Thursday, December 13, 2007

David Smith's Ghost Bike

at the corner of 6th and 36th.

(explanation of a ghost bike)

I saw the bike while on my way to a print casting. A while back I'd thought of taking pic of all the ghost bikes that I saw in the city, but I didn't make a habit of carrying a camera and my list of unfulfilled intentions is long and broad.

The other night/morning, while doing a (ridiculous 35 degree, not including the wind and light-rain) ride on the West Side Bikeway, I saw a ghost bike near the entrance to the NYPD impound yard. The bikeway itself is the safest bike lane in the city, but the places where there are intersects with traffic - particularly at that intersection - seem to be deadly (<- not hyperbole). While reading about Smith's collision, it occurred to me
  1. that I typically ride in traffic
  2. how unconsciously nervous I am of doors opening when riding in bike lane
Manhattan is fairly narrow, so I'll generally make my way over to the WSB if there's not another stop I plan to make. Riding in traffic is, for me a challenge thing - it feels good to realize that you're keeping up with or making better progress than traffic.

However, I don't do this that often. And I have definitely felt the places where it feels more scary than thrilling/enjoyable to ride and typically avoid them. I also tend to not ride inside the city during rush hours - so I won't encounter the problem as much as people who are true bicycle commuters.

That said, these are my observations as someone who has been a cyclists, driver and pedestrian in the city:

Pedestrians are oblivious to everything.
Drivers are oblivious to everything but cops.
I find myself the most aware of my surroundings as a cyclist -
but cyclists AIN'T perfect.

It seems like riders tend to be listening to audio devices less,
and talking on cellphones less (though I've seen it happen)
and fumbling with items less.

And for those who are trying to admonish a dead man for not wearing a helmet,
you should just as well be chastising him for not wearing a suit of armor - though it would have done just as well as a helmet to protect him from internal injuries. Remember: pedestrians have sidewalks; cyclists, even where there are painted bike lanes, are in the street.

It just so happens that I noticed the bike the day of the memorial ride - I wish I would've known about it before it happened.

A central non-automobile corridor in this city would be nice. Regardless, as long as people, bikes and cars are allowed to share the same thoroughfares, there has got to be better commuter education.

blessings to the those who orbited in Mr. Smith's universe;
honesty and peace to the mind of the driver & passenger of the car,
and to the driver of the truck.

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