Are NYC Pedestrians Less Important Than Carriage Horses?

In New York City, biking safety is measured by pedestrian body count. Not too many individuals are killed by lawless bike-riders, therefore biking is safe.

Nonetheless, most people I know, even cyclists, report that they are terrorized by bike-riders on sidewalks and in crosswalks on a daily basis. It is poor sportsmanship to say that cyclists should obey traffic laws or that they are anything less than a public good. When I was hit by a delivery biker while I stood behind the pedestrian barricade at the Second Avenue subway construction site this summer, the useless safety guard was amazed that I could expect any assistance. That wasn’t her job description, apparently. She thought it was an explanation when she snapped, “I am here to help people.” Not to worry, I stopped limping the next day.

Well today Jill Tarlov, 58, was stopped completely. The Connecticut wife and mother of two died this morning after several days of brain death caused by cyclist Jason Marshall, 31, who struck her down near West 62nd Street in Central Park on Thursday. The N.Y. Times reported the incident as well as the passion of New Yorkers whose concern about lawless cyclists is habitually ignored. As of this posting, he has yet to be charged with a crime. The N.Y. Post reported that Marshall has boasted of speeding on this $4,000 bike on the website http://www.strava.com. As of this posting, he has not been charged with a crime.

Hopefully, since one specific horror can illuminate festering wrongs, Tarlov’s death will be as transformative as the knock-out punch thrown by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice against his then-fiancee. Revealed on a security video tape, it brought into focus the chronic violence against women that the National Football League and our Super Bowl-loving nation has long ignored. Now even the football commissioner has been shamed into paying attention.

Clearly, the city’s two-week police crackdown last month on cyclist law-breakers did not work. We need serious law enforcement every day, including the law that forbids anyone over the age of 14 from riding on the sidewalks. In addition, we need statues that require all cyclists to be licensed or registered and to wear large, visible registration numbers on their backs. Above all, cyclists must affix working headlights to their bikes and turn them on, as cars must, when twilight begins. Cyclists wearing black clothes in the black of even early black night are invisible to hapless pedestrians who dare to leave their homes after sundown.

On Monday morning as Tarlow’s death was announced, a woman wearing a Central Parks Conservancy volunteer tunic was at the accident site urging cyclists to obey posted notices that forbad bike riding on park pathways and also to get them to stop speeding through red lights. She told me she didn’t mind if they slowly rode through red ones (I do, however). For the most part, cyclists seemed to know they had to watch themselves. The volunteer told me, “I have seen the man who killed her many times. He speeds all the time. I do this volunteer work because I am a cyclist and I want it to be done right.”

Even so, cyclists know laws are not really for them. Tarlov’s husband was probably planning her funeral when I took these photos of the spot where she was struck down:

Scofflaw

The green light at left means that this biker had a red and should not be in crosswalk. Police presence did not faze him.

 

Future Killer?

Breaking the law at the scene of a brain death

 

 

 

Could he kill your parent or child?

This man rode away when volunteer told him to dismount when on a pedestrian pathway. In this photo he returns to ignore park rules and rejoin a female companion who dismounted and waited for him.

Outside the park, this cyclist grimaced and dismounted after I took her photo. Maybe she heard about Tarlov.

Outside the park, this well-heeled cyclist grimaced and dismounted after I took her photo. She knew she was doing the wrong thing. If I did this while waiting for a bus, what could police accomplish?

It’s time to get serious. Mayor deBlasio believes he had to take a principled stand again carriage horses. Let him take a stand against cycling scofflaws who ruin the quality of life of people who are trying to walk down a sidewalk or cross a street. CBS News, which employs Jill Tarlow’s widower, has promised to report on the issue. For most of New York’s media, that would make a real change. Here is the statement from Anton Guitano, Chief Operating Officer, CBS Local Media, and Peter Dunn, President, CBS Television Stations: “We are heartsick over the passing of our dear friend and former 1010 WINS Radio colleague Jill Tarlov. As we mourn the loss of our friend and console Mike and his family, we are committed to doing what we can to bring greater public awareness of the perils of unsafe and distracted driving by motorists and cyclists that endangers pedestrians. Far too many people have been killed or seriously injured on our streets.” To this I would add: Terrorized too.

Funny the rider in the photo lower left doesn’t look under age 14 to me.  Please comment and click on  “Leave a reply” below.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Are NYC Pedestrians Less Important Than Carriage Horses?

  1. Your article about the death of Jill Tarlov is appreciated adding good information to the subject of biker scofflaws. My heart goes out to her family and friends. The only problem is the title. It is not compassionate or generous of you to compare this tragedy with the carriage horses. People have been injured (this city) and killed (other cities) by spooked carriage horses. It is only a matter of time before a human death happens here. Besides, these horses continue to be exploited and used up before they are laundered through the Amish on their way to auction. Surely we are a better city than to allow this to continue.

    Bikers continue to put pedestrians at risk is wrong and it is something I have spoken out about for years. When one has to look four ways before crossing some streets, we know that something is terribly wrong. Bikers, just like those who operate horse-drawn carriages, are lawless and out of control. Just because you advocate for one does not mean you have to oppose the other. Sensible and compassionate people with no financial conflict of interest do both. Mayor deBlasio has not offered anything to the carriage horse problem other than rhetoric. Talk is cheap. Let’s hope he does something about bikers who think the rules of the road are made for someone else. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in the truth about the horse-carriages – one of the only places you will find it is http://carriagehorsesnyc.blogspot.com/ — or our Facebook page – No Walk in the Park.

    It is a terrible tragedy that Jill Tarlov’s life was cut short in this way and I feel for her family and friends. What a waste. But because her husband was in the media, let’s hope her death will not be in vain — sometimes it takes this kind of tragedy to make a difference. Let’s hope, as you say, that this untimely death is at least transformative.

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  2. This story breaks my heart. We are faced with the same problem on a daily basis, though, thank God, nobody has been killed. Here in Toronto, cyclists can do no wrong. There are even proposals to close streets to cars so that cyclists can have free reign. I used to love to walk the streets of this city, but now I fear for my life every time I step out the door. Not from crooks, who are decreasing here, but from cyclists who can do whatever they want….

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  3. Kathy
    Excellent reporting. The accompanying photos are damning. A very hard-hitting report from a seasoned pro. Hope it gets some notice and/or the attention of officialdom.
    Pat

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