Fall 2003, p.6
The image of cyclists as sidewalk riding maniacs who bully and threaten pedestrians poisons political support for cycling. Unfortunately, it has become a New York City stereotype, just like demented cab drivers. In neighborhoods like the Upper East and West Sides, persistent problems with pedestrian-unfriendly cyclists, many of them in a rush to deliver food, has created considerable enmity towards all cyclists. It has also contributed to the city council's endless attempt to ratchet up the penalties for cycling offenses, and distracted lawmakers and the public from the far more dangerous problem of reckless motor vehicle drivers. In 2002, the city council once again raised the penalty for cycling on the sidewalk, though it did not increase any penalties for driving or parking on sidewalks, or hitting pedestrians in crosswalks. People's aggravation with sidewalk cycling also fuels opposition to cycling projects and makes city agencies and elected officials more wary of supporting cycling improvements.
In an effort to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety and improve the image of bicyclists, T.A. has launched the "Working Cyclists: Safety education for couriers and food delivery cyclists" campaign. The goal is to get bicycles off sidewalks and reduce the number of bicycle-pedestrian crashes, injuries and near misses. As part of this campaign, we are working on getting businesses to take responsibility for the actions of their working cyclists.
The Working Cyclists campaign fills an education void. Most working cyclists, many of whom are new immigrants, receive zero safety training from their employers. Few employers are familiar with the New York City laws that pertain to working cyclists.
T.A. is working with city
council members, the NYPD and community boards to develop materials and target
businesses to increase safety. This summer, T.A. developed trilingual,
English-Spanish and English-Chinese safety classes, manuals and posters that
teach working cyclists and their employers the laws of bike riding
The project will initially focus on Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East and West Sides, where sidewalks are jammed with pedestrians and the dangerous behavior of many working cyclists is a chronic problem.
Street Smart Cycling Tips
Wear a Helmet New York State law requires children under age 14 to wear helmets. Adults should set a good example and wear helmets whenever they ride a bicycle. Use your brain; you only have one.
Stay Away From Car Doors Ride four feet away from parked cars, even if it means riding in a whole lane of traffic. This will reduce the chance of a motorist opening a car door into you.
Never Ride on Sidewalks When you ride on the sidewalk, you anger and threaten pedestrians and break the law. The police can take away your bicycle and fine you $300.
Ride With Traffic, Not Against Riding against traffic is dangerous for you and for pedestrians. If you ride against traffic, you are more likely to crash with a car or pedestrian and suffer serious injury. Fine: $55
Report Crashes to the Police If you are in a crash with a vehicle, car door or pedestrian, call 911. You and the motorist, pedestrian or other bicyclist must stay and provide your names, addresses and telephone numbers for the police.
Give Pedestrians a Break Yield to pedestrians crossing streets. Stay out of crosswalks when stopped at red lights
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