JILL TARLOV DIES AFTER BICYCLE COLLISION; SHOULD WE BELIEVE PROMISES OF ENFORCEMENT?

tarlov
Jill Tarlov, via her linkedin page.

Jill Tarlov, the 59-year-old mother of two who was hit by a bicyclist inside Central Park at West 63rd street on Friday, has died, according to a statement from her family. Tarlov, who suffered severe head injury in the incident, had been kept alive by a ventilator.

Her husband Mike Wittman, a CBS executive, released a statement:

“My wife was beautiful in every way imaginable. Jill was the most amazing mother to Matthew and Anna, who taught them above all that kindness, compassion, and a spirit for life were the right morals to live by. Everyone who had ever met her was somehow made better by her company.

Even though she has been taken from us far too soon, her spirit will live on forever. On behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and request privacy during the difficult times ahead.”

The rider who hit Tarlov, Jason Marshall, has not been charged.

This is the second person killed since August by a bicyclist in Central Park.  In the aftermath, the Central Park police plan to more stringently enforce laws demanding that bicyclists yield to pedestrians and stop at red lights, according to a letter from a cycling group that met with the police. The Century Road Club Association, a bicycling group that rides in the park, posted the following notice for its members:

“Today, members of the CRCA Board met with Central Park Police, at their request, to discuss how groups like ours may collaborate in educating our members and the public on park safety. In particular, we were asked to communicate that enforcement of the following violations would increase in the near future: 1) failure to yield to pedestrians, 2) failure to stop at red lights, and 3) wearing headphones/earbuds in both ears.”

The CRCA says it will spread the word to bicyclists to act more responsibly: “We need your help in spreading the word to all of your teammates and friends about the importance of how we conduct ourselves in Central Park. Most members are doing the right thing, but we know it only takes one moment of bad judgement from one individual to cause major problems for all of us.”

Of course, most of our readers would dispute the notion that this was one bad actor making a single mistake — bicyclists racing through Central Park have been ignoring laws to stay within the speed limit, yield to pedestrians and stop at red lights for years. And as we’ve heard from several readers: after they nearly run you and your kid down, they curse at you too!

Although the park police have occasionally cracked down, bicyclists have tended to push back against enforcement and police have tended to pull back. The temporary enforcement measures do not seem to have had any lasting impact. We wrote about this two years ago and noted that as the park gets more crowded, the law-breaking was bound to result in a severe crash.

Even other bicycling advocates are pushing back against the culture of entitlement among lycra-clad Central Park bicyclists. The blogger from Bike Snob NYC wrote after the crash that killed Tarlov: “This is not the Central Park of 20 years ago.  It is full of people pretty much all the time.  If you need to get a workout on a bike while you’e in there, go hard up the hill where you can make a maximum effort without gathering much speed.  And if you have time to ride your bike in the middle of a weekday afternoon you have time to head out for a “real” ride in an appropriate setting.”

It would also seem to make sense to ban the use of aerobars, which allow riders to shift their weight forward, but can make it harder to get to the brakes (contrary to some initial reports, Marshall’s bike almost certainly had brakes, but the aerobars tend to make the brakes simply harder to reach). Bicycling magazine notes that people should not use aerobars in crowded areas: “you’re simply too far from the brakes and unable to react quickly to obstacles or pack maneuvers.”

Hopefully, the Central Park police will also be meeting with people who feel threatened by bicyclists — not just the bicycling groups — in the coming weeks.

NEWS | 58 comments | permalink
    1. Stuart says:

      The NY Times said “So far this year, the authorities have issued 468 moving summonses for bicycle violations in Central Park, more than triple the 151 summonses issued in the same period last year, the police said. Half of the summonses issued this year cited riders who failed to yield to pedestrians.” So why can’t the NYPD ticket cycllists (and drivers and pedestrians) in our neighborhood?
      Does anyone know how many summonses have been issued in the 20th and 24th precincts this year as compared to last year?

    2. Nathan says:

      I don’t agree with that riding fast in the park need be banned, but the time for it is either early in the morning or late at night. Basically when the park is mostly empty and the roads are wide open.

      Also, it’s unlikely all but the fasted bikes ever actually break the speed limit in the park.

      • Sam says:

        It’s very easy to exceed 25 MPH in the park especially on the downhills which are often located in areas with high pedestrian concentrations.

    3. jd says:

      Maybe they should install speed bumps in the park. That will slow everyone down.

    4. richard says:

      As a bike rider who no longer rides in the park because of this very issue, I feel the NYPD and DA’s office need to come down on this irresponsible rider like a brick shithouse. It’s called making an example of someone, and Jason Marshall guess what, you are it!
      I’m sorry but there’s a time and place for high speed training and Central Park at 4pm is not it. Tough shit buddy, you killed a woman, now you need to pay the price.

      • geoff says:

        hear hear!!!

      • Cookies says:

        A voice of reason. Thank you for your words. This will happen again. God forbid that it should happen to a child.

      • SA_NYC says:

        Well I don’t know that the police are making an example of Mr. Marshall, seeing as he hasn’t even been charged. But as I commented elsewhere on here, I’m a regular rider in the park and I think it’s inexcusable that you would EVER be going so fast as to be unable to avoid hitting a pedestrian, regardless of what that person was doing. It’s even worse that it happened in that section of the park, which is a dangerous combination of downhill and heavy pedestrian volume. Going through there, you MUST have your head on a swivel, your hands on your brakes, your speed totally under control, and you must be looking for all pedestrians, even the ones not currently on the street, and expecting that they may suddenly veer into the street. It’s a park, and pedestrians simply don’t exercise the usual care that they would near a busy road. And I don’t blame them for that, especially when car traffic isn’t running. It’s a park, not a high-speed cycling course!

        The answer isn’t to enforce cyclists stopping at red lights (although I don’t think that would hurt), it’s for police to strictly enforce speed limits, especially in busy sections, and also for rules (and enforcement thereof) against non-defensive riding. Police should have wide discretion in my opinion to ticket cyclists who are riding at a speed and in a manner that would prevent them from stopping on a dime.

    5. Woody says:

      Pedestrians also need to change their behavior by not putting themselves in harm’s way while in any roadway. That won’t solve the problem of cyclists running red lights or failing to yield but some effort has to be made to control the randomness of people crossing in all directions all the time. Both motorists and cyclists are entitled to feel frustrated by the callousness of pedestrians to how much they screw up traffic patterns. Pedestrians need to stop acting as if they can just do whatever they want with no regard to the rights of others to share the same space.

      • SA_NYC says:

        I think the issue here is that pedestrians in the park don’t quite connect that they’re on/near a roadway. Because it feels like a park, not a busy street. I’m a regular biker in the park, but when I’m walking through the park even I don’t pay the usual amount of attention to the road, the way I would on say, Broadway.

        So expecting pedestrians to act in normal, responsible fashion in the park is unreasonable, I think. The answer has to be that us cyclists MUST at ALL TIMES be in complete control of our speed, yield to all pedestrians (even when we have the right of way), and also that we anticipate pedestrians making sudden, dangerous moves like darting across the road. It’s simply inexcusable that a cyclist would ever be going so fast at that busy section of the park so as to not be able to stop before hitting a pedestrian.

    6. David Goodman says:

      Of any ten riders in central park how many stop at the red lights? Does anyone seriously assert that the number is other than <1?

      The sanctimoniousness of bike riders has long been an insult to pedestrians.

      As for bikers who train in Central Park …let them share the road during those hours when vehicular traffic is allowed in the park and keep their lanes on the side of the road opposite the the jogging lanes.

      I'll take my chances with 4 wheeled vehicular traffic rather than with the whiz kids in compression shorts.

    7. Michael says:

      If I was driving my car in a reckless manner – and by reckless I mean displaying an inability to avoid hazards or pedestrians – I’d expect to be charged with reckless endangerment. If I hit a person in the process and they die, I’d expect to be charged with manslaughter. Why does this same logic not apply when discussing this case as well as the taxis that have hit and killed pedestrians on the UWS this past year?

      I agree with JD – speed bumps would at least make speeding of any sort impossible, because as this posting notes, these same bicyclists who are driving irresponsibly are angry and nasty in the process of avoiding pedestrians minimally.

      As for whether these bicyclists are exceeding the speed limit, if you view them in this shared pedestrian, jogger, bicycle and car environment, common sense shows any reasonable person that they routinely exceed any safe speed expectation, more often being quite apparently dangerous than caring at all about safety – whether that be pedestrian safety or their own.

    8. Lisa says:

      I said this on a previous post — my husband rides a motorcycle in the city. If a pedestrian were to cross in front of him, he would absolutely lay his bike down to avoid hitting the pedestrian. And if he did not do everything in his power to avoid a collision, he would be charged. I don’t understand how the same rules don’t apply to this cyclist. The doctors said her injuries were consistent with someone hit by a car. The consequences for the reckless cyclist should be the same as they would be for a motorcyclist.

    9. webot says:

      Any comments from our elected officials?

      or are they silent because its not about landlords, more rules for employers, police brutality or the Koch Bros?

    10. Jeremy says:

      I think we can believe promises of enforcement for the next few weeks. And then it’ll go away. Unfortunately, precinct commanders answer to a lot of masters, and Gale Brewer was able to stop red light enforcement (according to Gale Brewer) with one call to Captain Wishnia back in 2011. Separately, she lobbied Ray Kelly directly to reduce cyclist enforcement (you can find that here: http://nypress.com/cycle-ticket-blitz-in-central-park/ among many other places).

      My impression is that Helen Rosenthal or Melissa Mark-Viverito would be very likely to try the same thing if asked by Transportation Alternatives or the cycling clubs. Ydanis Rodriguez, who proposed a law *eliminating* red lights for cyclists in the park in 2011 is now head of the City Council Transpo committee. The deck is stacked against pedestrians.

      DOT has a role, as well – WEA changes came almost immediately, but they’re not going to happen in the Park, I’m sure. DOT appears to have a policy to not acknowledge that cyclists can cause injury to pedestrians – it’s very odd and wildly unprofessional.

      So, yeah, we’ll see enforcement until the cold hits, and then we’ll have to wait for someone to be killed in the Spring to get it back.

      • Lisa says:

        Former Mayor Bloomberg was very focused on biking along with former DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan. It was very clear at the time that “development” of biking (bike lanes, Citibike etc) in NYC was their policy priority and lots of pressure through City government to cooperate with Bloomberg’s wishes. But the Bloomberg Admin rushed a lot of this without interest in rules or enforcement and with insufficient planning of bike lanes and traffic realities. It is a Pandora’s Box. (BTW many more cyclists in the village and even more dangerous for pedestrians.)

    11. David Byrne says:

      Many cyclists are no different than smokers. Rules don’t apply to them and they have no regard for others around them. The same way a smoker can blow cancerous fumes in your face, then litter on the ground, a cyclist can ride the wrong way, ignore lights and never yield to pedestrians.

      These careless riders make me sick, and should have much harsher penalties thrown at them for putting people’s lives at risk.

      • Cato says:

        An interesting, and remarkably apt, metaphor. It’s all about entitlement: If I’m allowed to do Activity X, then you’d better get out of my way while I do it.

        Nicely said, Mr Byrne.

      • Michael says:

        As a regular Citibike user I can also point out the reckless behavior of pedestrians who ignore crossing signals, cross midblock emerging without warning from between parked cars and without looking. Worst of all are pedestrians wearing earbuds or talking on cell phones. They’re like zombies who have zero awareness of what’s going on around them. There’s plenty of reckless behavior on all sides. Pedestrians included.

        • Upper West Side Mom says:

          How dare you, you heartless creep. What if it were your mother or wife?? This woman was the innocent victim of an irresponsible cyclist who came tearing down the hill at breakneck speed with RECKLESS DISREGARD for anyone’s safety. It’s not the Tour de France, it’s Central Park and under the NY statute he’s guilty of CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE and belongs in PRISON not on a bike. What’s wrong with you that you’re so lacking in decency and empathy?

          A person is guilty of Criminally Negligent Homicide when, with criminal negligence, he causes the death of another person. “A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to a result or to a circumstances described by a statute defining an offense when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.” See Penal Law Section 15.05[4].

          • Michael says:

            Excuse me? I made no mention of the woman killed in the Central Park incident. Neither did the commenter to whom I was replying. Both are general comments about reckless behavior. I neither excused or condoned reckless behavior on anyone’s part simply pointed out that pedestrians also need to be aware that they can put themselves in danger by their reckless behavior as well. I’m interested in saving lives. And for that to happen ALL involved parties need to act responsibly. Sorry you find fault with that and would rather just throw insults. Have a nice day.

          • Are you thinking? says:

            And what if it were your mother who was driving a car and someone stepped out in front of her, leaving her no way of stopping, and she struck a pedestrian because he was looking down at his phone and crossing against the light, mid block? Would you start calling for her to be charged with homicide, or would you be calling for a fair and careful investigation.

            The cyclist is immediately being deemed a murderous monster by people who do not have all the facts and are reacting out of pure emotion, making facts out of assumption.

            Why not just let the NYPD do their job, since, for once, they actually seem to be doing it. Let them decide if he should be charged, and with what he should be charged, based on their gathering of the facts.

            By the way, Upper West Side Mom, did you even read the post you are energetically replying to?

            • Upper West Side Mom says:

              Uh, duh….”They’re [pedestrians] like zombies who have zero awareness of what’s going on around them.” As “Michael” is asserting this within the context of this specific article, it makes zero sense to examine this as a free standing statement, made out of nowhere. As to the “facts” – a woman was crossing the street in a public park and a cyclist came screaming so fast down the hill – which I’ve come down many, many times and haven’t killed anyone as I know I have to ride my brake and look for pedestrians – that he had zero intention or ability to stop for anyone. And as you compared this to a potential auto incident – let’s just call it VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. Would that make you and Michael more happy? Either way this guy is a MURDERER and needs to be punished for KILLING someone’s mother/wife. I’m perverse that you and your buddy Michael find this so very satirical.

            • Michael says:

              “As “Michael” is asserting this within the context of this specific article, it makes zero sense to examine this as a free standing statement, made out of nowhere.”

              This is from the comment I was responding to;

              “Many cyclists are no different than smokers. Rules don’t apply to them and they have no regard for others around them.”

              Many cyclists. A general comment not about this specific incident. Hence my comment that pedestrians can also have a lack of regard about others around them. The comment was not ‘made out of nowhere. It was a specific response to a specific comment about responsibility in a public environment.

              “I’m perverse…”

              Your unhinged irate response certainly is.

              “…that you and your buddy Michael find this so very satirical.

              That just makes no sense whatsoever.

    12. Ragna says:

      I see riders the same on Riverside Drive as they riding on the road…they go flying down the street and do not stop or yield and yell when i am crossing when i have the light…they have no regard for anyone..soon a dog or a baby will get hit crossing the street…then what..unfortunate this happened..Whenever i take my dog to CP I have to carry him accross so we shall not be caught in the cross walks…

    13. JC says:

      It’s not just the park. I’ve had a couple very close misses this year on Central Park West. First one was in the spring when I was waiting to cross CPW. The light turned and I started to walk, only to have my companion yank me back suddenly just before a bicyclist whizzed by. The only reason my friend knew to stop was that he is a bicyclist and recognized the warning from the approaching bicyclist. The second time was this past week as I again waited to cross CPW, this time with my young son. The light changed and we started to cross, and stopped just in time as another cyclist sped right by us against the light. This was after the horrible accident involving this pedestrian. When are bicyclists going to learn that it’s not worth it to risk the lives of pedestrians? I think we need very strict enforcement and penalties. Most bicyclists are law-abiding so the enforcement and penalties should not affect them.

      • CA says:

        Even if you have a walk signal, you’re legally required to wait for traffic to clear the intersection before stepping off the curb.

        • Tish says:

          This law is unfamiliar to me. Can you give a citation? I know it was in the early 1970’s when Mayor
          Lindsay issued the Executive Order that gave pedestrians the right of way. So what’s the law that keeps pedestrians waiting for all the cars to clear an intersection and doesn’t this contradict the Lindsay Order?

    14. Eric siegel says:

      Only solution … railroad/toll gates at the lights … down when red, up when green

    15. Chris says:

      This is all very simple. Cyclists will only cease being a menace to pedestrians if the penalties for causing serious injury or death are severe enough to change behavior.

      I recognize most cyclists obey the law (but many do not), and I get that most pedestrians are reasonably careful (but many are not). But the consequences of either flouting traffic laws are much more dangerous for the pedestrian.

      If you think Gale Brewer or Helen Rosenthal are going to do anything on behalf of hapless pedestrians then you are not paying attention, or you are out of your mind. The only thing that will keep more pedestrians from being hurt is if Jason Marshall has the book thrown at him. If he goes away for a few years, people will start slowing down, trust me. Anything short of that, I would encourage you to watch out as you cross the street in Central Park.

      • Md says:

        This was a tragic incident, but not all bike riders disobey the law. Please redirect some of you anger towards motor vehicles that kill over 150 people per year in Nyc and injure 1000’s per year.

        • Tish says:

          To md — nor do most of the millions of auto drivers drive recklessly.

          This isn’t a contest and other vehicle accidents don’t negate the terrifying chaos in our parks, on our roads, on our sidewalks for God’s sake, from bicyclists.

          Our city isn’t safe any more. And what’s changed? Oh yeah … Bikes.

      • whatsupduck says:

        Well said.

    16. Tish says:

      Cyclists should be required to have a license before they put a bile on the road. Just like every other vehicle. It will make money for the city and make cyclists accountable.

      I’ve heard folks from groups like Transportation Alternatives argue that licenses and helmet rules discourage bike usage. Err… That’s the point. It reminds me of the arguments once made about mandated car seat belts. And think about how many hundreds of thousands of lives those have saved.

      The City MUST rein this bike chaos in. Certainly before expanding CitiBike.

      • Tish says:

        I meant to type BIKE on the road, not bile. Bile is what the rest of us get from dodging the bikes.

      • Michael says:

        How about enforcement of jaywalking laws? Serious enforcement, all the time. That will also raise lots of money for the city. Stats indicate that half of all pedestrian accidents occur when the pedestrian is in a crosswalk with the right of way. But that means the other half are not in crosswalks or crossing with the right of way. At what point do pedestrians start to take some responsibility in the Vision Zero campaign?

        • stuart says:

          YES. I have been saying this all over the website. Ticket everyone who does not comply with the law. Pedestrians who cross against the traffic signal or in the middle of the block, delivery guys on bikes who ride on the wrong side of the street against traffic, NJ drivers who make right turns on red (legal everywhere except in the five boroughs). Everybody gets a ticket. Then maybe our streets will be safer. Hire more police to dole out the summonses (and I am talking about qualified people, not “meter maids” or people who work at the 311 service center – let’s have some training for a change).

        • Tish says:

          This is a red herring. When was the last time a pedestrian killed a motorist or cyclist?

          Our streets and parks and sidewalks were vastly safer before the reckless and arrogant bikes came to town.

          Why has it taken pedestrian deaths to get attention paid to the terror now on our streets. Not biker deaths. Pedestrians. So yeah, let’s also give ’em tickets. That will fix things.

          Oh, and the bikes on sidewalks…. Do they get 2 tickets?

          • Michael says:

            Jaywalking pedestrians create dangerous situations that cause accidents which harm not only the jaywalkers but others as well. Its a stretch perhaps for you to think of anyone other than yourself.. Why are you so resistant to everyone acting responsibly? as a bike rider I neither want to hurt a pedestrian nor be hurt in a collision with one who disregards traffic laws or is unaware of their surroundings. Why do you have a problem with that?

    17. Michael says:

      Most bikers at the 79th st central park light (Shakespeare garden) ignore their red light. By “most” I mean every single person training in scuba gear minus some citibikes and a couple kindly mountain bikers.

      And ever since bike lanes have been installed on Columbus, I’ve had more near hits than ever before. Bikers in NYC are like pedestrians moving at 20+mph with giant crowbars.

      • Alessa says:

        When riding with my kids in the park, I have been making a big point of stopping at every red completely (and discussing it loudly with them at each stop so that the many cyclists not stopping could hear). I could be wrong, but i felt like a few people stopped only after seeing us stop. of course, someone behind us almost bumped us, probably so surprised. Couldn’t hurt if we all do at least that though as a start while something substantial is put in place.

        • Jeremy says:

          Very cool. I hope they receive the same deference they are showing others. It’s awesome that you’re helping your kids be great examples (for selfish 30-somethings who should know better!).

    18. whatsupduck says:

      UWS attorneys (I think we have a few in the neighborhood, nu?):

      What penalties, if any, can be levied against the cyclist in this case? What is the case law? I’m reading comments on what SHOULD be done in future cases, but what CAN be done now?

      (Of course, stopping one person isn’t the problem. But the family deserves justice here.)

      • SA_NYC says:

        As a regular (relatively) high-speed cyclist in the park, here are my two cents: the onus to avoid collisions with pedestrians should be on us, the cyclists, at all times, regardless of road rules. I say this because it’s a park, not a typical roadway, and pedestrians just don’t think to act with the same caution they would near a normal road. Especially tourists, who aren’t familiar with the park. It should be on us bikers to anticipate pedestrians not following normal traffic rules, and to mitigate and control our speed accordingly, at all times. Any collision should be on us.

        • Pedestrian says:

          High Speed cyclists don’t belong in Central Park. Want to do high speed cycling GO TO A TRACK! Humans are trying to live here.

      • webot says:

        Criminally negligent homicide

        • whatsupduck says:

          (Responding to Webot):

          As the statute currently stands, COULD he hypothetically fit the criteria for criminally-negligent homicide?

          This is assuming, of course, that he did NOT have the green. As I understand things, it’s still unclear who had the green–Ms. Tarlov or the cyclist.

    19. GerryK says:

      People please keep in mind that cyclists in the park are not a unitary group: the speedsters in compression shorts are just as obnoxious to casual cyclists cruising through the park at a sedate speed, yelling and cursing at them to get out of the way just as they do to pedestrians and, for all I know, squirrels and pigeons. I remember a pack of 20 or 30 of them completely terrifying my kids that way back when my kids were young and beginning to experience the rewards of cycling along Central Park ring roads.

    20. DMH says:

      This is so sad – every life is precious and everyone should be safe in the park. Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends. Hard to believe this happened – we all deserve safety on the streets of New York City.

    21. Pedestrian says:

      Is anyone surprised that the murderer on two wheels will not be charged? Central Park cyclists see pedestrians as interlopers not humans. He should be charged with murder. His reckless indifference would provide the basis for such a charge. The side walks, streets and parks are dangerously filled with people who view their fellow humans as unworthy and therefor expendable. Have you ever tried to walk along the Hudson River? The bikes there fly by at speeds that would be against the law on the street. Humans it appears, don’t matter.

      • whatsupduck says:

        Your comment is exactly the reason why I’m querying the attorneys who read WSR. I truthfully don’t know the caselaw here, and what behaviors constitute the ability to be charged with CNH. (And again, I suppose a lot of the questioning is conjecture, as we don’t know who had the light.)

    22. G Gomez says:

      You don’t need to ban the aero bars. That’s ridiculous. You can easily get to the brakes. I ride with my hands on them. I can’t afford to keep two bikes, one for central park and one for outside rides, nor do I have room for them. Why should riders like me — who do ride cautiously and obey the laws — be punished because others do not?

      The problem is that some bikers don’t stop at red lights, ride in the pedestrian lane, or go the wrong way. And some pedestrians will insist on crossing at random areas in the park instead of at crosswalks, or cross against the light. We already have regulations about all of that.

      Enforce the existing laws and regulations. That’s all that needs to happen.

    23. David says:

      I’m disappointed to read so many poorly-thought out comments and replies on this website. I took the UWS to be, in general, a place filled with extremely intelligent people. But many of you are reactionary and/or ill-informed. Why, then, comment at all?

      A few points:
      1. Licensing won’t happen and wouldn’t work:
      Before we decide to take some drastic action, such as requiring bikers to be registered/licensed, why not consider what people do in cities around the world where there are a lot more cyclists? As it turns out, none of them, as far as I can tell, require this sort of thing. They found it to be too cost-prohibitive for themselves (the city govts) and also to be too heavy-handed. We should look to them for ideas.

      2. To the idea that the problem would be sorted out if all bikers obeyed the rules.
      Well, that’s great in theory, but how do we get that to happen? Increasing police enforcement will not ultimately work because any increase will either be temporary, overly expensive, or draconian (how many of us want a huge police presence all over the park?). I don’t see any way to make a lasting impact in this area unless we make physical changes to the roadways. A few people suggested speed bumps, and that idea makes sense and is worth looking into. In Central Park, another solution might be to create tunnels and bridges for pedestrians in certain ‘hotspots’ where they tend to cross the bike loop. Whatever the case, the solution will probably have to involve physical changes to the park.

      3. The idea that we should blame pedestrians to some degree:
      People — cyclists and pedestrians (and others, like pedal cab drivers) — need to be more aware, but it’s basically impossible to create greater awareness to the point where accidents no longer happen. So again, unless we make physical changes to the park, we won’t obviate too many problems.

      4. Reducing the maximum biking speed to 20 (or 12!) mph:
      Great. How do you enforce that?

      5. All these tickets the cops give out will make a difference:
      Really? Whom are they ticketing? I’ve only ever heard of them (or seen them) stopping cyclists who were already going really slowly or at a standstill. How are we expecting the police to stop a biker who is riding 25 mph? With a net? In other words, the cops aren’t actually stopping the bad actors, just the low-hanging fruit. That way they can look like they’re doing something useful when the police commissioner points out that ticketing has gone up. It accomplishes nothing.

      6. Cyclists should obey all the lights in Central Park.
      I’m pretty sure the lights in Central Park, as used now, are worse than ineffective — they’re actually dangerous in some ways. There are several of them that make absolutely no sense. Those are located at the northern part of the loop, in relatively remote areas, on downhills! Of course cyclists will ignore them. Here’s a better solution for ALL of the lights in Central Park: During the hours when cars aren’t allowed (and they should never be allowed), the lights should require pedestrians to push a button on the light pole, as we often see in rural or suburban areas, to activate the stoplight. That forces the pedestrian to become a more active participant in the game, and it also means that the lights aren’t turning red when there is no one waiting to cross. The incessant red lights in the park only serve to desensitize riders to them. Making them pedestrian-operated would tell riders that an actual person is trying to cross. And the lights don’t need to stay red as long as they do — just 15 to 20 seconds ought to do. Maybe 30. The point is to make them more effective by using them less. Sounds ironic, but in areas where stop signs were removed, studies found that awareness increased (both in drivers and pedestrians) and that accidents decreased.

      7. The idea of making an example of one case (or a few cases).
      This is one of the worst ideas so far. Death penalties aren’t deterrents, and this would be no different. Throwing the book at one person – guilty or not – will make no dent in people’s behavior.

      In sum:
      Let’s look to other cities with heavy use of bikes to see what they do. Let’s consider changing some physical aspects of Central Park (and other areas): speed bumps? Let’s consider the efficacy of the Central Park stoplights. Let’s not be fooled into thinking that summonses will make a difference. Mainly: Let’s be realistic.

      • Matt H says:

        #6 is already implemented in Prospect Park. It… kinda works? Speaking as a cyclist, I still sometimes see jacked-up Freds ignore a solid red light when the only reason they’d be seeing it is because someone pressed the crossing button. 🙁 I think it would work better if car traffic were banned from the drive entirely, and the loop didn’t operate in two different modes depending on whether it’s car-free at that moment or not.

        My understanding is that the traffic light system in Central Park is so antiquated that it cannot be adapted in the same way the lights in Prospect were; that it’d require a wholesale upgrade of the traffic light system and many millions of dollars in cost.

    24. PhonyRage says:

      Imagine had the cyclist not stopped, and was chased down and tackled by a policeman. Obama/Holder/Sharpton/JJackson would be holding a march down CPW this very weekend to protest the cop’s racism and police brutality! Oh, the irony. Oh, New York.

    25. Nancy Stark says:

      Enforcement won’t do it. There aren’t enough police in the entire police force to protect every pedestrian trying to get in or out of Central Park and having to cross the East and West Park Drives. WHAT GOOD IS IT TO HAVE THE GREATEST PARK IN THE WORLD, WHEN IT CAN’T BE ACCESSED SAFELY? There are 4 possible solutions.
      1. NO bikes allowed in Central Park
      2. Speed bumps that will cause injury to any cyclist going more than 15 mph.
      3. Steep inclines on both sides of every crosswalk and a raised crosswalk.
      4. Pedestrian bridges across the Drives– at least one every ten blocks.
      Of these 4 solutions, 1. is the most politically unlikely and 4. is the most expensive, lengthy and possibly unsightly. Options 2 and 3 seem quite feasible and could be implemented right away.

      • Matt H says:

        There are variants of 2 or 3 that are less injurious to cyclists while still controlling their speed where it needs controlling. A real woonerf-style reimagining of the park drive — particularly south of 72nd street — would be great. It would be especially helpful if the drive were narrowed to just one lane at popular crossings with neckdowns and suchlike; it prompts cyclists to slow way the hell down, and gives pedestrians just one short lane to cross to clear the drive.

        The real precondition to doing this is actually the toughest political lift, though: banning cars other than park service vehicles from the park entirely.