Council Ups Penalties for Riding on Sidewalk--Again
For the third time in eight years, the NYC City Council passed legislation in late June increasing the penalties for cycling on the sidewalk. The Council's vote is a direct result of the failure of the police to enforce existing laws. The political impetus for the new law is the rampant sidewalk cycling on Manhattan's Upper West and East Sides-primarily by restaurant delivery cyclists. Councilmembers representing these areas, including powerful City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, have been deluged with complaints, especially from the elderly.
Some cyclists downplay complaints about riding on sidewalks and point to the tremendous menace that motor vehicles pose. They are right that, objectively, cars are by far the bigger problem. However, it is a big mistake to think that cycling on the sidewalks is a trivial issue. In fact, politically, bikes on sidewalks are a far bigger issue than dangerous drivers. The pervasiveness of sidewalk cycling has irritated just about everyone, including T.A. In fact, in some neighborhoods, the public frustration over bikes on sidewalks is so high that issues like traffic safety, traffic calming, bridge tolls and encouraging cycling--cannot compete. People who are afraid of being hit by a bike will not support increased cycling.
Unfortunately, public anger and the consternation of city councilmembers have not translated into intelligent education and enforcement efforts. Instead of gathering the facts and holding the police department accountable for enforcement, the Council continues to create ever more punitive laws. Currently, bike on sidewalk laws are not enforced by the police and when they are, fines are not paid. (The Environmental Control Board, which is supposed to collect cycling fines, is owed $650 million.) But there are ways to substantially reduce sidewalk cycling. One is improved education. Later this year, T.A. will conduct a Give Respect/Get Respect event with State Senator Liz Krueger from the Upper East Side and Councilmember Gail Brewer from the Upper West Side. Indeed, education combined with increased enforcement of existing commercial cycling laws, especially those holding restaurant owners accountable, is the best way to stop sidewalk cycling on the Upper East and West Sides. Write to Police Commissioner Kelly and urge the NYPD to increase its enforcement of penalizing sidewalk cyclists.
T.A. knows that cycling in
NYC can be scary, which is why we are working hard to make streets safer. But
we also know that sidewalks are for pedestrians-only.
Sidewalk Crash Scorecard
From April 25, 2002 to June 26, 2002 …
Of these six crashes, not one driver was
Presently, if you ride your bicycle on the sidewalk near a pedestrian, you could