There is one platform issue more important to me than any other in the current mayoral race. The general New York public doesn’t share my profound concern. A recent poll by Siena College and The New York Times didn’t even mention my issue – a hearty 61% said the crux of the matter is to find a mayor with the “ability to understand the needs and problems of ordinary New Yorkers.” Which you can’t argue with. But I insist that another subset of the population suffers from an issue so morally partisan it’s biblical. One that draws a clear line between good and evil. Those people are cyclists.
That issue is bike lanes.
I don’t want to get hit by a car. I reason that if a car hits me, there is a high probability I suffer serious injury or death. That would suck! Riding a bicycle is a weird thing. You’re empowered but vulnerable. Getting into an accident is awful. That’s why we yell at you (pedestrians) and bang on your cars (drivers) when you absentmindedly put us in danger. Because it would seriously fucking hurt. There is not a cyclist in the world that doesn’t care deeply about getting hit by a car.
Here’s what’s scary:
Cars don’t want to hit me, but some for different reasons than others.
I’m most comfortable around drivers who I can tell don’t want to hit me for selfish reasons. They’re extra careful; they don’t want to deal with the potential horror and inevitable time sink of an accident.
But then there are the drivers who don’t want to hit you for selfless reasons. Those are the ones I’m afraid of, because selflessness is less consistent. These are the drivers who truly think that cars ‘own the road’ and that cyclists are an imposition. So they decide, “I’m going to drive courteously, in spite of what I’m being subjected to.”
But they get lazy, or angry, and the truth of the matter that they just don’t really care about cyclists (!) will emerge. They’ll pass you so close you can feel a near miss tingling on your skin. They’ll cut you off to turn without signaling. They’ll pull over without warning and open their driver-side door into your face.
They will kill you.
I find it stressful that I pose no physical danger to those drivers. No driver has ever been physically harmed in an accident with a cyclist. Which is why – disregarding (extremely rational) pro-cycling arguments about congestion and environment and obesity – the rules of the road should favor cyclists. They have way more at stake.
“This is no city for bikes!” says the cars-own-the-road contingent.
Their heads are in their asses, but you can always hear them say it.
Is it hubris or naiveté that could make them think that keeping the roads unsafe is a reasonable defense mechanism against accelerating, publicly supported trend?
Are they that affronted at the thought of incremental driving vigilance?
Wouldn’t it be crazy to vote for someone who cares more about a marginal degree of driver comfort than whether I live or die?
Fuck you John Liu, fuck you Anthony Weiner (two times), fuck you Joe Lhota, and fuck you John Catsimatidis.
To the rest of you, I’ll hear the rest of your platform now.
Featured image courtesy of New York Daily News