With all the bicycles and scooters coming at you, from all directions, on city streets and sidewalks, you’d think it’s safer to walk in the park. Think again. It’s apparently the Wild West there, too.
A few days ago, as I was taking a morning walk along the east side of Riverside Drive, adjacent to Riverside Park, I forgot to look behind me when I moved over a few feet to the left to avoid a fallen tree branch. I heard a bicycle bell and and then felt the rush of air of the first bicycle as it whizzed by me, narrowly missing my left side by a few inches. A second bicycle followed, again narrowly missing me. These folks weren’t just leisurely pedaling along. They were going at breakneck speed.
I definitely think there’s a market in New York City for eyeglasses with rear-and-side-view mirrors.
I do worry that pedestrians are losing ground against cyclists here. I heard on the news this morning that Democratic Mayoral candidate Eric Adams is also an avid cyclist. Perhaps we also need full body armor.
I recently met a group of friends for dinner. Several reported on incidents where they’d fallen on sidewalks. The villain for one was a manhole cover that wasn’t flush with the pavement. Another caught her shoe on a crack in the sidewalk. As a consequence, both were dealing with dislocated shoulders and weeks of physical therapy.
Another friend slid on a wet manhole cover last winter and broke her wrist. Someone else was run down by a bicyclist and had a broken shoulder. My dental hygienist walks with a permanent limp from having been hit by a turning taxi. A college classmate was hit by a turning car but, luckily, came through the experience with no permanent physical consequences. She’s a bit traumatized, however, every time she has to cross the street.
What should we do about protecting ourselves from these mishaps?
I strongly urge you to donate any black coat or jacket to a charity and buy a new one that’s a light color, or, if you can’t do that, wear a light-colored hat. Or think about slathering your outwear in reflective tape. Never walk and look at your phone! Also, try to not focus on the ground below but instead be looking a few feet ahead.