…Unless You Bike to Work on Kent Avenue


First things first. David Yassky’s status update beats what we’ve seen from Marty Markowitz, hands down. And if anyone in the City Council can credibly claim the mantle of bike advocate, it’s Yassky: a steady voice in support of a car-free Prospect Park and forceful proponent of the Bikes in Buildings Bill. But this gesture of solidarity would sure feel a lot stronger if Yassky had stood with cyclists trying to preserve safety improvements on Kent Avenue, instead of giving his signature to the parking chauvinists attempting to roll back those advances.

  • Tania

    Let’s instead discuss those 79 messages!

  • t

    It’s funny how one of the comments repeats the old canard that bikes are more of a threat to pedestrians than cars. Absolutely zero stats to back that up. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

  • J. Mork

    Well, t, her name is Fabricant after all.

  • Much like the firefox extension that blocks ill-formed youtube comments (http://www.chrisfinke.com/addons/youtube-comment-snob/), I would love to have one that obscures any comment on any site claiming that bicycles are more of a “hazard” to New York pedestrians than cars are. It would be a great stress avoider. Perhaps the program could automatically respond with comment boilerplate, some basic fatality and injury statistics and maybe a few photos of real life (and real death) crash scenes.

    The truth is so readily available and—you would think—physically obvious. But our fellow New Yorkers practically wait in line for a soap box to assert that its opposite is deeply, personally true. And always the script calls for a dreary litany of offenses that someone might commit on a bicycle (many of which are legal elsewhere), written in a style that seems to acknowledge that the manufactured outrage is getting boring even for its performer. They do this, they do that, etc. Etc! Sadly, there are just not enough hours in the day for Patricia to comprehensively complain about New York street life in a way that is, at the same time, so hackneyed and so false.

  • I think the Christopher Lee comments make the screen grab. It’s too bad, but this kind of bowing to the parking chauvinists happens all of the time in Minneapolis as I’m sure it does elsewhere.

    One of my strategies is to develop relationships with the local business communities in an effort to help them realize that choosing to park lots of cars in an urban environment is in no way a good business decision and it gets worse when we finally rid ourselves of parking subsidies and start charging a more fitting price to motoring which we will do eventually.

    I realize that this is a tall order, but I’m a glutton at times.

  • jmc

    Yassky is a prince of the enlightenment compared to LaHood. Focus people!

  • Inspiring and hopeful. 🙂

    I wonder when we will see them (decision makers) fashionably riding a bicycle.

  • I don’t think we can completely dismiss Fabricant’s comment–we should find a better way of answering her than just giving statistics (which, I also like… but there should be more). You can give statistics (I would presume they exist) that more deaths (obviously) and injuries that send people to hospitals are caused by cars than by bikes. I’m sure when pressed she’d know that and answer that way. What her fear is is that bikes are more unpredictable than cars, just like pedestrians are more unpredictable than bikes. This is somewhat obvious because the smaller you are the more places you can go. No one goes out worrying “on Broadway I’m going to have 20 accidents today by bumping into people!”. But they do fear what usually are (if/when they happen) are very minor collisions with bikes. What we need to convince people is that bikes usually have good brakes, more maneuverability and even in such a case will cause little damage. But, more importantly _in the vast majority of situations bikers are riding the wrong way / on sidewalks because of the lack of proper, safe infrastructure. So, while what she’s saying isn’t productive we need something to address her fear that bikes (especially in a mix of cars on the street) are hard to see and that because they are small they can come from anywhere. This for some reason seems to scare a lot of people and it can’t fully be alleviated with statistics.

  • So, while what she’s saying isn’t productive we need something to address her fear that bikes (especially in a mix of cars on the street) are hard to see and that because they are small they can come from anywhere.

    After talking to many neighbors who express Fabricant’s view, and many other neighbors who are pro-bike and baffled by the fear (but occasionally express annoyance with sidewalk cyclists and salmon), I feel safe in my conclusion that this is not the reason, Fritz. The main factor in whether the reaction is annoyance or rage seems to be whether the complainer views cyclists as “us” or as “them.”

  • Angus, I don’t disagree that the fear to that extent (thinking of them as more dangerous than cars) can only be people who think of bikers as “them”. But, how then do we address this? I mean, I wouldn’t classify what Fabricant said as rage (unlike that anti-biker pedestrian blogger lady). There must be a way to talk about this subject which does something more unifying and productive than treating their views as a mental disease. Which, I guess you would say it would only work by breaking down the us/them gap.

  • Which, I guess you would say it would only work by breaking down the us/them gap.

    Bingo. One way to do that is by increasing the prevalence of cycling in the general population, the way that Denis Baupin and Jan Gehl have done. Another is to bring cyclists and “community leaders” together in positive ways.

  • We’ve all seen cyclists pedestrians and vehicle operators do dangerous things. As a pedestrian and cyclist, I’ve crossed against the light. I often see other cyclists riding the wrong way on one-way streets. Last night, I was almost hit by a cyclist going uptown on 2nd Ave. running a red light.

    As I see it, we need to redefine how traffic rules work. Walkers and cyclists are going to cross against red lights; we all do it when we think it’s safe. Should it be wrong? I don’t think so.

    Should we ride the wrong way on one-way streets? I have less sympathy for that, personally. I often feel shoved into traffic by approaching cyclists on 6th Ave. There are roads which are so bicycle unfriendly that riding on the sidewalk feels a whole lot safer to me — the approaches to the Queensborough Bridge come to mind — but I hate it when I have to dodge bikes.

    Until we have more bicyclists and more of a share of the streets, these conflicts will keep coming. The hostility of those who feel threatened by cyclists behaving badly shouldn’t be ignored. We all of us walk or roll sometimes and we need each other.


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