Bicyclists Are a Deadly Menace. Ban Bikes

Barack Obama on a bike in 2008 / AP

In the New York Post, Nicole Gelinas warns us that arrogant bikers are a public health menace:

But in the past month, one man has died and one woman is near death because of something the city hasn’t seen in half a decade: deathly injury by a reckless bicyclist. …

Tarlov is reportedly near death because, one of the park’s racing cyclists allegedly hit her as she crossed the street.

A witness told The Post that cyclist Jason Marshall was "speeding. It didn’t look like he tried to stop. He was yelling for her to get out of the way."

Last month, Irving Schacter (a cyclist himself) died in a similar fashion, also in the park. Either a 17-year-old cyclist or a pedicab driver, or both, failed to realize that sometimes the safe speed is zero.

I've noted this before, but it's worth repeating: speed doesn't kill, speed differential kills. Which is to say, bicycles are, by their very nature, dangerous. They're too slow for streets and too fast for sidewalks, causing frustration (and inspiring risky lane changes/tailgating) in drivers and turning bicycles into two-wheeled death machines for pedestrians. The physics of bicycling (the difficulty of stopping/starting, the effort needed to go an extra block in order to obey one-way signs) inspires risky, illegal behavior (blowing through stop lights and signs, going the wrong way down one-way streets, etc.) that the riders then justify to themselves and others because, hey, they're saving the world or something.

"But cars are way deadlier!" This is true, and we should do a better job of educating pedestrians about the best ways to avoid being run over by automobiles. Simple tips like "If you're going to jaywalk, keep your head on a swivel and cross the street as quickly as possible*" and "Don't stare at your iPhone when you're breaking the law" would be a good starting point. Similarly, drivers need to understand that hooking a left at 40 mph in the downtown core to beat the red light is not an acceptable way to drive. Instead of spending their time writing tickets for people doing 10 over in a 35 zone, cops would be much better off aggressively cracking down on people pulling such dangerous stunts. Eventually drivers will get the message.

Navigating city streets is hard enough when you have contraptions capable of doing 160 MPH interacting with bipeds walking at 4 MPH, even when both groups are engaging in perfectly lawful behavior. Tossing in a third variable going anywhere between 10 MPH and 30 MPH that has an utter disregard for the rules of the road is a recipe for disaster.

Ban bikes. It's the only way to be safe.

*One of the most bizarre aspects of city living is the pedestrian who not only chooses to jaywalk, but crosses the street at a diagonal and does so as slowly as possible, staring you down when you come upon him as he struts and swaggers across the road. Every single one of these jackaninnies deserves to get hit by a car and buried in a potter's field. While we're banning bikes, we might as well ban jackaninnies too.