rockaway than you likely have, so introducing class warfare does nothing to promote this discussion except to prove my point that many cyclists are arrogant and self-righteous little snots, like yourself.

    I learned to ride my bike on the streets of this city as a kid, and so I know a punk when I meet one. And, Dan, you are a punk.

  • Mitch

    “The weekly carnage” describes the consequences of organizing our lives around motorized transportation. Adding bike-pedestrian crashes to the list, even if the biker was reckless and obnoxious, would distract from the points the “carnage” is trying to make.

    On the other hand, it is true that a lot of bikers are obnoxious and reckless. They don’t kill a lot of pedestrians, but they do make life scary and uncomfortable for pedestrians — and also for other bicyclists.

    When people complain about these bikers, the standard response is: “So what? cars and trucks are worse.” Technically, this is true, but it misses the point. I don’t care particularly about the technicalities of traffic law (I’ve rolled through my share of stop signs and red lights in my day), but bikers who act like nobody else matters (or even exists) make themselves into one of the plagues of urban life.

    It’s not fair that responsible, considerate bikers get blamed for other bikers’ behavior; but even if weren’t blamed, I don’t think we should reflexively defend bikers when they act like jerks. If they don’t represent us, we shouldn’t represent them.

  • Dave

    I am a red-light running cyclist (though I don’t consider myself aggressive and will yield to pedestrians most of the time; the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane being a notable exception).

    However, I think we should take Johnny Walker up on his suggestion. I don’t know if the NYPD or the DOT keeps good records of bike-pedestrian crashes or if these get much attention in the media but, surely, if we believe (as I do) that biking is inherently safer than driving (even with the all assholes on two wheels out there), then we should have nothing to fear. Reporting bike crahes will show how relatively minor and infrequent they are.

    On the other hand, if we are wrong and there turn out to be many bike accidents, then wouldn’t we rather know this and begin a discussion of how to solve the problem? Such reporting would help us pick on patterns of accidents (is it just the bike messengers, delivery cyclists and spandex warriors as is sometimes suggested on this site or is a wider phenomenon?)

    In any case, let’s give Johnny what he and other occasional pro-pedestrian, anti-bike visitors of this site want. If we are right, then we will prove ourselves so. If we are wrong, don’t we want to know as much?

  • Johnny Walker

    Mitch and Dave,

    Thanks for adding some reason to the debate.

    I want cycling to flourish in this city, but cyclists need to start self-policing and emulate how European cyclists behave/share in crowded urban environments.

    By adding accidents/injuries caused by bikes to “Weekly Carnage”, it would draw attention to the outlaw bikers, and hopefully peer pressure would result in safer streets.

    Then the general public would be safer and more responsive to your lobbying. Makes sense?

    Whaddaya say, webmaster?

    I’m going out for a walk. To everyone else: Happy biking!

  • Paul

    Cyclists aren’t arrogant. Drivers aren’t bullies. It’s the people, no matter what their mode of transport is, that have the problem. The individual. Most people that ride bikes also drive cars and walk at some point. SUV Drivers suck. Fixie riders are assholes. BMX riders are menacing. Moms with double strollers are bad. I’m right, you’re wrong. We’re all jerks. Face it. Now go make a sandwich and learn to respect one another.

  • Mitch

    Re 17:

    Obviously, bikes are less inherently dangerous to pedestrians than cars. Nobody in his right mind — even the most bigoted bike-hater — would prefer to be hit by a Hummer at 30 mph instead of a bike at 15 mph.

    But that’s not the point. Those pedestrians out there who dislike bikes feel that way because they see bikes invading their space and breaking the rules, and creating lots of interactions that are unexpected and frightening, even if they don’t result in actual collisions.

    People get hit by cars all the time, but usually in the street, in space that is, for better or worse, generally conceded to be cars’ turf. Sometimes, it’s true, the car is on the sidewalk (or a greenway, in a few famous cases), but these incidents are aberrations — usually, the driver lost control, for one reason or another.

    On the other hand, if a bike is on the sidewalk,or running a red light and narrowly missing pedestrians in the crosswalk, that’s everyday life in the big city. Riding like that invades pedestrians’ space and threatens their sense of well-being. The issue is not physical safety, but personal security. I don’t think we can answer their concerns by citing accident statistics.

    What can the bike community do to ease the hostility between bikers and pedestrians? I don’t have any quick solutions; but I’d suggest the first step is empathy: try to understand what bothers pedestrians instead of dismissing their concerns as incorrect.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Sometimes, it’s true, the car is on the sidewalk (or a greenway, in a few famous cases), but these incidents are aberrations — usually, the driver lost control, for one reason or another.

    On the other hand, if a bike is on the sidewalk,or running a red light and narrowly missing pedestrians in the crosswalk, that’s everyday life in the big city. Riding like that invades pedestrians’ space and threatens their sense of well-being.

    I recognize that that’s the impression, Mitch, but it’s not true. If you read through past installments of the Weekly Carnage, there’s something almost every week about a car on the sidewalk, in a store or in other “pedestrian space.” Sometimes they kill or injure, sometimes they just smash things. They scare the living shit out of people, but for some reason they don’t provoke the same kind of outrage that bikes on the sidewalk do.

    Maybe you can say that in these cases the driver “lost control,” but of course that’s the point of the Weekly Carnage: people do lose control, and if they’re behind the wheel there’s lots of suffering and destruction. But even in the “normal course” of things, you find lots of motor vehicles on the sidewalk; check out uncivilservants.org for plenty of examples. Again, these kinds of things rarely provoke the kind of outrage that bikes on the sidewalk do, but they’re just as dangerous: if the cars aren’t going fast enough to hurt anyone, they often block the sidewalk and force people into the street.

    I don’t think your explanation is accurate, Mitch. I think there’s a real double standard for cars and bikes, because people in cars are assumed to be legitimate, while people on bikes are “just having fun.”

  • mike

    i tried to pitch this idea to Aaron N., but he didn’t dig it (go figure!?): http://www.bikersareannoying.com
    a place, kind of like uncivilservants, where anybody (ped, bike, motorist) can post stories of annoying experiences with bicyclists. i think it would be very cathartic for everyone to bitch and moan now and then at bikers and it would also encourage better behavior by bikers (assuming this shaming approach, a la uncivilservants, actually works). plus, my hunch is that it would show that on the whole, bikers aren’t all that menacing or dangerous, just mildly annoying – versus the deadliness of vehicles.

  • mike

    on and to follow up on my last post – i don’t believe bikers are (assuming this generalization is true) annoying by accident or by some character trait. i think it’s because the built environment has been designed with almost zero consideration for bicycle infrastructure. this has turned bikers in NYC into rogue operators, fishes out of water in a context that was never made to suit them. almost by definition their actions will end up rubbing somebody the wrong way. hence the discussions we’ve had before about how peds “have” sidewalks, cars “have” roads, and bikers are usually forced into a dangerous scrap of space somewhere in between them. so i don’t believe bikers are truly annoying, just that their actions, often perceived as annoying by other street users, result from being unaccommodated on our streets.

  • Hilary

    The scene on the Hudson River Greenway in lower Manhattan yesterday was telling. Due to construction, racing bikes, tandems, children on bikes, pedestrians, skaters, joggers, strollers, pedestrians AND sitters (on the wall) were all squeezed onto the path, reminiscent of the Howrah Bridge in Calcutta. A few feet away, six lanes of autombiles roared. And there, amidst the 60+ mph traffic, pedaled a valiant pedicab carrying three passengers. I think his speed was closer to the actual 40 mph speed limit. It was such a spectacle of inequity in the allotment of space and the segregation of speed. I suggest that – at least for the duration of the construction along the west side and at least during the weekends – that one lane of the West Side Highway be turned over to the higher speed non-motorized modes. The resulting congestion in the motorized lanes would bring the speed down to the legal one. The entire corridor that includes the waterfront park, greenway and roadway would be more scenic, less deafening, and park-like for all of its travellers.

  • Mitch

    Re 20:

    Of course there’s a double standard. For all sorts of deep-seated cultural reasons, Americans — even non-driving Manhattanites — are more likely to identify with motorists than bicyclists, and to cut them more slack when they do something wrong.

    That’s not a good thing, but it’s a fact of life, so what are we going to do about it? I don’t have all the answers, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t help to inform people that they’re better off being run down by bikes than by SUVs.

    In a backhanded sort of way, defending bikers’ bad behavior buys into the double-standard we’re fighting. If we take bicycles seriously as a form of transportation, we should insist that bikers take themselves seriously; they (including me; I’m a biker, too), need to ride carefully and predictably, use lights at night, and obey traffic laws as much as possible.

    We should also insist, of course, that the authorities should enforce laws and design streets so that responsible, law-abiding bicyclists feel safe. But these sets of demands are two sides of the same coin; you can’t really have one without the other.

  • Mitch

    One more comment on 20:

    I am an avid reader of the Weekly Carnage, so I know that cars hit pedestrians on sidewalks all the time. I read a statistic somewhere that a lot more people on New York sidewalks get killed by motor vehicles than by bikes. Cars are obviously more dangerous than bikes.

    But cars don’t go intentionally onto sidewalks or into people’s living rooms. When these crashes happen, they’re usually the drivers’ fault — he or she is talking on the cell phone, or driving too fast, or drunk — but they didn’t make a conscious decision to drive onto the sidewalk and hit pedestrians.

    Bikers do make conscious decisions to ride in pedestrian space. That makes a difference in a lot of peoples’ minds.

  • Professor

    Force = mass x acceleration. The impact of a fast enough bike poses as much danger as a slowly driven Mini. A plodding fatty will be as dangerous as a darting child. In a city of limited categories of travel paths, fair assignments are crucial. We either need to segregate more paths, or compress the range of weight/speed for each. (If you look at the picture above, the bikes all appear to be going at the speed of a brisk walk.) You can blame behavior, but we sure don’t make it easy to share the road in NY.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    If we take bicycles seriously as a form of transportation, we should insist that bikers take themselves seriously; they (including me; I’m a biker, too), need to ride carefully and predictably, use lights at night, and obey traffic laws as much as possible.

    I agree with all that, but the “as much as possible” is a tricky one. The laws and the allocation of street space (especially the “ride to the right” rule) really make it difficult for those who choose to ride a bike as a serious form of transportation.

    More importantly, I’m not sure that obeying laws will actually help fix this double standard. I think that until Mr. and Ms. Community Board see someone riding a bike and say “that could be me,” we’re going to be thought of as either children or Mexicans. The solution is to get more “thought leaders” to commute by bike, like Dan Doctoroff and David Byrne.

    But cars don’t go intentionally onto sidewalks or into people’s living rooms.

    Not into people’s living rooms, but I see people intentionally driving cars onto sidewalks and parking them there all the time. They’re not usually going as fast as when it’s unintentional, but as I wrote in Comment #20, it can be almost as dangerous. I regularly see pedestrians forced to walk in the street, or crowded into each other, because some driver took over their sidewalk, but how often do you hear people ranting about that?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Just to clarify: I have no problem being thought of as a Mexican, but people in the US are less inclined to pay for infrastructure that would primarily be used by Mexicans, that’s all.

  • Johnny Walker

    I am glad I have provoked some discussion.

    I was jogging on the Hudson River Park pathway this afternoon and all of the cyclists and pedestrians that I witnessed there behaved well. But as noted in my original post (#3), an
    occasional cyclists speeds there. Also, I have seen cyclists yell at walkers there who had a green light. That is outrageous. (Again this is not a regular sidewalk, this is a shared path.)

    The point: there are a small percentage of drivers and cyclists (and pedestrians) who are either fool or bullies, or both.

    Since motorists are subject to REAL sanctions when they are on sidewalks, they tend 99.999% not to be on sidewalks.
    This is not the case with cyclists, where it seems that about 25% of whom purposely ride on the sidewalks.

    The keyword is bike/pedestrian conflicts.

    Mike in #21 agreed with me that we should have some sort of forum to vent against both bad drivers and bad cyclists. Unfortunately, Aaron nixed it.

    The privileges of power over common sense, I suppose.

    Streetsblog is primarily – according to their own mission statement – for pedestrians.
    Read it: “New York is a city best enjoyed on foot, yet we plan our streets for cars.”

    Yet this blog is an outlet for cycling enthusiasts, some of whom exhibit utter contempt for pedestrians over and over throughout the year that I have been reading it.

    Until Streetsblog acts on the principles expounded in its own mission statement – that we enjoy the city on foot – it is failing in its mandate!

    Likewise, since 100% of New Yorkers are walkers at one point in the day, until this blog addresses their concerns as paramount, it will be viewed solely as a forum and whining post for cycling hobbyists,. But the blog will generate little credibility for the biking movement among the vast majority of Nyers who do not cycle regularly.

    You will not earn the sympathy of the majority of NYers whose support you need if you want a cycling agenda to succeed. This is Real Politik.

    Aaron, you may want to re-think your rejections of Mike’s sensible proposal.

    Then Streetsblog and Streets Renaissance will truly be working for us to enjoy the city on foot.

    Or else, just be honest and change your mission statement.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Since motorists are subject to REAL sanctions when they are on sidewalks, they tend 99.999% not to be on sidewalks.

    Something tells me you don’t have a source for that figure, but I see motorists on the sidewalk all the time, and they rarely seem to get tickets. I’d be happy to show anyone.

    Mike in #21 agreed with me that we should have some sort of forum to vent against both bad drivers and bad cyclists. Unfortunately, Aaron nixed it.

    GYOFB. It’s pretty easy to set up a forum. If the need is so great, I’m sure people will flock to it.

    Until Streetsblog acts on the principles expounded in its own mission statement – that we enjoy the city on foot – it is failing in its mandate!

    That’s a good point, but it’s nowhere near as important as you’re making it out to be. Yes, cycling advocates tend to have more time and energy than pedestrian and transit advocates, and that contributes to a “frame drag.” But this hardly constitutes a “failure” of Streetsblog in its mission. There’s still plenty of stuff about pedestrians, and very little that takes an anti-pedestrian position.

  • Dave
  • Dave (the same as 17, not 31) and henceforth Dave H,

    I think a lot of interesting points have come out of the above conversation, especially the one about built environments in New York not being designed for cyclists (and how this explains why many find cyclists exasperating). But there is one point that I would like to raise (or revisit).

    When I was out today running various errands (Park Slope to Hell’s Kitchen; Hell’s Kitchen to Sunset Park and Sunset Park back home again), I was mulling over some of the above discussion and a few things struck me:

    1) a) Bike lanes get no respect whatsoever from drivers and b) there are certainly some very bad and aggressive drivers out there but, for the most part, drivers obey the rules.

    2) Almost half of the cyclists I saw out there were breaking rules pointlessly. (Granted, this was a weekend and there were a lot more casual cyclists than usual). I’m not talking about running red lights or even cycling on empty sidewalks along menacingly busy roads. I’m talking about people riding on the wrong side of two-way streets, riding on crowded sidewalks when the road is perfectly safe, riding at night with no lights.

    Johnny Walker thinks that drivers tend to obey many of the rules more often than cyclists because they are more stricly enforced and breaking them chances relatively strong sanctions. I think he is partly right. (Here I’d also like to add that enforcement of double-parking in the bike-lane really needs to be stepped up). But I also think that a very, very large number of cyclists out there are clueless about the rules (while most drivers tend to know them). (This is the first half of what I wanted to say).

    Many people don’t know you can’t ride on the sidewalk. Many people don’t know that you should have lights at night. A lot of people don’t know how dangerous and annoying for everyone else it is to ride against traffic. I think a lot needs to be done to educate bikers about some of the rules of biking.

    This said, many of the rules are ridiculous and need to be changed. Some of the rules are plain stupid: a bell on your bike, are you kidding me? Other rules are ridiculous because they are obviously designed for cars, not for bicyles. (That’s the second half).

    Before any kind of public education campaign begins about bike rules, we need to have some transportation experts sit down and figure out which bike rules are good and which aren’t.

    Otherwise a public education campaign would be pretty worthless, as experienced cyclists would ignore it and beginning cyclists would be learning some rather dumb rules (and might end up ignoring some of the more important ones). Other than getting rid of the bell rule, would it be ridiculous to amend the traffic law to allow bikers to stop at red lights and then, at their own risk, carry through them? (this is essentially the way it is now). This last point here is that you can’t have a public education campaign if the written rules differ very much from the unwritten ones. And they do differ very much now.

    Then, in an aside to Johnny Walker: I’m not sure why you insist on calling cyclists ‘cycling enthusiasts’ but I do suspect that it is a strategy aimed at getting under the skin of many people on this site. Fair enough, but if you’ve been reading this forum for a year (as you have), I’d imagine you’ve been convinced by now that cycling is a valid form of transportation and that encouraging people to switch from cars to bikes and even (but to a lesser extent) from transit to bikes has many advantages. I won’t rehearse the arguments for you but I might, though, ask that you refer to motorists as ‘automobile-enthusiasts’. After all, your rallying cry in this recent exchange has been equal treatment of motorists and cyclists.

  • Johnny Walker

    My God, over 30 posts and no one on this blog but me seems to know that riding on the sidewalk is ILLEGAL!!

    Who are you kidding?

    I was trying to offer constructive advice to forward your campaign for more acceptance of biking by the general public and all I got is obfuscation, denial and personal attacks.

    Try getting out of your insular world.

    Ask your neighbors’ opinion of cyclists (as I have done) and you will find typical comments, like, “they ride on sidewalks”, “they speed the wrong way up one-way streets”, etc.

    Until this public-relations failure is corrected, you will be viewed as marginal or reckless children on wheels, which ill-serves your campaign.

    Enough of this waste of time.

    “There are none so blind, who will not see.”

  • Smith

    Johnny One Note,

    Perhaps your “constructive advice” is not well received because you’re the one stuck in a very insular little place.

    New York City cyclists are hit with nearly 50,000 summonses per year according to a recent NY Post story. That number doesn’t even include the hundreds, perhaps, thousands of legally parked bikes that NYPD and Parks Dept. buzz-saw off of street furniture and cart away, seemingly at random. Any regular, law-abiding bike commuter can tell you that cyclists face a disproportionate amount of NYPD enforcement and plenty of plain old harassment.

    Not so long ago I had the misfortune of meeting a pair of cops sitting at the end of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn just handing out tickets to virtually every cyclist that came by during evening rush hour. Frankly, it was like something out of a Third World country.

    That, however, seems to be the city that you want to live in, Johnny. Nevertheless, I’ve got news for you: There are only going to be more and more bikes filling your streets in the coming years. You can keep griping about it and calling for more enforcement (it’ll probably earn you a spot on a Community Board). Or you can actually be constructive and help figure out how to accommodate the growing demand for biking in such a way that a healthy pedestrian environment is not sacrificed.

  • Smith (#34): what were the Manhattan Bridge tickets for?

  • The anger that pedestrians have towards bikers never ceases to amaze me.

    But, we of the bicycling persuasion cannot deny or ignore the public relations problem we have.

    One way to look at the bike v. ped conflicts is to think in terms of speed differential. While I have no data to back this up, I recall reading that one of the leading causes of crashes on limited-access highways was a high-speed differential between/among cars. (The Corzine crash would be an example.)

    At the very least, we’re all probably familiar with the anxiety caused by rapidly overtaking cars.

    There’s a similar anxiety, I think, among pedestrians in what is thought of as shared space. Something going much faster is scary. And, a wide variety of speeds among peds and bikers is going to cause actual conflict.

    I think cars “escape” the criticism for a number of reasons, one of which is that cars are not considered to be like transportation. For the most part, I don’t worry about cars going much faster than me when I’m on foot because that’s what I expect.

    One solution is clearly to get more space dedicated to bicycles (which, necessarily, would draw bicycles out of both car and pedestrian traffic). Right now, we’re neither fish nor fowl. Cars don’t like it when we don’t follow the same rules as they do (though they happily deny us equivalent access to the right-of-way). Pedestrians don’t like us because we get into their space.

    Yes, part of the answer is educating pedestrians, but we’ve got to figure out how to win them over, too.

  • Smith

    Mike,

    The Manhattan Bridge tickets were for riding a bicycle in New York City.

    It was last summer.

    Here, I found coverage on Streetsblog…

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2006/07/28/into-our-town-the-nypd-came/

  • Ian Turner

    As far as one’s personal behavior goes, the answer is actually pretty simple: Follow the law. If there is no bike lane or if the bike lane is blocked, then take the entire rightmost lane; don’t bike on the wrong side of the street or in the wrong direction, and make turns in the same way as motor vehicles. This will irritate a *lot* of drivers, but is nonetheless quite safe. It minimizes pedestrian-bicyclist conflicts, because the only shared space is at intersections, and there bicycles (as vehicles) should yield to pedestrians the right-of-way they are used to.

    Note, however, that all of this is highly contrary to actual typical behavior exhibited by New York bicyclists, let alone that in organized unpermitted events like Critical Mass.

    Reforming one’s own bicycling behavior is easy (if unpleasant), but makes only a very small difference in public opinion. In order to make real progress in this area, a large proportion of cyclists (both professional and amateur) need to engage these principles. One way to start would be for cyclist organizations like Times Up to push more responsible cycling, or for the city to require such a training course for professional cyclists.

  • “The anger that pedestrians have towards bikers never ceases to amaze me.”

    Me too, and I don’t even have a bike. I think there’s a lot of truth in the musings above that people identify more with motorists for some reason, and it’s all downhill from there. Even though we’re talking about life and death and the numbers are fairly plain, people would rather go with their anecdotes, stereotypes, and general spite. For my part I’ve been “annoyed” by a cyclist about once a year in New York. Yeah. I’m not even kidding. Sorry to crash the “we hate each other” party, but I don’t.

    I should add, though, that I don’t consider it my business if a cyclist breaks a traffic law. Basic familiarity with fatality and injury numbers tells me that bicycles are not a practical threat to my person, so I don’t see why I should care what they do. Ignoring them is a heck of a lot easier than looking for violations and flying into a rage about cyclists every day. (I save that energy for when cars nearly kill me, a threat that is unfortunately too real.)

    “Force = mass x acceleration. The impact of a fast enough bike poses as much danger as a slowly driven Mini.”

    (This merits exhumation.) Cars generally go faster than bikes, but we’ll leave that aside for now. Okay, are we ready kids? A Mini Cooper’s curb weight is 2524 lbs. A heavy bike weighs 50 lbs. Let’s say our person weighs 150 lbs, and the Mini is “slowly” cruising at 20 mph.

    (2524 + 150) x 20 / (150 + 50) = 267.4

    Hooray, math is easy! We just calculated that our killer cyclist will have to go 267 miles per hour to have the force of that Mini. “Professor,” if that was the most practical use you could make of your fancy f=ma formula, I suggest you refrain from trying to draw public safety conclusions from it.

  • I take my evening walk in Riverside Park in the 90s, along the Hudson. Pedestrians and bikers share the path. I’m grateful to the bikers who go at a moderate pace and signal their presence (with bell or voice) when coming up behind me. God bless you good people. The ones who go much faster and don’t signal make me apprehensive. My evening walk would be much pleasanter if I weren’t having to constantly look over my shoulder for some swift-moving sociopath on wheels. This is not “hate,” just a normal instinct for self-preservation.

  • Dave H.

    Johnny – I actually mentioned that you aren’t allowed to ride on the sidewalk. I also suggested that what is legal and illegal when it comes to bikes may need review (though I do think they should stay off the side-walk). And I do think people were engaging in reasoned debate, but, as they say, whatever…

  • steve

    Great thread. I agree most with Mitch but also in part with many others. Johnny is welcome to comment but arrogant to assert editorial control. Agree that we need better infrastructure to eliminate ped/bike conflicts but absent elevated veloways, intersections will create conflicts. Everyday I grapple with the tension between respect for peds and modal superiority of bikes. Bottom line, bikes are slower than cabs/mass transit if you never run red. But bikes must avoid uneccessary or unsafe violations.

  • Spud Spudly

    I propose another change for this feature — how about “The Weekly Freedom”?

    I’ll start: This weekend I drove my car to Randall’s Island and hit two large buckets of balls at the driving range there. That freed me from shlepping my clubs on a bus down to Chelsea Piers and liberated me from the confines of my apartment to allow a beautiful morning of fresh air and exercise. Monday (Labor Day) I packed up the wife and kid and cruised down to the greenmarket at Union Square, which freed my whole family from the confines of its neighborhood and allowed us to easily purchase and transport numerous bundles of organic fruits and vegetables. And Monday night I drove to the Fairway on 125th street and stocked up for the week, thus freeing me from the miserable experience of shopping at local Gristedes and Associated supermarkets, as well as from the burden of having to drag multiple bags of heavy groceries home in a shopping cart or on a bus or subway.

    (Tongue-in-cheek, folks!)

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I don’t get it, Spud. It doesn’t sound tongue-in-cheek at all. Where’s the joke?

    Incidentally, after I got rid of my car and moved back to New York in 2000, I felt a tremendous amount of freedom: freedom from worrying about gas, repairs and maintenance, freedom from worrying about killing someone, freedom from dealing with parking, freedom to go pick up a quart of milk, or even to exercise, without having to get in the car and drive somewhere. I never felt more restrained and confined than when I had to lug that thing around.

  • mork

    The thing about cars in an urban environment is that using one necessarily depends on the fact that most of the other people aren’t. (Imagine the traffic congestion and parking problems if there were twice as many cars in the 5 boroughs.)

    So Spud, when you’re out tooling around, don’t forget to say thanks to all of the pedestrians.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I’ve also never quite gotten city dwellers’ fascination with bulk groceries. Many people say that they bought a car so that they can drive to Fairway, Costco or Trader Joe’s. For that “convenience,” they have to deal with loan payments, gas, maintenance, parking fees, alternate side rules, tolls, etc. Plus they now have a chunk of their apartment devoted to cases of paper towels and canned goods, and maybe even an extra freezer.

    I have an arrangement with a company that does all that for me. They get deliveries of bulk goods and store them in a handy location half a block away. If I want something, all I have to do is walk in, take it off the shelf and bring it to a clerk who scans the bar code. They even have produce and meat in handy single-meal packages. Of course they charge a premium for this, but I think it’s worth it. I never have to plan my meals more than an hour or two in advance, because I can just stop in on my way home and pick up whatever I want to eat. That’s what I call freedom!

    You know, Spud, I’m starting to like this “Weekly Freedom” idea…

  • Spud,

    Where’d you find parking around Union Square?

  • Spud Spudly

    Aaron, it was Labor Day and parking was easy. Had a choice of many spots on 16th street bet. 5th and 6th Avenues, but could easily have gotten closer. I’ve done the same trip on Saturday mornings when there was no holiday and parking wasn’t much harder. I wouldn’t do it during the week though.

    Mork, summer weekends in the city are my favorite times — everyone’s gone. So I could thank the pedestrians but it would be more appropriate to thank all those people who spent hours trying to get to the Hamptons on Friday night, leaving Manhattan for the rest of us.

    And Angus, since I was born in Brooklyn and have lived in NYC my entire life, I’ve always had the freedom of being able to walk to get milk. And the garage in my building alleviates all parking concerns. I also wouldn’t call Fairway “bulk” groceries. I used to do the Costco thing but it got quite tedious, even with a car.

  • If we ever wanted evidence that motorists fancy themselves as the only people of import, this was it. But it’s okay; don’t worry about saying “thanks” to the masses of pedestrians who could own cars and clog the streets even on a holiday weekend (by whimsically tooling around, perhaps?). Likewise they won’t bother to say “sorry” as they take the city streets back from personal automobiles for cleaner, safer, and more efficient use by everyone on foot, bicycle, and transit.

    (Tongue in cheek blows.)

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