This past Sunday, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. From past experience, I expected that it would be crowded with pedestrians and cyclists on a sunny Sunday afternoon. That it is under construction only adds to the congestion.
I am an avid photographer. During previous visits, my photographc kit was a bit limited, hence, the reason for this visit (I had with me two still cameras and one camcorder.
I had walked from the Brooklyn side to the center of the bridge and had for the most part completed shooting those shots for which I had come.
On my "decent" to the NY side, I came upon another scene that invoked me to raise camera to eye.
In the process, I strayed a few steps into the bike lane (there is a line painted on the "path" designating pedestrian/bike).
I hear someone saying "watch, watch" and then I am brushed by a cyclist.
"Watch, watch" say I, and the cyclist brakes so that he can respond.
I continue, "next time, try using your brakes." to which cyclist responds, "you were in the bike lane, sir," and then, he continued on his way.
Further contemplation leads me to the conclusion that we were both wrong. I should not have strayed into the bike lane. He should have used his brakes to avoid contacting me.
I am of the notion that, just because a lane is marked for bikes, does not grant cyclists unfettered right of way to travel that bridge at speed amongst pedestrians (and I am not accusing this cyclist of speeding - I didn't observe his speed, but assume it was more than reasonably slow and in line with what would be appropriate for the conditions).
Had I been quicker of mind, I might have queeried the cyclist as to whether he would justify being struck behind by a car on a street where he had strayed from the bike lane.
Is it justifiable for a cyclist or auto driver to strike a pedestrian who is "J" walking?
I have always believed that it is incumbent upon any vehicle operator to avoid collisions in these circumstances, legality of the pedestrian's actions notwithstanding.
I concede that I should have been more careful so as not to venture into the bike lane.
But, I continue to maintain that the cyclist should not have struck me. I fully support his right to confront me on my "infraction," but he was wrong to have struck me.
Now, just to put this all into perspective, the strike was of a minor nature. Neither I nor my equipment was damaged.
The cyclist was well-mannered, and so was I.
I regret that i did not more fully engage him. I think that a more complete discussion might have benefited both of us.
I suspect that the cyclist is a good guy, probably a safe cyclist.
He likely has no clue that i am an avid cyclist, as well.
All in all, none of this is a big deal.
But, I think it a perfect example of our collective attitude as cyclists. I have read more than one thread here discussing how out of it pedestrians on a path can be.
My distraction was not ear buds, it was my camera.
When I ride, I feel it is my responsiblity to avoid collision whenever I overtake someone in front of me, no matter their mode of transportaion at the time.
To the "offending" cyclist, feel free to cut me up for crossing into "your" lane, but, next time, also take care not to contact those whom you are passing.