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An Urban Tale: The Bicyclist and the Red Light

The New York times: An Urban Tale: The Bicyclist and the Red Light

Published: May 9, 2010

To the Editor:

In “Braking Away” (Op-Ed, May 2), Chris Raschka never mentions the principal reason most of us bikers do not stop for red lights: pedestrians in New York do not stop for red lights. They cross against the light, and if they see a biker coming, they do not notice him. If I paused for every red light, I’d never move at all. When I have the light, I have 30 pedestrians to wade through. I try not to hit anyone. I thank those who pull back for me.

When I lived on the West Coast (San Francisco and Seattle), pedestrians stopped for red lights (or they got tickets) and so did bikers (or we got tickets). Unless everyone obeys the traffic laws (double parkers, say!), it’s unfair to single out one group for violations.

I’m a very courteous biker; I let cars go past me and I avoid the new pedestrian malls because no one there pays any attention to the bike lanes. But I can’t stop for red lights if pedestrians won’t.

John Yohalem

New York, May 2, 2010



To the Editor:

Chris Raschka is indeed, as he claims, one of a kind. Not only do the mass of bikers on downtown streets go through red lights, but far more unpredictably, they often go against the direction of traffic, or even up on the sidewalk.

While bikers were endangered 10 years ago, these days elderly people with fragile bones like me face grievous injury from bikers every time we cross the street, perhaps never to re-emerge from the hospital we are carted off to. And there’s no way to even identify and hold responsible the fast-moving culprit.

The city, in encouraging this deluge of bicyclists upon us, has abdicated responsibility, and must begin to issue license plates and establish a set of regulations.

Barbara Quart

New York, May 2, 2010