The death of Jill Tarlov, hit by a Central Park bicyclist as she crossed West Drive last week, is a tragic reminder that bikers must be held to safety rules just as drivers are.
Traditionally, the NYPD has never gone the extra mile to keep bicyclists in line, but now that’s slowly changing.
It’s about time.
Tarlov, 58, died after a man riding a racing bike, Jason Marshall, swerved to avoid a group of pedestrians and plowed into her, police say. The cops aren’t sure who had the right of way or how fast Marshall was going.
But this much is certain: Central Park’s winding roads can be a perilous free-for-all — full of lightning-fast bikers and skaters who often weave around unpredictable packs of slow-moving pedestrians.
Tarlov isn’t the only recent casualty of this chaos.
Last month Irving Schachter, 75, was jogging in Central Park when a bicyclist swerved to avoid a pedicab and struck him. He died two days later.
The encouraging news is that the NYPD has now hit the park with radar guns — clocking bicyclists and ticketing riders who behave dangerously. Police have handed out 468 tickets so far this year — compared with 151 by this time last year. About half the summonses they write are for bikers who fail to yield to pedestrians.
The push shouldn’t stop with Central Park. From Hudson River Park to the East River Waterfront Esplanade to the Brooklyn Bridge, New York on a nice day is filled with sightseers and runners and bikers, all jockeying for space.
And the bicyclists are notorious for certain things.
It’s illegal to blow red lights, but most bicyclists do it reflexively — including red signals controlling traffic in the bicycle lanes. It’s illegal to pedal the wrong way on a one-way street. Many bicyclists do it with abandon. And it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk, but delivery guys frequently do.
Bicycling is a wonderful way to commute, to enjoy the city and to exercise. But if bicycle advocates want drivers and pedestrians to observe their rights, they need to do a better job of observing the rights of others.
The NYPD can help.