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NBC New York: The Latest Salvo in the Bicycling Wars

By March 18, 2011October 23rd, 202111 Comments

This news article featuring Bob Mionske has been reproduced here for our media archives. To access the original article, follow the link.

NBC New York: The Latest Salvo in the Bicycling Wars

It’s well-treaded territory, and the issue of bicycling in New York City remains a hot topic. Just take a look at the NYPD ticket blitz targeting bicyclists who run red lights in Central Park.

Bicycling Magazine blogger Bob Mionske joins the fray, dissecting the arguments — from politicians, drivers, pedestrians — made against dedicating road space for cyclists in New York City. He asks:

What is it about cycling that engenders such animosity in New York? The usual angry rhetoric accuses New York’s cyclists of ignoring the laws. But here’s the thing: ALL New Yorkers, pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists alike, disregard the traffic laws.

So if New York cyclists disregard the traffic laws, how does that make them any different from any other New Yorker?

And when it comes to the most serious consequence of breaking traffic laws — deaths — cyclists, Mionske argues, bear hardly any responsibility. While 18 of the 269 people killed in crashes in New York City last year were cyclists, no figure could be provided on how many of the total deaths could actually be blamed on cyclists because they were “so insignificant a factor.”

He continues:

Everyone has a duty to observe the traffic laws. They are an essential component of public safety and should be enforced. But what’s happening in New York is different—the traffic laws are being strictly enforced against cyclists, while pedestrians and motorists get a pass to continue to ignore the traffic laws.

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Avatar forthetimebeing says:

    The very notion that pedestrians do not ALWAYS have the right of way is nothing less than a license for bikers to kill. If a pedestrian is standing in a bike lane, the bicyclist sees that pedestrian, has working brakes, and fails to stop, that bicyclist is a criminal, licensed by the State to injure, maime and kill pedestrians.

    We need laws to make these arrogant sons of bitiches on wheels know 100% of the responsiblity lies with them!!!

  • forthetimebeing,

    Your premise that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way is simply not correct. Pedestrians are subject to the traffic laws, just as cyclists and motorists are subject to the traffic laws.

    A pedestrian who steps out into traffic without first yielding to traffic that is too close to safely stop does not have the right of way (note, however, that oncoming traffic does have a duty to avoid hitting the pedestrian, if it is possible to do so).

    Similarly, a pedestrian that is crossing against a red light does not have the right of way (and note again that oncoming traffic does have a duty to avoid hitting he pedestrian, if it is possible to do so).

    Outside of a crosswalk, the pedestrian may or may not have the right of way, depending upon state law.

    On the sidewalk, or in the crosswalk, the pedestrian does have the right of way. In a bike lane, the pedestrian likely does not have the right of way, unless state law expressly grants the pedestrian right of way.

    So, if a pedestrian steps out into bike lane traffic, without having right of way, and the pedestrian gets hit, who has liability for that injury? If the cyclist was able to avid a collision, but didn’t, both the cyclist and pedestrian would bear some responsibility for the collision. If the cyclist was unable to avoid a collision, then 100% of the responsibility would go to the pedestrian.

    In my own cycling experience, pedestrians are notorious for crossing against a red light without even bothering to look for approaching traffic. they just step out into the street and cross without first looking. And as a pedestrian, I’ve had close brushes with cyclists who have crossed against a red light. For that matter, as a cyclist I’ve had my right of way violated by other cyclists. And whether on foot or on bike, I’ve had my right of way violated by motorists.

    In short, it’s not too hard to find “arrogant sons of bitches” driving, riding a bike, or walking. It’s not the mode of travel that is the problem, it is the attitude of the person doing the traveling– as this video makes clear:

  • Avatar forthetimebeing says:

    What a lot of malarky, Dick. You confirm the supreme arrogance of cyclists, and assert you have a right to injure, maime or kill because the light is in your favor and you “cannot stop.” If you “cannot stop” you are already guilty of reckless endangerment, but the simple fact of the matter is that cyclists DO NOT EVEN TRY TO STOP!!!!!!! in their petty insistence on right of way. YOU do not know what may compel a pedestrian to attempt to cross a street against a light, DO YOU? Are you a mindreader??

    In any event, I do not make a case for obeying such laws as they exist. I speak to changing the law so there is no equivocation in the matter. CHANGE THE LAW. Pedestrians in NYC must ALWAYS have the right of way. If the laws are not changed, I for one will take the law — and my self-preservation — into my own hands. BIKERS BEWARE THIS PEDESTRIAN HAS TEETH !

  • You say that the law is malarkey, and that you will take the law into your own hands, and that it’s everybody else who is arrogant?

    Good luck with that line of “reasoning”… and better get your meds checked.


  • Avatar forthetimebeing says:

    the laws that encourage killers are indeed BS, and last I heard self-preservation is everyone’s natural right.

    when you cross my path and I slap you down, you’ll be needing the meds. Talk to me then about reasoning.

  • Avatar David Whitmon says:

    Hey Rick. forthetimebeing is obviously in dire need of an upgrade in his meds. Logic, the law and common sense are beyond him. He’s best ignored and left to to diddle with himself in the corner of his padded room, snug as a bug in a strait jacket.

  • Avatar VicCyclist says:

    Hahahaha….what a buffoon…. we cyclists have the license to kill……. You know what, next time, you make sure you will get hit by a car. According to the reasoning, you are more likely to survive being hit by a car than by a bicycle.

  • Avatar forthetimebeing says:

    you dicks won’t be laughing when you’re required to register your vehicles, wear great big plates, and maintain pricey insurance. Keep it up, I’ll see to it that’s on the City Desk before you can scratch your crotches. you know not, who you mow down.

  • Avatar VicCyclist says:

    Hey man, you can hate us all you want. Like I said, next time you have an accident, it would be more likely have to do with another car and another motorist. I hope you have medical and life insurances. Two, watch where you are crossing the street too. Don’t get distracted by cyclists running red lights at 15 mph. You will get killed by a drunk 16 year-old speeding and running red light in his parent’s high performance sport car.

  • Avatar David Whitmon says:

    Every word out of his mouth proves my point.

  • Avatar billdsd says:

    forthetimebeing, you call bicyclists “killers” but the fact is that bicyclists hardly ever kill pedestrians or anyone else. This is in no small part due to their low mass and low speed compared to motor vehicles, which kill around a dozen or so pedestrians per day in the U.S. In fact it’s fairly rare that bicyclists seriously injure a pedestrian.

    Your claim that bicyclists are arrogant is laughable. You are clearly the most arrogant person in this discussion.

    You say that Rick (or presumably anyone else) does not know what may compel a pedestrian to cross against a light. There is only one reason that pedestrians cross against a light — because waiting for the light to change is inconvenient. There are no other reasons. Clearly, you think that a pedestrian’s convenience is more important than that of a bicyclist. It’s clear that you suffer from delusions of entitlement; that you shouldn’t have to wait for red lights like everyone else. Sorry but that just doesn’t fly. Bicyclists have as much need to get where they are going as you do. The lights give people their turn. You’ll need to learn to wait just like everybody else.

    Your threats of violence are ill advised. I know a number of cyclists who are very large and would squash you like a bug. A number of NFL players use cycling as part of their training program. I’ve also heard too many stories over the years about bicyclists who carry guns due to violent threats by psychos like you.

    Bicycle registration has been tried and it failed. Practically all jurisdictions that had it have abandoned it.

    Liability insurance for bicyclists would be low priced if it were required because bicyclists present a very low risk factor to people around them. Your claims that they are a huge danger to other people are delusional, ignorant and insane.