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  1.  

    SSkate

    I couldn’t help but note that the News mentioned several times that the cyclist was going the wrong way before getting around to say he was in the bike lane. Not that I’m in favor of salmoning in the bike lane, but the first few paras of the article seemed to deliberately imply the cyclist was a complete idiot. This also lets the pedestrian off the hook for stepping into the bike lane.

  2.  

    Simon Phearson

    I fundamentally disagree. Calling New Yorkers “assholes” doesn’t explain anything. It just waves away a phenomenon you can’t think of a better explanation for.

    It is methodologically prudent to resist moralistic explanations for persistent, recurring patterns of crowd behavior. Those kinds of explanations are just explanatorily implausible. I realize this is difficult. For whatever reason, Americans find these kinds of explanations highly plausible – that’s why wage and food support gets caught up in discussions about pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps and anecdotes about junk food habits; that’s why abstinence-only education is a thing despite its positive correlation with teen pregnancy; that’s why so many people oppose tolling the East River bridges and think that “more enforcement” will solve most of our traffic ills, etc. But it is an intellectually lazy habit we adopt because it provides us an heuristic for reaching conclusions about subjects where it is difficult to develop and maintain a technical expertise competent in those subjects. It also (conveniently) gives us the opportunity to be proud of our own, pro-social, non-asshole behavior, which is repugnantly vain.

    I say that realizing that NYC has a proud tradition of public assholery. But our asshole-conventions are really just norms we develop in order to live a city as dense, populous, and complex as NYC. Most everything we do can be traced in some fashion back to the conditions in which we live. It might not all go back to “infrastructure,” as such, but it might also come back to zoning, block design, local economies, sheer masses of people, and so on.

    For instance, most of the salmoning cyclists I see are delivery cyclists. Our density makes delivery-on-demand a sustainable occupation, while at the same time making it possible to deliver by bike. Delivery people are highly incentivized to deliver quickly, so they salmon whenever it helps them get to where they’re going, even minutes faster. Indeed, they might have taken to bikes partly because bikes make it easier for them to salmon (and to park at their locations).

    I couldn’t guess why the salmoners you see are going against the flow of traffic (and, since you encounter them while they’re salmoning, I’m certain you don’t have any idea either), but it could be as easy to explain as noting that one-way streets aren’t designed for cycling traffic in the first place. They are put in place to regulate car traffic, typically while preserving on-street parking, and they are typically observed by drivers because they are less onerous for drivers. It’s as hard to explain, really, as pedestrians on the bike-only side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Are they all “assholes,” in your view? Or are they avoiding an unpleasant three-block detour?

    You wouldn’t split the two directions of bike traffic along a greenway to separate sides of a city block, would you? No, you wouldn’t – an adequately wide, bidirectional bike lane just doesn’t require that kind of routing. No one-way bike lane in this city makes any more sense than a one-way sidewalk. The only reason we have them is to preserve space for car traffic.

    I recently had my own out-of-town cycling experience, in a small city with very little bike infrastructure and a lot of car-oriented streets. I saw a ton of sidewalk cycling. That’s not illegal there, but it’s still puzzling given the state of most sidewalks (narrow, up by the street, uneven with frequent driveways, covered in gravel), and it’s not particularly “nice” to pedestrians, when they do show up. But it’s perfectly easy to explain when you look at where they’re sidewalk-cycling – along flat arterial roads that have been designed to accommodate 35 mph (or faster) car traffic. Meanwhile, I found that car drivers gave me plenty of space and respected my hand signals. Was that because they were “polite?” Or was it because all of the traffic lanes were super-wide and the roads were over-designed for the traffic using them, so they had plenty of room to move over?

    Humans are humans. They respond in predictable ways to the conditions in which they’re placed. It’s perfectly possible that New Yorkers have adopted “asshole” habits in order to get by here, but what’s “fundamental” here isn’t some otherwise inexplicable cultural difference, but rather a whole nest of public policies that puts us in each others’ armpits.

  3.  

    Tal F.

    Eh, we’re talking about NYC. The wealthy investors are probably locals, too.

  4.  

    Rob

    28,000 new Uber cars on streets of New York City with 72% concentrating in Manhattan, and, nonetheless, Uber claims it’s “not a problem”. I for one am living here – not in California – and am unable to find parking – all spots are taken by black cars with “Uber” signs on them.

  5.  

    Joe R.

    Walking in a bike lane should probably be thought of the same way as cycling on a sidewalk. There are sometimes circumstances where it’s justifiable but a pedestrian in a bike lane must realize this is the domain of bikes, and there it’s incumbent upon them to avoid putting themselves in a position which forces a cyclist to make sudden maneuvers to avoid them. It’s much the same standard a cyclist on a sidewalk should adhere to. If a pedestrian is forced to jump out of the way of a sidewalk cyclist, then the cyclist is in the wrong.

    I actually find myself sometimes walking in the protected bike lanes in Manhattan. However, as a cyclist myself I keep a good sense of situational awareness so I can get out of the way of any approaching cyclists as soon as I see them (usually when they’re a block or two away). Sadly, most of the other people walking in bike lanes don’t.

  6.  

    Joe R.

    NYC tends to attract larger numbers of hyper competitive people than any other US city. For lack of a better word, a lot of these people tend to be assholes as far as the way they treat their fellow human beings. Just look no further than Wall Street for the amoral attitude which is probably needed for success in business. Philadelphia likely has a smaller number of these people as a percentage of their population. It’s also a physically smaller city. That matters because people can deal with stress and congestion in small doses. NYers generally have very long, stressful commutes. This ultimately puts a lot of them in survival mode where their desire for forward progress trumps the rights, or even the safety, of those around them. If commutes were shorter, even under the same conditions, fewer people would default to using their reptilian brain.

    You observed that red light cycles there are shorter. Are there also a lot fewer traffic signals and stop signs on average streets? That could make a huge difference. It’s why cyclists in places like the Netherlands generally obey traffic signals, and why they don’t in NYC. Stopping once every mile or less generally isn’t a huge burden on a cyclist in terms of either time or extra energy. Stopping every 2 or 3 blocks, as is often the case for a law-abiding cyclist in NYC, is. Traffic controls tend to lose their effect the more they’re used.

    All that said, compared to other places in many ways NYC is the armpit of the US. I say this as someone who lived here my entire life, still loves the city, but also as a realist. This city isn’t for everyone. I a person values good manners, consideration, and getting along then this city really isn’t you. If you thrive on a hyper competitive, semi-lawless environment (and I do) then NYC is great. It all depends upon the individual.

  7.  

    Komanoff

    This whole post is worth quoting. But this especially:

    “Traffic congestion, in this sense, is a political problem. Where
    congestion is worse, the adjustment to a street redesign is more
    wrenching and the political cost is higher. Congestion makes City Hall
    more hesitant and DOT more timid when it comes to implementing things
    like bus lanes and Vision Zero projects.”

    A simple yet revolutionary point? (Seems obvious now, but it never occurred to me.)

  8.  

    Bolwerk

    You can blame the end of the legislative session for most of that. The roaches are scurrying all over the state to do low-level campaigning right now, rather than sit in their offices on their (tapped) phones.

  9.  

    Joe R.

    I wholehearted agree. I’ve often disagreed with people here who think slow travel speeds are just part and parcel of living in a big city. The hard fact is NYC is huge. Everyone can’t be located near work or other points of interest. However, that doesn’t mean we should continue to accept that it’ll often take an hour or more to go 10 miles no matter what mode you use. That’s giving into defeat. The subways should move somewhat faster, there should be more subway lines in the outer boroughs. There should be congestion pricing so essential motor vehicles can make their rounds faster. There should be a backbone of “express” bike route where cyclists can cover most of their trip nonstop. There should be exclusive bus lanes and traffic signal priority for buses. You’re 100% correct that NYC’s world famous congestion is killing our economy, increasing the costs of goods and services, and making NYC an unattractive place to live or work. I say this as a life long NYer, but also as one who is glad given the difficulty of getting around nowadays to be working from home. I would hate to deal with the mess I read about on a daily basis but many others have no choice.

  10.  

    Bolwerk

    Yes, it’s just better to generally encourage prolific transit than to encourage the cab industry. Whether it’s Uber being tolerated at the expense of yellow cabs or yellow cabs being tolerated at the expense of Uber is almost besides the point.

    Hell, let the yellow cabs use a mobile platform for all I care. Let them be the only ones allowed to use it. Whatever.

  11.  

    djx

    Exactly.

  12.  

    Bolwerk

    It’s much better that the local jerks get it. At least the local jerks are likely to keep the money in the local economy.

  13.  

    djx

    The “rule of two” from Jesse is an interesting observation.

    Frankly, riding the wrong way is a more serious problem than crossing mid-block. The faster/bigger you are, the more responsibility you you have in traffic to watch out for others.

  14.  

    NYCyclist

    Excellent summary of our current situation, and what an ideal alternative can look like. But even under the more favorable administration of JSK, the overall speed of traffic remained a concern. Until our leaders (and citizens) accept that auto traffic speed (and congestion) should be last on our list of concerns, things won’t be able to change.

  15.  

    Reader

    There’s one group that has been notably absent from this discussion: major business leaders. A consortium of real estate firms, tech companies, banks, UPS, FedEx, etc. should come together and tell the city and state that congestion, not to mention crumbling transit, is killing the economy, draining the supply of middle class workers, and causing New York to lose ground to other cities that are investing in better subways, BRT, safer bike lanes, and infrastructure in general.

    Cuomo isn’t going to listen to city Democrats and transportation advocates. It’s all a cheap political power game to him. And de Blasio doesn’t have the guts to tell motorists that for the good of the economy and safety, their days of unfettered access to every inch of Manhattan are numbered. Major business groups might be the only ones who can snap NYC out of its provincialism and point decision makers to other ways of doing things that work the world over.

  16.  

    ohnonononono

    The suburban counties that complain about the MTA mobility tax would be livid to find out how much money they’d have to fork over if they were to fund LIRR and MNR on their own.

  17.  

    Alicia

    Sidewalk-adjacent bus lanes have one benefit, and that is facilitating easy boarding. To make center-running buses workable, you have to have a design that takes passenger boarding into account.

  18.  

    Alicia

    Revise the design to allow for both a bike lane and a proper median that do not overlap.

  19.  

    c2check

    And how are our intrepid bicyclists supposed to get to things along the street? Especially if there’s more than one bicyclist in the lane in front of you.

  20.  

    Jesse

    I agree. Since we are placing medians in, how about swapping the bus lane and the bike lanes? Center-running buses are so much better because you don’t have to worry about turning cars.

  21.  

    ohnonononono

    Yeah, it looks like the sole ped in the rendering itself is standing in the bike lane! Poor design.

  22.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    As I mentioned above, the short (very short, by New York standards) period of red lights almost certainly has contributed to the lack of rampant red-light-running by cyclists. So that would presumably qualify as good infrastructure inspiring good cyclist behaviour.

    And we can probably safely assume that the short red-light period has an effect on the behaviour of drivers as well — by not imposing on them such a great penalty for missing a red light, there has been created no constant frenzy to beat the light. This could partially explain the generally lower levels of driver aggression that I witnessed.

    Still, infrastructure cannot be the whole story.

    We have very good infrastructure in New York, in some respects surpassing that of Philadelphia. If there are protected lanes somewhere in Philly that are similar to those on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, I didn’t see them; all of the bike lanes that I saw there were just painted lines. Nevertheless, these bike lanes were not violated by parked / standing cars in anywhere near the degree that occurs in New York.

    So, in the case of painted bike lanes, we have a case of infrastructure that could be called “bad” (or at least “less than optimal”) but which has not inspired the bad behaviour on the part of drivers that we as New Yorkers would be inclined to expect.

    Also, there is nothing about infrastructure that could explain the noticeable differences in drivers’ reactions to my hand signals which afforded me greater security in changing lanes and in going through intersections of two-way streets.

    Nor can infrustructure explain the lack of pedestrians walking in the street even in the Center City area, which is packed with locals and tourists.

    And infrastructure certainly cannot explain the lack of wrong-way cyclists in Philadelphia. I saw exactly one in three days, someone riding on the wrong side of a two-way street. There are many one-way streets in Philly; and a bicyclist surely could save time by riding the wrong way rather than going a block over in order to find a street going the other way. Yet they don’t do that. By contrast, in every one of my commutes in the bike lanes on Woodward Ave. (going towards Manhattan) and Onderdonk Ave. (coming back from Manhattan), I see plenty of this, despite the fact that these two streets are adjacent to one another.

    Clearly there is something more fundamental going on here. In this other huge city, only about 100 miles away, the behaviour of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians is a great deal more civilised than what we are used to here. The simplest answer is that our people just don’t give a shit.

    I love New York. I identify proudly as a New Yorker; I wear the New York City flag on my helmet. But I am willing to consider the idea that we, as a people, have a serious deficit in our culture. Maybe we are rude assholes.

  23.  

    ahwr

    The median bike lane in the graphic is asking for trouble. Pedestrians use the median as a refuge, don’t take that away by turning it into a through lane for bikes who will have a green when pedestrians are stopped.

  24.  

    Maggie

    Definitely sounds that way. From the News article, the pedestrian was a UPS delivery guy who had just left a shop and stepped off the sidewalk watching for right-way traffic, when the wrong-way cyclist hit him. I didn’t read carefully enough to catch if he stepped out from parked cars or from behind his truck, or just straight off the curb.

    Glad the pedestrian is okay, and hope the cyclist will be all right too. It sounds pretty bad, but you never know.

  25.  

    ssamira Butik

    May this one, will show to our governoor

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  26.  

    Jesse

    I am morally certain that the pedestrian in this case was crossing mid-block too. The Daily News never fails to mention a cyclist infraction so if the pedestrian had had the legal right of way they would have noted that. I think what happened here is the cyclist was salmoning and wasn’t also accounting for mid-block pedestrian crossings and the pedestrian was jaywalking but wasn’t also accounting for wrong-way cycling.

    I believe there’s a kind of “rule of two” for cycling too. The only time I was ever hit by a cyclist (neither of us suffered any injuries) was when he was salmoning up 5th avenue, but I was also crossing mid-block instead of at the crosswalk. So two rules were broken. And I have noticed this myself as a cyclist. I have never hit any pedestrian but the only times I’ve ever come close had to do with two rules being broken: I was salmoning AND I ran a red light; I was salmoning AND the ped was crossing mid-block; I ran a red light AND the crosswalk was full of pedestrians who started crossing before the light changed. But when only one rule is broken I’ve never even had any close calls. I think we generally have the ability to watch out for the contingencies associated with one infraction but not for two or more.

  27.  

    Maggie

    the salmoning cyclist who was critically injured after he hit a pedestrian: yikes. As a pedestrian, getting hit by a salmoning cyclist is one of my worst fears. I just find I don’t have the mental bandwidth to look for wrong-way traffic at every crossing.

  28.  

    c2check

    I sure hope so! Hopefully soon the setting for “three men in a room” will be referring to a jail cell, maybe on Rikers so they can see how things are over there.

  29.  

    kevd

    “Instead of the profits going to local jerks who run a call center, they are going to wealthy investor JERKS who run a network”

  30.  

    kevd

    “Uber is filling a demand for transportation and for jobs that were being unmet by the previous models.”
    To some degree, I believe you are right. Thee are also pulling customers from very similar services (car services) that simply had less convenient ordering processes. Uber is simply a car service. Nothing more. Nothing less.
    Car services don’t pay their drivers that well either.

    They should all be paying drivers better, paying the MTA taxi surcharge and contributing to congestion pricing model when they enter the most crowded parts of the city at the most crowded times (as should all motor vehicles).
    I have no love for the yellow cab industry (does anyone almost kill me on a more regular basis?) but I don’t think yellow cabs should be expected to bare costs that Uber is not.

  31.  

    rao

    Except that is not what Uber is in New York City. Here, it is just another livery dispatcher with drivers and vehicles licensed by the TLC. Many of the drivers who are driving for Uber now we’re driving for another company a few years ago, and in fact still are–you can accept Uber rides and still be signed up with a traditional dispatch base.

    The difference is the dispatch platform. Instead of the profits going to local jerks who run a call center, they are going to wealhy investors who run a network. It is proving to be a more efficient way of running a livery service, and that is why yellow cabs are in trouble. That is all.

  32.  

    Alexander Vucelic

    6′ Bikes lanes have capacity of some 1,000 people per hour.

    12′ motor lanes start gridlock around 600 per hour

    Even with the pathetic CBD bike network, some 10-20% of road traffic is bikes.

  33.  

    red_greenlight1

    We know good infastucture is a start but enforcment is necessary too.

  34.  

    red_greenlight1

    I do they can cross to the less crowded side of the street or go on 9th. Plus the sidewalk is never so crowded that it’s unwalkable.

  35.  

    meesh

    Queens boulevard has more moguls than Hunter Mountain!

  36.  

    Simon Phearson

    The “new insight” being, I surmise, that good infrastructure inspires good behavior, while bad infrastructure inspires bad behavior?

  37.  

    red_greenlight1

    So in other words pedestrians are special a,d should be allowed to do as the please? Maybe in the world that exists in the heads of some streetblog commentators but in the real world.

    Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and as a result were given the sidewalk for their safety. To refuse to see this is insanity.

  38.  

    qrt145

    Oh, but the avenues already only have 2-3 general traffic lanes, once you subtract the double-parking lanes and the queue-to-turn lane! :-)

  39.  

    qrt145

    I don’t fault people for walking on the 8th Avenue bike lane, because the sidewalks clearly don’t have enough capacity at peak hours. However, I do fault people who walk on it without even trying to be aware of their surroundings. If you are walking on a bike lane, at least watch for bikes and try to get out of the way if possible!

  40.  

    KeNYC2030

    This is great, but if this level of alleged recklessness is the threshold for bringing charges against a driver, there are still essentially no consequences for the garden-variety aggressiveness and haste that maims or kills every single day in this city.

  41.  

    stairbob

    Indeed. I haven’t seen any “Bharara is getting closer to Cuomo” articles in a while. Hopefully this is the quiet before the storm.

  42.  

    snobum

    An indictment of Cuomo can’t come soon enough. If the city were to fund the capital program, does that mean LIRR and MNR are out of luck?

  43.  

    stairbob

    Uber is filling a demand for transportation and for jobs that were being unmet by the previous models. I say bravo to an extended period of study. I had this little dream that once Uber realizes that congestion-free growth is impossible in NYC, they’ll be a huge supporter of MoveNY.

  44.  

    c2check

    “Play our corrupt little political games or we won’t give your constituents shit”

    How long before the mayor says “If you can’t beat em, join em”?

    NYers need to get to work beating the corruption out of this idiotic state government.

  45.  

    KeNYC2030

    I used to work down there and the street was a pedestrian’s nightmare during rush hours. More sidewalk space has long been needed, but this block really should be primarily a ped-only street with a bike lane and a single lane for buses and local deliveries.

  46.  

    stairbob

    Cuomo has already said that de Blasio doesn’t understand politics because he won’t engage in horse-trading. Now Cuomo says he won’t consider MoveNY outright.

    Maybe this is Cuomo’s cute little way of saying de Blasio should prepare to trade some horses if he wants congestion pricing.

  47.  

    djx

    Exactly.

    Uber is part of the race to the bottom. It’s like AirBnB presenting itself as a way for people to say in their own homes/apartments by letting them out. Yay – the “sharing economy” let’s you monetize more of your life to not end up destitute. Yay!

  48.  

    c2check

    In a lot of places, it seems, the avenues could function fine with 2-3 general traffic lanes instead of 4-5. On 5th and 6th around 42nd St for example, I often see practically a whole block, sometimes two full blocks, without any cars, even at rush hour. And the Avenues’ wide paths are very prone to getting gridlocked by 42nd St traffic anyway.

    They could easily trim the Aves to 2 general traffic thru-lanes with delivery/taxi pickup areas. I think this would ease traffic since the road would be made more simple and drivers wouldn’t be doing all the crazy lane changes all the time that they do now (I would bet these maneuvers are a real contributor to dangerous and congested streets). And we could free up some room for protected bus and bike lanes ;)

    I’m pretty confused about why they seemingly haven’t yet seriously looked at reclaiming any lanes for bikes, peds, or buses, especially since this far uptown it just seems they’re feeding cars into a sort of bottleneck by the time you get to 34th as tons of drivers are trying to get to the tunnel.

  49.  

    Albert

    As annoying as it is for cyclists to have to avoid what you call “jaywalkers” in the bike lane — until adequate room is made for pedestrians on sidewalks, nothing’s going to change, no matter how often we might try to discourage their presence by “demanding ‘our’ ‘exclusive’ space” (by, say, passing a bit too close “to teach them a lesson” — the same deangerous behavior drivers often exhibit toward cyclists, by the way).

    Let’s focus on the real source of the problem. Demonizing sidewalk-avoiding pedestrians just following human nature is analogous to ticketing commercial vehicles for being *forced* to double-park to do their tax-contributing business because all the available fee-free curb space is taken up by long-term *non*-commercial squatters.

    I don’t think most traffic “laws” actually *are* “sensible,” nor were they “put in place for *our* safety.” They were put in place as yet more accommodation to motor vehicles — to get peds (and cyclists) out of the way. The laws should be changed to accomodate people who aren’t in cars. The bad guy here isn’t even motor vehicles per se — it’s how we’ve transformed, for the worse, our cities (and more) to accommodate motor vehicles.

    “Reclaim”!

  50.  

    AndreL

    The medallion is part of the problem to begin with.