Last year, I wrote a piece detailing my fears for the new NYC Citi Bike Share program. Then, the program was delayed, so I didn't get to see whether my pessimistic thoughts proved true. But in less than two weeks, on Memorial Day, the program will finally launch, and there will be thousands more riders on our streets.
In the past year, I have rethought my position, and it is my hope that thousands of cyclists will cause cars to be cognizant of the plight of the NYC bicyclist. That said, on my 10- mile cycle commute to work every day (we've got showers here at Quirky, don't worry!), I've noticed all sorts of idiots who have put me and others in dangerous situations. They've included drivers of vehicles, pedestrians, and even fellow cyclists. Here's my list of ways that, as a person transporting oneself in New York City, you can make your commute safer, as the massive increase in cyclists arrives:
1. You're on a bicycle, don't talk on your phone. I see approximately two people per day weaving in and out of bike lanes, or riding very slowly during rush hour. What do you know? They're typically on the phone. I'm shocked that Mayor Bloomberg hasn't cracked down on this annoying-for-everyone infraction yet.
2. Don't ride the wrong way in bicycle lanes. While annoying for other cyclists, you're also putting yourself at risk when cars, trucks, and buses ram into you head on.
3. Don't ride too close to someone else. Yes, this is New York, but seriously, enjoy a little personal space, because you're one short stop away from sending everyone flying.
4. Don't ride tandem. We know you and your boyfriend/girlfriend/mistress love cycling together, but on a one lane cycle path, it is unacceptable to ride side by side.
5. Wear a helmet. Sorry, I'm not your mom, but do you really want to be 7 inches from vehicles flying at 50 miles per hour and think you'll live to tell about it if one of them screws up.
6. Obey traffic laws. Your life is more important than getting anywhere on time.
1. Be cognizant of bicycle lanes. Don't stare at a cyclist with the deer in headlights look. And just don't walk or run in bicycle lanes. (This especially applies to tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge ... which should have better marked bicycle/pedestrian lanes!)
2. If you're walking on a mixed-use path, keep your dog on its leash close to you. Otherwise, if it comes down to Rover's life or mine, sorry Rover, it sucks to be you.
3. Yes, many New Yorkers walk across streets when they have a red light, but if a cyclist is coming, you better watch the heck out.
1. Don't drive in bicycle lanes. Duh.
2. Don't park in bicycle lanes. Bigger Duh.
3. Know that if a cyclist wants to ride in the middle of the road (typically done for safety reasons), he/she will, so honk all you want, but I'm not going anywhere.
4. Don't drive four inches from cyclists. You must leave room for error.
CITY OF NEW YORK:
1. Repaint bicycle lanes. There is a huge problem in downtown Brooklyn that the paint has faded and motorists do as they please.
2. Give tickets to cyclists who use their phones. (I'd position some fit bicycle officers on the West Side Highway for this task!)
3. Give tickets to people who park their cars in bicycle lanes. Start in Downtown Brooklyn.
Please add more tips to this list, as I'm sure there are things that have affected you that I haven't mentioned.