Today’s Headlines

  • Backer of Bike Crackdown Blames Cyclists For Being Killed on NYC Streets (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Counterpoint: Target Enforcement to Actually Prevent Hundreds of Deaths Each Year (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Vacca, Electeds, and Queens BID Leaders Grateful for Dysfunctional Parking Rates (Queens Chron)
  • Quinn Opposes Charging At-Fault Motorists For FDNY Crash Response (WSJ)
  • Shocker: So Does AAA (News)
  • 2nd Ave Sagas: Lets Replace Car Lanes With Transit Lanes
  • Defying Principles of Good Public Space Design, CB3 Opposes Benches at Astor Place Plaza (Villager)
  • Daily News Cheers Construction of Subsidized 825-Space Garage for NY Botanical Garden
  • Evidence Mounts of Faked Subway Signal Inspections (Transpo Nation)
  • Why You Should Never Litter on the Train (NY1)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Jay

    The worst thing about the Daily News article about parking at the New York Botanical Garden is that the editor who wrote the headline thinks it’s in Brooklyn!

  • Yes, it somehow managed to start with “Good times to bloom for motorists” and then get even worse.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “But in many of these cases the bicyclists were violating the rules in some way. They were either on roads without bike lanes.”

    Enough said. Someone identified as “PPW Resident” wrong in and said that people who ride bicycles are terrorists.

    I agree that having the police try to stop cyclists from doing dangerous things is a good idea. But I think that’s not what the complainers have in mind. As for things that need to be stopped, add “running green lights.” You have to anticipate motor vehicles running red lights. It happens every day.

  • Larry, I saw that “PPW Resident” comment too. Bicyclists are terrorists? C’mon, that guy has to find a hobby….

    As for the person who wrote the article (Leslie Lewis, president of the 84th Precinct Community Council): she avowedly follows “police statistics” and she asserts that around 90% of cyclist deaths in NYC happen because cyclists are breaking traffic law. Really? Do police statistics seriously back her up on that?

  • People who are walking and biking don’t die in traffic accidents because they weren’t following traffic laws, they from blunt trauma injuries secondary to being hit by a motor vehicle. It’s against traffic law to cross the street, even in a crosswalk, against the light; does Lewis suggest that cops should set up pedestrian dragnets on Flatbush Ave & Sterling Place and give out tickets for jaywalking?

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    “Every single day, I drive to Borough Hall and every single day I see both motorists and bicyclists breaking one rule or another.” Doesn’t Leslie (a male) Lewis live in Boerum Hill? He drives to Borough Hall every day?

    fyi, the next meeting of the 84th Precinct Community Council will be held this Tuesday, January 18, at 7:00pm in Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Every single day, I drive to Borough Hall and every single day I see both motorists and bicyclists breaking one rule or another.”

    Downtown Brooklyn has the most lethal acting motor vehicles anywhere I ride. Or used to ride. Thank goodness for the PPW bike lane and my new route, which keeps me far from Jay Street.

  • Eric

    “People who are walking and biking don’t die in traffic accidents because they weren’t following traffic laws, they from blunt trauma injuries secondary to being hit by a motor vehicle.”

    This comment is as non-nonsensical as Leslie Lewis’s, “it’s against the law to ride in the street if there is no bicycle lane.” If a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by a car, the car may kill them, but the cause of the accident was due to the cyclist breaking the law. The same can be said about cyclist who ride against traffic.

  • Leslie Lewis derives his 90% from the city bike safety report that found over 90% of fatally struck bikers were not wearing helmets. (compared that to 100% for drivers and 100% for pedestrians, though these figures were not cited in the report)

    Lewis is clear: if you don’t wear a helmet and are killed by a speeding or reckless motorist, it’s your own damn fault.

    Lewis and Marty share the same office. i can only imagine the water cooler talk.

  • TKO

    Sad part of the video with the rat is that the individual instead of shooing away the rat or waking the fellow shoots a video. A sad state of our city towards our fellow man.

  • Eric, I’m looking RIGHT NOW at a “Complaint – Follow Up Informational Report” put together by NYPD about a cyclist who died last year. Let me quote:

    “A review of the report lists the immediate cause of death as: Blunt impact of head and torso.”

    As I said above, it’s not the breaking the traffic law that kills you, it’s the blunt impact of the motor vehicle.

  • Eric

    Jonathan, when a cyclist runs a red light or rides against traffic than they are the cause of the collision/accident and place themselves and others at risk of death or injury. No matter what the physical cause of death is.

    Cherry picking one bicycle accident from a police report does not change what I said. Take this one for example, http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2009/07/19/2009-07-19_20m_suit_in_bike_horror_family_fights_for_tougher_laws_after_bizman_walking_to_w.html. Stuart Gruskin died because a cyclist hit him when they rode against traffic. A death that would not have occurred had the cyclist chosen to obey they law.

  • Okay, back to the Botanical Garden parking garage,

    Quick math showed that each parking spot for that garage will cost $60,000!!! Still if it gives Metro North Commuters a place to park on weekdays and then a spot for garden visitors a place to park on weekends it sounds like it will get a good amount of use and for good reasons (ei. not to park your car to go 5 blocks to get groceries).

    This is the neighbor my family used to live in prior my being on this earth and I’m looking to take mom back to visit the Botanical Gardens that she loved sometime soon. Unfortunately, driving is still the most economical and quickest way for this suburbanite to get there as it would be for most others. The thing is, when we make the trip, we’ll be filling up the ol’ station wagon to capacity.

  • Eric, in motor vehicle crashes it’s the blunt trauma that causes death; in the same way, with gunshot wounds, it’s the penetrating trauma that causes death.

    The law doesn’t accept crimes against property outside of the home as sufficient justification to shoot someone dead. Are you saying that for the cyclist committing a lesser crime like a traffic violation an acceptable punishment is death by blunt trauma?

  • Chris

    Here is a fun anecdote:

    Last night I was walking my dog around the block and I see a e-bike deliveryman on the sidewalk.. and two cops in an RMP talking to him (transcribed from memory)

    Police: “You know you’re not supposed ride on the sidewalk.”
    Delivery: “I’m just doing a delivery”
    Police: “But you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, you know there is a crackdown on bikes. We’re supposed be stopping people and giving them summons”
    Delivery: “I didn’t know about that rule”
    Police: “I’m going to give you a warning this time, don’t do it again”
    Delivery: “Ok Thanks”

    This was in Spanish Harlem on a side street at 930pm – so clearly it’s a city-wide thing, but obviously their seems to be wide discretion from the police, and well, it also makes me think that police are sympathetic to these e-bike deliverymen v. well-to-do bicyclists where biking is an option.

  • Eric

    “As I said above, it’s not the breaking the traffic law that kills you, it’s the blunt impact of the motor vehicle.”

    Are you saying that when a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit that they are an innocent victim whose action in no way makes them responsible for what happens? The physical cause of death may be getting hit by a car, but the fault lies with the person who ran the red light.

    “Are you saying that for the cyclist committing a lesser crime like a traffic violation an acceptable punishment is death by blunt trauma?”
    Please do not put words in my mouth and try to read and comprehend what I write.

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    Leslie Lewis is a he, not a she.

    I think I saw “PPW Resident” – about a month ago I was stopped at a traffic light at Fifth Ave. and 32nd, and a small woman with a mean face crossed the street, looked at my wife and I and said, “terrorists.”

    Who says all the nutjobs are out there in middle America? We got plenty of our own.

  • Eric, as you are aware, lawyers can parse and interpret all parts of a crash scene in order to assign or evade fault.

    “Immediate cause of death as: Blunt impact of head and torso” is much more straightforward, and cannot be circumvented or made to go away. Autos, like guns, kill people.

    As I asked before, is death a fair penalty for a traffic violation? Don’t you think that drivers, who are directly responsible for the blunt impact that causes death in these cases, should be extra careful not to kill people? Wouldn’t you prefer that the driver operated the automobile in such a careful way that he or she was able to safely avoid a crash and instead called 9-1-1 to report a dangerous cyclist going the wrong way?

  • Eric

    “Autos, like guns, kill people.”
    To quote an old and highly applicable phrase; Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Cars are not fully automated, so therefore it is the driver behind the wheel of car, not that the car itself that is responsible. When someone is convicted of a hit and run they don’t send the car to prison.

    ““Immediate cause of death as: Blunt impact of head and torso” is much more straightforward, and cannot be circumvented or made to go away.”
    And when a cyclist makes a deliberate choice to run a red light they place themselves and others at risk of death and injury.

    “Wouldn’t you prefer that the driver operated the automobile in such a careful way that he or she was able to safely avoid a crash?
    When I drive or bike with traffic down a one way street I am not expecting anyone to come at me against the flow of traffic. What I prefer and expect is that they follow the traffic laws. If they can’t then they are not victim if they cause an accident or get a ticket.

  • vnm

    Re the FDNY crash charge:

    AAA’s Robert Sinclair says: “A motorist already pays the cost of a response to a crash by paying income and sales tax and things like that. This plan makes them pay twice.”

    Actually, that’s a completely bogus argument. If the crash charge were to be implemented, motorists would no longer have to pay for crash response via sales and income taxes. So they’d pay for crash cleanup only once. In fact, non-crashing motorists wouldn’t have to pay at all.

  • Driver

    “As I asked before, is death a fair penalty for a traffic violation?”
    It is not a penalty for a traffic violation, it is the result of a poor or irresponsible decision in a dangerous situation, when the results of such a decision could potentially be catastrophic (fatal). I am amazed by the lack of the acknowledgment of personal responsibility on the part of pedestrians. If I choose to nonchalantly walk or ride in traffic and am careless and do not pay attention or look, who’s fault is it if I get hit? MINE. The idea that because the car is bigger and more dangerous it should be able to see, predict, and avoid every possible situation around it is a fantasy for the perfect world, and is not reality. Whether I am walking, cycling, or driving, I (emphasis on the I) pay attention to what’s around me, assess the situation, and proceed accordingly. It is foolish to take the right of way for granted, and it is foolish to rely on somebody else to be responsible for your safety simply because they are more dangerous. That’s not to say that drivers shouldn’t act responsibly, just that you can’t rely on others to protect your safety. You have to do it yourself. Everyday I see pedestrians do foolish things and put themselves in dangerous situations. Usually these behaviors result in no consequence, but occasionally they result in the pedestrian fatalities we read about here on SB. If people would treat interacting with traffic as the danger that it is, perhaps we would have less tragedies.

  • Drive a Mile in His Shoes

    According to records available via the internet, there’s a Leslie Lewis on Wyckoff Street in the 84th Precinct’s catchment area. The address is less than a mile from Borough Hall. Assuming Mr. Lewis doesn’t need to drive for medical reasons (I haven’t ever met him, so I don’t know), it’d surely be quicker to bike to work when one factors in the hunt for a parking space; heck, walking might be faster. He’s two-and-a-half blocks from the Bergen Street F station, too. Of course, I’m sure that hunt for parking only applies to the return trip home, since his driving to Borough Hall surely is encouraged by free parking.

  • Joe R.

    I agree with Driver here. Yes, I pass intersections against the light both when walking and riding. However, I do so carefully, after looking, always giving the right-to-way to anyone legally entitled to it. And I look even when I have the green. Moreover, if I get killed or injured when going against a red light, the responsibility is 100% mine for not looking hard enough for cross traffic. Sure, the city has a lot of pedestrian fatalities but I wonder how many of them were primarily caused by the pedestrian simply not looking when crossing? Too many pedestrians here have an entitled attitude where they feel they have a right to step into the street whenever they want, and have any vehicle yield to them. Just because the law says a pedestrian always has the right-of-way ( and I think that’s a foolish law ), doesn’t mean you can expect this in the real world. A car moving at even the 30 mph speed limit just can’t stop on a dime. I often let turning cars go when walking even though they’re legally supposed to wait for me if I’m in the crosswalk. Why? In my mind it’s far easier for me to stop than them. And I don’t need to worry that their foot might slip onto the accelerator while they’re stopped with me crossing in front of them.

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    I can’t believe what assholes you are to print this guy’s address and question his right to drive a car. Question the man’s logic all you want, but this is one step short of causing trouble for someone. This is just wrong and creepy.

    Ben Fried: It’s in Streetsblog’s best interest to keep an eye on this stuff.

  • Chris

    @JJ Who printed anyones address? So and so lives on such street isn’t printing anyone’s address. What are you talking about?

  • Printing what street a public official lives on is an asshole thing to do?

    Quick, someone move the white house! It’s on penn ave!

  • Khon

    The point is that bicycles like cars should obey the law. Is it too hard for a cyclist to wait for a light or turn red or to indicate a turn with a hand signal?

    A few seconds waiting for a light to change is good gives one time to think and enjoy the city around them.

    I agree that cars are more dangerous but as cyclists we need to follow the rules. It is not so hard and you will get to where yo are going. Just aybe a few seconds later and safer.

  • Driver

    “as cyclists we need to follow the rules”
    “A few seconds waiting for a light to change is good gives one time to think and enjoy the city around them.”
    Obviously not a native New Yorker.

    “Just aybe a few seconds later and safer.”
    A few seconds? Maybe if you are riding to the corner store. Check some of the other discussions here about anecdotal evidence on trip times and how they are affected by following the ‘rules’. The time lost is significant.

  • Driver

    You can still be safe without strictly following the rules.

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    #25 + #26: This is what #22 Drive a Mile in His Shoes wrote:

    “According to records available via the internet, there’s a Leslie Lewis on xxxxxxxxxx in the 84th Precinct’s catchment area. The address is less than a mile from Borough Hall. Assuming Mr. Lewis doesn’t need to drive for medical reasons (I haven’t ever met him, so I don’t know), it’d surely be quicker to bike to work when one factors in the hunt for a parking space..”

    Look, I agree that this guy is talking out of his ass. But what gives you the right to tell others what they should do? And if someone reading this is so warped that attempt something dangerous and stupid on him, will you still feel so smug and sanctimonious?

  • BicyclesOnly

    If this jerk Lewis is going to publish his ignorant op ed in my face, then all his personal information in the public domain is fair game. Including his own public statements about his driving habits. But I’ll betcha $1 that he doesn’t have to hunt for a parking space at the end of his drive to Borough Hall–because he’s got a placard (or a copy of one) from his buddies at the 8-4.

  • Eric

    ““Just aybe a few seconds later and safer.”
    A few seconds? Maybe if you are riding to the corner store. Check some of the other discussions here about anecdotal evidence on trip times and how they are affected by following the ‘rules’. The time lost is significant.”

    The key word is ANECDOTAL. A couple of random statements by cyclists who think red lights should be treated as yield is not proof of an actual problem.

  • Joe R.

    The delay is highly dependent upon the route, the light timing, and your riding speed, Eric. It can range from minor in rare cases to very severe in others. When red lights reduce cycling average speeds to walking speeds, as they did in one test run I made, then there just isn’t much point to it. Anyway, there are plenty of OTHER reasons totally unrelated to saving time for making it valid for cyclists to treat reds as yields. Some have to do with improved safety being away from cars, others with the limited energy reserve of human power, still others with muscle fatigue. Putting aside all the other reasons, in my own case I’ve occasionally gotten severe leg cramps, to the point I literally couldn’t ride any more, and really couldn’t walk, either. These cramps are bought on by the strain from either hill climbing or accelerating back up to cruising speed. I might be just fine until I have one stop/start too many, then without warning the cramps kick in. Some days I’m more prone to them than others. When they do happen, I could potentially be stranded miles from home, late at night, with literally no way to get home. I’m not taking that chance by starting/stopping any more than is necessary for safety.

    Take my word for it Eric-with all the nonsense going on now cycling in done for in NYC. If the NYPD doesn’t kill it in the next year with excessive, draconian enforcement, then the next administration will rip out all the bike lanes. It doesn’t matter if we all obey whatever nonsensical laws exist or will exist. They’ll just keep making up new ones. If the licensing law passes I’m done cycling. If I get a ticket for anything I’m done ( just can’t afford them on what I make ). Even if I don’t, I might not bother anymore just because I’m sick to death of all the drama. I’m just a guy who wants to ride his bike, never bothered anyone. I guess I’ll have the last laugh though when gas hits $10 a gallon.

  • Re: Driver’s comment no. 21: Children used to fall out of open windows frequently, to death or serious injury. Why does this happen no longer?

    Is it because parents were trained to be extra vigilant about their kids’ interactions with open windows? Is it because NYPD officers with binoculars instituted a crackdown on parents who let their kids near open windows, giving them tickets for child endangerment? Is it because all windows above the first floor were bricked up? Is it because child advocacy organizations spent years trying to change parents’ behavior to make them more responsible parents in regards to windows?

    No! In 1976, NYC passed a law making window guards mandatory. Now they are part of the built infrastructure, and both children and adults can enjoy open windows without fear of falling out.

    Sorry for the discursion, but if you want a city where people feel free to walk around and cross the street, even as children, it would be good to move away from tolerating the lethal danger of motor vehicle traffic, the blunt trauma induced when the motor vehicle hits a child, toward a situation where that danger is mitigated by infrastructure, just like in the case of window guards. Canny attempts at assigning the blame to different people (He didn’t signal, it’s his fault! She wasn’t wearing reflective clothing, it’s her fault!) don’t address the real issue, why are we tolerating this lethal environment right outside our doors?

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    BicycylesOnly, it’s scary how your resentment is foaming at the mouth. There’s all kinds of things published or broadcast that will always disgust you. If you can’t suffer fools gladly or show up their ignorance, ignore them altogether. Otherwise, how is your hatred not part of the problem?

  • Eric

    Joe R. All you have is anecdotal evidence based on your own experiences. Travel time is longer than you like, leave earlier. Crippling leg cramps, that leave you stranded in NYC, give me a break. Get on bus, flag down a taxi, call a town car. If you treat red lights as yields and ride against traffic you only have yourself to blame if you get hurt or hurt someone else. Just ask Stuart Gruskin’s widow how she feels about this subject. http://gruskinfoundation.org/about-stuart

  • Eric

    Jonathan, you keep throwing up a lot of straw man arguments that avoid the question at hand. Now it’s window guards.

    If you run a red light and get hit by car that has a green light it is your fault, not the fault of the driver. If you ride against traffic and get hit by a car or hit a pedestrian like Stuart Gruskin you are the person who created the lethal environment. No one should have to be placed at risk because someone decides the traffic laws don’t apply to them. No matter what kind of vehicle they operate.

  • Joe R.

    “If you treat red lights as yields and ride against traffic you only have yourself to blame if you get hurt or hurt someone else.”

    And I even said as much earlier. If I pass a light, I’m making an adult decision to take a calculated very minor risk because to ME the benefits outweigh this risk even if they may not to you. I’m accepting the consequences to myself if I screw up. As for Stuart Gruskin, that has nothing to do with red light running. Talk about straw man arguments. He was hit by a wrong-way cyclist. I don’t do that at all. There really is no rationalization for it ( well, maybe there is for delivery cyclists with an economic incentive to make as many deliveries as possible, but that doesn’t apply to me ). I don’t ride on the sidewalk, either. I did years ago, until I felt comfortable enough to ride in the street, but sidewalk riding was legal at the time ( I believe it was made illegal in 1995 ).

    “All you have is anecdotal evidence based on your own experiences. Travel time is longer than you like, leave earlier. Crippling leg cramps, that leave you stranded in NYC, give me a break. Get on bus, flag down a taxi, call a town car.”

    Eric, when I ride I’m not going anywhere. I’m riding recreationally, travel time is a non-issue. I’m on a bike to have fun and to get exercise. I get neither if I have to stop every three blocks for lights. I’d just as soon not bother if that’s the case. I’m far from the only one who feels this way. As for the rest, remember I ride light nights precisely to avoid most of the BS associated with traffic and pedestrians. Buses don’t run on many of the routes I ride. And try flagging down a taxi in Eastern Queens at 10 or 11 PM. Forget calling a town car also-there aren’t many working pay phones any more ( I don’t have a cell, can’t afford it, don’t really need it anyhow ). I can’t afford to pay taxis or town cars anyway. Get off your high horse. Like I said, I place nobody at risk doing what I do, certainly not pedestrians who are very easy to spot crossing ( and I always yield to them ). In the highly unlikely event I screw up, miss seeing a car because it’s going very fast, I’ll be the only one getting hurt. My fault, I accept the consequences, I certainly won’t blame the motorist who hit me even if he/she was speeding or drunk. Same thing when I cross against the light, or mid-block as a pedestrian ( are you going to be on my case for that as well? ). If I mess up, I’m the only one getting hurt, I’m solely to blame. Go find something more worthwhile to rage about instead of making enemies of people like me or Jonathan with your control freak attitude. You remind me of an avid bike hater whose name I promised not to mention on Streetsblog. I’m sure a lot of readers know whom I’m referring to.

    BTW, if anything here is anecdotal, it’s the idea that bikes are such a danger as to merit all the attention drawn to them. You have what, one fatality a year on average? If we say half the time the pedestrian’s at fault, the other half the cyclist, then that’s one fatality caused by reckless riding every two years. Statistically that’s below lightning strikes or falling tree limbs. Very rare events like this just aren’t going to be affected at all by public policy. They’re mere blips on a statistician’s charge, basically freak occurences.

    Bottom line, you’re not going to change my or anyone else’s behavoir here, so why are you even bothering? I’ll continue to pass lights whenever I can do so without placing anyone in danger, or violating anyone’s right-of-way. I’m not placing anyone at risk doing this, not the way I do it anyhow. If heavy enforcement comes this way so I can’t do that without risking a ticket, then I just won’t bother to ride at all any more. I’m sure that’ll make you real happy. Once I stop riding, not much reason to post on Streetsblog, or to write my representatives with my ideas to further cycling. I may even do the opposite, vote for people who’ll rip out the bike lanes. Even if I don’t do something spiteful like that, you still lose. One less cyclist, one less voice, less safety in numbers for whoever is left. So please lighten up. We’re all basically on the same side here even if we don’t agree 100% on everything.

  • Eric, perhaps the sad fact that I can drive my automobile into Washington Square Park, killing five and injuring another 26 without being cited for a violation of “traffic law” should make you rethink your blind reliance on that “traffic law.”

  • Eric

    “Bottom line, you’re not going to change my or anyone else’s behavoir here, so why are you even bothering? ”

    Because the reckless type of cycling that you and Jonathan encourage creates bad press for the majority of the cyclists who can follow traffic laws, creates motivation for bicycle registration laws, and ticketing crackdowns. Keep that in mind the next time a TV station does a “bike bedlam” report about renegade cyclist who won’t obey basic traffic laws. Your actions tar everyone with a very broad brush and I will speak out against that

  • Eric

    “Eric, perhaps the sad fact that I can drive my automobile into Washington Square Park, killing five and injuring another 26 without being cited for a violation of “traffic law” should make you rethink your blind reliance on that “traffic law.””

    First window guards, now this. Lets stick to the point if a cyclist runs a red light or rides against traffic they are creating a lethal environment for themselves and others. Based on what you have posted if a car kills multiple pedestrians you want that drivers head on pike. But if a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by car the fault is with the driver of the vehicle because you feel that “people who are walking and biking don’t die in traffic accidents because they weren’t following traffic laws”.

  • Driver

    “Because the reckless type of cycling that you and Jonathan encourage creates bad press for the majority of the cyclists who can follow traffic laws”
    From what I see, the majority of cyclists do not strictly adhere to traffic laws. I don’t have a problem with that, I just disagree with your assertion.

    Jonathan, It’s not about pointing fingers or assigning blame, it’s about taking personal responsibility to protect ones own self by being aware and using common sense. I’m not trying to say something was a victims fault, but perhaps with a little more caution some fatal accidents could be avoided. It’s not that hard to pay attention to ones surroundings, yet many people pay very little attention, and with the proliferation of iphones, blackberry’s etc, people are even more oblivious than ever when navigating dangerous situations.

  • “It’s about taking personal responsibility to protect one’s own self by being aware and using common sense.”

    Exactly! If you extended that to “protecting oneself AND OTHERS” you would be describing what I think motor vehicle operators should be doing. I think Eric would rather not take any responsibility and just follow traffic law.

    When I tell you that two tons of steel can kill you, if it hits you, and suggest that motor vehicle operators might do well to keep that in mind, you say that dangerous conditions are caused by bicyclists not following traffic laws.

    When I tell you that in other domains of injury prevention, mandating infrastructure improvements has saved lives, and that similar might work for traffic, you say that I’m changing the subject, and that dangerous conditions are caused by bicyclists not following traffic laws.

    When I refer you to motor vehicle operators who caused lethal mayhem and didn’t get cited under traffic law, and suggest that maybe traffic law isn’t the panacea that you think it is, you say that bicyclists like me are the ones creating a lethal environment.

    So Eric, if running red lights “creates a lethal environment,” then call me Colonel Mustard Gas, ’cause just breathing my air might kill you.

  • Joe R.

    “Because the reckless type of cycling that you and Jonathan encourage creates bad press for the majority of the cyclists who can follow traffic laws, creates motivation for bicycle registration laws, and ticketing crackdowns. Keep that in mind the next time a TV station does a “bike bedlam” report about renegade cyclist who won’t obey basic traffic laws. Your actions tar everyone with a very broad brush and I will speak out against that”

    OK, now you’re putting words in my mouth. Did I ever once tell anyone NOT to follow traffic laws? I merely report that I sometimes don’t. I don’t tell others to either follow them or not follow them. In fact, I’ll be the first one to say that passing red lights is an awful idea for novice cyclists EVEN if it were 100% legal. A new rider has enough to do without putting themselves into a situation where an error in judgement could be deadly. Moreover, they’re ill-equipped to judge when you shouldn’t pass a light, even if it were legal. That all comes with experience. And regardless of experience, if anyone feels uncomfortable with the practice, it’s their perogative to not engage in it, even if it were legal. Passing red lights will always be a strictly optional activity, even in a state where it’s permitted like Idaho. If you want to do it, fine. If not, fine as well. I only care about what I do. Passing a red light is no different in theory than what you do at a stop or yield sign. That fact that the practice is legal in one state is really the only justification I need to say it’s not a dangerous practice if done properly. If you feel it’s a reckless practice, well, you certainly have a right to your opinion. In the end what kills many cyclists is a combination of poor bike handling skills ( this is the number one reason by far ), poor judgement ( this puts them in the position in the first place which they can’t get out of due to their poor cycling skills ), and finally distraction ( listening to ipods, texting, reading, etc. ).

    As for the bad press, I have my own theories on that. It isn’t because cyclists pass red lights or ride on sidewalks. I’ve lived in NYC all of my 48 years. It’s always been that way. I used to ride on the sidewalks in downtown Flushing all the time 25 years ago with nary a complaint, right in front of police. No group in NYC really obeys the traffic laws to any great extent. My theory is much of the media hype is fabricated by the minority of motorists upset because they’re losing some road space. They pick and choose people to interview who agree with their positions, then put in on the news. The demographic which usually watches the evening news is the car generation, so the message resonates. It was almost this bad in the late 1990s. My guess is it’s the bike lanes which really pushed the issue to the forefront this time.

  • Eric

    Jonathan

    Your entire tirade boils down to one statement; If I run a red light or ride against traffic and get hit by a car, it’s the driver of the car’s fault, not mine. It’s your complete and total lack of personal responsibility that makes situations like bicycle licensing bills and ticket crackdowns happen for the rest of us.

    In past posts you’ve claimed traffic laws are counter intuitive and yet there is nothing intuitive about riding into oncoming traffic or running a red light when you are competing against a two ton vehicle. I can be the most self aware car driver possible, but I can not be expected to predict when someone is going to run a traffic light and stop in time.

    By choosing to obey a few simple and basic traffic laws I am taking personal responsibility not to endanger myself or create a dangerous situation for others. You on the other hand want to blame everyone except yourself.

  • Eric, your entire rant indicates that you feel the traffic law is some kind of idolatrous totem that everyone must worship or suffer terrible consequences.

    If you really wanted to take personal responsibility while operating a motor vehicle, you would espouse strict liability, where drivers are responsible for all the mayhem and destruction they cause, whether they were aware of it or not.

    I have endeavored to point this out by saying that if traffic law is so fine for not endangering people, how come drivers like Stella Maychick can cause lethal mayhem with their motor vehicles and not receive a traffic summons? How come two kids can be killed by a motor vehicle left idling and the driver not get cited under your vaunted traffic law? How come a kid crossing in the middle of the street can be run down, with no charges?

    You can argue “victims should have been paying attention” until you are blue in the face, but when I bring up the question about why is it OK for the penalty for not paying attention to be death, to the tune of 81 kids killed yearly, you circle back to your holy traffic law. News flash: children don’t have the same sense of “personal responsibility” as adults, so why support and perpetuate a system that by killing children, brings tragedy and misery to so many families?

    You mentioned the tragic death of Stuart Gruskin. Wouldn’t it be wiser to adopt the Gruskin family’s response to their loss, and work toward “creating safer roadways and infrastructures for pedestrians”? That way, families could let their children enjoy their neighborhoods and streets, instead of teaching them to fear their surroundings.

    You can’t have it both ways, either. You can’t call for greater respect of traffic laws without acknowledging the lethal toll of motor vehicles operating in respect of the traffic laws. I prefer my approach, where motor vehicle operators are at all times fully responsible for the blunt trauma that their two-ton vehicle might cause. If you don’t want that burden, then take the bus, or ride a bike.

  • Eric

    “You mentioned the tragic death of Stuart Gruskin. Wouldn’t it be wiser to adopt the Gruskin family’s response to their loss, and work toward “creating safer roadways and infrastructures for pedestrians”?”

    I’m sure the Gruskin family would be much happier if he was still alive instead of being killed by a cyclist who caused mayhem by riding against traffic.

    I have two questions that you have repeatedly avoided answering, lets see if you can answer them. No more excuses about two ton vehicles, lack of infrastructure, avoiding personal responsibility, or cars that drive on sidewalks. This about bicycles, not cars following traffic laws.

    1. If a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by a car who is at fault?
    2. If a cyclist rides against traffic and gets hit by a car or strikes a pedestrian who is at fault?

    A simple yes or no answer is all you need to provide so I can be sure what your answer is. If you can’t answer with anything more complicated than that, don’t bother.

  • Eric, dunno. How old is the cyclist?

  • Eric

    I knew you wouldn’t answer the question.

    Once you can’t hide behind statements about two ton vehicles, blunt trauma death, infrastructure, or cars driving on sidewalks you run out of excuses.

  • Seems like you can’t answer the question either, Mr. Traffic. Stop hiding behind one-size-fits-all notions of “personal responsibility.”