LAST GASP PART II: Another Bicyclist/Motorist “Incident”

A tipster writes:

…another bikester got doored tonight around 7pm on Nassau and Manhattan.  I just got off the G shuttle coming back from Gpoint Ave and there was already a crowd gathering.  Flipped over onto the back of her head, bleeding profusely and having convulsions.  No helmet. One kind souled guy was holding and talking comfort to her, trying to keep her conscious.  Some folks including myself dialed 911.  911 people have got to be the dumbest fucking people on earth, I swear.  I could overhear all of us five callers going “NO, NOT MANHATTAN – MANHATTAN AVENUE – BROOKLYN – BRRROOOOKKKLLLLYYYNNN.”  One woman had 911 hang up on her.  When the 229 truck, the EMT’s and the 94th showed up, it was a big relief, cuz a few of us were worried that when the convulsions finally stopped it wasn’t going to end pretty.  They got her in a neck collar and then she woke up and started crying and fighting with the EMT’s. Took six of them to hold her steady so they could put her on the board.  They didn’t immediately leave after they loaded her, so I don’t know if that meant something, hope nothing bad.  The 94th got her bike and clutch, sunglasses, etc.  The Chinese guy who’s car door she rode into was fighting with the cops because he wanted to leave.  A few minutes later he almost ran me over talking on the cellphone making the right onto Leonard.  While waiting for the light at McGuinness and Nassau, three fashionably dressed hipsters on bicycles (no helmets either) with fun expensive hats and sunglasses were riding in between moving traffic and thinking yelling snarky things at the cars beeping at them was going to give them special empowerment to not get squashed.

Here’s the deal: inasmuch as I’d like to be “pro-bicycle” I can’t do it. You know why? Because many of them act as bad if not worse than the motorists hereabouts. Given how cabbies drive here and how car services see fit to idle everywhere— including in our bike lanes— this is really saying something. During my sojourns I often feel I am an object of disgust at worst or an inconvenience at best by motorists, bicyclists and skaters (be they on board or otherwise). Why is being a pedestrian so declasse? Why do I feel compelled to defend my right to walk this city’s sidewalks with some peace of mind that I will not be mowed down by something— or someone— on wheels? This should be a given.

I do not want to suggest that this lady cyclist “deserved” what she got. She didn’t. My heartfelt regards go to her family and loved ones. Above all I wish her a full recovery. Rather, I blame an administration which has seen fit to encourage— under the guise of being “green”—  bicyclists to use our roads under the erroneous assumption they’re safe. They’re not. Especially in light of recent service suspensions and cut-backs courtesy of the MTA. Reduced and suspended subway service  = more more vehicular traffic in north Brooklyn: be it cabs, shuttle buses, etc.

Miss Heather

Comments

18 Comments on LAST GASP PART II: Another Bicyclist/Motorist “Incident”

  1. Sintesi on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 10:38 am
  2. Sounds like you’re taking a personal problem and making it a public one. I’ve lived in Greenpunk for over 6 years and never once had an incident with a cyclist. Not once. I run about 30 miles a week ON THE BIKE LANES and I still am yet to be sideswiped or threatened by a cyclist. So I really don’t know how you came to feel so menaced by the bikers.

    The number of cycling deaths in the city is usually less than 20 a year which is not so bad when you consider NYC has an estimated half million cyclists and the exposed nature of the activity. And out of those 20 or so deaths how many were actually caused by the cyclist? About 10% according to the only study I could find. (http://rightofway.org/research/cyclists.pdf)

    I think it’s a shame you take one woman’s tragic accident as an opportunity to vent sour at the city’s cyclists. There are a lot of self-centered rude jerks out there but I tend to think this humanities’ problem rather than some arbitrary subset.

    I’m all for making the streets safer for all and I don’t like inconsiderate people either. I’m with you there.

  3. walrustaco on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 1:35 pm
  4. As a driver, I can say that bikers make me incredibly nervous. Especially at that intersection, where an SUV ran a red light and nearly killed me in my car a year ago. While I’m glad that bike lanes are being put in, I’ve seen bikers blow red lights at least hundreds of times. My prayers are with this girl and her family, but more attention on the topic needs to be paid.

  5. Tracer Bullet on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 2:46 pm
  6. Let me give you a different perspective.

    Here’s the thing. I just recently bought a bike. I love riding it. I think bicycles are one of the best ways to get around. But I don’t ride like an invincible asshole- I don’t want to die. I stay off McGuinness. I stay off Manhattan south of Greenpoint Ave- too narrow. If I come to an intersection with a red light and cars waiting, I stop behind the cars. I don’t go around. I don’t ride the wrong way on one-way streets. If I’m cycling down a narrow street (and many streets in Greenpoint are narrow) I will take the lane. I prefer to slightly piss off a car than get doored. I wear a helmet. I don’t cut pedestrians off if they have the right-of-way.

    The problem is not bicycles, pedestrians, scooters, skateboarders, etc. The problem is the expectation, built over 50+ years, that the street is the sole province of the automobile. The problems we all see now are due to a readjustment of the use of the street.

    We need actual, real enforcement of traffic laws and speed limits. We need stronger penalties for drivers that injure or kill, but more than that, we need them to be investigated and prosecuted. And we need people to use common sense when they make the decision to get on a bicycle. I don’t know if this cyclist did anything to cause the incident, but if she got doored, she was riding too close to parked cars.

    It’s really too bad that cyclists feel too intimidated to take the lane to avoid getting doored because drivers want to go 30+ MPH on dense city streets. Someone on a bike can easily reach 15 MPH. That’s about as fast as surface street traffic should go.

  7. missheather on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 3:12 pm
  8. Is it a personal problem that we have traffic laws that are not being enforced? Or this city seems to be lacking any clear direction/plan as to how to integrate foot traffic with bicyclists? Or bicyclists with motor traffic? Greenpoint has had a number of pedestrian accidents and bicycle fatalities in the last couple of years for more or less these reasons. I find this to be unacceptable. In fact it makes me furious. The way things stand right now EVERYONE loses. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike.

    You wrote: Sounds like you’re taking a personal problem and making it a public one. I’ve lived in Greenpunk for over 6 years and never once had an incident with a cyclist. Not once. I run about 30 miles a week ON THE BIKE LANES and I still am yet to be sideswiped or threatened by a cyclist. So I really don’t know how you came to feel so menaced by the bikers.

    Ever tried to take a leisurely stroll over the Pulaski? The second (or third) to last time my husband was grazed by a bicyclist because he would not yield (as he is supposed to do). This problem could be easily solved by a. a ticketing blitz b. dedicating one lane to bicycle traffic (which I am ALL FOR, by the way). The same principle applies for motorists who drive recklessly and use our bike lanes as their personal parking space/lane. Ticket them. I do not think any of this is unreasonable. Our tax dollars are ostensibly paying for this kind of thing.

  9. bklyn74 on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 6:54 pm
  10. Using a tragic event involving what sounds like a pretty serious injury as a platform to tell your readers why you’re not “pro bicycle” is tasteless. Further, “dooring” is a completely avoidable instance. It takes 2 seconds or less to look over your shoulder before opening a car door. It is also against the law.

    Your perspective on the City administration’s cycling advocacy seems completely backwards and illogical to me. I would argue that the MTA cutbacks should prompt the City to do even more to promote cycling and to make streets safe for ALL users. Anyone interested in being a participant in helping to promote and shape a “clear direction/plan” to integrate all modes of transportation in New York should start here: http://www.transalt.org/campaigns

  11. missheather on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 7:49 pm
  12. If you find my tome tasteless and illogical, that’s your opinion. You’re entitled to have it. Personally I do not see how encouraging more cycling is going to address the issue of MTA cutbacks. Not everyone wants to or can ride a bicycle; for those of us there should be reliable mass transit. Hell, our tax dollars are paying for it. I fail to see why this is a total sum game, e.g.; bicycling or mass transit. We should be viable options.

    Those who wish to cycle, great— but they should be mindful of traffic laws and the fact this is a city. Please exercise due caution and some common courtesy. In return, the city should be more aggressive about ensuring their (and pedestrians’) safety. That’s basically what it comes down to. I fail to see how this is in anyway illogical or objectionable.

    In closing, I sincerely wish this young woman is doing okay and makes a full recovery. Nonetheless this incident serves as a(nother) wake-up call. Among other things if you’re going to cycle the city, PLEASE wear a helmet! Even with the best precautions accidents can and will happen. It would also be nice if our city would be more aggressive about enforcing traffic laws— be it for two wheelers or four.

  13. SGI on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 9:31 pm
  14. Bicyclists have a overinflated sense of entitlement, which annoys the living hell out of me. Are any of you green wienies aware that bicyclysts are required, per the Motor Vehicle Code, to obey the same traffic regulations as are motor vehicle operators? That means riding with the flow of traffic, not riding the wrong way on one-way streets, not using sidewalks(unless you’re 14 years old, or, younger), obeying traffic lights(that means stopping on red, not trying to cut through the intersection and interfering with the right of way of crossing pedestrians and motor vehicles moving on green). Just as a motorist needs to be aware of someone suddenly opening a car door on the street side, so should bicyclists. Stop being so absorbed with your own sense of self-importance and pay attention to your surroundings. Stop palming off the resposnsibilty of your safety onto other peoples’ shoulders. You, the bicyclist, are just as culpable in causing accidents as is the driver of an auto.

    It’s funny that blkyn74 thinks you’re acting in a tasteless manner. Pedalheads have been using fatalities involving bikers and cars in order to further their agenda for years. This is an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

    I sympathize with you and the Mister regarding your experiences with bicyclists on the Pulaski Bridge. I’ve also been creamed by jerks who have no regard for the safety of others. The walkway is designated as a “Pedestrian Walkway”. So are the walkways found on other bridges. The statutes indicate that bicyclist must dismount and walk with their bikes. Either play by the rules; or, walk. It ain’t all about you.

    P.S.

    Just saw the email. I was sifting through about 400 messages. (Definitly need to unsubscribe from news headline alerts) We’ll be in the area next Saturday. Let me know what’s convenient for you.

  15. rheingold on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 10:48 pm
  16. Greenpunk?

  17. SGI on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 7:47 am
  18. “Greenpunk?”

    Another hipsterism used to identify the new-found haven for people too young to remember what the East Village was like, let alone afford the present rents there. Coining “clever” (in their own minds, at least) terms like this allows them to create the illusion that they are heirs to the Beats, hippies and any other group that wants to show its rage against “The Man” through their irreverant displays of “cool”. Their parents must be thrilled shitless to see all the tuition they paid, so their progeny could attend NYU, was well spent…….40 grand a year to learn how to fold tee shirts at Old Navy in SoHo. I can hardly wait for the day that my now seven year old son will attend M.I.T. to study fluid dynamics and acquire the skills to work as a bartender at a hipster bar that has a catchy, irreverant, retro-sounding name.

  19. Sintesi on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 11:03 am
  20. “Ever tried to take a leisurely stroll over the Pulaski?”

    Well, have you ever tried to ride your bike across the Pulaski? That door swings both ways. When I had a bike, and I was an avid cyclist for over 20 years, I couldn’t count the number of pedestrians who were downright dangerous in their monopolization of the shared use pathways. They walk on both sides,on the wrong sides and the wrong way all the time. Far far more than the cyclists, let’s be fair here. It’s unbelievable the sense of disregard and self-entitlement some people display.

    I don’t think we disagree too much except that the problem is definitely not bikers. I wouldn’t mind dangerous riding being ticketed if you wouldn’t mind dangerous walking getting the same treatment. Seriously, the revenue enhancement the city would reap by earnestly ticketing, jaywalkers and people who don’t respect the clearly marked paths on the bridges would be astronomical. If we could just get people to walk on the right side in single file I’ll bet cycling/pedestrian accidents would drop precipitously.

    Yeah, Greenpunk!

  21. trustynick on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 12:38 pm
  22. Does anyone have a realistic assessment of what it would take to get one of the lanes of traffic on the Pulaski converted into a pedestrian/bicycle pathway? What officials/agencies should we be contacting to speak to this need? I bike and walk the bridge regularly and agree that neither one is particularly comfortable with the allotted space.

  23. Ryan Lee on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 1:34 pm
  24. How long after reading the account of this accident did you decide that you were the victim? This post makes me sick to my stomach and quite sad.

    It’s really easy to be an angry New Yorker given the plethora of inconveniences and multitude of injustices our city and its citizens provide, but it doesn’t take that much effort to get along with people who happen to have different mode of transportation than you.

    I’m your neighbor and I bike. Can you at least be pro-me?

  25. Tracer Bullet on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 5:24 pm
  26. “The statutes indicate that bicyclist must dismount and walk with their bikes.”

    I think motorists should be required to get our of their cars and push them across a bridge.

  27. missheather on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 9:20 pm
  28. @ Tracer Bullet: In light of how many SUVs I see on the Pulaski (invariably carrying one or maybe two people) on any given day I think your idea has legs. In fact, I think a rule should be instituted (for ALL moving vehicles) that goes more or less as follows: if you can’t push it, you can’t drive it. This could be implemented to encourage ride-sharing, for example; you have five people in your Hummer. Collectively you can push the Hummer. You pass. You’re cruising in your Hummer alone. You cannot push said vehicle by yourself. You have to pick up enough riders to push said vehicle in order to proceed.

  29. missheather on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 10:09 pm
  30. @trustynick: as I understand it this has been brought to the table and the concerned community boards— CB2(?) LIC and CB1 North Brooklyn— are on board. It’s the DOT that’s the problem. This is second (or third) hand information— so who knows? In any case it makes sense given how the DOT operates. If anyone out there has the 411/skinny I would really like to hear it.

    I want to see this happen— and soon! The current “arrangement” is unacceptable— and dangerous. To people who actually use the bridge anyway. I am certain our city considers it a stunning success.

  31. missheather on Tue, 27th Jul 2010 12:20 am
  32. @Sintesi: I want to thank you for your comment. Instead of taking this as a personal attack you have given this matter some careful thought. And yes, for the most part we do agree. You wrote:

    …It’s unbelievable the sense of disregard and self-entitlement some people display.

    Here’s an example of just this I saw a couple weeks ago. I can kick myself for not filming it— but I do not have the ability to see into the future. If I did, I’d be playing the lotto. In any case, a simple written description will have to suffice. Methinks I was walking down Eckford Street (it could have been Leonard). It was around 2-3 in the afternoon. As I passed Nassau I saw a 20-something skating down the street. He was wearing old school roller skates. I thought that was kind of neat.

    ANYHOO, behind him was a car. I didn’t think much of this at first (they were stopped at the stop sign). He crossed the street and upon noticing the car behind him made it a point to weave back and forth. In other words, he was forcing this motorist to crawl along behind him. This went on for at least 1/2 a block. The motorist laying on the horn the entire time. Can you blame him?

    Speaking as someone who is *quite* familiar with road rage (having been on the receiving end of it) I could not believe what this guy was doing. Clearly the thought that this person could— at any time— accelerate or hop out of his car and start pommeling him never crossed this guy’s mind. He just thought it was funny (he kept looking over his shoulder and smiling). It wasn’t. Obviously if either of the previous had come to pass it would be a crime— and rightfully so. But one does have to consider the level of provocation— which is considerable.

    I’ve often seen the same level of intransigence— or entitlement, if you will— exercised by bicyclists. Speaking for the Pulaski, it often entails being shouted at— often very antagonistically— to get out of the way. My husband and I try to be considerate. We keep to the right. But there’s only so much we can do if someone is coming from behind and at a considerable amount of speed. This is more often than not the case. In addition, we often cannot hear someone coming because the traffic on the Pulaski drowns their shouts, bells, whistles, etc. out. Finally, there are signs on the Pulaski which clearly state that bikers are supposed to yield to pedestrians. I suspect the very reason there were put in place has to do with the scenario I just outlined.

    Here’s the deal (and I think I have made this abundantly clear) the current arrangement at the Pulaski is unacceptable. What’s more, it’s dangerous and does nothing to endear bicyclists to peds and vice versa. In fact, it fosters antagonism. Antagonism which should be, but rarely is, directed at the people who made this arrangement possible: our city. They were the ones who implemented this (in my opinion) half-assed plan to throw a bone to bikers, at the expense of pedestrians while avoiding making the tougher (and politically poisonous) decision to take one lane away from vehicular traffic and dedicate it to bike traffic (which is what should happen).

    But there’s a big difference between “should” and “is”. We can thank our politicians for that. In the meantime we have to work with what we have. Which brings me to…

    You wrote: I don’t think we disagree too much except that the problem is definitely not bikers. I wouldn’t mind dangerous riding being ticketed if you wouldn’t mind dangerous walking getting the same treatment. Seriously, the revenue enhancement the city would reap by earnestly ticketing, jaywalkers and people who don’t respect the clearly marked paths on the bridges would be astronomical. If we could just get people to walk on the right side in single file I’ll bet cycling/pedestrian accidents would drop precipitously.

    When push comes to shove pedestrians have the right of way. That’s the law— and there is a very sound basis for it (e.g.; in a collision who is going to come out on the losing end: a bike or a pedestrian?). A bicycle is a moving vehicle and as such has to obey the law just as a motorist does. This seems to be something many in the bicycle culture don’t seem to grasp. Perhaps they’re ignorant or it’s simply a matter of entitlement? In my ramblings/observations I’d say both.

    Something no one seems to have acknowledged in this forum was the gaggle of bikers (sans helmets) verbally taunting motorists which were spied by my tipster at the scene of this incident. I find this interesting. As I do one commenter’s noting that “dooring” someone is a crime. There is no indication that this was intentional. It may very well have been an accident. God only knows Greenpoint has them. Too many of them. And then there is this:

    How long after reading the account of this accident did you decide that you were the victim? This post makes me sick to my stomach and quite sad.

    It’s really easy to be an angry New Yorker given the plethora of inconveniences and multitude of injustices our city and its citizens provide, but it doesn’t take that much effort to get along with people who happen to have different mode of transportation than you.

    I’m your neighbor and I bike. Can you at least be pro-me?

    This is the one thing that drives me (no pun intended) crazy about the bicycle “lobby”; they take anything I write that is in any way conceivably critical to their community personally. They line up and roll out more or less the same rhetoric. It always boils down to this: if you’re not for us you’re against us. I beg to differ. And what I have posted on this site attests to this.

    We’re all victims— just look at the traffic-related injuries/fatalities hereabouts over the last few years. Solange Raulston’s death (which was located not too far from this incident) sickened me. Nassau Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard was also the location of one (methinks two) other fatalities. At what point does our city have to admit we have a problem? In the case of Miss Raulston I want to know why a truck was using a street which bars truck traffic (so as to enable us, be we bikers or pedestrians) to have a little “breathing room” both figuratively and literally. Why is the NYPD refusing to release related documentation because the matter is “under investigation”?

    This most recent incident raises even more questions. Among them:

    1. The allegation of a 911 operator hanging up on someone is incredibly disturbing.
    2. Exactly how is our police department handling accidents? What is the procedure? I say this because simply taking a statement (if that) and letting the person go strikes me as not being enough. I write “if that” because I know someone who was hit by an ice cream truck here recently and the NYPD didn’t even bother to take a statement from the victim.

    The fact the motorist involved seemed annoyed by the whole affair and wanted to leave was odious me. If I had been involved in such an accident I would have been horrified. I would want to know how this person is faring. I guess he had *better* things to do.

    In regards to this incident I would advise any and all who have commented here (whether you agree with me or not) to go to the next 94th precinct community council meeting and ask questions. Not unlike the blame game I have seen here there are plenty to go around. Be persistent!

    In the meantime it would be nice if people here, well, would be nice. And exercise a measure of responsibility. If you ride a bike obey traffic laws (They’re not in place to “keep you down”; they protect you as well.) and WEAR A HELMET. A little enforcement, against jay walkers (especially the two dudes who elected to have a heavyweight match in the middle of Manhattan Avenue yesterday afternoon), negligent bicyclists and motorists would be greatly appreciated as well. I’m an equal opportunity revenue generator/entitlement/asshole punisher!

  33. rheingold on Tue, 27th Jul 2010 1:20 am
  34. Thoughtfully put, Miss H.

    I witnessed a scene like the one you described with the roller skater when I first came back to Brooklyn in ’04. Then it was an over-age skateboard boy lackadaisically gliding along a street in South Williamsburg holding up a line of traffic behind him. Having grown up in Brooklyn in the Bad Old Days, I was aghast and amazed that someone would go out of their way to piss off random strangers, especially those with several thousand pounds of steel. And nasty attitudes. But then I saw similar scenes repeated again and again, and I thought, one of these days it’s not going to end well.

    Much was resolved in the Brooklyn of yore with the Casey Stengelesque axiom, “you could look it up”. If the law indeed states that bicycles should be walked over the Pulaski, one should not complain that it’s difficult to ride your bike there. That’s like griping that your picnic in the outfield of Yankee Stadium was ruined because Nick Swisher stepped in your potato salad. You ought not be there in the first place.

    I mean, what’s the hurry? Who would not want to dawdle on the Pulaski and drink in every possible sight, sound and smell it has to offer.

  35. Sintesi on Sat, 31st Jul 2010 2:15 am
  36. Yes! And thank you too Miss Heather I really appreciate this newly discovered blog.

    Pulaski is a problem but it is a narrow narrow, previously intended pedestrian walkway. Fortunately (!) cyclists are definitely present and are not going anywhere, hence our problem. I remember trying the roadway a time ago when I was new to the city, staying as far right as I possibly could, when a truck’s mirror brushed the back of my helmet and presented me with mortal fear. Never again, the ped path was the place for me. Motorists clear that bridge at 50 miles per hour and believe you me they do not expect to see a slow moving cyclist at their right.

    So you say: “When push comes to shove pedestrians have the right of way. That’s the law— and there is a very sound basis for it (e.g.; in a collision who is going to come out on the losing end: a bike or a pedestrian?). A bicycle is a moving vehicle and as such has to obey the law just as a motorist does. This seems to be something many in the bicycle culture don’t seem to grasp. Perhaps they’re ignorant or it’s simply a matter of entitlement? In my ramblings/observations I’d say both. ”

    I find this to be unfair. Pedestrians shouldn’t be granted outright immunity in right of way obligations. This bothers me a great deal. If there is such a law, truly, then that is plain unjust. Cyclists certainly should never ride the sidewalks, but then what should the conscientious pedaler do, they can’t have the road either can they? The gutter is simply no solution because of obstruction (mostly cars – or hell, wandering pedestrians). So what is the cyclist to do? Behave like a car? Clearly not. They cannot be reasonably asked to obey the same laws as automobiles for precisely the same reason that you cite: Bicycles do not produce a level of potential harm. I’m sure there have been many injuries and even a few token deaths but please, this is not a phenomena that warrants censure, at least compared to the real causes of pedestrian harm.

    I’m pontificating a little, so please excuse my response if it seems overdone considering the age of the original post, but I would like to point out a new development that is particularly germane to the topic.

    Williamsburg Bridge was rescued by common sense traffic planning only a few weeks ago. I don’t know if you know but pedestrian and cycling traffic is now largely bifurcated. Before it was a poorly marked pathway that resulted in a free for all of cycling hipsters, lost tourists, commuting poor and ambulatory Hasidic Jews which resulted in all sorts of jostling, wrecks and misunderstandings. All gone now, comparatively.

    Instead of crowding bikes out we should be pushing cars out and letting people in. I’m a New Yorker – Fuck cars. Can I get a little solidarity here?

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.