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The Hazardous Streets of New York City: Video

A visual arts student created the above video for a masters thesis class. He explains:

By summer 2010, the expansion of bike lanes in NYC exposed a clash of long-standing bad habits — such as pedestrians jaywalking, cyclists running red lights, and motorists plowing through crosswalks. By focusing on one intersection as a case study, my video aims to show our interconnection and shared role in improving the safety and usability of our streets. The video is part of a larger campaign I created called '3-Way Street'.

And here's another video related to the same issue.

Bike The Consumerist explains:

Casey was fined by the NYPD as part of a recent bicyclist dragnet, getting dinged $50 for not riding in the bike lane. He tried to tell the cop that sometimes the bike lane isn't safe but the officer wasn't having any of it. So Casey made a video of what happens when you only ride in the bike lane, despite the numerous piles of construction equipment, taxis, and other obstacles, deliberately crashing his velocipede and eating asphalt. Hm, there seems to be a logic error somewhere here.

Sucks to be a pedestrian when bikes are going in the wrong direction, too!

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. When I was in my teens I would bike from the Upper West Side to Midtown to go to the library—I don't remember it being that bad. Then again, a neighbor was run down by a bicycle messenger and had to have pins in her wrist.

    Car drivers can be true idiots when it comes to bikes, but sometimes the cyclists don't exactly help.

    Posted by: David R. | Jun 10, 2011 7:08:20 PM


  2. and...Cool video/thesis.

    Posted by: David R. | Jun 10, 2011 7:09:20 PM


  3. Geez - how long before Swarming tech is up and running?!

    Posted by: DC | Jun 10, 2011 7:11:38 PM


  4. if they aren't going to follow the bike lanes why have them. i don't know the number of times i seen bikes riding up the middle lane or coming thru a red light. the worse are food delivery people. it is a miracle they aren't killed or kill someone else.

    Posted by: walter | Jun 10, 2011 7:19:08 PM


  5. Sorry, non-motorists. I see an overwhelming number of cyclists and pedestrians failing to abide by the most basic traffic signals.

    If it's a red light, DON'T BIKE INTO THE INTERSECTION. If it's a red hand, DON'T WALK INTO THE INTERSECTION. A flashing red hand means that if you're currently in the intersection you need to hurry your ass up to let cars make their turns.

    Posted by: Eaves | Jun 10, 2011 7:32:30 PM


  6. Sometimes, the best way to change the law is to follow it exactly. Brilliant.

    Posted by: Rodney Wollam | Jun 10, 2011 8:07:30 PM


  7. I live in San Francisco and the bike riders are not respectful. They don't obey the laws and go down one way streets so often. They
    should respect the law like drivers

    Posted by: willy | Jun 10, 2011 8:48:11 PM


  8. @Willy:

    "They should respect the law like drivers"
    You're kidding, right? :)

    As someone who commutes by bike, drive and take public transportation regularly, I'd love to see a video like this done for my city. Many of my non-biking friends often cite bikes as the only ones who break the law, while those who bike cite everyone else. From my experience, it's true what this video portrays: All sides do really dumb things.

    Also, interestingly, NY metro is one of the safest for pedestrians. Los Angeles, not so much:
    http://bit.ly/lwAgRX

    Excellent video, btw!

    Posted by: Damien | Jun 10, 2011 9:05:24 PM


  9. This situation isn't any better in LA...

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Jun 10, 2011 9:09:21 PM


  10. There is a difference between the 'good' bikers and 'bad' bikers. The good ones follow the rules. The bad ones do not, and do things like what was mentioned in previous comments (going through an intersection on a red light, riding between lanes, etc.) The same goes for pedestrians. Some don't walk when the red hand is flashing, some do. This guy is just trying to make the point that you can't ALWAYS be in the bike lane and finds it unfair that he was fined because the lane was blocked.

    Posted by: Cody | Jun 10, 2011 9:10:26 PM


  11. Damien:

    Many of my non-biking friends often cite bikes as the only ones who break the law, while those who bike cite everyone else. From my experience, it's true what this video portrays: All sides do really dumb things.

    You're absolutely right, but from a driver's perspective, cyclists feel more dangerous than pedestrians or other motorists, because cyclists are (a) as small as pedestrians, and (b) as fast as cars on surface streets. Also, a big part of the perception is those few cyclists who ride against traffic and run red lights. That's something that motorists don't do, and even when pedestrians do it, they are slow enough to be predictable.

    Posted by: Nate W. | Jun 10, 2011 9:28:39 PM


  12. My main peeve with cyclists in San Francisco is using the sidewalk at incredibly high speeds. I realize this may be due to ignorance or lack of bike lanes, but cyclists on sidewalks have hit many people (including the handicapped and elderly who can't jumpy out of the way) and dogs I've known.

    The rule is always that pedestrians take precedence. Then cyclists. Then cars. Way too many SF cyclists are arrogant jerks--and I say that as one who stopped riding because plenty of drivers are far more dangerous. Plenty of foreign countries have this coexistence down, likely because of better enforcement of all. Here it's a free for all.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jun 10, 2011 9:46:33 PM


  13. I ride my bike in NYC every day. I take bike paths where available.
    I stop at intersections before the crosswalk at red lights. I hand signal when turning. But almost every block is a potential hazard. It's very common for peds to walk into the street looking away from traffic. People see me coming at intersections, and choose to walk against the light, assuming I won't run them over while they check their text mssg. Cars cutting me off as they turn happens every other block. People using the bike paths as sidewalks when the sidewalks are empty, forcing me into car traffic. Delivery trucks. Bikes coming the wrong way. Food delivery bikers take the shortest route between two points. People stand in the paths at intersections waiting for the green light. Tonight a cab pulled in front of me and stopped. I obey the law, but in NYC, people are in a hurry and will motor you down. You really have to pay attention. The thing that is new in my 30 years of biking through this town, is that bikes are now part of rush hour traffic. Lots of them. I was riding down 2nd av the other day in the company of about 10 other bikes. This is new. So many people are riding and bike stores are all over the place. It's a new world.

    Posted by: kodiak | Jun 11, 2011 12:17:35 AM


  14. We all need to be better - whether your walking, riding a bike or driving a car. Too many people are preoccupied with other things and don't pay attention - or they don't care about anyone but themselves. If we all just followed the rules better and paid attention to what we are doing (and others) then it would certainly help. I don't bike, but I know they aren't the whole problem. Yes some bikers run red lights, change from the street to sidewalk, go the wrong way but people driving cars break rules all the time too as we see in the video.

    Now this guy in the second video drives me nuts. It's called paying attention to your surroundings. Yes taxis block the way sometimes, and yes the are obstructions but open your eyes just like those in cars should be doing. His video kind of drove me nuts. I get what he's saying but most of his examples he could of just moved a bit left or right and it would of been fine (annoying, a hassle) but fine.

    Posted by: colin | Jun 11, 2011 1:43:50 AM


  15. the most amazing part for me is that he did all that without helmet, knee pads, elbow pads. crazy daredevil!

    Posted by: redball | Jun 11, 2011 4:49:29 AM


  16. ooo i just watched the first video and it was also amazing so i spoke too soon. nice job.

    Posted by: redball | Jun 11, 2011 5:01:18 AM


  17. Here in Chicago, I rarely see a cyclist stop at a stop sign. Some drivers are bad, but here, more cyclists are the problem.

    Posted by: ChicagoRick | Jun 11, 2011 7:23:20 AM


  18. Yeah, Casey "I'm telling the cop how I'm doing the world a favor by riding my bike but he's ticketing me anyway, Waaaah" makes a fairly convincing case why drivers and pedestrians love them there bike activists.

    Posted by: Suffern ACE | Jun 11, 2011 10:17:31 AM


  19. For those who live in Manhattan, have you ever tried to walk down the promenade along the Hudson River next to the West Side Highway? There are clearly marked lanes for walkers/joggers and bicyclist, but since it is so narrow, it is hard not to cross lanes. However, the bikers act like they OWN the f*king path and barrel down it like it's the autobahn!

    To those bikers I would like to say, slow the f*ck down! There are kids and animals walking there too. We have to share it. And if you race inches past me again, I will f*cking push your a$$!

    Posted by: RW | Jun 11, 2011 10:51:12 AM


  20. I have almost never, in all my years of living in both DC, Boston and NYC seen cyclists ever obey the law. Ever.

    I have also never, ever seen a cop write a cyclist a ticket for failing to do so.

    I have seen pedestrians get ticketed for jaywalking and obviously drivers get tickets all the time. Maybe it is time for cops to start beefing up the citations on cyclists. Then they might obey the law.

    Posted by: Sam | Jun 11, 2011 12:33:48 PM


  21. The cops in NYC simply will not enforce the proper use of the bike lanes. They openly allow the bike lanes to be used as delivery lanes, taxi drop and stop lanes, double parking zones etc. never mind the countless pedestrians that use the bike lanes as just another extension of the sidewalk to walk 3 or 4 abreast with zero regad for anyone but themselves. The use of the bike lanes needs to be enforced that means they are for cyclists riding in the proper direction; when the arrow points north that means it is for north bound riders, the number of a**hole cyclists who ride the wrong direction is unelievable and then they flip you off if you look at them wrong. Cyclist on sidewalks ? ticket them, cysclist going wrong way ? ticket them, pedestrians in bike lanes ? ticket them, cars using bike lane ? ticket them
    And let's look at the lack of enforcement on the Hudson river bike path, truly a treacherous route for cyclists, clear signs indicate No pedestrians No runners, yet runners and pedestrians 2,3, and 4 abreast in the bike path and the Hudson River Park police do nothing, yet try and get even close to the pedestrian promenade, even walking your bike astride and they are all over you like the proverbial duck on a june bug. Oh and you cyclists that think the Hudson River bike path is a training course for the Tour de France you are all a**holes as well, way to crowded to be going the speeds you are going.
    I have been using my bike in the city since 1997 obeying traffic laws and yeielding the right of way, even when it was mine to avoid problems( but yes I do pedal through a red light when no cars or pedestrians are coming so not a saint )and the bike lanes have made it worse, far worse and the lack of any proper and cosistent enforcement by the police only makes it worse.

    Posted by: jerry | Jun 11, 2011 12:42:00 PM


  22. I generally walk everywhere in Manhattan and I will say that many times I have been almost crushed by cyclists. I can't tell you how many times while crossing an intersection legally I have been almost hit by a cyclist completely disregarding traffic laws.

    That said, as a pedestrian, I jaywalk... all the time. So I'm no better myself. And I use the bike lanes as my personal lane around tourists.

    It's almost a perfect storm. You have multiple cultures clashing in a small space, many of which are visiting from other states or countries where the laws are different.

    Regardless, I'm in favor of reducing the lanes available for vehicles and increasing bike lanes (as long as they follow the law) and creating lanes for resident pedestrians.

    Posted by: Greg | Jun 11, 2011 1:07:14 PM


  23. a few things that are irrefutable:

    -the overwhelming majority of the danger on our streets to those moving by any and every means comes from drivers in motor vehicles.

    -the difference between pedestrians and bicyclists bending the rules (which generally just annoys a minority of their peers) and motor vehicle drivers doing the same (which, considering the statistics, constitutes a public health crisis) must become part of the public consciousness.

    -our uniquely american american road conflicts are, in large part, a product of the power of the american automotive industry of the 20th century.

    -strict adherence to laws and rules is unproductive and dangerous when said laws and rules are improper.

    -bicyclists should not be riding at high speeds on sidewalks, ever.

    -rage and vigilantism are almost without exception counterproductive to a cause (to you, RW).

    -selective outrage and gross generalizations are almost without exception counterproductive to a cause (to you, SAM)

    andy- thanks for posting these videos! i love seeing this conversation happen on towleroad.

    Posted by: bryce | Jun 11, 2011 6:55:42 PM


  24. I rode bikes extensively in NYC [Manhattan especially], Boston [Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, etc.], as a kid, teenager, and young adult. VERY extensively. Some observations:

    1) Auto traffic was always bad in these locations, it's considerably worse now, and continues to increase. The number of vehicles on the road never decreases.

    2) People in these locations have always been in a hurry to get somewhere and are, diplomatically speaking, aggressive. Especially the natives. That's not a put down. I find the often more 'laid-back' non-natives more irritating and believe they're probably responsible for a disproportionate level of accidents due to their lack of paying attention.

    3) Everyone must be AWARE OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS. I am hyper-aware of my surroundings, have always been so, and one of my big pet peeves is folks not paying attention or being unaware of their surrounds, either in a car, on a bike, or even walking. It's these people who're responsible for MANY accidents, even deaths. ALWAYS ASSUME THE OTHER GUY [or girl] ISN'T PAYING ATTENTION. Sadly, I've notice an increase in people who're self-centered, rude aholes, many even looking for a fight, on the road [road rage is a MAJOR problem, and it's [IMO] getting worse, not better], even bike riders and pedestrians. Don't get me started on airplanes, trains.

    4) I wasn't a saint when riding my bike all over town, to work and back, etc., but I tried to act responsibly. I didn't play chicken with pedestrians [or cars!], I rarely went down a street the wrong way or rode against traffic, never in the middle of a street, never on a sidewalk with people [NEVER, I never did this], and I paid attention to traffic lights, and was very careful at intersections. MANY bike riders aren't careful, respectful of those around them, and take serious risks with their safety and others. The same is true of course of car drivers, but a bike is no match for a car, truck, etc., so bike riders must be extra careful, and hyper aware.

    5) There are different types of bike riders. Casual riders, those who ride around town, etc., There are bike messengers / couriers, and then there are the folks who put on their spandex best, spend a fortune on their bike and gear, etc., This last type, IMHO, are the most egregious. They're the ones who usually insist on acting like a car on the roads, and cause the most irritation and scares for drivers. But, if you're in a financial district of a big city, you better be aware of bike messengers, and be on the look out for them, because they get paid by the deliveries they make and show little patience for those who get in their way.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 11, 2011 10:42:16 PM


  25. The only time I've ever been hit by a car was when I was riding my bike, following all laws, riding IN A BIKE LANE.

    A car turned right in front of me to get into a parking lot. Had I been on the sidewalk instead of the bike lane, I would have swerved with his turn and avoided being hit (done this manoeuver many times, unfortunately).

    Being in the bike lane, I had a curb confining me on the right, and the vehicle on the left. It's kind of a special terror when you realize you're trapped and there's nothing you can do to stop yourself from being hit by a car...

    Posted by: DN | Jun 13, 2011 7:12:26 PM


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