A friend of ours living in Brooklyn knows how much we here at Sad City Hartford love disagreements related to civic issues. With that in mind, our friend forwarded us an amusing exchange from the Boerum Hill listserv. For those who are unfamiliar with listservs, they are a god awful 1990s technology that serve as a bastion of ultra-self-righteousness.
The battle between bikes and cars has since the invention of the automobile. In fact, the first recorded dispute between a motorist and bicyclists was in 1901, when Henry Ford cut off the Wright Brothers, who were riding a bicycle-built-for-two.
From: LorenSent: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:32 PMSubject: [boerumhill] stepped-up bike law enforcementBikers, beware:Loren4) NYPD to Emphasize Enforcement of Bicycle InfractionsOur friends at the 78th Precinct have asked us to help spread the word that the NYPD is embarking on a stepped-up effort to enforce vehicle and traffic laws as they pertain to cyclists. We're told that this will be an ongoing effort and not just a short-lived ticket blitz, and that it will focus on failure to obey red lights and stop signs, failure to yield to pedestrians, wrong-way riding and riding on the sidewalk.
Fair warning! Look out, Brooklynites on bikes.
At 12:03 AM -0500 1/13/11, stephan geras wrote:Dear LorenThanks for the forewarning. As someone who uses an 18 pound bicycle and witnesses an uncountable number of 2000 pound vehicles speeding through red lights and stopsigns, turning at intersections through pedestrians who have the right of way forcing them tp jump back or die, speeding beyond any possible reasonable speed limit on residential streets, even racing with other speeders to get to green lights, forcing pedestrians and cyclists off the road, I have to be cheered up to hear that the NYPD will begin to take action to reduce the number of deaths caused by reckless cycling.By the way, the city of Minneapolis MN has just legislated that ticketing of cyclists for going through red lights will be terminated.Stephan Geras
Yeah, man. Cars are jerks and stuff.
From: Sina NajafiSent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 8:28 PMSubject: Re: [boerumhill] stepped-up bike law enforcement
I have a car and a bicycle, and for the record, I for one disagree with the view expressed in the posting below.The fact that a few drivers act like assholes does not mean all bicyclists should be given carte blanche to ignore all traffic laws. If a cop sees a car passing a red light, they will ticket them, and rightly so. But at the moment, they do nothing to bicyclists that they see breaking many laws pertaining to safety (their own and others')
Ooooh...solid counter point.
From: stephanSent: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 1:34 AMTo: Sina NajafiSubject: Re: [boerumhill] stepped-up bike law enforcement
Sina, I'm glad you took the time to express yourself in so much detail. I'm sorry you were traumatized by your collision with a bicycle. It was not your fault since you were driving.As an environmentally concerned citizen, I see that death by car, not by bicycle, is real. The argument that they are different is not frivolous.The automobile sui generis and its reckless use have far worse consequences no matter what your predilection or formulations..I didn't renew my driver's licence 14 years ago in order to reduce my carbon footprint. I know how tough it is to give up that driving priviledge once a teenager gets it, and I know the psychological and physical obsessions with defending its use (like the second amendment wrt guns).As you say, there is no appropriate comparison between bicycles and cars; the difference is about 2000 pounds, momentum, breaking and accelerating speeds, turning stability, reaction time, road conditions, awareness, laws for driving that are almost impossible for cyclists to obey as well as carbon emissions which dump billions of pounds of carbon into the atmosphere yearly. You wouldn't know that without taking cycling as seriously as driving.. Laws for cyclists need to be different. And they will be.... when oil becomes too expensive, when cycling is no longer considered a recreational weightloss program, and when city planning takes sustainability seriously. But I'm afraid those laws will not favour driving as has always been the case.Did you know that when there's a collision between a bike and a car in Amsterdam, the driver of the car is, without dispute and under the law, at fault.?Stephan
Wow...he brings up the carbon footprint, dependence on oil and "recreational weightloss" into the discussion. Can our friend Stephan get anymore uppity?
---------- Original Message ----------
From: "stephan" <sgeras@...>
Subject: Re: [boerumhill] stepped-up bike law enforcement
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2011 15:42:35 -0500
well then perhaps it would be better for you if I posted a notice this way: NOTICE TO DRIVERS: NYPD IS INITIATING A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY TOWARD CYCLISTS. PLEASE FELL FREE TO TAKE OUT YOUR RAGE AND RESENTMENT AGAINST ALL CYCLISTS YOU SEE ON THE ROAD AND AGAINST ANY REASONABLE ARGUMENTS THAT DEFEND CYCLING.Stephan