29 October 2016

We Can Use The Jump, And The NY Post Needs To Get A Grip

The other day, I chastised the Mayor of Montreal for his plan to paint lanes that would be shared by bikes and buses on some of his city's main thoroughfares.  An editorial in the Montreal Gazette  lambasted the idea--rightly, in my opinion.

Today the script is flipped, if you will, in my hometown:  a sensible piece of bicycle policy is proposed, but an idiotic newspaper editorial denounces it.

You probably wouldn't be surprised to find out that said editorial is in the New York Post: you know, the rag that became famous for headlines like Headless Body In Topless Bar and has lately become the print media's biggest cheerleader for Donald Trump's candidacy.  They've published a lot of diatribes against cyclists and this city's attempts to be more "bike friendly".  Some of the latter, to be fair, were on the mark, if for the wrong reasons,  such as their early criticisms of bike lanes.

Today their editorial begins thusly:

It seems it's not enough to ease up on anti-social behavior, from urinating on the street to public pot-smoking:  Next, the City Council may let cyclists legally jump red lights.

Here in New York, many intersections have traffic signals with four-way red lights and "walk" signals that precede the green light by 20 seconds.  In principle, I think it's a good idea, because it allows pedestrians to enter the intersection before, and thus be seen by, motorists who might make turns.  If anything, I think the interval should be longer along some of the city's wider streets such as Queens Boulevard, along which many senior citizens and disabled people live.

The City Council proposal would allow cyclists to follow the pedestrian signal in crossing an intersection.  Frankly, I think a 20-second interval for "jumping" red lights makes even more sense for cyclists than it does for pedestrians, especially for cyclists crossing intersections from bike lanes.  Twenty seconds is plenty of time for cyclists to cross just about any intersection, and even the slowest cyclists at the widest boulevards will have enough time to get through the immediate traffic lanes and avoid motorists making right turns.

The Post does have one thing right:  Many cyclists already do that because we know that it's much safer to cross that way than according to motorists' signals.  But I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a paper of their caliber compares legalizing the practice to tolerating public pot-smoking and urination.

If you follow the logic, if it can be called that, of some of the Post's other editorials and articles, allowing public urination unfairly privileges 49 percent of the population (of which I am not a part:  boo hoo).  So, perhaps, it's not surprising that the esteemed editors would follow the passage I italicized above with this:  It's not as bad as it sounds.  Then, they use even more tortured, to put it kindly, logic to dismiss the City Council proposal.

Usually, when folks like Denis Cordierre propose wrongheaded policies about cycling and pundits endorse them (or oppose good ideas), I can attribute it to a lack of knowledge about-- usually because of a lack of experience in-- cycling.  The Post, however, has magnified that lack of knowledge with an apparent inability to construct a cogent argument. Had any of my students submitted anything like it, he or she would see lots of red ink upon getting it back!

I wonder what Alexander Hamilton would think of that editorial--or the Post?


  1. Using the NY Post for lining a birdcage constitutes animal cruelty.

  2. Mike--You're quick! I don't think this post was up two minutes before you commented.

    I totally agree with you about the Post.

    1. My old boss back in Darien, CT, would sit at his desk reading the NY Post every morning. It was my first exposure to that legendary rag. i'll never forget the morning i saw it folded over on the desk, half the headline visible, "Shot Dead." i turned it over to see that the first line was "John Lennon."

  3. Mike--That's good for a few thousand dollars' worth of therapy!