On Friday the editors of the Daily News accused “Cannondale-mounted maniacs” of creating a “pedestrian perdition” by racing along the Manhattan Bridge “as it were the last leg of the Tour de France” and “[flipping] the bird at the working stiff from Brooklyn who’s who’s trying to burn off a few calories on the way home from the daily grind.” On Sunday, in a piece titled, “Cyclists up on their high horse about criticism of misuse of the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian path,” the editors doubled down.
Our open letter to Transportation Department Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan about the dangers of maniacal bikers on the Manhattan Bridge drew crazed responses from ..maniacal bikers.
Here’s the picture they ran to illustrate just how dangerous those “maniacal bikers” are to the working stiffs on the bridge:
Note the caption. Where did the editors go to school, Marcia Kramer University?
There’s one other problem with the photo used to illustrate the Daily News piece: it’s a photo of the temporary bicycle path. I understand that keeping the details of the detour straight can be as complicated as following “Who’s on First?”, but if you’re going to write an anti-bike editorial — along with a follow-up story in which you complain about people complaining about the first story — it’s important to get your facts right. In fact, I’d argue that it’s even more important when one of the chief complaints was that you didn’t get your facts right.
In the past, people have asked bike haters such as Steve Cuozzo or the members of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes to come along for a ride, hoping it might give those critics a chance to see things from a different perspective. None have accepted. Well, Ben Fried and I will be biking over the Manhattan Bridge with one member of the Daily News editorial board tomorrow morning. Here’s how the Daily News described the goal:
Some invited us to bike the Manhattan Bridge with them to witness their law-abiding ways – which we will be doing on Monday morning, as long as we can find our dentures, bifocals and suits of armor.
This is not correct. As I mentioned in an email to the Daily News editor on Friday, the point of tomorrow’s ride is not to show that cyclists obey the law with one-hundred-percent fidelity. No reasonable New Yorker would say that they do. The question is whether or not the Daily News misrepresented the issue, misled its readers, relied on tired stereotypes, and generated a false controversy based on the limited experience of “at least one member” of the editorial board.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Since I don’t accompany this board member on his daily jog, I would not even begin to argue with someone who claims to have been “cursed out regularly” for following the law. However, I think it is reasonable to wonder why an anonymous editorial writer can claim that “so many New Yorkers – even reasonable New Yorkers – are so dead-set against your bike lanes,” when the latest Marist poll shows that not to be true in the slightest. I hope the writer can tell pedestrians, bike commuters, and Daily News readers why he so blatantly ignored that basic fact.
I would like to make it very clear that I have absolutely zero problem with pedestrians who continue to use the south side of the bridge while the detour is in effect. As inconvenient as the detour can be for cyclists, it is far more so for people on foot, and I can’t blame someone who sticks to his old routine rather than risk crossing the river of traffic at the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge.
Anyone who commutes over the Manhattan Bridge on a daily basis knows that the span is safe and calm, even with the detour in effect. After all, it’s one of the few places in New York where cyclists and pedestrians are completely separated from maniacal drivers. I should note that our plans include a trip up the Bowery so that the writer can experience the real dangers this detour has created. Nevertheless, I’m under no illusion the writer will change his mind and escape the limits of his own confirmation bias, especially considering the original title for today’s editorial.
Wish us luck.