Metro: Is Bike Riding Out of Control?
By Carly Baldwin
May 17, 2009
May is Bike Month, but some New Yorkers say they’re more scared of cyclists than cars, trucks or buses.
“The city is being irresponsible in the way they’re growing this movement. You hear all about bike lanes, but you don’t hear that so many more bikes on the road has people scared,” said Nancy Gruskin.
A year ago, Gruskin’s husband, Stuart, was killed in Midtown. A deliveryman on a bike going the wrong way down a one-way street slammed into him. The cyclist never faced criminal charges and she’s unsure if he even paid his fine, about $100.
Many cyclists, from delivery people to recreational riders, are lax when it comes to following traffic rules, according to a 2009 Hunter College study.
“It’s the total free-for-all mentality that’s the problem,” said Lower Manhattan resident Nancy Linday, 60. “I’m much more afraid of cyclists than I am of drivers.”
Adding bike lanes keeps both cyclists and pedestrians safe, said a DOT spokesperson. A spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives also points to their bike safety campaign, Biking Rules, but admits that many businesses could do a better job monitoring their commercial cyclists.
Still others say it’s not enough. As New York expands biking infrastructure, the city also needs to start cracking down on cyclists who run red lights or fly down the sidewalk, say some.
“It’s a huge problem in Manhattan,” said Upper East Side Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. “Messengers and food delivery people ride bikes on the sidewalk.”
Councilwoman Lappin proposes a city law that would shift the financial liability to a restaurant if their delivery person gets into a bike accident.
Jonathan Horn, co-chair of Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee, wants safety classes for bike messengers and delivery people.
“For the commercial cyclist, we need to have registration and licensing and possibly an hour safety course — why not? We require that for a truck driver or a taxi driver.”