Safety with a price...
July 26th, a helmet law went into effect for all those who WORK in nyc on a bicycle. Employees are required to wear a helmet and the employers are required to provide them with helmets.
32 spokes is a blog out of London who gave this report...
from 32 spokes...
"Following up from my previous post on this topic, today the new law, that requires bike messengers in New York City to wear helmets, goes into effect. Apart from this law being absolutely ridiculous, I find it hard to see how it will be enforced. As Carlos Ramirez, a 12 year bike messenger, points out in an article from NY Metro:"
"A lot of people who just commute look like messengers. How are the police going to know who’s a messenger? Now they’re going to search your bag?"
Links to related articles:
Helmet law provided by Gothamist.
The enforcement of this law is mitigated on the streets, by the worker themselves and creating an environment where the police are now profiling, at their discretion, who is a messenger or not.
Does the need for enforcement and making money on ticketing out weigh the need for safety?
I've been getting reports from non-couriers that they've been profiled as messengers and told by police they need a helmet. They tell police, they are not messengers and the cops say..."Doesn't matter, you need a helmet anyway."
Exactly how I predicted. When common sense turns into concrete law, the burden should be on the employers to provide their staff with helmets and to keep them safe. When your employer makes you an independent contracter, absolving the responsibility of paying costly health care benefits, then a $30 helmet should be nothing.
Instead you have the worker, riding his duct taped mountian bike on the sidewalk, carrying your Kung Pao chicken the four blocks you are too lazy to walk for, getting stopped by a cop looking to increase his quota and writing a summons of $30. Safety first.
Then you've got a new program being launched...
This comes from streetsblog. Also check out their week in review.
"The city launched its first ever cyclist/motorist safety campaign on Tuesday. Inspired by the 2005 death of cyclist Liz Byrne, ads will appear on bus shelters, buses and taxis encouraging cyclists to "Look" for one another while sharing the road. At the same time, Transportation Alternatives and the New York City Bicycle Coalition -- which helped develop the "Look" campaign -- called on the city to step up enforcement of driving laws and to implement more effective bike lane designs. Shortly thereafter, in the spirit of tougher enforcement, officers in Central Park began issuing warnings to commuters -- bike commuters, that is."
Again the sugar...with the salt.
Yesterday, (9/21/07) I got a call that the police were harassing people at the base of the Williamsburg bridge, Manhattan side. 2 parking police patrol cars were parked just pass the raised concrete platform stopping cyclists and sometimes trying violently to grab them off their bikes while riding by. Parking police? Now granted this is a crappy job, standing on Delancey St all day breathing in fumes...but you hardly see these guys enforcing anything, expect maybe blocking the box. But with new changes to safety regulations its time to target cyclists. So as a nation we continue to let our dying infustructure crumble in the free market economy gone wild, those who find alternatives...i.e. the cyclist, pay the price.
The Williamsburg bridge is a classic example. One minute it has bumps on it, one minute one side is closed for painting...THAT BRIDGE, never ever seems to be completed. One minute its 4 lanes of traffic coming off the bridge, the next its 6. Although we have won some battles, getting the bumps removed is one of them, that roadway still is largely influx and was never a good set up. So the parking police were trying to stop people from Not stopping and riding right into traffic which at the time was mostly to allow vehicles to exit, because one lane of the bridge...was closed. Why? Another coat of paint? Probably because the infustructure can't compete with the overpopulation and too many cars. I say, ride a bike.
So be careful out there, wear a helmet if you can, but also watch you back against, police harassment. If your stopped, you can beat the helmet thing (for now) then the cops, feeling embarassed will look immediately to see if you have a bell or two lights...often you can't win.