How to Fix the City’s Cycling Crisis and Ease My Biggest Fear About Living Here

It is important for bikers to understand that this is not the wild west. They need to follow the same traffic rules as any other motorized vehicle. No running red lights, driving the wrong way down a one way street or bike lane or going at reckless speeds. That flaunting of traffic rules and safety guidelines contributes to a dangerous environment for pedestrians. And our Public Eye columnist says its high time that something is done to stop it.

| 22 Jun 2023 | 06:08

I have lived in Manhattan for most of my adult life. This is the scariest time that I can remember.

Sure, I am wary nowadays about riding on the subway. And I keep my head on a swivel when the sun goes down, to make sure nobody ominous or menacing is following me down a darkened street.

And, as always, I make sure I observe the traffic signals and even wait a second or two to make sure no motorist has just run a light on me.

But my biggest fear about living in Manhattan is as plain as day: crossing the street and avoiding dangerous cyclists.

That’s right: the simplest, most elementary thing that any pedestrian, anywhere, does.

But life has gotten out of control these days in the city. The influx of e-bikes has changed the landscape of our beloved city. Many of these people don’t have any regard for you or me on foot. They run lights. They travel against traffic. They don’t keep to bike lanes. They go well over an acceptable speed limit, as if our streets were the Autobahn.

They sometimes pay a price as well.

The bottom line is that we need to see changes governing cyclists and electronic bike riders on city streets. We need them asap. Here are five suggestions:

*People should have to register their e-bikes with city authorities, as if these were automobiles. Once the registrations take place, we need to keep strict records. These vehicles should have license plates on file, too. This way, at least the NYPD could monitor the traveling of miscreants.

*Miscreants should be identified as what they actually are: criminals. If a person driving in a car runs a light or drives impaired by alcohol or drugs and gets pulled over, he or she are dealt with legally and, hopefully, pulled off the road. Why is it any different with a daredevil on a bicycle or an electronic bike. Sure, cops will moan that this is small-time stuff and that have better things to do. I respect that. But I would like to see the police curtail this danger, just the same. Wouldn’t you?

*How about installing speed bumps in bike lanes? This might encourage cyclists to go slower. Speed bumps could serve as some sort of a deterrent–and this would help.

*Let’s launch ad campaigns to publicize the danger of reckless cycling in city streets and reinforce the importance of safe cycling. We stress the perils of drunk driving, and this is a good thing. The message could make people more aware of how much we fear unsafe cyclists.

*Enforce the laws that are already on the books governing pedal bikes and e-bikes. Normally, running a red light would be a fine of about $110. Most bike people do not realize that traffic laws apply to bikes as well as cars. You can’t run red lights, drive through STOP signs, and operate motorized vehicles faster than the speed limit for cars. Dirt bikes and ATVs are often seen on the streets, but according to the NYPD they are not considered ebikes. They are illegal and should be taken off the streets.

Europeans have a much longer tradition of bike riding in urban areas. And in most major European cities the bicyclists are respectful of the rules of the road. The reality is we have many of those rules of the road here too–but they are seldom enforced.

Sure, it can’t be easy be a delivery employee of a restaurant or food service. Bosses hammer on them to bring the meals faster and faster. Customers award the best tips on the promptest delivery people. No wonder they feel compelled to take liberties as they navigate the city streets. But the rush to deliver food should not imperil the safety of pedestrians or allow the e-bikers to speed the wrong way down one way streets.

We have reached a crisis point in the city. Something drastic must be done about making our avenues and streets safer from cyclists who break traffic and safety laws.

We have reached a crisis point in the city. Something drastic must be done about making our avenues and streets safer from cyclists who break traffic and safety laws.