City Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Brooklyn’s District 47, proposed a pointless bill during Wednesday’s transportation committee meeting that would ban cell phone use while bicycling. According to Streetsblog, no one was really into it:
“Council Member Mark Treyger’s bill to ban handheld cell phone use while bicycling came up for a hearing today at the transportation committee. Texting while bicycling isn’t a safe choice, but neither has it been shown to be a significant factor in serious crashes. Most of the people testifying about the bill urged Treyger to either amend it or focus on dangers that are actually proven to kill and injure New Yorkers on the street.”
Streetsblog says that Treyger was inspired to draft the bill after witnessing a texting biker almost cause an accident in his district last year.
Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who does not support Treyger’s bill, asked assistant Department of Transportation commissioner Josh Benson how many deaths per year are caused by cyclists on cell phones. “Zero per year,” Benson answered. “We did not find any reports where texting was a factor in bike-related crashes.”
“We’re here talking about improving safety, when the real problem and the real concern are the extremely dangerous vehicles that we have in our streets that are causing deaths,” Reynoso said. “It makes no sense to me that we’re looking to enforce something that doesn’t exist and ignore something that is absolutely a problem.”
Treyger also proposed that bicyclists who receive their first traffic ticket take a bicycle safety course rather than pay a fine, which is a reasonable suggestion. Treyger’s belief that texting while biking is dangerous is correct, if overstated, because it’s just not a common problem. It’s very difficult to use a cellphone and ride a bike at the same time, and even more difficult to ride fast enough to hurt anyone while using a cellphone. In contrast, city buses killed 9 people last year (ironically, Treyger opposes legislation that would hold bus drivers responsible for violating right-of-way), delivery trucks block streets and provoke road rage that leads to assholes driving on the sidewalk and hitting people, cabs hit pedestrians all the time, and speeding bikers in Central Park killed two people last year, amongst many other more serious problems facing bikers, pedestrians, and drivers in New York City.
(Photo: Bucky Turco/ANIMALNewYork)