The Bike Bitch

Mar 21

An Open Letter to Eric Adams

Dear Mr. Mayor:

I have a quick and easy way to make you a really popular mayor—and  a hero to citizens citywide who fear for their lives:

Make me the Official Commissioner Of Bicycle Safety Enforcement. . .

You see, your honor, I live on East 22nd Street, and I’m mad as hell about cyclists speeding, going the wrong way, and running red lights down Second Avenue.

I don’t mean to sound cranky (Me, cranky?) but after several near misses, which, to be accurate, are near hits, one where I saved the proverbial little old lady standing next to me—littler and older, even than my own petite person— I’m more than ready to do something about bike riders disobeying the rules.

Yes, there ARE rules. But they aren’t enforced.

Besides, the riders are wearing helmets, and I’m not! And neither are you, Mr. Mayor. We’re all in danger and need to be protected.

It’s A Tough Job, But Somebody’s Got To Do It!

But what exactly would The Bike Bitch do? How astute of you to ask.
Here’s the plan: I’d put together a team of dedicated street walkers, (although perhaps I should rephrase that), whose sacred mission would be to seek out and identify bikers flouting the rules. We’d photograph them with our handy iPhones, get their license numbers, and . . .

. . . wait a minute. Bikers don’t have licenses. Or plates. What they have is helmets, and the smugness that comes from being green.

Now, I try to be as ecologically aware as the next person, and am seriously cutting back on my prodigious output of non-recyclable garbage. And I get it that bikers are helping the environment by using their legs instead of fossil fuel. But the Bike Bitch must point out that doing the virtuous thing doesn’t give a body the license to do the reckless thing. And there we are, back to licenses.

Bikes should have license plates. That way I, the Bike Bitch, and my dedicated posse of Bike Babes and Bike Boys and Bike Bi’s and all manner of Biking Bipeds would be able to go forth to give out tickets to bikers breaking the law.

Some may disagree. A few years ago, Randy Cohen, then the Ethicist for The New York Times, declared that while it’s illegal to run lights, it’s not unethical, “if, and only if, no pedestrian is in the crosswalk and no car is in the intersection—that is, if it will not endanger myself or anybody else.” He feels that “a fundamental concern of ethics is the effect of our actions on others. My actions harm no one,” he says, and goes on to opine that, “This moral reasoning may not sway the police officer writing me a ticket, but it would pass the test of Kant’s categorical imperative: I think all cyclists could — and should — ride like me.” Really?

THAT’S the way he rolls?

This column enraged me. First of all, I had to look up Kant, Immanuel that is, and check out this categorical imperative thing, which turns out to be something like the Golden Rule only way more complicated. Took forever to figure it out. But I did it so that you, your honor, don’t have to, and I hope that you will count this in my favor when considering my request.

But even after exhaustive research (alright, so I just Googled German philosophers), I was unconvinced. Although Randy called himself an ethicist, The Ethicist, actually, and I am a mere blogger, I disagree with his Kantian cop out (no pun intended Mr. Mayor) and say slap him with a ticket. Mr. Cohen may have perfect timing along with his finely tuned sense of right and wrong, but most cyclists, as anyone on Second Avenue and 22nd Street can tell you, do not.

Still, Mr I-Like-Bikes Cohen was right about one thing: There have been relatively few pedestrian fatalities caused by bicycles reported in NYC. To find out exactly how many, I Googled everything I could think of. Beginning with the straightforward How many deaths in NYC are caused by bicycles, I then tried searches like Bicycle-related fatalities, then got whimsical with Bikes Gone Wild, and ended up with Weren’t there any deaths by bike at all in this damn city?

Well, the statistics on this seem to be rather fuzzy and not conclusive.
However! Before you dismiss me as yet another crank in a cityfull of same, there have been pedestrian deaths by cyclists in San Francisco, most, I must point out, to citizens of the senior variety. How many have to die at the hands (or feet) of a cyclist in our fair city before we pay attention? The Bike Bitch thinks that the acceptable number is zero.

And yes, yes, as it is endlessly pointed out, there are far, far, more injuries and many deaths to pedestrians by cars. But listen to this:

The headline “Bikes Hit More Pedestrians Than Previously Thought” came up on yet another Google search. It’s a study by Hunter College about injuries (Ouch!), as opposed to fatalities, noting that pedestrians who needed medical attention after being hit by cyclists numbered about 1000 each year in the US until recently, when it soared to 1000 in New York State alone. I couldn’t find the stats for New York City, but that was mainly because Google started refusing to take my calls. Maybe your staff can get on this, Mr. Mayor.

A Two-Way Street

And yes, yes, The Bike Bitch knows that this is, so to speak, a two-way street. Sometimes pedestrians do crazy things and walk into the path of bikes, and sometimes it’s the cyclist who gets hurt. But honestly, you really shouldn’t be taking your life in your hands just to cross the street.

So, Mayor Adams, as a fellow concerned citizen, I am officially asking you, a former police officer (and I’m not above groveling at a later date)— please do the one thing that will define your mayoralty for all eternity: make me Official Commissioner Of Bicycle Safety Enforcement.

You can call me Commish if you’d like. But Bike Bitch will do just fine.

Your friend,

Pat (“BB”) Fortunato

This is a rerun of a blog originally posted at an earlier date. Would it hurt to read it again?


  1. Louisa /

    Sign me up as First Deputy Bike Bike 🚴 Bitch.
    And my friend wants to be the Bike Butch.

  2. As a driver of an automobile in the city, I completely agree with the Bike Bitch. Try stopping when a biker swerves in front of you or runs a red light. My 4,094 lb. car (the average weight of an auto according to the EPA) cannot stop on a dime.
    License plates, summonses, show up in court. You are using a moving vehicle. Enjoy ALL the privileges that come with it!

    • Yes! Exactly! Bike riders: you enjoy the privileges and you should have the responsibilities.
      And LBB, the Bike bitch needs you on her team.

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