Friday, January 14, 2011

Brooklyn Paper Op-Ed on Bike Law Enforcement Has False Claims and Fictional Cyclists

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Bike Acrobats
In another of their questionable op-eds, the Brooklyn Paper had Leslie Lewis—the 84th Precinct Community Council's president and an outspoken supporter of the NYPD's problematic new initiative to finally police cyclists the same way they do drivers of other vehicles one uses to get from A to B and then C—write today's opinion piece. Therein he makes a bafflingly incorrect assertion about bike laws (one acknowledged by the editors, sure, but how can a guy advocating for the enforcement of bike laws be so wrong about one of the most basic?), and tells of frequent encounters with what must be a family of bicycle acrobats on his daily commute to Downtown Brooklyn.

First things first, Lewis writes:

I’m not anti-bike, but I follow police statistics: About 90 percent of the bicyclists killed in this city died, in part, because they were not following the rules of the road. Obviously, these deaths were tragedies and they never should have happened. But in many of these cases the bicyclists were violating the rules in some way. They were either on roads without bike lanes, going through a red light or riding the wrong way down the street. The “ghost bikes” you see in the different neighborhoods that honor these fallen bicyclists only tell half the story.

I dunno, suggesting that bikes should only be on streets with bike lanes sounds pretty fucking anti-bike to me! The New York City page on bike laws says differently, thankfully:
Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so, etc. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City even when no designated route exists.

And then this, from Lewis's account of his daily commute, is just incredibly puzzling:
Often I see a bicyclist with three toddlers sitting on the back of his bike. Now, when the light is red, he waits at the crosswalk, but as soon as he feels that he’s not going to get squashed, he zips into the street—with three little babies in tow!

How is this possible? One baby in a bike seat, sure. Two in one of those pull-carriages, or one of those cargo bikes, yeah, I can see. But three babies? Just sitting on the back of his bike? Unless this cyclist is training a team of daredevil babies, or possibly it's actually Elizabeth Streb and her children practicing a new dance, I just don't see how this is possible. Also impossible: making a strong case about the enforcement of traffic laws as they apply to cyclists when one does not know where, according to said traffic laws, cyclists are and are not permitted to cycle.

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