Riding a bike is a healthful, meditative way to get to work in New York, and it doesn't involve spending money, depriving yourself of vitamin D in a smelly cave network deep underground, steeping yourself in the germs of thousands of other people, or worrying about getting stabbed for objecting to the volume of someone's game of Candy Crush. However, all the life-giving qualities of cycling here can be blotted out in an instant by a reckless driver, of whom there are plenty. 230 people died in crashes last year, including 14 cyclists, 22 motorcycle riders, 61 vehicle occupants, and 133 pedestrians. And as we have started to film our own cycling commutes and view submitted footage of readers' rides, it's easy to see why the bike-curious might hesitate before getting in the saddle.
In this installment of our series, our anonymous commuter travels from Flatbush to DUMBO. Along the way, the rider encounters 13 double-parked drivers who either force the cyclist into car traffic or send other drivers veering into the bike lane, and a few drivers blocking the box behind the crosswalk, to similar effect. Also of note is the bus driver who courteously allows a stream of bike commuters to pass a tight spot on Jay Street created by part of Downtown Brooklyn's construction boom. As the subsequent moments show, though, Jay Street is still one of the most chaotic stretches of bike route in the city.
Consider also the set of permanent bollards that the city installed on Bergen Street between Sixth and Flatbush avenues after a rogue cyclist, fed up with officers from the neighboring 78th Precinct NYPD station house double-parking there, placed cones to block them. We spotted a 78th Precinct officer's personal car parked across the crosswalk around the corner yesterday, but hey, progress is progress.
And importantly, the only way to bring about change is to demand it. In this case, we're pushing for heightened traffic enforcement, safer street design, and supporting healthier, more sane transportation options. You can help us by filming your bike commute and sending us the footage.
Rules: You must film your entire ride with no cuts, so we can verify it's a real commute with no special effects. Please obey all pertinent laws, including red lights and stop signs, as we know you normally would!
Also, a caveat from our publisher Jake Dobkin that we'll reiterate here:
To automobile commuters: before you write a long comment about how it's really the bicyclists killing people, not the cars, and how we wouldn't believe the bad behavior you see during your daily drive, take a deep breath, and meditate on the fact that a bicycle weighs about 25 pounds, and your car weighs something like 4000 pounds. Yes, pedestrians and cyclists sometimes break the law, and they should never do that, but simple physics dictates that we must hold automobiles to a much higher standard, and that is why we are not soliciting clips from drivers.