I haven’t written in a while (new job, dance), but I really need to get back into posting here. The general public has a lot of misconceptions about cyclists and if I can help even one person to think about cyclists in a more positive way then I’ve done my job.
This morning I read a post on Buzzfeed about a horrible accident on Tuesday that resulted in a tourist losing part of her leg. The accident occurred when a cab driver lost control of his vehicle near Radio City Music Hall, jumped the curb, and hit a British tourist who was sitting down.
The accident also caused a cyclist, whom the cab driver has publicly partially blamed for the accident, to be thrown into the air. The cab driver and cyclist did not sustain severe injuries in the accident.
Following the accident, the cab driver, Mohammed Faysal Himon, said to the New York Post, “[The cyclist] was in my way and I got upset, so I gave him notice that I wanted to pass through. He started pounding on my car with his hands and was yelling things at me. I suddenly felt like I had to get out of there. It was becoming a bad situation. So I accelerated to get in front of him.”
Himon said that he “gave him notice” by honking his horn at the cyclist, Kenneth Olivo.
Himon said, “I personally feel that if that man on the bike didn’t bang on my car, maybe this would not have happened. I didn’t yell at him. I had my windows up and my A/C on. I could barely hear what he was saying.”
Himon, at the same time, has also admitted to the New York Post that he shouldn’t have been driving a cab and that he did have a moment of road rage. He has received numerous traffic violations over the years and had an accident in 2010 that resulted in an injured passenger.
Olivo also has had his share of runs ins with the law. He has 22 arrests on his police record including when he threatened to decapitate a man in April.
Himon also spoke out against the bike lanes found across the city. “A lot of bikers disregard the bike lanes and drive wherever they want,” he said. “The city wastes a lot of money by giving them all these bike lanes, and for what? Honestly, I have no problem with bikers. They should just stay in their lane and I’ll stay in mine.”
(I’d also like to point out, that unless a bike lane was recently added, there is no bike lane where the accident occurred.)
I think it’s safe to say that most New Yorkers do not know that it is not illegal to not ride in a bike lane. Cyclists are considered in the same category as any moving vehicle and are thus entitled to ride anywhere a car can drive.
Just a few weeks ago I was riding in downtown Manhattan on Chrystie Street when I entered the lane because I had to make a left turn. I signaled properly before I made the turn and was far enough over so that cars could pass. Before I made the turn, a truck passed me the driver yelled, “F- you!” at me. I then caught up and yelled, “Good morning!” back at him, but that was just responded with another “F- you.” I tried.
I wasn’t at this accident on Tuesday so I don’t know who is more the “blame” for what happened but I do know that the general New York population needs to start treating cyclists like any other motorist. If a bike has the right of way, don’t cross the street. If a bike is riding in a lane, don’t cut them off to make a turn. If bikes are going to be classified under the law as any moving vehicle and be fined as such, then they should be given the respect as any other vehicle would be.
Cyclists also should not be riding on sidewalks, cutting people off themselves, or running red lights at intersections where people are crossing or cars are driving. Many cyclists have to make improvements themselves.
As cliche as it sounds, we all need to learn to respect each other. As much as I don’t like Citi Bikes, I think the program has also helped to increase the awareness of cyclists. Despite any progress, however, there is still a lot of work to be done!
Neither the cab driver nor the cyclist have been charged with any crimes at this time. Himon, however, was issued a summons for “unauthorized operation of his vehicle.”