Saturday, November 11, 2006

On why bikers don't obey the law, part II: “I had the walk sign.”

The New Yorker piece on bikes has this crazy guy in the article who was all into the importance of everybody obeying the law—especially bikes. Even though this freak had no problem littering his cigarette butts while ranting about other people (say in German accent:) not following the rules!

[I have to give some props to the pussies at Transportation Alternatives for refusing to say that bikes should stop at red lights. They said that bikes should yield to pedestrians. They’re right. Everybody should yield to pedestrian, except, of course, when they’re in the bike path.]

A few weeks ago I was biking home in the rain from the West Side and came across a young woman lying in the crosswalk at 59th and 5th. She had just been hit by a car. She was pretty upset in the adrenalin-fuelled kind of way. She kept saying, “I can’t believe this happened to me. I had the walk sign!”

I’m sure she did. She was in the right. She was foolish enough to think that if you play the rules, you’ll be fine. And then she got hit. Pretty hard. She was going to live. But she wasn’t going to walk away. Her leg was sticking out all funny. Right does not equal safe. Bicyclists often have to violate traffic laws to be safe (getting in front of the crosswalk at red lights immediately comes to mind). The problem is not bikes and pedestrians disobeying the law. The problem is cars. That’s why we have traffic laws: for cars. Because they can kill you. Even when you're in the right.

Anyway, there wasn’t much I could do for this girl. Having been a police officer (in Baltimore... really), I moved traffic along so the fire truck could pull up. Once she was in better hands, I bolted, happy to have 59th St. blocked-off and traffic-free!

Meanwhile yesterday another fucking SUV plowed into some more pedestrians on a sidewalk. Last week the same thing happened and hit a family, killing a kid. Ripped them right out of his shoes. That’s what happens when you get hit hard enough by a car. Can you imagine how hard you would have to be hit to separate you from your shoes?

And this hot off the presses from today’s Times: “A man was killed by a speeding car late Thursday while bicycling … in Queens…. The bicyclist … was on Linden Boulevard … in St. Albans when a speeding westbound Dodge Stratus struck him…. After hitting Mr. Simpson, the car crashed into a telephone pole…. The car’s occupants, two young men ages 15 and 22, were in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital and Medical Center, the police said, adding that neither would admit to driving the car. No arrests were made.”

What’s the impact all this reckless and irresponsible driving will have on driving and public safety in New York? Now imagine if a bike was in the wrong and killed three people? Hell, even if the bike was in the right. And not that bike could kill three people, but just imagine…

Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

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