Each year, there are upwards of 3,500 serious injuries resulting from traffic accidents. The NYPD has ten times as many officers, yet it only assigns 19 of them to look into such incidents and investigates less than 1 in 10 as a result. Even then, investigations take place only when those involved are dead or believed to be dying. Sometimes they die without an investigation because on the scene, officers believe the injured will make it.
Members of the City Council and families who have lost relatives on the road arrived on the steps of City Hall this morning to decry what they consider a lack of enforcement and announce the introduction of a set of bills and resolutions they hope will impel the police department and the Bloomberg administration to take action.
Is it possible that requiring every New Yorker to wear a helmet while cycling might actually be more dangerous for bicyclists than letting them continue on their merry way—cranium at the mercy of crazed drivers, hapless pedestrians, flying rats and their own personal incompetence?
That is exactly the argument made by every cycling enthusiast from Mayor Bloomberg to Joe Twowheels after Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield proposed a bill last week that would mandate cyclists don a Styrofoam dome before hitting the streets. Right now, that applies to children under 14, who also have the right to ride on the sidewalk, and delivery cyclists, who believe it or not, do not.
Mr. Greenfield wants to charge cyclists $25 for their first helmetless offense, $50 for the second and $100 thereafter. He points out that a good bike helmet does not cost much more than that first ticket, so what’s the excuse? “It’s basically common sense,” he said of his bill.
But bike advocates argue that the bill will have the opposite effect, making the city less safe for cyclists because it will depress ridership—after all, most New Yorkers are more worried about suffering helmet head than head trauma.
The Observer got an alarmed email from a reader, whose thoughtful daughter sent her our article on the proposed bike helmet legislation, which the reader does not like one bit. Her email, cleverly titled “Will mom opt for civil disobedience?,” expresses some serious concerns about the possibilities of being forced to wear a helmet, and the reason such legislation does not make sense.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
City Councilman David Greenfield is introducing a bill today to require every New York City cyclist to wear a bike helmet.
It is an intriguing proposal on a number of levels.
Currently, only children 13 and younger are required to wear a bike helmet. Think of the last time you saw a cyclist cruising by—were they wearing a helmet? Through highly unscientific personal observation, this reporter would say odds are evenly split for and against helmets. Maybe it’s a little higher, hopefully, so this is simply a safety measure, and a warranted one, like seat belt laws.
This is to be the attitude of the councilman, who told The Observer, “This is the simplest thing a cyclist can do to protect themselves. To do anything else is frankly irresponsible.” He pointed to federal statistics showing that 96 percent of bicycle fatalities involve people not wearing helmets (which may have as much to do with the cyclists attitude and actions as the presence of a helmet, but the numbers still speak volumes.)
Still, the best way not to get killed on your bike in the city is to keep from getting hit by a car. Which begs the question if this is not simply more anti-bike legislation masquerading as pro-bike legislation. Going back to the back-of-the-envelope assumption that half of city cyclists don’t wear helmets, dumb if legal as that may be, how many of them might stop riding if it meant the choice between mussed hair and a $25 fine? With thousands of bike share bikes on the way, could this kill the program before it even gets off the ground?
Libya: Allies deny report civilians were killed. [NYT]
Libya: Not helping Obama with his domestic agenda. [Jeff Zeleny]
Libya: Why not remove Khadafy? [Mike Lupica]
Libya: “Obama administration has delivered a clinic in the liberal way of war.” [Ross Douthat]
NJ: Christie does things that Read More
Here‘s a palm card for David Greenfield, who is running against Joe Lazar for City Council in a special election today in Brooklyn. The back features a number of elected officials, not all of them are Democrats: Michael Bloomberg, Marty Golden and Joe Lieberman.
Predictions for how this race Read More
Citizens Union announced they’re backing David Greenfield for the special election to fill Simcha Felder’s City Council seat.
Among the reason’s given: his main rival didn’t talk.
“Unfortunately, Lazar was unable to complete the questionnaire or schedule a meeting with Citizen Union within our timeframe,” the organization wrote in a press release, announcing Read More
There’s a forum tonight for the candidates looking to replace City Councilman Simcha Felder. Expected to be there are Democrats David Greenfield and Joe Lazar, and Republican Jonathan Judge.
What would you ask them?
A reader forwarded this mailer from City Council candidate Joe Lazar, touting his support from elected officials.
His opponent, David Greenfield, also has support from a bunch of elected officials, including Michael Bloomberg, and Ed Koch. They’re competing for the seat vacated by Simcha Felder.
Two-term City Councilman Simcha Felder, who successfully pushed for setting a