Cycle of Abuse

Whiny NY bike-rid­ers add in­sult to near-in­jury

New York Post - - POST OPINION - BROOKE ROGERS Twit­ter: bkerogers

IT be­gan with a close en­counter and a tweet.

I was cross­ing 14th Street when a bike whooshed by, ig­nor­ing the red light. It was one of many close calls I’ve had in the city. If you work in Mid­town, you’ve had them, too.

So, feel­ing per­turbed, I re­sponded like the mil­len­nial I am and sent out a tweet: “Times I’ve al­most been killed by a driver in New York: 2. Times I’ve al­most been killed by a cy­clist in New York: 3,763,459.”

I put my phone away and didn’t give another thought. But I’d kicked a hor­net’s nest.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive tweet: “~150 killed by driv­ers last year in NYC, >10,000 maimed. Zero killed by cy­clists. Your ir­ra­tional ha­tred doesn’t change re­al­ity.” Another: “This is the same idi­otic logic that makes Amer­i­cans worry more about ter­ror­ism than heart dis­ease.”

The tweets con­tin­ued to pour in: Fu­ri­ous cy­clists and cy­clist-sym­pa­thiz­ers, who ei­ther didn’t un­der­stand I was mak­ing a joke or didn’t care, set on de­fend­ing the sul­lied name of all bike-rid­ers.

A com­mon re­sponse was to blame pedes­tri­ans, in this case, me, for cy­clists’ un­sa­vory rep­u­ta­tion. “In how many of those in­stances were you stand­ing slack-jawed in the bike lane, your back to traff ic, star­ing blankly at the side­walk?” asked a Twit­ter user, who ended up tweet­ing me more than once over my ap­par­ent anti-cy­clism. “I’d put money on 1) stand­ing in the bike lane and 2) not look­ing be­fore she steps into on­com­ing traf­fic,” chimed in another.

More than even the ob­vi­ous hu­mor­less­ness, how­ever, the sense of vic­tim­hood was un­de­ni­able. I was told cy­clists are a “marginal­ized” group. Some said my com­ments were “ir­re­spon­si­ble,” “hurt­ful” and a “shrill de­mo­niza­tion.”

I have pub­licly crit­i­cized the alt-right, the far-left, rad­i­cal fem­i­nists and men’s-rights ac­tivists. I never ex­pected cy­clists to match their com­bi­na­tion of fragility and ag­gres­sion.

Not all cy­clists are mad­men. But it seems all cy­clists who are mad­men are also on Twit­ter.

The tem­per­a­ments of New York cy­clists, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, vary by bor­ough. For in­stance, I’ve come across quite a few bike rid­ers in Brooklyn, but they’re usu­ally the type who pull out their Sch­winn on Satur­day morn­ing and bike to brunch in a sun­dress: Not ex­actly Tour de France types, and I’ve never had a sin­gle bad ex­pe­ri­ence with them.

I’ve also en­coun­tered plenty of de­liv­ery bik­ers out in BedS­tuy, but they seem to have no prob­lem with pulling over at red lights, or, at the very least, wait­ing for empty cross­walks be­fore zoom­ing through.

Whether it’s the stress of a traf­fic-clogged com­mute or some­thing else, Man­hat­tan seems to bring out the worst in cy­clists.

Of the 361 cy­clist-on-pedes­trian crashes city­wide re­ported to city agen­cies in 2015, 199 col­li­sions took place in Man­hat­tan.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, a bad en­counter with a cy­clist can put you in the hospi­tal, or worse. In 2014, a cy­clist struck Irv­ing Schachter, a 75-year-old teacher who was train­ing for the New York Marathon in Cen­tral Park. He was hos­pi­tal­ized and died two days later. That same year, Jill Tarlov, a 58-year-old mother, was hit by a cy­clist in Cen­tral Park. She died of head trauma from the in­ci­dent.

There are a num­ber of cy­clist-ad­vo­cacy groups in the city. And the city looks dif­fer­ent thanks to them.

More than half of the over 1,000 miles of bike lanes in New York has been built in the past 10 years. This year, Mayor de Bla­sio an­nounced the city will be al­lo­cat­ing over $100 mil­lion in fund­ing to build bike lanes be­tween East 53rd and East 61st streets, ef­fec­tively con­nect­ing Man­hat­tan’s bike lanes into one gi­ant loop around the is­land.

De­spite the lamen­ta­tions of on­line grum­blers claim­ing cy­clists are the most per­se­cuted of com­muters, the city had been bend­ing over back­ward to ac­com­mo­date them.

One Twit­ter user summed up what seemed to be the pre­dom­i­nant feel­ing: “There is a per­va­sive anti-cy­clist prej­u­dice that your ‘joke’ is feed­ing — that’s why peo­ple are mad.”

To be fair, there is a no­table beef against cy­clists on the road. I’m not en­tirely con­vinced that a siz­able por­tion of them haven’t earned it. And I’m 100per­cent sure I am in­ca­pable of tak­ing their out­rage se­ri­ously, be­cause they def­i­nitely haven’t earned that.

Ei­ther way, the cy­clist com­mu­nity’s bridge-build­ing to the pedes­tri­ans they force to play a 21st-cen­tury ver­sion of Frog­ger could use some work.

Bike path of least re­sis­tance: An over­loaded Man­hat­tan cy­clist rid­ing the wrong way.

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