Sean Sweeney Redefines “T.A. StreetBeat”

  • SoHo bike crank
    Sean Sweeney claims that a cyclist punched him in the face. He’s got a black eye to prove it. We haven’t received the SoHo Alliance press release yet but you can read about
    it in the Downtown Express.
  • State Assembly transportation chair David Gantt is blocking a common sense bill to ban text-messaging while driving and his fellow Democrats are finally realizing that he’s a problem. (Buffalo News)
  • Jebediah Reed wipes the floor with New York Magazine’s Janette Sadik-Khan profile. (Infrastructurist)
  • WNYC launches its radio series on bus rapid transit with a story out of Bogota, Colombia. That’s right: A story about buses on the radio. Who’d have thought?
  • NYC DOT’s new Street Design Manual is now available for download.
  • Step aside Simon Cowell. Carly Clark and I have judged and selected the winners of Good Magazine’s "Redesign Your Street" contest.
  • LIRR president Helena Williams is named interim CEO of the MTA. Lee Sander steps down tomorrow. (2nd Ave. Sagas)
  • Charles Komanoff argues that the Waxman-Markey greenhouse gas reduction bill isn’t going to get the job done. (Grist)
  • It’s an exciting time to be a parking policy geek in San Francisco. (Streetsblog SF)
  • In this individual case, I’m with Sweeney. Bikes do not belong on the sidewalk!

  • Marty Barfowitz

    What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

  • Okay, what does the behavior of some asshole have to do with Streetsblog? If I had gotten into a fistfight with one of the drivers who used to block the sidewalk by the car wash at Sixth and Broome, would that have somehow been the Soho Alliance’s fault?

  • “I want you to get this right — because this is going to be all over Streetsblog,”

    We’ve got a chicken and egg paradox here, Captain!

    The perp in this astronomically convenient story shopped to a friendly neighborhood rag (item!) sounds a lot like a curmudgeon’s caricature of a Streetsblog reader. Except for the part about riding on soho sidewalks, asking if people want trouble, and punching them—it could be me! Strange, but … published. [Too Good to Check]

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    Lately people all over New York have been hit by cars on the sidewalk, and they have the caskets to prove it.

  • I just figured out what this bizarre tale was reminding me of:

  • Bike rider should not be on the sidewalk. Period.

    I remember once about eight years ago I was riding my bike into work at Comedy Central, I was making a right hand turn when a well-dressed pedestrian – completely and totally unprovoked (to this day I still wonder why) ran off the curb at me, punched me right in the gut and then sprinted down 8th Avenue. Back then I had a better set of abs, and was able to recover enough to ride a few minutes later. (Strangely a senior for some reason offered me a mint while I was recovering, like that would help…)

    Point is I don’t hold a grudge towards pedestrians for it. Sweeney should chalk this up to some temperamental nut job on a bike. There are emotionally disturbed pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and even, yes, some Terminators (if you see the new movie.)

  • gecko

    Amazingly great New York Magazine article on Sadik-Khan. The future works! As does our fearless DoT commissioner.

  • Geck

    Not to condone biking on the sidewalk or punching someone in the face, but grabbing someones handlebars (and the guy on the bike must not have been going very fast for Sweeney to grab them) messes with their control and is a very provocative act. It is not all that surprising that it might enrage the guy on the bike. If you go looking for a fight, you will likely find one.

  • gecko

    A person on a bike is not much more than a pedestrian. Just about four times faster and with wheels. Would this guy have been right to trip a runner?

    No question that going fast down a crowded sidewalk is dangerous but this action would have increased the danger if the situation was as described.

    More effective would have been to signal him to slow down and take care; although going fast on a bike down a crowded SOHO sidewalk somehow doesn’t seem possible.

    Kind of reminds me of this old coot honking his horn violently in front of a hospital on a quiet tree-lined street at a cyclist slowly safely going through a red light calling the cyclist a dummy completely oblivious to his much more serious $350 fineable offense and that on an annual basis nobody is killed by bicycles and about 250 people are killed by cars.

  • Thanks to all who agree that riding a bike on the sidewalk does not promote the cause of cycling advocacy. Transportation Alternatives should do a campaign or press conference to advise cyclists to obey basic traffic laws for the benefit of all of us.

    To clarify some misconceptions voiced by commenters:
    The news story didn’t make clear that the guy was cycling quite fast on an empty sidewalk and we coincided at a narrow bottle-neck of an obstructed sidewalk. I assumed he would either slow down, pull aside or go into the sidewalk to permit a pedestrian to proceed. He didn’t.

    Instead he kept peddling to literally within an inch or two of my body. It was only after he had stopped did I grab the handlebar and yell at him to get off the sidewalk. He responded by coldcocking me.

    I realize this nut does not represent the typical cyclist, but I do urge all cycling advocates to admonish other cyclists riding on the sidewalk and running lights because it does not win people over to the cause.

  • Sean :

    I’m sorry you had to deal with such an asshole. I do my part by yelling at other cyclists that ride by me on sidewalks*.

    *unless they’re much, much bigger than me, or if they look deranged.

  • Transportation Alternatives has launched a campaign with the rules of the road. It’s called Biking Rules,, the booklet came out last Friday and there was a press conference/launch party just this pas Wednesday. I personally have already handed out about 200 booklets at the Queensboro Bridge. It was also covered on this blog.

  • There’s no excuse for that kind of behavior. And the new Biking Rules campaign is something we should all get behind.

    Ian Dutton told me a story the other night about getting punched while on his bike by a guy who was walking in the bike lane. I might start wearing a football helmet with a faceguard. Can’t we all just get along?

  • “Can’t we all just get along?”

    Most of us do.

  • I don’t endorse riding on the sidewalk, but grabbing someone’s handlebars? Provocative and stupid.

  • gecko

    #11 Sean Sweeney, “Thanks to all who agree that riding a bike on the sidewalk does not promote the cause of cycling advocacy. Transportation Alternatives should do a campaign or press conference to advise cyclists to obey basic traffic laws for the benefit of all of us.”

    Great idea! And, perhaps you’ll initiate several campaigns advising jwalkers to quit their evil ways; cars, trucks, and buses that come dangerously too close and fast to cyclists sufficient to kill; suitable vias for bikes across damaged and or cobblestone streets; and town hall meetings on how it usually takes two to start a fight.

  • Gecko,

    Those are (mostly) good ideas, but not exactly in Sweeney’s areas of expertise.

    Cobbled streets are just something you have to deal with once in a while. If you or your bike can’t handle it, you should walk it on the sidewalk.

  • J-Uptown


    I definitely agree that bikes do not belong on the sidewalk. NYPD also agrees, as this is perhaps the only biking rule that is consistently enforced. As with most campaigns to cultivate a certain behavior, in this case not biking on the sidewalk, you need a carrot and stick approach. The stick is enforcement: the NYPD ticketing and TA Biking Rules campaign. The carrot should be space on the street that is comfortable for bikers.

    The way you feel when a bike comes whizzing at you while walking on a sidewalk is similar to the feeling cyclists get when a cab darts into the bike lane and stops. While I’m not saying that these dangers excuse sidewalk riding, they certainly don’t encourage riding on the street. That is why cyclists were so happy about things like the Ninth Ave and Grand Street bike lanes. I hope we can work together for streets and sidewalks that meet the needs of all users.

  • The Villager article includes a photo:

    Looks pretty nasty, but having seen Sean last night, I can say that it appears that he’s making a quick recovery.

    Shea and I were in Trondheim, Norway this week, where there is a 15-20% mode share of bikes, yet nearly everyone rides (generally, slowly and carefully) on the sidewalks. We hated that. We rented bikes for a day and rode just as we would in NYC – following traffic rules and in the street. We found drivers to be cautious and courteous – certainly much more so than in New York. Though there are almost no bike lanes, there are many, many pedestrian streets that were shared with bikes and were very comfortable for walking and slower-paced riding.

    Can’t imagine why they find that sidewalk usage acceptable… it’s not how I would arrange things!

  • gecko

    #18 Liam Patrick, “Cobbled streets are just something you have to deal with once in a while. If you or your bike can’t handle it, you should walk it on the sidewalk.”

    My bike can handle cobbled streets and often enjoy them; while walking my bike other places, more than most, primarily for safety reasons. Very often cobbled streets are in low-use areas without people on the sidewalks; often not the situation in SoHo and cycling so close to Sean Sweeney was wrong and dangerous. It’s really easy for most to become proficient in cycling while not being proficient in safe practices especially when other people’s safety is at stake; all of which palls in comparison to safety concerns when dealing with cars, trucks, and buses.

    It does not make much sense to stay off the sidewalk if that is preferred or walk a bike a block or more when no one is around and there is no likelihood of someone popping out unexpectedly or if a cyclist is going very slow and people are not close. In the immediate sense, just came from a ride where all these things were done on and around cobbled streets and surrounding sidewalks; some isolated; some not completely. No dangerous situations. No one grabbed my handlebars; with smiles and pleasantries on a very nice day.

    Most cyclists prefer streets and there are usually good reasons when they do not use them. This is the public transportation system the people of this city have to live with today which the city seems to have vowed to fix and make safe and hopefully common sense will prevail.

  • Ian Dutton said:
    “The Villager article includes a photo:

    Maybe he should’ve posted it as his Streetsblog avatar. It’s a little late but he still might’ve won the booby prize.

  • Looks pretty nasty, but having seen Sean last night, I can say that it appears that he’s making a quick recovery.

    Yeah, but you should have seen the guys fist.


    Judging by posts by and about Mr. Sweeney on Streetsblog, I’d guess it’ll take a lot more than that to knock him off his game.