People with Disabilities Will Take on Transportation Alternatives

Dear Editor,

Brooklyn City Council Member Lincoln Restler just sent out a text blast touting his new legislation that would enable bicyclists to treat red lights as stop signs.

I had no idea how powerful a lobby Transportation Alternatives and the bicycling industry really are.

Nearly every person I know who is blind or has low vision, or is a senior citizen as well as many who use mobility devices, have  stories to tell about being struck or grazed by speeding cyclists.
So I spent a good deal of the morning trying to Google stats on blind people struck by cyclists or pedestrians struck by cyclists—in NYC. Nothing since 2012! But we know that cyclists are crashing into and hurting folks, not just disabled folks, all the time. By comparison, there are scores and scores of stories about cyclist’s injuries.

I am appealing to anyone who might be interested to join the Committee and help develop a database that we could use to help draw attention to this deficit. It needs to come from first hand accounts because for the most part, these accidents go unreported. I could start with myself. I was pushed against a car while walking in a bike lane due to sidewalk construction. I didn’t report it because the police would perhaps rightfully say I should have crossed the street to continue walking. Still, the cyclist had plenty of opportunity to avoid the collision but simply chose not to, wanting to punish me for being in ‘his’ bike lane. Whose streets—Our streets!

We have all seen or experienced cyclists speeding through red lights and now Council Member Restler wants to make it legal!?! That would be the net effect of his law. Again we have a law to which they did not bring the disability lens.

I was invited to speak at the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club whose members are building a movement to effectively deal with cyclists ignoring traffic and safety laws and rules. And I will spread the word around other clubs and organizations so we can develop some meaningful numbers.  We’re up against a giant in Transportation Alternatives but they’re about to feel our power.

—Michael Scweinsburg, President
504 Democratic Club, 504