Here’s how the Daily News characterized yesterday morning’s ride across the Manhattan Bridge in an editorial today titled, “The Battle of the Manhattan Bridge shows that bikes need to yield to pedestrians, always.”
Well, intrepid war correspondents that we are, we survived a return yesterday to the Manhattan Bridge battleground between bicyclists and pedestrians.
These are the conditions as they existed on the bridge yesterday. Alex Nazaryan, the intrepid war correspondent who joined us yesterday, is the rider with the white helmet and black and red backpack.
Alex admits that the forecast may have dampened the number of pedestrians and “pedal partisans,” but he accuses the DOT of “deploying hard-hatted peacekeepers to separate the warring factions.”
Forewarned that we were mounting a reconnaissance mission, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan dispatched forces.
This Markowitzian categorization of yesterday’s ride is demonstrably false.
Regular Manhattan Bridge commuters know that contractors from Skanska/Koch can often be found standing by the bike ramp on the Brooklyn side. They are also found on the Manhattan side during many evening rush hours. Sometimes they direct cyclists to the detour and sometimes they’re just standing around having a smoke. This is something I explained to Alex when I met him yesterday morning after we saw two men in reflective vests and hard hats standing by the barriers on the north side. Teresa Toro, the community liaison for the bridge project, mentioned that perhaps DOT should send more people than just the two we saw there yesterday morning since human interaction is more effective than signs and plastic barriers in getting people to comply with rules.
Our mission that morning also involved a short walk about one quarter of the way up the temporary pedestrian walkway on the northern side of the bridge. We saw few pedestrians and only one person on a bicycle during our excursion, although there were workers at one of the construction sheds on the path. Ben asked Alex if he wanted to speak to some of them to see what their experience was like or if they noticed some of the conflicts the Daily News described in its editorial. If Alex had wanted to find out what their perspective was on the “pedestrian perdition” on the bridge this would have been his opportunity. He declined, saying, “I think I’ve seen enough.”
Did Alex Nazaryan lie on the pages of the Daily News today or did someone else twist his words into a conspiratorial accusation against the DOT? I emailed Alex to offer him a chance to explain but have so far not received a response. I’ll update this post when I do.
Up next, I’ll post a video related to Nazaryan’s admonition to bikers that “they must yield to walkers and jaywalkers, joggers and jayjoggers, as surely as do the drivers of multi-ton Mack trucks.”