Proposed biking-while-texting ban gets blowback

A proposed ban on using a cellphone on a bike drew a rebuke from a Brooklyn councilman for its focus on “an issue that doesn’t even exist,” instead of motor vehicles.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso, of Bushwick, on Wednesday ripped into a committee hearing on bike safety and a bill to hit riders with a $50 fine for pedaling while on the phone.

Transportation officials testified that there was no instance of cellphone use being a factor in rare cases of a bicyclist killing a pedestrian.

“We’re here talking about improving safety when the real problem and the real concern are extremely dangerous vehicles that we have in our streets that are causing deaths,” Reynoso said.

“The problems are not pedestrians, they’re not bicyclists, they are vehicles and I just think we are fooling ourselves with these pieces of legislation,” he added.
The bill being debated was introduced by Councilman Mark Treyger, of Bensonhurst, who had introduced the bill in November after seeing a bicyclist whiz by his office while using a phone.

“I don’t need a large comprehensive study to know this issue exists and is dangerous,” Treyger said in a statement responding to the criticism. “This is a common-sense piece of legislation that should have the support of everyone who is working towards improving safety on our streets for all New Yorkers.”

Officials with DOT and Transportation Alternatives, a safe streets group, testified that safety efforts should be directed at drivers, who are still the biggest cause of death and injury on the road.

Educating motorists “would go much further in making our streets safer,” said Joshua Benson, a DOT assistant commissioner.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, stressed that there are more important issues to tackle than legislating against distracted bicycling.

“There’s no evidence that texting cyclists even rank, at all, as a problem worthy of our limited resources,” he said.?