Local bicycling blog The Guardrail NYC is demanding an apology from the NYC DOT, because—according to the blog—"The NYCDOT Calls Cyclists Jerks in Email!" Why would the DOT do such a thing, especially since they've done so much to make the city more bike-friendly? Did a bike messenger on a fixie beat Janette Sadik-Khan's mother with a U-lock?
Well, once you read past the sensational title on The Guardrail (and don't get us wrong, we LOVE sensational headlines), it becomes clear that the DOT didn't exactly call cyclists jerks. What happened was the DOT sent out an email blast announcing their new guide [pdf] to safe cycling in New York called Bike Smart. ("The pocket-sized guide contains a handy list of traffic laws pertaining to cyclists, as well as info on safe ways to make left turns, how to use the new protected lanes, bike boxes and more.") And this e-mail blast began with the entreaty, "Bike Smart - Don’t be a Jerk! The e-mail continues:
Increasingly, longtime New York cyclists are telling the NYCycles staff that they have a real problem with the lack of manners and respect that they see from their fellow riders. Wrong way riding (aka salmoning, sidewalk riding and blowing through intersections, regardless if you have the light or if grandma is trying to cross, are all habits that irk and endanger cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.
HOW DARE THEY?! Despite the fact that there are a lot of jerky bike riders (and drivers, and pedestrians, and Segway riders), The Guardrail argues that the government shouldn't use that kind of insensitive, pejorative language, and predicts "the choice of words from the DOT is just going to continue the struggle between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers instead of the partnership they would like us to have. I feel the DOT should apologize for the choice of words in that header and clarify it's statement to engage its readers to create change, not make us feel like jerks."
The ball's in your court Sadik-Khan. You're probably gonna want to take this blogger out for a nice dinner to smooth this over. Some nice flowers and chocolate along the First Ave bike lane couldn't hurt either.