(A lousy photo of something you didn't need to see anyway.)
To which a reader replied:
You must have taken that photo of Times Square at 6:00 am.
Where are the tourists?
AUGUST 20, 2013 AT 1:27 PM
Actually, I took it at around 11:00am yesterday, and most of the tourists were in the new pedestrian plaza. (Or, as they're known in the rest of the world, "plazas," since in the civilized world the "pedestrian" part is assumed.) However, there were also a lot of tourists one block over on 6th Avenue, and unbeknownst to me, at more or less the very moment I took this picture one of them was busy spending her first day in New York City being run over by a cab that ran onto the sidewalk after intentionally ramming a cyclist:
Reports say the cab driver who maimed a pedestrian in Midtown this morning was arguing with a bike messenger, whom he rammed with his cab before driving 15 to 20 feet on the sidewalk and severing a woman’s leg, but he probably won’t be charged with a crime.
Here is the bike messenger's part of the story:
“I told him to stop because I’m trying to go forward and people are crossing,” the cyclist said. “He loses his patience. He gets angry. He accelerates. Hits me.”
“The hood of his car was so close to me, I could touch it. I told him to stop, he gets angry, he honks his horn, and he accelerates, and that’s it — I’m on the hood of the car, and the woman is under his car. He was in the bike lane, and he wanted to turn, but he didn’t want to wait. … I told him to calm down. … When I moved forward, that’s when he accelerated because I couldn’t escape him.”
I don't think there's actually a bike lane there since it disappears mysteriously around 42nd Street--not like it matters anyway, since the 6th Avenue bike lane is all but unusable due to standing motor vehicles and drivers using it as a turn lane.
In any case, so what does the driver have to say? Well, there are lots of proven, ready-made excuses for him to choose from, and wisely he went with a classic:
Taxi driver Faysal Kabir Mohammad Himon, 24, of Queens, is accompanied by police on Sixth Ave. after the disaster. His brother claims Himon struck the bicyclist after he accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brakes.
Ah, the old "wrong pedal" gambit. Works every time.
As for the tourist he ran down, as far as I know she hasn't made a comment yet, since she's in the hospital coming to terms with the loss of one or both of her legs.
So basically, a cabbie got angry at a bike messenger, attempted to run him down (like you do), missed, and instead mangled a pedestrian for life. His punishment?
He was issued a summons for “unauthorized use,” an administrative violation for not submitting a form notifying the Taxi and Limousine Commission that he would be driving that particular cab.
“Nothing like this has happened to me before,” Himon said.
"Happened to me?" Is he fucking kidding? Nothing happened to him! He tried to kill somebody, missed, almost killed somebody else, and they punished him less harshly than the video stores used to when you forgot to rewind a VHS tape. He went home that night, and he's probably back at work today, picking up a fare on 6th Avenue as I type this.
Anyway, Midtown being Midtown, even though I was only a few blocks away I had no idea any of this was even happening until I got to where I was going and saw it on the Internet. Now, I knew there weren't going to be any charges, because there virtually never are. Still, I couldn't help thinking, "This one's got to be different. That stretch of Sixth Avenue is arguably the media capital of the United States in one of the sweetest terrorism targets in the world. There must be a million cameras in that part of town that will show what that driver did. Plus, it's a tourist. An innocent abroad, not an enemy combatant like a bicyclist."
I also thought, "If he doesn't get charged with something, I'm pulling the plug."
Pulling the plug on what? Well, on any reasonable hope that this can be a truly bike-friendly city. I hate to even put this in the context of bikes, since the victim was a pedestrian, but lots of people are going to make it about bikes anyway--like this idiotic commenter on the above Streetsblog story:
A bike messenger knocked me over while I was crossing a midtown street. I was crossing in the crosswalk with the light in MY favor, not his. Then as I yelled at him while prone on the pavement, he gave me the finger and left the scene. Just sayin'.
Awww, sucks for you. But let me ask you this: do you still have your fucking legs?
That's the difference between a car and a bike. Let's stop pretending breaking the law with a car or a bike is the same thing.
And I'm sure if a cop had been around they'd have thrown the messenger in jail, since here's how you get treated on a bike:
So yeah, I'm making it about bikes (though it's really about everybody), and I'm sticking with the prediction I made recently for the future of cycling in New York City. Paul Steely White summed up the overall problem well in a recent Times editorial:
According to data collected by the New York Police Department at crash scenes, law-breaking drivers killed more than 160 and injured more than 23,400 of their fellow New Yorkers in 2011. What’s more, the city’s health department found that traffic is the No. 1 cause of preventable death for New York City kids and No. 2 for their grandparents.
Therefore the next mayor should:
Institute a data-driven, zero-tolerance policy for traffic deaths and serious injuries at the New York Police Department and start work on a multiyear goal of eliminating traffic deaths in the city. Statistics from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles show that 60 percent of fatal crashes are caused by drivers who speed, fail to yield to pedestrians, disregard stop lights and signs or break other traffic laws. In New York, drivers are about five times as likely to get a ticket for a broken taillight or headlight than for not giving a pedestrian their right of way in the crosswalk. This is an immoral misallocation of valuable police resources.
However, I doubt it will happen. Ultimately drivers' fear of getting in actual trouble for making a "mistake" like running somebody over while breaking the law will outweigh their outrage when the odd kid or old person gets picked off by someone else, so it's hard to imagine a massive push for change.
And as far as all the new bike and pedestrian infrastructure we've gotten, I still love much of it, and I hope we get more, but without actual enforcement of reckless driving it's only a little bit better than the bullshit amenities they use to sell condos, like screening rooms and pool tables and all the rest of it. What good is a bike lane (or a sidewalk for that matter) if there's nothing to dissuade a driver from killing you while you use it, just as what good is a screening room if your apartment keeps getting robbed? It's nice and all, but it doesn't address the real problem.
Really, you could argue that all the new infrastructure is just a bullshit amenity to sell condos. I'm sure people love to see all that green paint on the street in front of that shiny glass building with the tax abatement and the zoning variance when they show up for the open house. Too bad all it's good for is Fresh Direct truck parking--though ultimately I doubt the new residents will mind.
So if you're outraged over all this, what do you do? This?
@bikesnobnyc agreed . So what are we going to do about it? Can we get 500 bikes to close down 6th avenue at rush hour?
— Peter W. Beadle (@pwbnyc) August 21, 2013
No, they tried that. It was called "Critical Mass" and it only made things worse here.
Really, as I see it, the only hope we have in this city and this country at this point is for a bunch of countries to sanction us for human rights violations and using cars as weapons of mass destruction. Too bad the only countries that don't seem to do the same thing are Denmark and the Netherlands, and if they tried to levy some kind of trade embargo on us nobody would care. "Fuck them, they can keep their tulips and their danishes," the typical American would reply.
In the meantime though, it goes without saying that all countries should issue travel advisories to their citizens planning on visiting America, where if the cars don't get you the guns will.
And if you actually live here already, always remember where you stand in the eyes of the law, because it should factor into every decision you make while riding your bike.
As for the end game in all of this, it's driverless cars:
See, once we have these we won't even have to make the old "I pressed the wrong pedal" excuse, and drivers will be completely free from personal responsibility once and for all.
Just as I pressed "publish," I saw an update that "prosecutors are investigating:"