January/February 1998, p.22-23


Dear TA:
As I was riding around my neighborhood on my bicycle, I came upon a speeding auto exiting the BQE. Actually, it came speeding towards me! But once the driver saw me riding tranquilly on my bike, (s)he slowed down noticeably, aware that (s)he was no longer on the savage expressway. Bicycles send a message-that of civility and urban/pedestrian activity.
Keep up the good work at T.A.
Theo Tours
Long Island City, NY

Dear Councilman Eristoff:
As a daily bicycle commuter, I applaud your effort to stop cyclists from riding on the sidewalks. These sidewalk-riders make all cyclists look bad and create tensions between cyclists and pedestrians.
I am concerned, however, that your campaign could stigmatize law-abiding cyclists as well. The "No Bikes" emblem you have adopted, while perfectly appropriate on a sidewalk, nonetheless makes me uncomfortable, considering all the recent progress we cyclists have made to get the city to recognize our legitimate place on the streets.
Please consider adopting signs that say "No cycling on sidewalk" as opposed to the current anti-bike emblem, and please draw a distinction in your public statements between sidewalk-riders and law-abiding cyclists.
A great motto that condemns sidewalk riders while still supporting cycling is "Bikes belong on the streets." No real city-cycling enthusiast could object to that.
Tim Reason
Brooklyn, NY

Dear Councilman Eristoff:
I understand your concern at the very unfortunate accident wherein a pedestrian was killed by a bicyclist. However, as a friend of bicycles, I am left to wonder: how the number of bicycle-related pedestrian deaths compares to the number of automobile-related pedestrians deaths?
A NY Times article about the accident states that nearly 10,000 tickets were given to bicyclists. This strikes me as an absurd harassment of people who use a means of transportation that is pollution-free, reduces congestion, causes no damage to city streets and is incomparably safer than automobiles, from a deaths-of-pedestrians perspective.
How about making the city a little safer for cyclists instead of trying to wipe them out?
Quinn via e-mail
Decatur, GA
The writer was one of the first women bicycle messengers in Manhattan, ca. 1980, and is now a bike-commuter and a member of the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign.

To the NY Times Editor:
Your coverage of recent, unfortunate vehicle-pedestrian crashes is disturbing, and not just because of the events they discuss. An article buried in Metro News Briefs on November 19 reports that a car in Midtown caused 11 injuries, including that of two pedestrians (one of whom wasn't in the street). Then, on November 21st, we have front-page Metro coverage of a fatal crash involving a cyclist and a pedestrian on the sidewalk and subsequent political outrage, led by Mayor Giuliani, over the "very big quality-of-life problem" that are bicycles.
What we never see mentioned in your pages, and what politicians are loathe to face, is that approximately 250 pedestrians and cyclists are killed by motor vehicles in New York City every year. And this is on top of thousands of injuries inflicted by drivers upon the car-less as well as air pollution, noise pollution and abuse of common space. Compare this to zero to two fatalities caused by cyclists, who don't pollute or make noise while traveling and who take up about one-twelfth the space of average-sized cars.
We should do all we can to encourage safe riding by bicyclists, but we should also spend at least two hundred times more energy to tame motor vehicle drivers and make the streets and sidewalks safer and cleaner for everyone.
Hannah Borgeson
New York, NY

Dear Commissioner Lynn:
The new bus-stop signs sprinkled around the city do wonders to make clear the city's extensive bus network, and I'm impressed with how quickly they've appeared. How about some speed-limit signs next?
Hannah Borgeson
New York, NY

Dear TA:
I really hate MTA Bridges & Tunnels for its anti-pedestrian/bicycle attitude. After checking Fiboro Bridges information [on the T.A. web site], I found that there was once a walkway on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge but it was removed when the roadway was widened. I think it is necessary to put more and more pressure on MTA B&T to benefit pedestrians and bikers more, including trying to get the walkway back on the Whitestone Bridge, because bike-on-rack service on QBx1 buses is not reliable. Successful action will benefit all of us seeking a better environment for biking, skating, and walking.
Yifan Ji
Flushing, NY

Dear T.A.:
Some weeks ago a pedestrian on the Upper West Side was killed by a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk delivering food for a restaurant. Our illustrious mayor, King Rudolph Giuliani I, called bicycling the number one quality of life issue. The usual ticket blitz against cyclists followed. Rather than engage in a pissing contest with the mayor, why don't we try to solve the real problem which is virtual slave labor delivering food on bicycle (usually stolen) to New Yorkers too lazy to pick up their own food or cook (heaven forbid). Look at the bicycles these delivery people ride. The majority are late-model mountain bikes that originally cost between $300-$500 new. These bicycles all have been repainted (usually black, silver or cow-dung brown). Why have they been repainted? Answer: because they are stolen. Everybody I know has had at least one bicycle stolen, and a good number of their machines are delivering lo mein as you read this article.
What can we do about of this? Educate everyone you know about the inherent evils of ordering delivered take-out foods. (They promote bad-riding habits and encourage bicycle thievery.) We can picket restaurants that have a fleet of stolen bicycles. We can appeal to the powers that be to license food delivery personnel. (Taxicab drivers are licensed; it gives them a sense of responsibility.) We can also appeal to the same powers to specify all delivery bikes to be one-speed cruisers with a coaster brake and one-piece crankset. This will discourage bike thievery, since a great share of their market will evaporate. We can do something constructive or we can whine about the mayor and his bicycling ticket policy. It's our choice.
Hal Ruzal
New York, NY

Dear T.A.:
I am a T.A.member, an avid NYC cyclist, a Jew born and raised in Brooklyn and I am outraged that the proposed bike path through the Hasidic community has been rejected. I hope this is not the end of it.
This is America and pressure from religious sects or groups should not be catered to. The bike path will be an amenity, not a hazard.
Benedict Yedlin