Racial tensions seem to be reaching a fever pitch in the US, set off by a series of killings of unarmed black males by the police. 22 year old John Crawford was shot dead in a Beavercreak, Ohio Walmart (August 5th, 2014) for apparently failing to put down a toy gun he was purchasing for his son.
(August 9th, 2014) 18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. Police claim the teenage was banishing a weapon although eye-witnesses on the scene say Mr. Brown was killed with his hands in the air and was complying with the officers that shot him. Only making things worse, were five days of violence that followed by militarized riot gear cops shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators who took to the streets to protest a long history of racial motivated harassment.
Both incidents and a similar killing of 25 year old, Ezell Ford in Los Angeles come in the shadow of a fourth homicide right here in NYC.
43 year old Staten Island resident Eric Garner, a father of six children who pleaded with officers that he couldn’t breathe during a choke hold–Not to mention a whole team of EMS workers who stood by and did nothing…all captured on video in broad daylight.
This is the first case of an unarmed black man being killed in NYC within mayor DeBlasio’s watch which definitely has local citizens concerned about how it will be handled, especially with such a long history of similar killings during past administrations all ending in officer acquittals.
Race is definitely a factor in these killings but doesn’t seemed to be addressed by the NYPD or other police forces, who would much rather discuss a few bad apple officers or debate whether the victims were “resisting arrest.” Within this politically charged climate…the police have scrutinized over their priorities and come up with: Operation Safe Cycle? A rather Orwellian term to crack down on bad biking behavior. I’m sure this will ease the family of Eric Garner on Staten Island awaiting a proper investigation.
I was taking a bit of a hibernation here in 2014, dodging the “Artic Vortex(s)” and bad road conditions. This had nothing to do with my recent crash. On Monday (1/20/14) I went out for drinks to congratulate my pal Jonathan Beck who you may remember from his bad bike crash in 2010. He has long since been rebuilt with bionics and has replicated a new cycling maniac of the future–a baby girl. Congratulations to him and wife Britt Reichborn-Kjennerud on daughter, 8.5lb Bucklin Solvei Beck, entering planet Earth, 1/4/14. They’ve got Norwegian roots which explains the names and they’ll be using the middle one (Solvei). Speaking of Bucklin…A front basket that I personally improperly installed on one of my bikes dug into my front wheel on the ride home from drinking with Beck. This caused me to do a endo over the front handlebars in a NY minute and land right on my big nose. Luckily the helmet I insist on wearing helped my injuries to be mostly contained to my face. A very nice Park Slope resident, witnessed my face plant and was very helpful in convincing me not to walk to the nearest hospital (Methodist) but rather to take the ambulance he had phoned in. This was a much better decision then trying to walk 10 blocks with a scarf trying to stop the bleeding. The doctors in the ER were helpful, but it did take 6 hours to get a CAT-scan, Motrin and two stitches…but expect NYC ER’s to be overloaded because of all the hospital closings.
So I haven’t updated the blog in a while in my face healing time, it seems like I should put something up on here, seeing as 2014 is my 10th year of writing this thing.
The bike community here in NYC is eagerly waiting to see what will happen with the new progressive Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his recently appointed administration, primarily the police commissioner William Bratton and new Department of Transportation commish, Polly Trottenberg.
We’re definitely off to a rough start with 18 pedestrian and cyclist fatalities since Mayor DeBlasio was sworn in at the start of 2014.
Here is a brief timeline of some of what’s been going on.
The End of 2013:
Once again, Time’s Up did New Year’s Eve right with a mobile dance party bike ride and after party in Central Park at the Belvedere Castle. If you ever get a chance to experience this event, it’s a great way to ring in the New Year. You get to ride past all the stuck people in Time’s Square waiting for Ryan Seacrest to drop the ball. I mean, it’s freezing, but your movin. Here is a quick video:
——- (photo by Brad Aaron)
Our bike friendly former D.O.T. commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan is out and jumping on board with outgoing Mayor of the rich side of the two cities, Michael Bloomberg’s team. He’s launching a consulting firm called Bloomberg Associates which will tell other cities how to have the largest wealth desperately and not to drink too much soda. Hopelly Janette will get them to ride more bicycles and cars not to see them as road obstacles.
More about the future of Bloomberg Associates from the NY Times.
Mayor DeBlasio is sworn in and transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg meets with parents who were on hand to keep the mayor on task about his promise of working towards Vision Zero. They are also victims of recent traffic violence and lost loved ones to reckless drivers. Vision Zero, is a goal adopted by NYC and brought forward by the new mayor to work towards having zero traffic fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists. Although that number may be impossible to obtain, the idea is to treat every traffic violent death as equally significant and even one death is too many. It is also a goal of a city, to work towards making efforts to make these fatalities avoidable through infrastructure, awareness and cracking down on motor vehicle violations. This seems especially important when for the last three years, around this time, the NYPD has chosen to crack down on bad cycling behavior and making no efforts to curb speeding cars and other moving violations that end up killing people, unlike bikes not stopping for lights in Central Park.
The Commissioner wasn’t aware of this particular demonstration on inauguration day, but the site of it caught her attention and she made time to find out what the people holding the vision zero signs had to say:
Incoming Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, right, speaks with Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son was killed by a driver on Prospect Park West. Photo: Stephen Miller
Mayor DeBlasio introduces the new police commissioner William Bratton at a press conference. Bratton a former NYC police commissioner in NYC (1994-96) has been in Los Angeles, vehemently cracking down on jaw walkers of those few citizens that actually aren’t driving in a car.