Today’s Headlines

  • MTA Seeking FEMA Aid to Rebuild, Toughen, and Modernize the System (NYT)
  • Still… $600 Million to Restore South Ferry Station? (2nd Ave Sagas, WSJ)
  • Millions of NYC Residents Don’t Own a Car, But the Mayoral Contenders Aren’t Wooing Them (CapNY)
  • On WNYC, NY Mag’s Bob Kolker Spends More Time Slagging Bike Lanes Than Critiquing NYPD
  • Nassau Bus Careens Off Hempstead Street, Killing Boy in His Own Home (News, Post)
  • Jury Begins Deliberating Case of Speeding Bus Driver Whose Passengers Died in 2011 Crash (NYT)
  • More From NYU Post-Sandy Transpo Report: Bike/Walk Commuters Had It Best (Gothamist)
  • Dems in Charge of the State Senate? Looking Like a Longshot (NYT)
  • State DOT Increasingly Receptive to Downtown Buffalo Highway Removal (Buff News)
  • The Post Never Passes Up a Chance to Go Nuclear on Human-Powered Transport

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • jrab

    I listened to the Kolker segment after reading the magazine article and don’t agree with your characterization as “slagging” bike lanes. He certainly quoted TA’s leadership and staff to good effect and in the radio interview, when asked whether he thought cars, bikes or pedestrians were most at fault for traffic perils, he chose cars.

  • Long-Time Listener

    Yeah, I think the problem was more with the callers than with Kolker. WNYC can’t really figure out its position on bike lanes and I get the sense that its producers, reporters and hosts feel that they must overcompensate for their pro-bike “bias.”  Brian Lehrer and Andrea Bernstein are big bike commuters, after all.

  • There’s lots of good stuff in the NY Mag piece, but also some sloppy stuff. On the air, it was Kolker himself who lamented “how difficult it can be to cross the street these days with these bike lanes.”

  • Morris Zapp

    Kolker should have been more on point, and the host and producers at WNYC did not help.

    Nominations for most dangerous intersections? How about just naming them?

    There is a wealth of data showing that drivers are at fault for most crashes (which Kolker did cite, eventually), and that bike lanes and other measures make streets safer for all users. That data could and should be the beginning, middle and end of all pop media coverage.

    Unfortunately, like the bottom-feeding dailies and Ted Baxter clones, it seems WNYC is more interested in contrived controversy (pick a side!) than facts.

    Life and limb is sacrificed every day for the perceived convenience of a self-entitled minority. Doesn’t get much clearer than that.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If I’m not mistaken, the Post has come out against free market capitalism as it is commonly practiced in New York’s leading industry, and implied that on “another day” it will call for bicycles to be banned.

  • jrab

    In the magazine, there were two sidebars on “most dangerous intersections,” detailing Fordham Rd & Webster Ave and Lex Ave & E 125th St, as well as a map of all traffic deaths in the year.

    I don’t see what’s so objectionable about a call-in show asking for listener input, and the people who called in seemed like they had pretty good reasons for naming those intersections.

  • krstrois

    I heard the piece on WNYC as I was *driving* into Manhattan (being reminded of why I never, ever do that). I’m inclined to agree with Ben.

    False equivalencies are so commonplace now that we don’t even notice them. The premise of the discussion is just fundamentally off if you’re treating the streets as some sort of equal playing field with pedestrians, cyclists and drivers being similarly equipped to do damage or sustain it. When Kolker said that cars are most dangerous I was relieved, but I really think this should just be information that is disseminated widely, discussed openly and every infrastructural change should derive from this premise. We must slow down cars because they kill people, and often. Street users are not equals. 

    There is a fundamental psychological problem here for advocates and DOT to address. Cyclists are not dangerous, not statistically. Much in the way that flying is not dangerous, not statistically. I hate flying — it scares the hell out of me, but I do know that it is not dangerous. I think there are so may people who cannot separate their fear from danger — because admitting that you’re afraid of something is hard. Anyway, not to go on, but I do feel like this woman who called in to the show saying “the problem is bikes because I got hit by a bike and ‘bikers’ are terrible ” well if advocates could figure out how to address this woman’s humiliation *without* saying that cycling *is* safe, then maybe we’ll get somewhere, because this woman is not going to respond to fact or statistics, and she IS going to continue to get equal airtime. But maybe she’ll respond to something else?  

  • @cc36704b289cbef0ac72a06121c6c6d8:disqus I think there are two steps to dealing with the “psychological problem” you mention when having conversations with run-of-the-mill bike haters or people who otherwise ignore the threat posed by dangerous driving.

    1. Acknowledge and accept the other person’s fear. If a someone was hit by a bike and believes that cyclists are the biggest danger to city residents, that’s because in her experience it’s true. So when someone says, “Cyclists are the city’s worst menace,” don’t say, “No they’re not.”  On a primal level, that immediately makes the person defensive. Instead, it’s better to say, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” 

    2. Instead of making statements, ask questions. Instead of telling people that licensing cyclists is a terrible idea, ask them how they would implement such a program. Make them own it, in other words. People tend to collapse under the weight of their own absurdity if you let them. This also minimizes the amount of explaining advocates have to do, which often makes us look pedantic and “smug.”

    After countless community board meetings, I’ve found that these two tactics save me a lot of time and frustration.

  • Joe R.

    @twitter-209814743:disqus Another tactic I’ve found which works well is to try and get the other person in your shoes. For example, a typical complaint I hear about cyclists is that they go through red lights and stop signs. First off, I start by saying that if they do so without looking, then this is reckless behavior. This usually gets them somewhat off the defensive. That makes them more open to logical reasoning. I continue by giving the many reasons why cyclists pass red lights, starting with the fact that it’s safer to be away from a pack of accelerating cars when the light turns green. By giving this as the first reason, it simultaneously puts them in my shoes, and also somewhat negates any notion on their part that cyclists feel “entitled” or “above the law”. If they seem open to continuing the discussion, I might get into the way stopping and waiting at every light is highly inefficient from both a time and energy standpoint in a place like NYC where you might be stopping every 2 blocks. I also mention that it’s just not physically possible for a cyclist to start and stop that many times on a trip of any length. In short, I calmly explain to them how laws and infrastructure which are optimized for motor traffic are highly detrimental to safe, efficient cycling. I find it often helps when I substitute “pedestrian” for “cyclist” because the same infrastructure is equally detrimental to pedestrians. I ask them do they wait the full red light cycle at every crosswalk, or just look and cross if it’s clear? The usual answer is the latter. Now I’ve found some common ground. I tell that most cyclists do the exact same thing. This usually works. I also refrain from trying to justify things like wrong-way riding. I understand why delivery people ride against traffic, but at the same time I realize that for most cyclists wrong-way riding doesn’t offer any significant benefits relative to the risk it poses to everyone else. By agreeing with them that certain things some cyclists do are indeed dangerous, I find further common ground.

    I also sometimes try your tactic if my tactic fails. Of course, some people just aren’t open to reason but thankfully they are a minority. I suspect a lot of the irrational cyclist hatred is by people who just don’t ride. We’re still the “other”, at least up until the point where a majority cycle at least sometimes.

  • Joe R.

    @cc36704b289cbef0ac72a06121c6c6d8:disqus I don’t think fear of flying is necessarily irrational. Sure, the statistics say flying is safe-most of the time. The problem is that there is no middle ground. When something does go wrong when flying, it usually goes wrong in a big way, and everyone on the plane ends up as body parts. Or put another way, flying is a high-impact, low frequency risk. Most people aren’t afraid of car travel even though it’s statistically a higher risk than flying because you have a great chance of surviving a car accident intact, or at least not with life-changing injuries. Many people have already been in a few car accidents and are just fine, me included. I think it’s the relative survivability when something does go wrong which shapes our perception about how safe things are. It’s also our personal experience. Someone who was severely injured on a bike as a child might never want to ride one again. On the flip side, someone like myself who has ridden 68,000+ miles, mostly on NYC streets, with nothing more than minor injuries like road rash, might have a hard time understanding why some people considering cycling dangerous.

    BTW, I flew exactly twice-to and from Washington DC, and I decided then and there I’ll never fly again. The flights were totally uneventful, and I even relaxed enough to take pictures. However, I also fully realized that if something went wrong, I would most likely die. To me it’s not worth the risk to get from point A to point B faster. Besides, I like trains better. Yes, people have been killed on trains, but usually you have a great chance of surviving a train accident uninjured just by the nature of railway vehicles. I feel 100 times safer in a train than on any other mode.

  • Anonymous

    The Post editorial says of pedicabs, “They are dangerous to pedestrians, to automobiles and to themselves.”  That hollow proclamation immediately reminded me of when I was in school, panicking through an essay exam I had not studied for.    I’d think, “well, I have no idea what I’m talking about, and my judgment is clouded by my current state of desparation and anxiety, so I’ll just throw in some unsupported statement; I have no idea if it’s true, but hell, there’s a 50% chance that it’s more true than false…”  I guess I’m trying to say that Post editorial writers are like ignorant, anxious children.

  • fj

    Modernizing MTA must include bicycles and more advance net zero mobility solutions.

  • fj

    Criminal activity in England and Australia should disqualify Murdoch from doing business in New York and running its corrupting echo chambers Fox News and NY Post.

  • fj

    Try using the MTA when you can’t walk.  Mass transit depends a huge amount on human power but fails to acknowledge this.

  • fj

    Study: Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Projected, Planet Keeps Warming As Expected