Here’s to posters and banners in every government office reminding legislators that their first Constitutional duty is to protect public safety, especially now, when they’re planning to cut budgets for police, fire fighting and the safest travel mode, public transit.
Government evidently needs to learn that moving traffic violations are life and death matters. And bicycling violations are not mere quality of life offenses, especially when they are everywhere—even on low-traffic East End Avenue. Walking just one block home from the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association meeting, Ruth S. was almost struck by a delivery food bike speeding along the sidewalk. I yelled, “Off the walk!” The problem is, nobody else ever does, even though lawless biking is often deplored at civic meetings.
Nor is it talked about much elsewhere. Thankfully, neighbor Claire R. does. She said that after being narrowly missed by a bike careening around the corner into the crosswalk at East 80th Street, she recently learned to cross at East 81st Street, “where cars and bikes rarely turn into you, and you can see them coming!” I’ve preached this “don’t cross where they can turn into you” basic gospel for decades. Be very, very visible too. To stress the latter, I brought my new battery-lit cane to the association meeting to wave around as I urged the attending police and legislative aides to “at least enforce the bike light law to give us a fighting chance. And let’s light ourselves up—be visible.” I am very saddened by the middle-aged man who was fatally injured by a car as he crossed East 79th mid-block last week. While a risky thing to do, crossing with your light at the corner is not safe enough.
Again, make yourself very visible, swing your arms or a newspaper, wear something light colored, and holler at those wheelers who come too close. Don’t be silent.
I’m also grateful for our building staff member, Michael Kearney, who warned passersby about melting ice slabs falling from upper windows of our and other apartment buildings. And the Daily News thankfully reported about young men who got their kicks tossing ice off a building, with one piece striking a pedestrian.
Related was Claire R.’s report about another youthful reckless endangerment, which lamentably did not make the news. Leaving Hunter College about 4 p.m. March 10, she was aghast to see about 10 or so high school students race into moving traffic.
“It’s a miracle no one was hurt as brakes screeched and horns blared and the kids broke up laughing when they reached the other side,” she said.
Would that photos were taken, 911 called and nearby schools alerted. I did report it to the 19th Precinct. Our doorman, Martin Griffin, reports seeing a similar reprehensible scene on East 86th Street.
But back to two-wheeled anarchy and motor vehicles’ deadly failure to yield. I’ll protest both at Transportation Alternatives’ public meeting March 16, and hope you will, too, at the March 23 meeting from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the fifth floor conference room of the Vanderbilt YMCA, 224 E. 47th St. The group needs to hear about bike violations—big time. More complex is Council Member Jessica Lappin and AARP’s “Take Back Our Streets—Making New York Walkable for All New Yorkers,” scheduled for April 19 through 23, “to survey and evaluate your neighborhood intersections for walker safety.” Call Jane Swanson at 212-980-1808 for more information.
But that evaluation business has been done and redone when the foremost needs are for all-out enforcement on the law to yield to pedestrians on turns, and an all-out crackdown on bike violations. That would do more to make it a safe and low-stress traveling city for me than anything else. Then we can push for a lower speed limit! It can be done if enough of us try.
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