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by Ben Fried
That Marketplace story is awesome. And although it’s about the South Bronx, it was broadcast nationally, and it’s about much more than the South Bronx.
Faced with the question, how do kids get to places to play in an urban environment of obesity, where teen agers spend more time at the bodega than playin sports —- get this, the reporter actually answered the question by doing actual reporting: walking the most direct route to the nearest playground (in this case, Randall’s Island, only a mile away). What did the reporter find? Sections with no sidewalks, no bike paths, and dangerous automobile traffic. Upon arriving at the playground, the reporter found it mostly empty.
Memo to Marcia Kramer: that is called journalism. Give it a try.
That first paragraph made no sense: even though the story was nominally about the South Bronx, because it was broadcast nationally it was about much more than that.
I have to disagree with TA on the Flatbush Avenue bike lane question. One advantage of a bike route system is cyclists are concentrated in areas where, as their numbers grow, they are safer. But I would say that in addition to bike routes there should be some bike avoidance streets on the map, with Flatbush Avenue near the top of the list.
For one thing, there were (last I saw) only a handful of through truck routes in Brooklyn, one of which is Flatbush Avenue.
Of course the cyclist who was killed was merely crossing Flatbush, not riding on it, but a bike lane probably wouldn’t have helped.
And as for traffic calming, Flatbush Avenue is generally a wide street, but narrows through the area where the incident happened, as it passes through the “village of Flatbush” street grid. It is one of the most congested parts of the city, but instead of slowing, it is the scene of some of the worst driving imaginable. I don’t know how the B41 gets through there.
It is best to avoid the whole area while on a bicycle. Red light cameras all along Flatbush might be a better response to this incident.
Re: Flatbush Avenue. I’m glad the press went to Wiley Norvell for the quote, but I am troubled by the lack of agency that he assigns to the individual motorists. A “mindset” never killed anyone or dented a fender; individuals who aren’t paying attention (e.g., Whitestone Expressway crash) or individuals who don’t follow the traffic code (e.g., Flatbush Avenue crash), or individuals who have poor driving skills (e.g., unintended acceleration) cause accidents. As Larry points out, that part of Flatbush Avenue is relatively narrow and not designed for speedy motoring, yet hundreds of individual drivers daily use it improperly.
The headline about the furniture CEO is a bit premature. There is no evidence yet that he was drunk, merely that he admitted to having two drinks 3 hours prior to the accident. Sure, people lie about this stuff all the time, but let’s let the blood test results come in before we string this guy up, shall we?
I wonder how many cyclists, or what percentage of cyclists, actually consult a bike map for safe routes, or even routes to avoid, before starting their trip. I’ll bet the majority simply use the most obvious route to get wherever they need to go, whether it’s on some side street or even a major throughfare. After all, cyclists like to go to these congested commercial streets for the same reasons everyone else does. Laying down bike lanes on parallel streets tends to presume cyclists are just passing through a given area and doesn’t always take them where they really want to go. That’s why cyclists continue to ride on dangerous throughfares regardless of the risks.
Calling for a bike lane on Flatbush is much like calling for a bike lane on Houston Street or Delancey. Not only will it calm traffic but such lanes would provide cyclists to real destinations without having to consult a map. After all, most drivers don’t rely on maps or convoluted routes for local trips and a good percentage of cyclists probably don’t either.
while it may be true that most cyclists don’t consult a map to plan their route, that doesn’t mean that cyclists don’t gravitate toward routes that are safer/easier for bicycles. People who make the same commute regularly discover which route is the fastest, which is the safest, etc.
There are certain intersections I try to avoid at certain times of day because I know from experience that they are difficult and dangerous when you are on a bike. It’s the same way that people will choose routes to avoid certain geography, like steep hills (not as much of an issue in NYC).
I agree with Larry Littlefield above. Creating bike infrastructure the runs parallel to car infrastructure is not necessarily the smartest way to design the system. Instead, it makes more sense to create bike-friendly routes and car-friendly routes so that drivers and bikers will naturally tend to segregate themselves.
Delancey is hard to avoid because it is the connector to the Williamsburg brdige, but given a good crosstown alternative just to the north or south, I would bet most cyclists would avoid riding on Houston.
nanterking, why did he refuse a breathalyzer test, and why were the charged dropped for refusing to take one?
Dunno, jass. But he did, so we have no idea what his BAC was. The headline said that he was a drunk driver. Since we don’t have a result on the blood test, nobody knows whether or not he was a drunk driver.
All I’m asking for is balanced reporting that doesn’t presuppose. By inferring his intoxication from his refusal, I suppose you are saying that’s too much to ask.
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