I walk, bike, drive or hop on the bus or subway to get to where I need to be. In the midst of the recent and horrible string of cyclists being killed by cars — 15 to date — a city-wide debate has hit a fever pitch.
And so has one in my own head.
Jos the biker: I’m tired of feeling like I might get crushed under truck or hit by a reckless driver on my way to work. Also, how many times do I have to swerve around cars parked or idling in the bike lane? It’s not only that drivers don’t see me when I’m on a bike, they don’t respect me. I hate drivers.
Jos the driver: This is New. York. City. These mostly white (perhaps new to the city) bicycle advocates don’t get that there will always be traffic and a certain degree of danger. Even as they’ve gotten tons of new bike lanes, they still want to turn the city into Sweden, and won’t even acknowledge how reckless cyclists add to the dangerous conditions they’re protesting about. I hate cyclists — and don’t get me started on jaywalking pedestrians.
Jos the pedestrian: Stop right there — not only do I have to watch for bad drivers when my kids and I are crossing the street, now people are flying through the bike lanes in both directions. I hate both drivers and cyclists.
Jos the biker: But what if we had better street infrastructure, like more speed bumps and redesigned streets that made drivers take slower, proper turns where they could better see someone on a bike or in a crosswalk? I’d like to think most drivers try to be careful and we can help that with design.
Jos the driver: As much as I’d hate to give up more traffic lanes or parking spots (which, coincidentally, might keep me on the road longer), protected bike lanes that put parked cars between my car and a cyclist might make things smoother for both of us. I also just need to take more responsibility because one careless mistake or text behind the wheel can put someone in a cemetery.
Jos the pedestrian: You both make good points. Maybe this isn’t a zero-sum game. Just know this: I’m walking here!
Josmar Trujillo is a trainer, writer and activist.