Summer 1999, p.13

Letters

Scary Cabs, Cars, CBs & A Big Ride

Dear T.A.:
I will never ride my bicycle in New York City again. I nearly died today, brushed by a speeding taxi cab. My life passed before my eyes - how I wasn't struck is a miracle. The incident didn't end there. It ended with my hand slammed into the cabbie's window, smashing it to a million pieces. I sped off, shaking, not believing what had just happened. It could've ended so differently. It could've been my body smashed to bits. For that I am grateful; for my violent reaction I am not. Maybe this horrible incident will make one taxi driver think twice before swiping by pedestrians, although I will never put myself at his mercy again. I can no longer put my life on the line to get around in this city. The stakes are simply too high. My support for bicycling will continue and I will bicycle in safer areas (though anywhere there are cars is unsafe), but my days of riding 16 miles, back and forth from Queens are over. To those that continue braving the streets I wish you the luck of a cat. You'll need nine lives to make it through the mean streets of NYC.
JC Tripp
New York, NY
Sadly your experience is not unique. We appreciate your continued support for T.A's work to see that the New York City cycling experience instills joy and energy rather than horror. We have forwarded your letter to the Taxi & Limousine Commission along with T.A.'s request for expanded driver safety training that emphasizes respect for cyclists and pedestrians. -Ed.

Dear T.A:
Greetings from Expedition Africa: An Odyssey of Hope! In October, my partner, S. R. Nithy, a veteran expedition bicyclist from Malaysia, and I will set forth on the Interactive, Educational, Bicycle Journey of the Millennium. Beginning in Cairo, Egypt, we will pedal over 25,000 miles, through 33 African countries to our final destination - Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Through our Global Classroom on the Web, we'll share our journey with students of all ages throughout the world. We have developed an educational curriculum focusing on the human rights, social studies, geography, art and music of Africa. During the expedition, we'll update our web site on a weekly basis from the road with photographs and video documenting our daily journeys. Join us on this life-long learning experience at http://www.ExpeditionAfrica.org. See you on the web, and don't forget . . . keep pedaling!
Steve Whalen
Brooklyn, NY

Dear T.A.:
Even before the ribbon was cut for the new bike lane leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge on Adams Street, it was apparent that the lane was useless, and much time, money and effort was wasted on the well-intended and much-needed "improvement." I commute to work via Boerum Place to Adams Street everyday. I cannot recall one occasion when the bike lane wasn't choked from end to end with vehicles of all description (including taxis, limousines and buses at the Marriott Hotel; police cars and Corrections Vehicles at the Family Court). Not only is the lane completely blocked and inaccessible to bicyclists, the parking opportunity it offers drivers at its beginning, near Willoughby Street, is downright dangerous, due to the new traffic patterns and new traffic lights. No doubt, your advocacy efforts helped make this lane happen. Now, hopefully, they will help make it effective.
Ron Kaplan
New York, NY
You are not alone in your anger at the parking in the bike lane. T.A.'s Brooklyn Committee has been pushing the 84th Precinct to get the cars out of the lane. T.A. will conduct a Give Respect/Get Respect action against the parking the morning of July 23. See the calendar on page two for more. -Ed.

Dear T.A.:
I've been a member of T.A. for many years, so I'm always glad to see you quoted in the Times. My question is in reference to the recent story on driver inattentiveness and cell phones. I recall from when CB radio was popular in the 1970s that it was illegal to talk on the thing while you were driving. If I'm correct, then my question is why aren't these laws being applied to cell phones? Just wanted to make a suggestion that might help your efforts to improve safety. Thanks for all your work.
Jonathon Raphael
Plainview, NY
We checked the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law and found no provision prohibiting talking on a CB radio while driving. -Ed.