ARROGANT CYCLISTS A DEADLY HELL ON WHEELS
Posted: 3:48 am
July 30, 2008
IT'S murder out there if you like to walk. The bike people won't repeat this. But those who enjoy hoofing it on city streets stand a good chance of experiencing a close encounter with a kamikaze rider who treats stoplights like suggestions, and pedestrians like speed bumps.
And some of you will die.
"Some guys are out for a quick buck - but you're always going to have that in New York," bike messenger Gilbert Diaz, 38, told me cheerfully after zipping along Chelsea's Ninth Avenue bike path.
"I have [hit a pedestrian]," Diaz confessed. "You can't help it!"
Each year, an average of one walker - most over age 60 - dies after being struck by a bicyclist somewhere on city streets. Last year, two died.
Plus, an alarming number of pedestrians - 500 a year, according to a bicycle-advocacy group - get struck by a bike in the city, and live. Which means more than one person a day is potential road kill for the cyclist in a hurry.
Why don't we hear about this?
Most accidents occur on choked Manhattan streets, where bicycles rule and bipeds scramble. Ever try to cross Sixth Avenue at lunchtime? It's like human pinball. You get more warning before a lightning strike.
"They own the city - at least they think they own the city," griped Larry, 70, who walked carefully on the bike path. "Even in the parks. We're always in the way!"
A spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, the bicycle-advocacy group, told me the number of pedestrian fatalities was "statistically insignificant." I started digging.
Buried deep in a 2006 city report was the news that 11 people died after being struck by bikes between 1996 and 2005. After businessman Arthur Kaye was killed by a deliveryman in 1997 - the only case that got significant press - Transportation Alternatives revealed the truth: 500 people are struck by bikes each year.
I would not recommend that anyone, particularly a cop, push a biker off his perch. But to deny the tension that exists between lawless bikers and foot lovers is a mistake.
You take your life in your hands when you use your feet.