July 2nd, 2019: Breaking The Car Culture Before It Breaks Us

We could see some storms today so be ready:

Tuesday Weather

Tuesday A slight chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. West wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before midnight. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Northwest wind 5 to 8 mph.

Sunrise 5:29am

Sunset 8:31pm

Here's some recent cartooning perspective from New York City:

And from London:

The latter cartoon omits one very specific type of pedestrian:

Must be one of those "vehicular pedestrians."

Meanwhile, just days after the death of Ernest Askew (and on the day of his vigil) another cyclist has been killed in Brooklyn:

The biker, 29, was killed near the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Boerum Street, marking the 15th cycling death in the city this year, up from 10 fatalities in all of 2018.

The cyclist was heading north on Bushwick Avenue at around 12:19 p.m. when she was hit while the truck was heading east, according to police.

This is a crisis.

From Transportation Alternatives:

New Yorkers on bikes are being killed at a record rate. It is clear that Vision Zero is in a state of emergency and Mayor de Blasio is in denial about his signature program faltering under his neglect. Vision Zero is an effective, lifesaving program when implemented with the necessary financing, innovation, and planning. For the past five years, steady Vision Zero progress has proven that the deaths of people walking and biking are preventable. New Yorkers have long called for a more aggressive and innovative approach. Today we are in a crisis. It’s up to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to act. 

To that end, Transportation Alternatives is calling on the mayor to immediately task DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg with creating an emergency response plan worthy of this crisis that can be implemented as soon as possible. In his absence, the City Council should immediately take up and pass a Vision Zero State of Emergency Omnibus Bill to protect walking and biking New Yorkers. The Vision Zero State of Emergency Omnibus Bill would bundle a suite of recently proposed traffic safety laws, including efforts to increase intersection visibility with a citywide daylighting program; reform New York City’s trucking and freight policies; pilot automated enforcement technologies that can protect bike lanes and intersections from drivers; Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Master Plan for City Streets, to dramatically increase the number of street redesigns across the city; and Council Member Brad Lander’s Reckless Driver Accountability Act, to keep repeat reckless drivers off the road. 

And the Mayor has pledged action:

Nevertheless, this deadly state of affairs is why people still see cycling in New York City as an act of defiance:


I find small ways to refuse feeling trapped and shattered by how unfree life feels because I am bound to some idea of the non-existent Right Thing. I want to be free—but not too free—so I seek out things that are permissible, but feel like bad behavior. One of them is getting on a bike and riding through traffic in a place that loves to put you in harm's way for trying. Bicycling through New York City, however dangerous, brings me back to life by reminding me that I have a body—and that it can get in people’s way; that it's fallible. The monotony of everyday life melts into the asphalt, where my main interest is self-protection, and my brain strips away to reveal the threat and promise of my immediate physical surroundings.

All of the above is true, but it shouldn't have to be; hopping on a bike should be no less fraught than swiping a MetroCard.

And while infrastructure would go a long way in that regard, it's not necessarily going to change attitudes like these:

Which is why the city's future lies in making a commitment to "break the car culture:"

Breaking the car culture is at the center of Johnson’s proposed “master plan for city streets,” new legislation that would require the city Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve pedestrian and cyclist access and safety by establishing benchmarks and, in five-year increments, aggressively building out a network of bike lanes, bus lanes, and pedestrian plazas that transform the city.

By 2024, the master plan would institute a connected bike network across the city, install many miles of protected bus lanes, install accessible pedestrian signals at all intersections with a pedestrian signal, redesign all intersections with a pedestrian signal according to a checklist of street design elements designed to enhance safety, and complete all these improvements within the standards for accessible design held by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The CIty Council held a hearing on the bill recently, its fate is unknown at this time.

Alas, the car culture is alive and well on the pages of the Riverdale Press:

Riverdale Press

Others attending the meeting were slower warming to the proposal, however. Laura Spalter — who has been a vocal opponent of the Broadway restriping — said she’s heard Mosholu merchants express trepidation over the potential of a bike lane.

“There are not enough parking spots,” Spalter said. “So people do double-park to get their pizza, to get their dry cleaning, to drop their kids off at schools.”

Merchants on West 242nd Street are “howling and suffering because business has gone down because of lack of access to their customers” since bike lanes were installed on Broadway last year.

The absurdity of double-parking to pick up pizza and dry cleaning notwithstanding, any W. 242nd St. merchant "howling and suffering" because of the Broadway bike lane should look out their front window and note that it doesn't start until W. 246th St.  They might also want to ruminate about the fact that there are no businesses at all on the bike lane side of Broadway, just a gigantic park:


Unfortunately, when it comes to reporting on bike lanes, parroting ill-founded "concerns" still takes a back seat to accuracy:

Go ahead and hear for yourself:

Guess you had to be there.