Diane Savino: “Hey, Find a F—ing Bike Lane and Get in It”

When someone is seriously hurt in traffic, which happens several times a day in New York, it should prompt an effort to figure out exactly what happened and prevent it from happening again. For some reason, though, when a motorist does the injuring, it usually gets a collective shrug from police and the NYC press corps. Then, in the rare instance when a cyclist inflicts grave injuries, the response tends to bypass truth-seeking and detour rapidly into blanket generalizations about everyone who bikes.

After cyclist Jason Marshall struck and killed Jill Tarlov on the Central Park loop last week, the actions of one individual have justified, in certain quarters (like the New Yorker website), sweeping assumptions about “bicyclists’ self-righteousness.” In other corners of the internet, it’s an occasion to vent aggression at all cyclists.

A recent Facebook post from Mike McGuire, who judging by his LinkedIn profile and Twitter bio is deeply embedded in New York City politics, mistakenly accuses Eben Weiss (a.k.a. Bike Snob) and, by extension, “the bike community” of blaming the victim in the Central Park crash. If you read Weiss’s post, you’ll see that he was, in fact, assigning responsibility to the cyclist.

What makes McGuire’s post noteworthy is what happened next — an exchange with State Senator Diane Savino, who represents northern Staten Island and parts of southwest Brooklyn:

savino_bike_quotes

Streetsblog contacted Savino for an explanation of her statements on Facebook. Her office declined to comment.

We’re left with this back-and-forth as a record of how some members of New York’s political class talk about people who bike, when they’re among friends.

Update: Savino told the Daily News that her comment was made in jest. But she is serious about safety and Vision Zero, and that’s why something must be done about cyclists who are “moving sometimes at 40 miles an hour.” Be warned: She expects some type of action in Albany next session to legislate bike safety, but she doesn’t intend to introduce it herself.

  • Alicia

    Let’s make retaking a driver’s test a requirement of renewing your license.

  • Abuse of power. You’d think this country was better than that.

  • walks bikes drives

    Why don’t elected officials remember that they are supposed to be examples for us little people? Oh wait, it is because us little people keep voting them into office.

    Maybe she should keep getting flat tires, two tires at a time, so she can find out what it is like riding transit, walking, and biking to get around like the rest of us. She and her boyfriend do realize that the vast majority of New Yorkers, and therefore their constituents, don’t drive, right? Oh wait, probably not.

  • That is really asking too much…

  • Byron

    Sorry Madam Senator, but even Tour riders don’t go 40.

  • Cops in Bike Lanes

    Yeah, bike lanes are always a good place for cyclists and are never blocked or unsafe!

  • Bike Rider

    First I would just like to say, Bike or Car, people need to commute safely and responsibly. People wielding three thousand pound machines while texting, talking and eating has become common place. Occasionally smashing into each other, or pedestrians and or cyclists. It has become so normal for motorists to not have caution. When they see a fast moving bike they freak out as they are texting and trying to find a place to park. As though they are in danger in their 3,000 pound gas guzzling machine. We pay for your roads, we pay for your gas, and the men and women in uniform protect your oil overseas. I guess all that spoiling has numbed any sense of duty to others. I am sorry for what our society has become because of this machine. One more reason I ride a bike. No wonder motorists speed towards red lights, freak out in traffic and rely on the vanity of their machine for social status. Ride a bike peeps it is the responsible thing to do. Granted it is far more dangerous because of the anger coming from the motorist community. Here we have an elected official throwing F bombs at a man or woman just trying to get to work. I don’t know this Senator, but this sounds like a very spoiled person that should re think what it means to be a public servant, and realize that bikes are the better way to get around. Cars have lead to a fat spoiled brat society where people can just effortlessly haul their egos around. A bike requires dignity, strength and bravery. I’ve been hit many times by cars. Not once has the person inside the machine stopped, they see themselves as better. Well a note to the motorists out there, you will be found, you will be caught and you will be brought to justice. By me, by my family or by the laws of Karma. You don’t own the roads, you are not a king. You are simply a monkey inside a machine. Try to act like human beings.

  • dporpentine

    The 35 mph comment is funny in part because it brings up one of the classic Bikelash Koans:
    Novice: “Master, why do tailgate the bike in front of you and scream for them to get in a bike lane?”
    Master: “Because they are going too fast.”

    The other classic is of course:
    Novice Steisel: “Do you not feel rage in your heart that our city spends money on bike lanes no one uses?”
    Master Hainline: “I do. And also that they are full of dangerous riders.”

  • walks bikes drives

    If you only have 5 to 7 feet, you need to be a bit more observant. I do 99% of my riding in Manhattan and I get a lot more space for jaywalkers. Only once have I had such little space, and I barely missed the guy, but I did. And he stupidly ran out between two parked busses with about two feet between bumpers, and being on Water Street, there wasn’t enough room for me to be further left. Outside of that, there is usually fairly decent line of sight, even between parked cars.

  • Joe R.

    Actually, they go faster than that on occasion, but only in sprints at the finish line, or descents. Neither of these things are applicable to NYC cyclists. There are few hills in NYC where you can reliably break 40 mph. There are even fewer riders who can sprint at 40+ mph on level roads. Back when I was in my 20s I could sprint at ~35 mph, but not 40. Now on a really great day I can manage 31 or 32 mph on a level road but usually I can’t even break the 30 mph speed limit without a downgrade of some sort. Of course, there are all burst speeds which I can’t maintain for more than a block or two. It’s safe to say no riders anywhere, including in the Tour de France, can sustain 40 mph speeds unless they’re in velomobiles.

  • katrinanyc

    Get Savino on a bike and put a GoPro camera on her helmet.

  • Andres Dee

    I doubt she can be bothered. People who say this kind of thing can’t be convinced by “riding a mile in our shoes”. It’ll just reinforce their pre-conceived notions that cyclists are just endangering themselves and getting in the way of the people who “really matter” on the road. The “grown ups” who drive cars.

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