So, New York State Senator Klein and I have rearranged our meeting to discuss bicycling and transportation policy in New York City for this coming Tuesday, October 14. You may remember that the Senator and I had an altercation (read here, here and here) after he nearly veered his black Mercedes into me when I was riding my bike.
So Tuesday we’ll talk about–I hope–how policy might be changed to avoid such confrontations between cars and bikes. Some say that people like me want to force everyone to ride their bikes. That’s not true. I just want traffic policy that makes the streets safe for those who do ride their bikes–and those who would like to.
Bikers save us carbon emissions, health care costs, transportation infrastructure costs and more. It’s not about forcing everyone to ride bikes, it’s about respecting the fact that those who do ride bikes are actually doing us all a favor and a service. So how can we make riding safe for them?
Because for now, it’s not safe. And that’s one of the things I want to tell the Senator. I’m going to ask him to ride a bike in Manhattan with me to see for himself. But I’m also going to show him a few pictures of bicyclists recently killed on New York City Streets, like these (taken from GhostBikes.Org):
Amelia was riding her bike north on First avenue when a minivan crossing 49th street crashed into her (7/11/2008).
Michael Needham Jr. was riding his bike with friends outside the Allerton Library after school on June 5th, when a speeding car struck him. After 19 days in a coma, he died on June 23rd, 2008. Michael was just about to graduate from the 5th grade from nearby P.S. 76, The Bennington School.
On February 28, 2008, Asif Rahman, was doing what he loved to do –riding his bike on his way back home from work — when he was crushed to death by a reckless truck driver on Queens Boulevard. He died instantly from internal injuries. The truck driver was not charged or ticketed.
So sad, right? And it’s not that there’s really anyone to blame. It’s just that we could do better. We could make the streets safer and more livable. We could dedicate the vast public space that makes our city streets, not to the vehicles that drive through them, but to the people that live on them.
And we could make a transportation system based on biking, walking and transit that was so good and so popular that, in cities like New York, none of us even wanted to use a car.
What a vision! A way of being that would be both better for the planet and better for the people.