Yikes! Those Bikes In New York City

Sep 20

BikeRiderAre bikes a menace in our fair city?

The simple answer is yes — IF the bikers continue to flaunt the law and the law continues to ignore the flauntiness.

This has turned me into a Card-Carrying Crank. It is so not funny.

Yes, yes, biking in the city is a great idea in principle: it’s healthier for the biker and greener for us all. But not so much for anyone the biker happens to hit.

How often does that happen? It depends on who’s talking. Biking advocates say that most of the accidents are with bikers and other vehicles, not so good for the bikers, but keeping pedestrians out of harm’s way. Besides, it’s a win-win situation for everyone if bikers follow the rules.

Herein lies the rub.

They DON’T.


TrafficLightCome on, people, admit it. If you’re a biker, you probably don’t stop at every light because it’s annoying, like when you’re driving a car. But every time you don’t, you risk hitting people like me who step off the curb in all innocence thinking we’re safe.

We’re not.

The other day a rather large guy on a very fast bike talking on his cell and not even looking at the stop light whizzed on by, oblivious that he had nearly hit me, and worse yet, never hearing the choice four letter words I was shouting in his direction. The other pedestrians cheered. A lot of good that did.

It gets worse . . .

Bikers don’t just ignore lights, they ride against traffic and even on the sidewalk. True, not many of them do that, but one is enough to ruin my day.


BikeShare23All this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the press. The Post, taking a swing at Bloomberg (they love to do this) asked the musicial question, “What’s with the mayor and bicycles, anyway?”

They were referring to the proposed bike sharing plan (shown here in London) where bikers will be able to rent a bike at one point in the city and drop it off at another. Again, a good idea. Except that it could increase the biking population by 10,000 and you can bet your 10 speed that a lot of them won’t follow the rules either.

Bikes: good. Running red lights: bad

An agent once tried to get me to buy life insurance by pointing out that although I was young and healthy (and I was once), what if I got hit by a bus? These days, the odds are better that it’d be a bike.


There’s even a TV ad campaign, mercifully not as gruesome and cringe-worthy as the anti-smoking spots, called Don’t Be A Jerk, urging bikers to follow the law. (I think I spotted Mario Batali, the great restaurateur in one of them, not being a jerk. Way to go, Mario.)

As we all know, the official word for jerks on the highway is “Asshole.” Now it seems that we’re being told to call the assholes on bikes “Jerks.” Far too mild. We need a word to scream out to these scofflaws on wheels when they’re flaunting the law.

Flaunter? Nah, too sissyish.

Moron? So not politically correct.

Terrorist? Even worse. Well, yes, they do terrorize, but saying this is Going. Too. Far.

I resorted to the basic on-the-road expletive the other day on 34th street when a cyclist shouted to someone to watch where they were going. The nerve! “Watch it yourself, Asshole,” I screamed back, without stopping to think. Heads turned, including that of the biker, but I doubt that it had any impact at all on that . . . jerk.


The only thing that will help is if New York’s Finest would start giving stiff fines for running lights, going against the traffic, and zipping along the sidewalks.

BarneyJail.ppgEven better: give us Certified Cranks the right to make citizen’s arrests. I’ve always wanted to do that since that episode of the Andy Griffin show when Gomer Pyle yells out “Citizen’s Arrest! Citizen’s Arrest! (sit-a-SENS Ah-RAY-est!)” and Barney Fife, humiliated, locks himself in a jail cell. Check it out on YouTube. You can find anything there.

But to make an actual citizen’s arrest, bikers would have to have license plates, an idea floating around out there, and one whose time has come. Until it does, let’s at least yell at the offenders and make them aware that we’re aware they’re breaking the law. Use any expletive, in any language, that you feel comfortable with. But don’t just stand there and take it.

Bicycle cranks of the world, unite!
You have nothing to lose but your chains.

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