Love and Rage

Yesterday, on my way to work I was stopped at a red light at 50th Street and 5 Ave. A large commercial truck was stopped next to me and the gentleman in the passenger seat started a conversation by asking about how the lights on the Omafiets worked.

It was all very pleasant, and then I heard incessant and loud repeated honking from far behind me. I turned to see a white van speeding towards me from more than two-thirds down the block. Within 10 seconds, the van was within inches of me. The light hadn’t even turned green yet and the driver was still aggressively honking at me.

As the light turned green, I pedaled along holding my space in the traffic lane. The driver of the truck maintained the same speed in solidarity with me. At this point, the normal flow of traffic at this intersection caused the truck to come to a standstill, me to pedal ahead and the driver (and passenger) in the van to speed past me within inches all while holding up their fingers to say “fuck you” and screaming profanities at me.

This is the van whose driver tried to mow me down.

This is the van whose driver tried to mow me down.

You can think of me as stupid, ballsy or lucky for how I handled the situation. Whatever. That’s your opinion. I made my choices and I’m still here today to write about it.

When I got to work, I discovered that around the same time I nearly got mowed down by the van-  a speeding driver had jumped the curb and injured several people in the East Village. One of them, a 62 year old man who was working at the bodega was hospitalized in critical condition.

A few hours later, my friend Dmitry Gudkov tweeted about a cop “hunting cyclists” in the East Village. The officer even had the gall to tell a cyclist he had ticketed “…this is for your safety. You shouldn’t even be riding a bike in New York.”

At this point, I was seething. I’m still angry today. Our system is broken. The build out of complete streets infrastructure in NYC, the increased number of people on bikes and the launch of Citibike are all things that have made me happy and proud of my city. But when it’s still ‘accepted’ that drivers can behave with recklessness and impunity- we have a problem. A really big one.

The driver of this car is responsible for the death of Dr. Mansoor Day

The driver of this car is responsible for the death of Dr. Mansoor Day.  Collision date :February 12, 2013. Date Dr. Day passed: April 8, 2013.

We have a problem with speeding drivers in this NYC, yet the NYPD chooses to go after people on bikes. Wrong approach. I don’t condone ‘rude’ behavior by anyone- however they choose to get from A to B. But motor vehicles have the ability to kill and maim people and they’re getting away with it every day on our streets. 86 people have been killed in NYC this year. Even if that number was only one, that’s still too many.

Miraculously, no one was hurt in this collision. June 10, 2013

Miraculously, no one was hurt in this collision. June 10, 2013

It’s time to get angry people. Not in a temper tantrum, screaming shouting kind of way- that will only cause others to turn a deaf ear to the issues at hand. We need to get angry with dignity, love & rage. Don’t shout but be assertive and calm. I’m tired of people saying “well that’s NYC” or “it can’t happen here”. It can and it will.

I initially got involved with advocacy because I ride a bicycle. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was bigger than just people on bikes. This about ALL of us- whether you’re in a car, on foot or a bicycle. This is about calming traffic and make our streets complete and safe for everyone.

Be the change you want to see. Make your voices heard. Rise up and seize the day.

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About bikepeacenyc

Just another NYer who is happier when on a bike. Gezellig fietsen. Advocate for Liveable Complete Streets.
This entry was posted in advocacy, bikelobby, bikenyc. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Love and Rage

  1. doesn’t surprise me that the license plate is a Jersey one. I actually was honked at like crazy riding along w 18th street by a cabbie even though the street ahead of us was red and there were cars lined up. We both ended up just waiting at the light. They have such tunnel vision that they don’t realize they’re racing to just wait at lights. It’s because of this reason, I don’t go through red lights anymore. If I skip one light, but the one right after usually is red as well. The amount of time saved isn’t more than a few minutes.

  2. Mighk Wilson says:

    Please don’t take this as victim blaming; I’m glad you stood up to the bully. But the “bicycling community” — collectively, not as individuals — has brought much of this on itself by taking an us-versus-them stance towards motorists and by saying “traffic rules are for cars.” Most motorists want to do the right thing, so it does us nothing but harm to paint them all as the enemy. I wrote this piece in order to try to explain what’s really going on. http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2011/07/07/i-am-not-a-bicyclist/

    • bikepeacenyc says:

      I’m not painting ‘cars as the enemy’. I am pointing out that we’re dealing with a broken system & reckless drivers get off too easily. This isn’t just about people on bikes- it’s about all of us- including other drivers who ‘obey the rules”. If you really look at the damage being caused by car drivers (in terms of human lives/injuries) it’s the pedestrians who suffer the most.. Of the people who got plowed into by the speeding driver int he East Village yesterday- only one was on a a bike – the rest were pedestrians and people who worked at the bodega.

  3. lennyzenith says:

    Great writing and pictures as usual. It’s not just in trouble from a bike/car standpoint but the inhumanity we wage against those that are different from us bike vs. car, man vs. woman, NY vs. NJ — I wish I could think of a way to collectively bring everybody’s frustration level down several notches and turn their compassion and mindfulness up.

  4. Lance Lau says:

    Come your neighbor, Philadelphia- the city is MUCH more friendly about bicycles here, we’ve got a ton of green lanes, rail trails and our city streets are full of urban bicycle commuters. Sadly, Philadelphia’s brotherly love doesn’t extend to the suburbs, I’ve been assaulted on multiple occasions while cycling on the Main Line: run off the road, had cups, apple cores, cigarettes and other things thrown at me, as well as more profanities than I can recall. Apparently riding a bicycle makes me some kind of deviant, at least according to young suburban drivers…

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