Alec Baldwin was reportedly arrested in New York City today (May 13) for riding a bike the wrong way on Fifth Avenue. While the incident’s sure to make the rounds on late-night television, it’s no small thing in the Big Apple.
Bicycle riders have been at war with the city for years over it’s seemingly hostile attitude toward two-wheeled, human-powered transportation.
Neither Michael Bloomberg’s administration nor Rudolph Guliani’s ever did much to encourage bicycling in the city.
The New York City Police Department has also been scornful of bikers.
Newly elected Democratic Mayor Bill De Blasio might be different. But so far the war continues.
About 20 bikers are killed annually, usually by colliding with a moving motor vehicle or by being thrown in front of a car after colliding with an open car door.
While the city has bike lanes in some areas, they are usually in what’s known as the door lane on the left side of parked cars.
The problem is so common it even has a name: “dooring.” Most bike riders in the city have been “doored,” or have had a close brush with an opening door.
Another danger for cyclists are right-turning taxicabs and cars, which cut off bicyclers riding to the far right on city streets.
The city ranked 7th on Bicycling magazine’s Top 50 bike friendly cities last year behind Chicago and Washington, D.C.
The city is also the 8th deadliest in the United States for cyclists, worse than Los Angeles or Chicago, according to federal statistics compiled by the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
Plans call for 1,800 bike-lane miles by 2030, putting the New York City in league with top bicycle-friendly cities like Paris, according to the magazine.
In contrast, 176 pedestrians were killed last year in the city. De Blasio is working to cut the number to zero, according to The New York Times.
Baldwin reportedly exacerbated matters because he did not have identification on him, which is kinda hard to do if your biking in spandex shorts.
While the actor was clearly in the wrong, he may serve a useful purpose by highlighting the dangers of biking in the city and calling attention to the need for more, and safer, bike lanes.