Report those scofflaw cyclists to 311

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salty
Participant
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Ugh, this gem comes via nextdoor.com and as you can see it was spammed to “10 neighborhoods”:

Pedestrian Safety
Janice Lorenz, North Oakland
I have been hearing of numerous close calls with bicyclists on sidewalks and in crosswalks nearly running over pedestrians, approaching from behind without any audible warning and passing very closely. Have also had a number of close calls myself. There is a general lack of enforcement for bicycle infractions and a bicycle police officer at the recent BACA meeting urged us to report problems like this to 311 and ask for targeted enforcement in areas where this kind of problem occurs frequently. You can fill out a 311 form online or call it in if you prefer. Thanks for your help. Also hoping to get some neighborhood support to ban bicycles from sidewalks or institute a 3 foot passing law like the bicycles have with the 4 foot law for cars on streets.
Oct 17 in Crime & Safety to 10 neighborhoods


Pierce
Participant
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Man, nextdoor.com sucks. I moved and the neighborhood I was in got shut down (Greenfield) but over a year later they turned it back on and then I started getting a bunch of messages and I had to jump through a ton of hopes to unsign myself from the mailing list. (Like logging into the website I hadn’t been on to in a year and then going through pages of crap, like those offers you go through before installing software)

Perhaps we should start 311ing locations where we get passed too closely on the street. But then I guess I’d have to 311 pretty much every block I ride on.


Drewbacca
Participant
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There’s such a confrontational mood in the air lately, I don’t know if it’s a reaction to the bike lanes or just the pot getting stirred by jerk-off columnists writing opinion pieces…

Some drunken idiot yelled at us Friday night on Liberty somewhere around Bloomfield. Granted, he was drunk, but… his accusation started with claiming we ran the light (not even close, we were already through the intersection when it turned yellow) and followed by a drunken rant about not having plates or paying taxes. I almost stopped to confront him, but reminded myself that he was drunk. I believe he called us free-loaders. I don’t know, I take offense because 1. I’m a veteran and 2. I live out of town and was actually on my way back to my car. smh. Never mind the fact that the tax argument is weak and easily countered in its own right.

When I was younger, I was a bit weird… I’d wear a skirt and walk around Oakland and honestly, I can see where that invited harassment. However, when I’m riding my bike lawfully and minding my own business, it just floors me that this would be in any way provocative to anyone.

Anyways, in defense of Ms. Lorenz, at least she was likely sober and perhaps even has legit complaints. Is there a way to respond to her? Maybe suggest she go talk to BikePgh about her concerns and take an alternative means of accounting for safety concerns for both pedestrians and cyclists… a pedestrian safety advocate isn’t really someone we want to isolate and I don’t really think inundating 311 with something outside of their control is helpful for any of the involved parties.


gg
Member
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Kind of odd you mention a confrontational mood in the air. Just yesterday I was mentioning to a couple of fellow cyclists that things seem much calmer on the roads than ever. I then followed up my sentence by saying, maybe it is just dumb luck, so I probably shouldn’t say anything, but to be honest, things have been great lately. I love what has been going on in Pittsburgh and am so proud of our city and how it has been moving in such a good direction.

I think the complaint is fine. If people are getting buzzed by cyclists, they should indeed 311 it! Why shouldn’t they? I NEVER buzz a pedestrian and if I am on the sidewalk, THEY get the right of way to the point, I will not pass unless I can.


jonawebb
Participant
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Cyclists shouldn’t ride on the sidewalks, basically. And if someone wants to try using 311 for this, fine. Not going to work better for them than it does for us.


salty
Participant
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The most disturbing part of this for me was the cop telling people to 311 it, although maybe that was his blow-off move i.e. don’t bug 911.

No arguments here about cyclists yielding to peds and not riding on sidewalks, but this is just another excuse to bash cyclists. I really don’t get it; I spend a lot of time walking myself and we should both be united against the far more dangerous threat of cars which constantly break the laws – especially those pertaining to crosswalks.


offtn
Participant
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I have been hearing of numerous close calls with [bicyclists] motor vehicles on [sidewalks] streets and in crosswalks nearly running over [pedestrians] bicyclists, approaching from behind without any audible warning and passing very closely. Have also had a number of close calls myself. There is a general lack of enforcement for [bicycle] motor vehicle infractions and a bicycle police officer at the recent BACA meeting urged us to report problems like this to 311 and ask for targeted enforcement in areas where this kind of problem occurs frequently. You can fill out a 311 form online or call it in if you prefer. Thanks for your help.


Vannevar
Participant
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Kudos to @drewbacca for suggesting, how do we ally with Ms. Lorenz? and have a ped-advocate on our side vs against us?
@BikePgh, @scott – any ideas?


salty
Participant
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Dammit, Ian (or perhaps the people who responded to him) goaded me into this whole discussion. Luckily I am in a mellow mood this evening, so I wrote:

There is zero excuse for cyclists not yielding to pedestrians. In most cases there is also no reason for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, whether it is legal or not – although I understand that some cyclists believe it is safer to do so.

I personally am a cyclist, pedestrian, transit user, motorcyclist, and driver. There is absolutely no doubt that drivers are the biggest threat to my well-being, regardless of how I am travelling. Certainly some cyclists break the law and/or behave in a careless or aggressive manner, but that is a characteristic of the person and not their mode of transportation – would you really rather those people were in control of two-ton hunks of metal instead? Poor behavior by drivers is so endemic that it goes virtually unnoticed, while cyclists are singled out as easy scapegoats.

I wholeheartedly believe that – virtually all drivers speed and roll stop signs. A large number will run red lights, usually at the end of the cycle. But, failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians is by far the worst. It’s bad enough the number of drivers who do blatent crap like not stopping when you are in a marked crosswalk and have a “walk” sign, but I supect the percentage that understand all or even some of the rules pertaining to pedestrians is in the low single digits. This is apparent any time I walk anywhere. I think most pedestrians are so defeated or scared that they don’t even bother to try to assert their right-of-way. Hardly surprising, because if you tried to, you’d be lucky to live through a day.


steevo
Participant
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Pierce and I can agree that nextedoor is terrible.

its like every community meeting that you go to and there is a crazy
person there ranting a bunch. Generally whoever is running it can
do a redirect, but on ND there is no redirect and they have
unlimited voice.


rsprake
Participant
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I wonder where these crazy sidewalk encounters go down that I always hear about. I think I’ve been dangerously passed and startled on sidewalks by more runners than I have bicyclists.


mjacobPGH
Member
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I’m pretty sure this woman isn’t just posting to NextDoor and calling 3-1-1 but she’s also been lobbying pretty hard elsewhere to ban bikes from sidewalks. There is a discussion to be had there and other cities have done it. However, maybe we should start with clearly identifying places where bikes can’t be. Sure, some business districts are obvious but others are not. Implementing a 3 foot passing rule on sidewalks would just be foolish considering it is actually physically impossible to do so while staying on the sidewalk in most places as opposed to the argument that drivers can’t do it because of a painted line which they frequently cross for other reasons. It might not be all bad, banning bikes would just give us more of a right to the road and nobody could yell at me to get on the sidewalk.


stefb
Participant
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Nextdoor does have its share of racists and classists.

A few of us got yelled at yesterday when we were stopped at a red light: “you cyclists always break the law.” Ummmm. All I could do was make blahblah noises.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I see no problem with riding on a sidewalk if you are riding the same speed as a pedestrian. This includes spaces like the center of Market Square.

Here, I will don my unicycle hat. Banning bikes from sidewalks will invariably mean banning unicycles from sidewalks, and there really isn’t anyplace TO ride a uni other than on the sidewalk. Just go pedestrians’ speed and there won’t be a problem.


jonawebb
Participant
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@stu, I kind of think you shouldn’t be riding your unicycle on sidewalks in business districts (you can ride it on sidewalks elsewhere, though). I have no problem with marking business districts and making it clear cycling (of any kind) is not allowed there.


Marko82
Participant
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Yeah, unicycles belong in the street!


JaySherman5000
Member
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huh, i just assumed nextdoor.com was the url of a seedy website for people searching the internet for that elusive “nsa fwb hook-up.” I guess I’ll have to check it out (for entertainment purposes, of course).


MaryShaw
Member
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Arguing about whether bicyclists should be on the sidewalk isn’t going to get us very far. This applies both the business districts where it’s illegal and to other sidewalks where some pedestrians feel threatened by all bicyclists and some bicyclists are a menace to pedestrians.

What we need to do (for each of the areas where it’s actually a problem) is to figure out why the bicyclists prefer the sidewalk and so something about the conditions that make them feel this way. Is it high traffic speeds (enforce the laws), potholes and rough road (pave it), narrow lanes (have a discussion about the balance between parking and actually going somewhere on the street, maybe reallocate the space), …

And while I realize that few offended people actually speak up, I don’t believe that a single vocal individual demonstrates an actual problem.


gg
Member
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I ride on the sidewalk and always will. On the Highland Park Bridge for example. I used to ride on the road and almost lost my life, so I am going to ride that sidewalk. I also ride on the Penn Avenue sidewalk around Target, but ride very slow and give pedestrians the complete right of way. I have no problem riding my bike slower than a strolling pedestrian. Sure I could walk it, but I am in complete control and sometimes common sense is more important than some stupid law that dumbs us down too much. Sort of like saying I come to a complete stop at a stop sign on some sleepy neighborhood street even though I can see a block in both directions. Even though there isn’t a car anywhere near the intersection, I MUST come to a complete stop and put my foot down. Do we have to be that dumb? Really? I certainly hope not, but maybe we will get there as everyone is addicted to so-called smart phones, so we are getting dumber.


jonawebb
Participant
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For Stu:


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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:-)


Mikhail
Member
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Marko82
Participant
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I ran across this article and thought it might be relevant to this discussion.

“A new bill would ban cycling or Segway riding on DC sidewalks next to bike lanes”

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/24618/new-bill-would-ban-cycling-or-segway-riding-on-dc-sidewalks-next-to-bike-lanes/


Marko82
Participant
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I found this too, which is something I would have not thought of.

“NYC Bike-on-Sidewalk Tickets Most Common in Black and Latino Communities”
http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/10/21/nyc-bike-on-sidewalk-tickets-most-common-in-black-and-latino-communities/


Drewbacca
Participant
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“I found this too, which is something I would have not thought of.”

Not surprising at all, and not for any reason that is inherently about race…

I was honestly blown away by the number of Latinos riding old broken down dept store bikes while I was living in Chicagoland. These guys that I saw riding, they were middle aged and likely couldn’t afford a car. It was bike commuting by necessity, not choice. Some of them rode on the shoulder/roadway but many used sidewalks. Many salmoned against traffic on roads too…

I think personal preservation was a big part of it, especially on busy roadways and over bridges… but I think a lot of it was ignorance of what is the safest approach to riding. It’s just the cultural difference of recreational riding and then expanding into a commuter from that, vs. riding a bike for transport with no thought of the riding being a recreational thing.

Cities/governments aren’t reaching out enough to a community/culture to promote safe cycling… especially large urban areas with many low income riders that bike by necessity. That article annoys me, because apparently someone thinks ticketing is a better means of education and outreach than the alternatives.


jonawebb
Participant
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Also it’s NYC enforcing laws against minor “lifestyle” crimes, the theory being that by preventing people from breaking minor laws you maintain order and prevent worse crimes from occurring.
It is just a coincidence that this also helps keep minorities in their place. Absolutely not the intention at all.


Drewbacca
Participant
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I’m unfamiliar with lifestyle crimes. Interesting point. Thanks @Jon.


jonawebb
Participant
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gg
Member
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Whatever NYC is doing it is quite a transformation from the early 90’s. I can’t get over how nice Manhattan up through Harlem is these days. I am also glad the dumb window washing idiots on every street corners are gone. I commend what NYC has done to create a very nice safe place to be. Back in the day, that wasn’t the case at all. A lot of the change was due to police department changes, but to get into all that would take pages and there is a lot more to it than just curbing minor crimes. It has more to do with police officers being responsible for parts of the city they are assigned to.


jonawebb
Participant
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NYC is indeed a much better place to be than the early 90s or before back to the 60s, at least. But, honestly, crime rates have fallen all across the country, not just in places adopting NYC’s tactics. The national homicide rate is now lower than it has been any time in my lifetime. The white homicide rate has fallen like a stone since 1995. I think this has to do more with the winding down of the drug wars than with anything else, but there are lots of theories (Freakonomics attributes it to legalized abortion, for example).


Vannevar
Participant
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@jonawebb, tell me that you’re kidding.

It is just a coincidence that this also helps keep minorities in their place. Absolutely not the intention at all.


jonawebb
Participant
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@v, what is your guess?


Vannevar
Participant
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Jon, I’m betting-money sure that you’re in Sarcasm-9 mode. I just asked for explicit because to a non-Jon-knower, that reads awful.


jonawebb
Participant
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Yes, I was kidding. I would love to see the “broken widows” theory applied in a rich white neighborhood. Lots of lifestyle crimes there too. People running stop signs, speeding on the residential streets, parking illegally, etc. Any cop who enforced the laws there would get reassigned fast, I’ll bet.


Vannevar
Participant
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thanks Jon. And your point is quite right; “Is Broken Windows police technique only applied in unprivileged / underrepresented populations?” is a fantastic question.


gg
Member
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The broken window idea was part of the cleanup process. There is NO question it worked and worked VERY well. I don’t think the term “theory” is needed any longer. It didn’t just apply to “underprivileged”, but the percentage of underprivileged was probably larger than those in the middle class.

For those that are always griping about police focusing on minorities, I want to point out that 86% of people in our city that were murdered were black from 2000-2012. 86%! I think they deserve some police protection and the focus needs to be on them for their own safety. The black community is about 26% in the city, so that makes it even more shocking. People are getting killed and for some strange reason, folks are against more police in troubled areas? Explain that. Don’t they need the most protection?

Here is an article about crime in our region if you want to know more. The article is more long term which I feel is more important than one year.

http://www.alleghenycounty.us/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=39671


jonawebb
Participant
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@gg, the national black homicide rate has been more or less fixed since 1995, while the white homicide rate has been falling like a stone. So while I agree with you that blacks need police protection I disagree with you that what the police are doing is helping them. You can test this here: try talking with any African-American with a working-class background here in Pittsburgh and ask them if they think the police are helping.
And, again, as I said before, since the homicide rate has fallen so quickly nationally, attributing that to the “Broken Windows” theory, which has been implemented some places and not others, seems premature at best.
Here’s an article with some graphs: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5969. Shows the white homicide rate declining from around 4.5 / 100k in 1995 to under 3.5 now. Meanwhile black homicide rate is more or less steady at 25 / 100k.


gg
Member
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I don’t want to get off topic too much here, but yes I have talked to several black folks I know about the police and you are correct. They don’t trust them at all and feel they don’t help in the least. I don’t have an answer to this. I get so tired of hearing about some black teenager shot and killed in our city. It is just horrific. Seems heroin is the monster drug these days and that is what most killings are about.

Anyway, I don’t think there is some easy answer. I love visiting NYC these days compared to years past and that has very little to do with murder rates, but just getting hassled by hustlers on the street, which was nonstop back in the 90’s. I don’t want my windshield washed, so get the crap out of my face comes to mind! Graffiti filled dirty subway cars are another thing. Just the general vibe in NYC is so much better these days. Heck kids are riding subways alone from school and you didn’t see that in years past. Don’t they deserve a good life? I can’t get over the change in NYC.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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@gg said “The broken window idea was part of the cleanup process. There is NO question it worked and worked VERY well.”

The book Freakonomics discredits the broken window theory, as Jon mentioned. I highly recommend it.

Here are my notes on Freakonomics’ explanation of the causes of the dramatic drop in crime in the US since 1990:

(1) tougher drug laws in the 80s & 90s. 15x increase in drug imprisonment between 1980 and 2000. There were 2 million Americans in prison by 2000. 4x the number of 1972.
(2) More police.
NOT broken window theory (innovative police practices) as claimed by Giuliani etc.
(3) More imprisonment.
NOT gun control: Brady gun law was ineffective because criminals buy their guns on the black market, mostly. Handgun bans in DC & Chicago did little. Increase in prison time if caught with an illegal gun – that’s effective. Gun buybacks not. Right to carry not.
(4) Crack use down. In 1988, 25% of NYC homicides were crack-related, and 5% of arrests in US were cocaine-related, but crack profits dropped after that.
(5) 1973 Roe vs Wade legalization of abortion nationwide resulted in a drop in crime about 20 years later. This means about 1.5 million unwanted children eliminated per year (abortion rate since then). 30% of pregnancies are terminated in abortion. As abortion was legalized, infanticide fell, domestic adoption fell, foreign adoption rose, 6% lower birth rate.


jonawebb
Participant
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Murder rates are just one way of measuring overall crime, of course. I definitely agree that the police need to be a part of the solution. But I think they really aren’t now, either here or in NYC. Things have gotten much better for us white folks while changing very little for minorities, at least over the last twenty years.
I think that the drug wars have basically devastated the black community. How could fighting a war in our cities not turn them into war zones? I think we need to completely rethink drug policy, stop criminalizing it, and treat the problems of drugs as a public health problem.

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