Wow its been a while since I’ve last posted. Have had a lot to write about and not much time to actually do it. Tonight won’t be a long post either, as I still have some foursquare work to crank on.
Quick story: Went to Washington Square Park to eat lunch today and road my bike over- standard two minute ride. While sitting on the grass a news reporter (I believe from the NY Post) came over and asked me a few questions about the DOT’s new “Don’t be a Jerk” campaign, complete with billboards and PSA’s attempting to teach cyclists how not be.. well, JERKS. The campaign begs the question, are cyclists really jerks? There is obviously no clear cut answer. Yes, some cyclists are jerks; running red lights, biking against traffic, or riding on the sidewalks with no regard for anything else around them except things bigger than themselves, ie. cars, busses, trucks, and cabs. Cab drivers fall into a whole separate category of drivers, just like NY vs NJ drivers, but thats a whole different argument saved for another day. The point is that some cyclists are deliberately jerks, some are entirely law abiding, but most are only jerks when they have to be, usually out of pure self defense. The problem is that most pedestrians that have never ridden a bicycle in Manhattan have no idea what its like to constantly be looking over your shoulder for the next cab deliberately trying to pass as close as they can to you without actually hitting you. We’re fast, but not as fast as vehicles. And the facts don’t lie: Cyclist collisions with pedestrians caused zero deaths in Manhattan last year. The same cannot be said for automobiles which caused nearly 270 deaths. 270 people were hit by cars and died, but cyclists are still the jerks.
The “Don’t be a Jerk” campaign has done nothing but strengthen the false illusions that all cyclists are deliberately jerks on the road. What the DOT needs to do is strike a balance of blame between all of the parties involved. Pedestrians are equally as guilty of J walking, crossing on red lights, opening doors into traffic, etc.
The same is true for vehicles: speeding, running red lights, parking illegally, and pulling into bike lanes. That said, it should be noted that police are not above the law. If they want to dish out tickets to cyclists that don’t have bells and lights on their bikes so be it. But I would love to know how to dish it back to cops equally as guilty.