"The bike racks present challenges to firefighters and frankly, trying to get around the city now is harder than ever before," Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy said at a press conference in Manhattan.
"I think that it is going to continue to impact response times for emergency vehicles in a negative way."
Cassidy cites no examples of firefighters impeded by bike-share stations. Nor does he explain how bike racks placed along curbs make the city more difficult to negotiate than at any time in the 148-year history of the New York City Fire Department.
Once the tabloid had react quotes from Cassidy, the Post finally excerpted a statement from FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, who on Tuesday said bike-share stations are not a problem for firefighters and other first responders. In a story that ran Tuesday, the Post failed to verify with FDNY that it took EMTs over an hour to get a man past an empty bike-share station and into an ambulance, which FDNY told Streetsblog was not true. Yesterday, the Post repeated this account -- fed to the paper by people who are suing the city to have a bike-share station moved -- and again omitted Cassano's statement.
In January, Cassano and Mayor Bloomberg announced that FDNY achieved its fastest-ever average EMS response time last year. Cassidy claimed yesterday that the city's response time numbers are off, but the union's beef concerns 911 staffing levels, not time spent in traffic or getting around bike or pedestrian infrastructure.
The Advance, CBS, and the Daily News covered Cassidy's press conference, and none of them reported his bike-share remarks. Yet the Post would have readers believe Cassidy summoned the media to denounce bike share.
Then there's this:
And yesterday, city workers continued hastily moving Citi Bike racks from problem spots to more practical locations ahead of the program’s Monday launch.
“I just don’t get why the city is being so heavy-handed with this,” said Chelsea resident Russell Orenstein, 54.
Orenstein watched yesterday as workers switched a 31-bike dock from the north side of West 22nd Street near 10th Avenue -- where it was blocking the curbs in front of seven residential buildings -- to the south side, where it now sits in front of Clement Clarke Moore park.
He maintained that an “uproar in the neighborhood” sparked the move.
So is DOT responding to input by rearranging bike stations -- which are designed to be moved around as circumstances require -- or is DOT being heavy handed? According to the Post, yes.
Also today, DNAinfo reports that 9th Precinct traffic safety sergeant Amber Cafaro is concerned about bike-share crashes.
"We are going to see a lot of people hit by cars, I think."
Cafaro listed recent accidents in the East Village involving distracted cyclists talking on phones and running red lights, along with one biker who slipped on a wet roadway and wound up putting his hand through a car windshield.
"Bikers don't realize you can't do that," Cafaro said, describing behaviors that could endanger cyclists. "You have to stay off the phone, you have to stay in the bike lane and you have to stop at red lights."
The East Village recently saw a spike in reported bicycle crashes, with eight in the 28-day period ending May 19, compared to just four in the same period the previous year, Cafaro said.
And a month earlier, there were six bike accidents in the 9th Precinct compared to four the previous year, Cafaro said.
"We are seeing a spike, and we don't want to see a spike," she said.
If NYPD is truly worried about street users getting into traffic crashes, motorists were involved in 198,361 of them last year. And how many recent East Village "bike crashes" were, in actuality, a cyclist hit by a motorist? Cafaro doesn't say, and it seems reporter Serena Solomon didn't ask. Nor did DNAinfo check up on traffic enforcement in the 9th Precinct, where officers issued all of 11 speeding tickets in 2012.
Cafaro also says cyclists "have to stay in the bike lane." This is not true. But NYPD traffic supervisors apparently don't have to be versed in NYC traffic law, just as daily reporters and editors hot to gin up conflict can't be bothered to fact check.
Brad Aaron began writing for Streetsblog in 2007, after years as a reporter, editor, and publisher in the alternative weekly business. Brad adopted New York's dysfunctional traffic justice system as his primary beat for Streetsblog. He lives in Manhattan.