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.

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