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View Diary: Crime, cars and the illusion of safety in NYC. (42 comments)

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  •  This is not going to be a consoling comment. (2+ / 0-)
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    futurebird, kurt

    However, it is my considered opinion that the culture of obedience, of which the cops are the first line enforcers, considers people on foot to be a menace. Where they are going to go is unpredictable. So, they are hard to catch, especially if they have a personal incentive to get away. But, if people on foot are bad, people on bikes are worse. Because, the cops can't outrun them and their cars, to which they are very much attached as the instrument of their power, can't follow where a biker can go. So, there is a basic antagonism in the law enforcement community against people who aren't in cages on wheels.
    See, the wonderful thing about private automobiles is that, in getting a license to operate a potentially deadly machine, people have to agree ahead of time to being stopped and showing their license whenever asked. This kind of compliance is precious to law enforcement, an unassailable opportunity to demonstrate power -- made necessary by the fact that the organization demands absolute compliance from them and, in exchange, promises to hold them harmless for any "mistake." The level of compliance the cops can exact from drivers is what they have been at pains to exact from pedestrians on the sidewalks of New York.
    What the Occupy experience demonstrated is that the harassment by law enforcement isn't just directed at the residents of Harlem, but at anyone who insists on going where they want and when. After all, pedestrians are routinely ticketed (reprimanded) for stepping in the street where cages on wheels have the right of way.
    Yes, the cops have no interest in enforcing traffic regulations in the interest of pedestrians and people on bicycles. From their perspective, if a motor vehicle "clips" a bicyclist, that's what THEY deserve for being in the way.
    See, it's not about you. But, you have every right to be incensed because the number of deaths associated with automotive vehicles is an outrage. Ten million "accidents" accounting for forty thousand deaths and who knows how many maimed. The whole sad story is evidence that our respect for human rights (to speak, to perambulate, to associate, to recreate, to bodily integrity) is virtually nil and property rights trump them at every turn, because property rights are the sop to compensate for the fact that human rights don't count.
    Property had to be more important from the start. How else could slavery have been justified in the law?
    See, it's not all about you? But, if the U.S. Is to progress, it will have to be towards the elevation of human rights to their preeminence.
    Thanks for joining the conversation!

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    by hannah on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 10:09:31 AM PST

    •  one note (12+ / 0-)

      I was clipped while running not while on a bike (though that happens too) I feel it's a more serious offense when a driver comes close to me when I'm on foot then when I'm on a bike. I can't quite say why, maybe because I can't get away as quickly, maybe because I really have nothing to keep me safe.

      I've been knocked off of my bike and left there while trying to read the plate number of a car speeding away.

      I ride very slow, I wear a skirt, I'm a granny biker. I stop at every red light and cars honk at me for stopping.

      You can't win.

      •  I suspect that at some level drivers realize (1+ / 0-)
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        they are strapped into a cage and they are jealous of those running and riding free.

        Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

        by hannah on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 11:14:27 AM PST

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        •  I think you may be driving the wrong car, (0+ / 0-)

          Or you just don't enjoy cars. fair enough.
          The little Mazda3 I've been driving means fitting a 9 ft 8 inch longboard inside the car so I can surf at dawn before going to work, taking friends to go stargazing or hiking up in the mountains, or taking one trip to the grocery store instead of three. It also means being able to get around in rain, snow, and high winds, and always having tools and supplies packed under the floor of the trunk to help out someone whose car (or bike) is slightly busted.

          Horses for courses.

          •  It is a matter of perspectives. (1+ / 0-)
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            What drivers normally perceive and what law enforcement and traffic engineers perceive is entirely different. I've been driving for over fifty years and only ever got stopped by cops twice. Once when I was learning to drive and got on the Queensborrough bridge by accident and the instructor raised a cop's suspicion by putting his hand on the steering wheel to steady it, and once when I was returning home from a meeting in New Hampshire in a car with Georgia plates and the cop thought he'd spotted himself a drug dealer. So he used the old "you failed to use the turn signal" excuse to pull me over, only to find this old crone who queried his credibility until he threatened to arrest me for not driving off as soon as he dismissed me. I was tempted, but resisted. LOL
            People in cars can be stopped. Who's to prove what's reasonable suspicion?
            How to explain that 40,000, mostly in the prime of life, are still being killed on our highways each year?

            Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

            by hannah on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 01:39:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Also... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, Calamity Jean

      When you're on foot or a bike, you don't have a government-issued ID number affixed to your back for easy identification.

      Those who support banning cocaine are no better than those who support banning cheeseburgers

      by EthrDemon on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 02:20:00 PM PST

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    •  What is up with aggressive drivers? (3+ / 0-)

      In my case, I have experienced many aggressive automobile drivers, but never a problem with local law enforcement, over 40 years of morning exercise.  Out here in the sticks, there are no bike lanes or sidewalks, so we have to share the road.  In the winter, that road is bounded by snow banks high enough to significantly inhibit evasive action.  It is not unusual for drivers to deliberately accelerate and swerve towards me, particularly when riding a bike with traffic.   I believe they are trying to show exercisers that we don't belong - as though we are an affront.  

      I never kept a log of these incidents, but my impression is that most of those aggressive drivers are over-weight, and more than half of them are female.  I can sort of understand the resentment of over-weight people (FWIW, I am no lightweight) although it makes me mad, but I have no explanation for the second half of that observation.

      •  wow. I walk 2 dogs in the winter road conditions (5+ / 0-)
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        sherman54, chimene, kurt, salmo, FindingMyVoice

        you describe and my experience has been for drivers in both lanes to slow down even to a crawl and give us as wide a berth as possible. I have had close calls but they were truly accidental, never aggression, even though people speed like maniacs around the corners behind me and ahead of me. But people smile at the dogs, too, whereas if you are just running for yourself and you are not cute and fuzzy, then maybe they think you are just a nuisance.
             And I was thinking today about people who have accidents because they unconsciously drive toward whatever they are looking at. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to your aggressors, but 30 years ago I read a book that was the story of a bicycle Trip around the world. They met all kinds of dangers and conditions, but it was in America that they had diapers flung out of car windows at them and eventually there was an epilogue to the story because one of the authors was killed on a bike at an intersection three blocks from home if I remember it right. Anyone remember the name of this non-fiction story?

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 06:18:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  no, I don't, (3+ / 0-)

          but if you find out, I would love to know.  how tragic, but surely an incredible book.  I think that there is just SO much anger and frustration reeking  havoc with people's minds and souls, that there's a tendency to step on the smaller get even(?), to feel superior…?

          but I am so aware of that bad energy…

           we have to all be aware of it!

          'ite, omnia incendite et inflammte'

          by sherman54 on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 09:35:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's my guess that what many drivers do not (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, salmo, AoT, greengemini

        know is that if one looks at something, one will automatically stear towards it. That's how come so many cars end up wrapped around telephone poles and trees "you can't miss."
        So a concerned driver who wants to be sure not to hit the person walking or biking along the road will veer in their direction because she's looking. It's a very disconcerting experience for the driver and may well lead to over-correction and a near-collision on the other side. And then, having avoided a crash, the rush of adrenaline causes a sense of irritation at the apparent proximate cause -- i.e. the innocent pedestrian or biker.
        There's a good reason for the injunction "Keep your eye on the road."  What you see is what you'll hit.

        Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

        by hannah on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 02:43:12 AM PST

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    •  wait, cops hate bike riders??? (0+ / 0-)


      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 06:01:45 PM PST

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    •  A couple of points (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      futurebird, chimene, jbob, Dem Beans, AoT

      1.  the cops do not have the right to stop you for no reason and ask to see your license/reg/ins.  They must have reasonable suspicion, unless they set up a traffic stop (eg, DUI checkpoints).  

      2.  I have never seen nor heard of a NYC pedestrian receiving a traffic ticket.  Indeed, Giuliani tried to interpret and enforce the anti-jaywalking law in a bid to snare pedestrians to issue a ticket.  That plan never got of fthe ground because of the way the law is written.  Even the construction of wrought iron fences on certain corners has not stopped NYers from simply moving around them (your truly included).  

      3.  It appears to me that Bloomberg decided not to bother with traffic violations at all.  The city has become very dangerous because the risk of getting a ticket is very low.  Even at heavily congested intersections, there are no cops to stop cars from blocking the intersection.  And I hardly need to mention the driving habits of cabbies over the past 10 years.  NYC has become quite lawless when it comes to vehicular traffic, to the detriment of innocent pedestrians like the OP.  

      I don't disagree with your larger point, but I don't think the evidence you marshall to support it is very convincing here.

      •  It's only a hypothesis, but just as the culture of (1+ / 0-)
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        obedience "rewards" cops by letting them get away with murder, so to speak, people in cages on wheels get cut some slack when the focus of animus is on pedestrians roaming about. I'd also argue that the reason the youth get harrassed on the sidewalks of New York is because they are perceived as harmless. The acolytes of the culture of obedience are cowards and sincerely concerned about not getting injured, if the number of times they cite fearfulness as the reason for shooting first is to be believed.

        Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

        by hannah on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 02:54:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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