Dear New York Times Editors:
As a middle aged, middle class woman who has been traversing NYC by bicycle as
a means of transportation for the past forty years, I am incensed by the way
in which bicyclists are bad mouthed and mistreated. For every person hurt or
killed by bicycles, there are thousands hurt or killed by automobiles. This
includes hundreds of bicyclists. When a bicyclist hit and killed one
pedestrian, it made headlines. When a car hits and maims or kills a bicyclist,
that is not news.
Bicycles are a clean, quiet, healthy means of transportation. Instead of
pandering to the trucks and automobiles, our City should be helping people
take to their bicycles, not just for recreation but as a means of getting from
one place to another. This means establishing bike lanes. Instead the City is
cracking down on bicyclists.
It's time this City followed the example of many big European cities and made
it safe and easy for citizens to use their bicycles.
Alice K. Ladas, Ed.D.
New York, NY
All dangerous cyclists, electric motorized chair drivers, crazed mothers
pushing baby carriages, and mad car drivers should have their vehicles taken
away from them! But until New York City builds dedicated bike lanes for
cyclists, as long as a cyclist rides slowly and is careful he or she should be
allowed to use public sidewalks.
New York, NY
Yes, cyclists need safe streets. But two wrongs don't make a right.
Pedestrians are beleaguered enough without having to share the sidewalk with
cyclists. - Ed.
I believe the article, "Doored" (T.A. Jan/Feb '98), misses the
point. It is never necessary to ride at high speeds within the door swing
corridor of parked cars. Yet almost every day I see bicyclists traveling fast
within four feet of parked cars. Sooner or later every one of these cyclists
will hit a car door. These incidents are avoidable. Even in NYC traffic,
bicyclists are safer taking over the outer traffic lane where motorists can
see them, than riding close to parked cars.
I have ridden a bicycle almost every day for forty five years, in many cities,
including New York, without ever hitting a car door. I expect to continue to
bicycle on a daily basis for forty five more years, and I can assure you that
I will not be doored. The reason is simple. I will continue to ride outside of
the door lane of parked cars when traveling at greater than walking speed no
matter what the traffic conditions. Your statistic of over 17,000 cyclist
injuries per year for this type of accident should underline the need to
stress safety precaution. The advice that you should give to every cyclist is
"NEVER ride fast close to parked cars".
I do not agree with your advice about taking legal action against a car driver
who unthinkingly opens the door without looking. To ride within the swing of a
car door is irresponsible. We should encourage bicyclists to take
responsibility rather than to blame someone else for this type of accident.
Good advice about staying outside the door zone. Clearly, avoiding getting
hit or doored in the first place is the best strategy. But, no matter how
careful and skilled a cyclist is, a reckless or inattentive motorist can hit
them. (We'd draw your attention to super-dangerous, but often seen situations
like cabs slamming on their brakes and throwing open a passenger door into the
third traffic lane from the curb!) The point of "Doored" is what to
do if you are hit or doored and your brain stops working. And yes, T.A. does
recommend using a lawyer to seek compensation for being injured and
endangered. Bicyclists are put at extreme disadvantage by a traffic system
based on legal standards (AASHTOA) that are designed for cars, and by criminal
laws that let motorists go unpunished for maiming and killing vulnerable
cyclists and pedestrians. Irresponsible motorists should pay for their
actions. - Ed.
[Regarding the WNYC program in which John Kaehny of T.A. was responding to
Councilman Noach Dear's proposed legislation requiring insurance for bicycle
We know that mixing insurance companies into any walk of life benefits only
the insurance companies. Most bicycle accidents involve cyclists getting hit
by cars. The numbers bandied around by the hysterical anti-cyclists are
unsubstantiated at best or, at worst, absolute nonsense.
There is prudence, and then there is the pathetic, primitive preoccupation
with abnormal levels of safety, virtually unknown outside of the USA. In other
nations, people are encouraged to think for themselves and not seek refuge in
idiotic, untenable laws such as those that emanate from City Council.
Robert P. Held
New York, NY
You are doing a great service to pedestrians in New York....I believe New York
City should have more restrictions on non-resident traffic and pedestrian-only
blocks like most civilized cities in the world. We have brilliant minds that
can effectively design a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. Remember we
pedestrians are the consumers, we still don't have drive-in stores!
I wear my "ONE LESS CAR" tee and it makes an impression. Not because
of biking but because pedestrians are now conscious of our wrong-headed mayor,
who is playing into our hands about CARS. He's great publicity, and now T.A.
is on top of it.
The magazine is better than ever.
Given the city's unjust assault on bicyclists and pedestrians, it is critical
T.A. members make their voices heard in the city's newspapers. One of the
easiest, not to mention quick and cheap, means of doing that is via the
internet. Using email, in the last six weeks, I've had letters published in
the Daily News, New York Post, and The Village Voice. Remember, each letter
you send is equivalent to speaking on behalf of one hundred others. Even if
it's is not chosen for publication, the opinions and volume of the mail they
receive is the engine which propels news coverage and editorial content. Don't
be silent! Copy these addresses into your e-mail address file for fast
New York Times: firstname.lastname@example.org
N.Y. Post: email@example.com
Daily News: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Village Voice: email@example.com
Always include your name and phone number for verification. Brief is better.
Clarence Eckerson, Jr.