Monday, September 10, 2012

When idealism meets reality

From the Daily News:

Recent adventures on the bike lanes of New York had me in so many close encounters of the vehicular and pedestrian kind, so many embarrassing tumbles, that I have no more faith in two-wheeled transport here.

On a recent weekend of rare beauty, I bicycled 70 miles around Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, with a pit stop (i.e., beer) in the South Bronx.

It was enough to convince me that while it is possible to bike in New York, it is not wise to do so. Yes, we live in an unpredictable city. But the kind of unpredictability that involves a tourist stumbling out into your bike lane is not the sort to celebrate.

I started out a believer in the urban vision of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who has more than doubled the city’s bike lane mileage in the last five years, from 285 to 540 — with many more to come.

But once I finished my journey, into my basement went the bike, where it will remain entombed.

Before Sadik-Khan’s biking revolution, New York’s cars and pedestrians partook in an uneasy pavement truce. She has fostered a three-way rivalry, encouraging just about everyone to pedal and giving the false impression that bike lanes are the equals of sidewalks and roads.

By two days’ end, I had done 70 miles, and I was done with biking. It is senseless — no, reckless — to bike in New York in 2012.

In the meantime, the City Council is passing bills to crack down on bad cyclist behavior, knowing full well that we don't have the police manpower to enforce our current laws.


Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly! Yesterday, I flagged down traffic to give a biker who had hit a huge pothole in a scenic NYC park and been thrown from her bike a chance to recover her wits and pick herself up. I have also had the experience of having a car intentionally try to run me off the road on a long stretch of Cross Bay blvd biking from the beach. Bikers are vulnerable and it's just not safe!

Anonymous said...

Screw the bikers!

License them and pass a law
requiring them to carry insurance.

Pedestrians are vulnerable on NYC's streets from bikers who seem to think they're competing in a roller derby!

Anonymous said...

Eliminate biking in NYC until ALL safety precautions have been implemented!

Both a Driver and a Biker said...

You must have been in that group of 70 bicyclists I saw yesterday, none of whom were obeying traffic signals or respecting the boundaries of the bike lanes in which they were supposed to be riding. If bikers are having problems with safety, they may want to take a long hard look at themselves for their problems, and stop blaming everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I like bicycling like the next person and it seems bike lanes are a good idea - they are but in theory only. Around Columbus Circle on Broadway - there are bike lanes but there are just too many people walking in them - myself included to be safe with colliding into each other. There are pedi-cabs, motorized scooters - folks going the wrong way and others who simply squat in the lanes! In other areas, bike lanes are crowded with vehicles of all stripes - it's just not safe nor are the lanes enforced. ENFORCEMENT - IF NONE FORGET IT!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed that bikes became a problem when the City decided to encourage biking? Let no good deed go unpunished!

I am a biker (former messenger!), pedestrian and driver. IMO the roads were MUCH safer before bike lanes (and those pedestrian plazas, located right over the bike lanes? That is a stoooopid idea!)

Yes, we all compete for the pavement-space. But somehow some groups feel more entitled than others, and that makes for confrontation and uncivil behaviour among all stakeholders.

Anonymous said...

I grew up riding my bike on the streets of Queens and Manhattan. Then, sometime in the last 10 years, it became "political" and dangerous. No more for me, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I will be sympathetic to cyclists when they can come to a stop riding downhill while approaching an intersection with pedestrians crossing in front of them.

The are arrogant little anarchists thinking the can threaten people on foot and play "chicken" with cars.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the author will also give up crossing at crosswalks, because doing so is essentially a game of chicken with cars, with the cars often winning.

Anonymous said...

"I have also had the experience of having a car intentionally try to run me off the road on a long stretch of Cross Bay blvd biking from the beach. Bikers are vulnerable and it's just not safe!"

But it's the cyclist that's not safe. Right.

Kevin Walsh said...

A bicyclist blocked a motorist on Broadway last week and a huge crowd started wilding and smashing the vehicle. The cops didn't arrive until after 20 minutes.

Anonymous said...

are you nuts ? biking while drinking beer in the South Bronx ? do you have death wish ?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with this post.

I'm a lifelong cyclist - used to race when I was a teenager and have done big touring rides over the last 25 years. However, I've been consistently opposed to the bike-a-fication of NYC, particularly the way that bike paths have sprung up nilly-willy under this administration, seemingly without logic or reason much of the time.

The behavior that has been spurred on by DOT with additional bike lanes has been just terrible.

When I was a kid, you were taught rules of the road when you were biking in order to make sure that you didn't get hurt by a car or hit a pedestrian.

Now, in their zeal for increasing bike ridership in the city, DOT has thrown all safety out of the window. Bikes ride wherever they please - they don't stay towards the shoulder, go in the wrong direction, blow lights constantly in dangerous situations. It's a disaster.

And, as an aside, because of those stupid motorized bikes breaking the law everywhere they go - riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way, etc. - you're starting to see other similar behavior by real motorcycles and other large motorized two-wheelers. Just last night, I saw three motorcycles take a shortcut on a North Conduit Avenue sidewalk at 30 miles/hour to avoid being stuck in traffic.

I believe that licensing bike riders - particularly those over 18 - should happen. The terrible behavior of these bikers gives other normal cyclists like me who generally follow the rules a bad name.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday there was some sort of Bicycle outing in North Flushing. Bikers were streaming down 29th, 32nd, 35th Aves and on other streets. Some were riding two and three abreast ignoring stop signs and stop lights.

I gwas driving on 32nd and gently beeped my horn to let them know I was behind them and when they moved over one spit onto my car, cursed and gave me the finger. Now I wasn't beeping my horn in a rude way but only to let them know I was there.

I pulled over at the next light and tried to confront the expectorater but the gutless wonder swerved across the road and cursed at me.

But all was not lost...He hit a curb to avoid a church-goer after he went through a red light and it appeared that he got a nasty flat.

I laughed aloud at the idiot cyclist and stood there clapping for the curb.

Anonymous said...

I live on 32nd...this is the yearly 5-borough bike ride - it's like 45 miles.

Most of the riders are pretty curteous...a few suck and need to be taken to the wood shack. I would have done the same thing and that asshat deserved what he got.

Paul Graziano

Anonymous said...

Love cruising the bike lanes on my Harley! Almost 40mpg and i make great time! Never see any cops either!

Anonymous said...

With all the increased truck and bike activity in Queens over the last few years, maybe it will eventually come down to trucks vs bikes on the road. Let them knock each other off.

Anonymous said...

It's not courtesy. Courtesy is saying "please" and "thank you".

It's survival. All I want is to see is a cyclist stop when approaching an intersection filled with people crossing the street with the light rather than to have the cyclist attempt to thread the needle through the crowd.

Anonymous said...

Being courteous means more than saying "thank you" - it means generally good behavior and following the rules, including what you're talking about.

Most of those riders on Sunday were following the rules. A few weren't and deserved everything that they got.

Paul Graziano