Whoopi Speaks! Goldberg Tweets Support After Victims Families Condemn Her Anti-Bike Lane Comments

Last week, Goldberg made some ill-informed comments about bike lanes.
Last week, Goldberg made some ill-informed comments about bike lanes.

ABC talk show host, New Jersey commuter and bike lane critic Whoopi Goldberg broke her silence Saturday afternoon to show tepid support for protected cycle paths hours after a victim’s advocacy group sent her a letter reminding her that “protected bike lanes would have saved the lives of our family members.”

Goldberg’s four-tweet statement claimed her hostility was not towards the bike lanes themselves but the “medians and cement islands that accompany the lanes,” adding they “create dangerous situations for pedestrian drivers and the bikers.”

That bit of misinformation — the cement infrastructure, after all, is what protects pedestrians and cyclists — followed Goldberg’s attack on protected lanes on Wednesday’s edition of her talk show, “The View,” during which she lambasted her guest, Mayor de Blasio, for “screwing up the city” with the scores of miles of protected bike lanes he has built during his tenure.

Goldberg made the front page of the Post on Thursday.
Goldberg made the front page of the Post on Thursday.

De Blasio reminded Goldberg that protected bike lanes are one of the main reasons road fatalities last year were at their lowest level since 1910, and have been steadily decreasing under de Blasio and his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, who also championed protected lanes for cyclists and cement islands for pedestrians.

Goldberg’s comments on Saturday came after Families for Safe Streets sent the frequent SUV passenger a letter calling for her to put a member of the group on her show for equal time.

The group also reminded Goldberg that it would not exist but for the dangerous road conditions that have killed hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians:

The best way to prevent traffic deaths and serious injuries is to fix dangerous streets that encourage reckless driving. The majority of fatal crashes in New York are caused by driver behaviors such as speeding and failure to yield the right of way. These behaviors are enabled by streets that prioritize driver convenience ahead of the safety of pedestrians and people on bikes. … Bike lanes protect more than just cyclists because they narrow lanes to encourage drivers to obey the speed limit.

The letter was signed by members of nine families that have lost a child, spouse or sibling to road violence. One of the signers, Amanda Berry, had criticized Goldberg’s comments earlier in the week. Berry is the mother of Madison Lyden, the Australian tourist who was killed on Central Park West over the summer — just a block or two from “The View” studio — when she was forced into traffic and hit by a truck driver because the roadway lacks a protected bike lane.

“It’s devastating to hear someone with such a big megaphone complaining about protected bike lanes,” Berry had said. “If there had been a protected bike lane on Central Park West, my daughter would still be alive today.”

Goldberg did conclude her Twitter thread by saying, “My heart goes out to any family that has had to go through the loss of a loved one in a cycling accident.”

That’s nice, but Families for Safe Streets says it will still leaflet outside “The View” on Tuesday morning.

“She is still spreading such misinformation,” said Amy Cohen, a member of the group. “We don’t only want her sympathy, we need her to support solutions that save lives.”

Mayor de Blasio has declined to further criticize Goldberg beyond his defense of bike lanes on Wednesday’s broadcast. On Thursday, the mayor said he respected Goldberg’s opinion and hoped he could have a longer discussion with her about the “valid points” she made in criticism of his signature safety initiative, which has helped New York reduce road fatalities from 299 five years ago to 201 last year.

Goldberg’s comments about medians enraged some cyclists.

Goldberg has not responded to Streetsblog’s formal interview request.

Story was updated on Sunday at 4:35 p.m. to include a comment by Amy Cohen.

  • Peter Gny

    Whoopi and all the yapping heads on The View are ineffectual. Their pulpit to their vapid viewers who cling to their every utterance as gospel is dangerous in this situation.

  • Cristina Carnicelli Furlong

    Her comments are going to cause more damage- especially with the Sunnyside pro-parking crowd or any group looking to find wants to dismiss the safety attributes. Flyer-on Families for Safe Streets.

  • The Lords of Righteousness

    She did pretty much fine with tweets 1 and 4. She made her initial statements worse with 2 and 3. People that put themselves in the position need to just apologize and listen. Not try to rationalize.

  • Reader

    It’s not an apology. It’s “I’m sorry bad things happened to other people but I still believe what I believe.” Very insensitive.

  • Bernard Finucane

    If curbs are a danger to you as a driver, you probably shouldn’t be driving.

  • Make up your mind are they ineffectual or are they dangerous. Don’t know about you but I don’t really spend many calories worrying about the ineffectual of this world.

  • Great, now she is an expert on urban planning and street design.

    This issue puts peoples’ priorities into sharp relief. Cyclist advocates want safety, and the opponents want privilege. Obviously I am characterizing with bias, but think about it: only one side of this issue has lost lives. I know that a billion people have their “I was walking and nearly got knocked over by a cyclist” stories but facts are facts Jack. Cyclists are not out there killing people. The bike lane opposition is fighting for convenience. Well here is something to consider: ALL people want convenience and to get to their destination quickly as possible.

  • Joe R.

    Unfortunately, we live in a time when feelings and anecdotes are given equal weight to facts, statistics, engineering, and science. In another era, these cranks would be ignored, perhaps even committed to mental institutions. Now we actually consider their fact-free views when making decisions which affect everyone.

    I find this even more galling because she’s doesn’t live in NYC. How she and others who live in suburbs feel about the bike lanes is irrelevant. NYC streets should be designed for NYC residents, not designed to make it convenient for suburbanites to drive in.

  • William Lawson

    The funny part is that many of the Sunnyside anti-bike crowd will have new found respect for Whoopi after calling her a liberal yahoo for so many years

  • qrt145

    The residents of 12th Street say that 12th Street should be designed for them, not for pesky Others who would dare visit from, say, 14th Street. I think we would agree that that’s absurd because the streets are part of a transportation network. But you say NYC streets should be designed for NYC residents and the opinion of suburban visitors is irrelevant, so I’m curious where would you draw the line, because it just seems like NIMBYism on a larger scale (city instead of block or neighborhood).

    I think Whoopi’s feelings about bike lanes are irrelevant, not because she commutes from NJ, but because she is ignorant and wrong from a fact-based perspective, as well as from a moral perspective.

  • Joe R.

    What I’m basically saying in regards to suburban visitors is that we don’t owe them parking, or the ability to drive at 55 mph unimpeded on our streets. If there happens to be space on a street for which no better use can be found, then sure, we can allow parking. However, parking should be the last priority, not the first.

    Remember traffic planning for most of the last 75 years has been all about how to get cars to/from cities to the suburbs as rapidly as possible, city residents be damned. I don’t think it’s NIMBYism to ask for a more balanced approach which prioritizes city residents. Also, we can still make it convenient for suburbanites to come to the city, but we can do so via a good rail system.

  • She has no idea what she is talking about. Protected bicycle lanes protect pedestrians.

  • And, by calming traffic, bike lanes also protect drivers, by making it less likely that those arrogant sociopaths will be seriously injured or killed when they inevitably crash their cars into something.

  • Dave

    I agree–and it’s beyond any one city. Suburban US residents are spoiled fucking rotten by our greater society’s enabling of almost completely unregulated driving.

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