I’m supposed to be for bike share programs. I’m on my bike multiple times a week. I’m a member of Transportation Alternatives and support the work they do to make the streets better/safer for bikers. However, I find myself mostly opposed to the new Citi Bike sharing program, Bike and Roll rentals and other such services.
Here’s the problem… these programs put more people on the streets who don’t really understand what biking in the city means and how to do it safely.
I see these transgressions committed by cyclists daily:
- Riding on sidewalks: Cyclists hate it when pedisitrains or cars are where cyclists are supposed to have exclusive right, conversely cyclists should not be in places that are exclusive to pedestrians.
- Riding the wrong way: There’s no good reason for this in a city where you can usually get to a street to go the right direction quickly. A cyclist going the wrong way is a danger to those going with traffic flow since you have to make space for the rider in the wrong.
- Ignoring pedestrian right of way: This sort of goes back to riding on the sidewalks, but at a red light cyclists should not cross into the pedestrian crosswalk space and take up the area pedestrians use to walk safely. And you certainly should not just try to ride through a pack of pedestrians.
- Ignoring traffic signals and stop signs: I admit that I occasionally run lights and signs if I can see very clearly that no traffic and no pedestrians are in the area. I’m stunned by the number of riders, however, that just zip right through with hardly a glance.
- Use lights dusk to dawn: It’s difficult enough to see a bike. I don’t understand why some cyclists refuse to put lights on their bikes. It’s easy and lights are fairly cheap.
I would love to see an aggressive campaign by the NYPD and the parks department to crack down on cyclists who don’t obey basic safety rules. It would make traveling safer for everyone. I think I’d be more welcoming to the idea of bike share if there was some assurance that the riders would be encouraged to take responsibility for how they ride their shared bike.
There are many cyclists who work hard to do the right thing and show that we can responsibly share the road. Unfortunately, it seems there are far more interested in a free-for-all. I hope I’m wrong about bike share….maybe they’ll be good riders.
Time will tell…