Miscellaneous transpo news
The New York City Council just passed the “Bicycle Access Bill”, which requires office building managers to provide bicycle access to tenants who request it.
TA’s constant advocacy has mobilized efforts over the course of many years. This time around, all the other pieces fell into place: a persistent sponsor in David Yassky, a Council Speaker in Christine Quinn who represents a cyclist-heavy district, and perhaps most crucially, a mayor and DOT commissioner who came out strongly for the bill. Even with the stars seemingly aligned, it took one last push from more than a thousand cyclists to put the bill over the top.
I actually have minor qualms with legally compelling private companies to allow specific types of usage of their properties, but overall the direction of making NYC a more bike-friendly city is a pretty great one. There’s been a lot of this sort of news in the past year, and I keep thinking I should stat bike commuting. I’m not crazy about getting to work all sweaty, though.
Also, the Times reports on a new study which indicates that your chances of getting into a car crash are 23 times higher if you’re sending a text message.
In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.
This might be stupidly obvious to some people, but there are lots of Americans who spend hours per week behind the wheel, and end up convincing themselves they can safely do anything else at the same time. Because if you actually grappled with the reality that your car requires constant attention so you don’t kill anyone, well, that commute’s going to get even less fun.
And Caleb Crain discusses bike salmon, by which he means cyclists who ride in the opposite direction of traffic. He cites the recent book Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities, and the experience of the Netherlands, and posits that bike salmoning might be personally dangerous but good for everyone else:
The Dutch facts suggest that irregular cyclists, by making the streets less predictable, force motorists to pay more attention, and when motorists habitually pay more attention, the streets become safer—for motorists, as well as everybody else. Of course lawless bikers offer this (perhaps hypothetical) public benefit at enormous cost to themselves—at the potential cost of death, in fact, which I can’t recommend.
Makes sense to me. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s very useful to spend time tsk-tsking cyclists for doing things that might be risky to themselves—riding the wrong way, not wearing a helmet, whatever. Unless you also tsk-tsk people for smoking, doing drugs, getting so drunk they throw up, rock-climbing, skydiving, or having a stressful job. Your risks are your own.