New York AAA Guy: If Drivers Broke the Law, There’d Be Carnage

Any member of AAA who is at all concerned about road safety should take note of comments made in the New York Post this weekend by AAA New York spokesperson Robert Sinclair.

In a typically shallow anti-bike piece filed by Jennifer Fermino and David Seifman, the Post calls on Sinclair — along with Michael Sampo, electrician/plumber and noted transportation pundit from Brooklyn — to respond to Mayor Bloomberg’s enthusiasm over Citi Bike, now set to launch in the spring.

Now, we’re accustomed to nonsense from New York AAA. Sinclair, after all, once declared that New York City is “undercarred.” But not only does AAA New York oppose proven safety measures like speed cameras and red-light cameras, Sinclair does not seem to grasp the reality of the dangers posed by reckless driving.

“The idea that bike sharing is going to be wildly popular remains to be seen,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA.

“New York brings a different set of challenges than perhaps might be found in any other city in the country,” said Sinclair.

“For many cyclists, the rules of the road don’t apply. You see it day in and day out. If motorists engaged in a similar level of behavior, we’d have carnage on our roads,” he said.

Because, as we all know, motorists don’t hurt anyone on NYC streets.

Since Fermino and Seifman aren’t about to challenge even an assertion as ridiculous as this with actual data: In New York State, of the 1,077 fatal crashes in 2011, 914 were caused by careless or illegal behavior, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Of 116,575 crashes resulting in injury, 94,307 were caused by motorists. In New York City alone, over 69,000 people were injured and 268 were killed in traffic in 2011.

Contrary to sensationalist “bike bedlam” crapola propagated by the dailies, motorists cause about 100 times more injuries on city streets than do cyclists. Clearly, there is carnage on our roads on a massive scale, and most of it is caused by drivers who ignore the rules of the road.

These are the kinds of readily-available facts one would think it would be Sinclair’s job to know. That, rather than pretending it does not exist, he would acknowledge traffic violence as an epidemic that costs thousands of lives a year, and alters the lives of countless others.

We gave Sinclair an opportunity to amend his comments for this post. He declined.

  • Anonymous

    His e-mail is “” if you’d like to fill him in on something called ‘reality’ which shows there is motorist carnage on our roads every. single. day. 

  • CalumCookable

    This is what the good folks at Copenhagenize call “The Car Industry Strikes Back”

    They see the attempts being made to dismantle the destructive car culture. And they’re afraid.

    And I’m glad I’m alive to see it.

  • moocow

    Thank you Streetsblog.


  • AAA Member

    Maybe the problem isn’t Sinclair, whose job it is to spew whatever BS will advance the agenda of the auto industry and car owners, but Fermino and Seifman, who are supposed to report on behalf or “real” New Yorkers, most of whom do not own a car.

  • Eric McClure

    I’m sure it’s old news to most Streetsblog readers, but just in case: there’s an alternative to AAA if you own a car and want a roadside-assistance program: Better World Club.

  • Eric Rogers

    Should be an interesting Bike Summit with the AAA getting a starring role…

  • Andrew

    “If motorists engaged in a similar level of behavior, we’d have carnage on our roads.” And they do, and we do.

  • David

    But to properly compare wouldnt you want the #of crashes per VMT? There are a lot more car VMT than bike VMT in the city I suspect.

  • Joe R.

    @cf7ba48ab923c80f6370beb74def0e8f:disqus The number of crashes per VMT doesn’t matter here. Lots of bike crashes result in little or no injury. For that reason the number of injuries or deaths per VMT would be a much more relevant statistic. That’s what sholuld should guide both policy and enforcement. The hard fact is motor vehicles are much more dangerous than bicycles on both an absolute and per VMT basis.

  • David

    Good point – I agree – deaths / serious injuries per VMT comparison across bikes and cars would be interesting

  • “‘For many cyclists, the rules of the road don’t apply. You see it day in
    and day out. If motorists engaged in a similar level of behavior, we’d
    have carnage on our roads,’ he said.”

     The speaker suggests that cyclists can break the law and not cause carnage on our roads, but if cars acted similarly, we’d have even more traffic fatalities. Seems to me that this statement provides good support for the notion of differential enforcement.

  • Anonymous

    Can anyone offer a livable streets defense of the use of VMT instead of a per capita/per vehicle measure of safety? Who cares if you can travel longer distances before killing or injuring someone?

  • Clarke

    “The idea that bike sharing is going to be wildly popular remains to be seen,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA.
    He’s right. It remains to have already been seen in every other major city in the world that has a successful bike share program. You know the rhetoric had to be the same when New York wanted to build an underground train system like the one in London. “It worked there, so there’s no way it’ll work here.”

  • JamesR

    I used to be a AAA member and still receive their rag of a magazine even though I’m no longer a member and don’t want it. The latest issue featured the piece MTA: the Money Taking Authority, filled with the sort of half-truths and misrepresentations that are straight out of the Post. While the services they provide are highly useful for a car owner, their relentless activism against all non-auto modes of transportation make them a truly loathsome group in every other way. 

  • Anonymous

    The website for the New York State branch of AAA is basically Bizarro World Streetsblog.

  • Bolwerk

    Ironically, I just nearly got hit crossing the street by an AAA tow truck. 


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