Best of Craigslist > New York…

Cadillac Escalade

You’re the Hasidic Jew who tried to kill me. I’m the girl on the bike. – w4m
Date: 2009-07-29, 7:01PM EDT

Dear Sir.

We had our encounter on Bedford Avenue this afternoon, just south of Division. I was the petite brunette in a white sundress, riding a red road bike in the rain; you were the Hasidic gentleman (and I use the term loosely) in a blue SUV who came up on my back wheel, honking, and attempted to run me out of the bike lane before swerving directly in front of me and pulling up to the curb ahead.

You refused to roll down your window and talk to me after this incident, leaving me to shout, “That’s against the law” at the rain-streaked glass and then continue home. And while it *is* against the law — both the laws that govern New York City drivers, and also those that govern general human decency — what I really wanted to say to you was simultaneously less accusatory and more important. This is it.

I know that the bike lanes aren’t great. You may not believe it, but cyclists don’t like riding next to you anymore than you like sharing the road with us. Given the choice between inhaling your exhaust and pedaling blithely down a forested greenway, I’d always take the latter.

I also know that presence of cyclists on busy streets can make driving in the city even more nerve-wracking than usual, and that some of us antagonize the shit out of drivers by disobeying traffic laws, failing to signal, and generally acting like we own the road (I am not one of these, but that is beside the point). And I completely understand if, at this point, you start hyperventilating at the mere sight of a bike with which you have to share the road. I empathize; I have a car, too. It sucks. I know.

Nevertheless, we can’t all live in Amsterdam, and the frustrations of sharing the road with me do not change the facts: You are in a car, and I am not. You are protected from collisions by airbags, fenders, and a steel cage; I’m not. You are piloting a one-ton pile of steel; I am piloting something that weighs as much as a dog. (Not even a big dog — we’re talking Welsh Corgi, here.)

And if your frustrations at sharing the road get the better of you, and you want to get in a fight with me, sir, there is no doubt whatsoever that you will win.

You’ll win… and, in all likelihood, I’ll be dead.

This is what I wanted to say to you: You may not like cyclists, and that’s fine. But you have a responsibility to the human race, and I don’t cease to exist the second I step off my bike. I am someone’s wife. I am someone’s sister. I am someone’s daughter.

And if you have any of those things — a spouse, a sibling, a child — do me this favor.

Picture them.

Imagine yourself on your way to meet your wife for lunch; imagine yourself waiting for your daughter to come home from school.

Now, imagine getting a phone call, hearing the voice on the other end telling you that that person — the person you love — is dead, because some asshole in an Audi thought her life was less important than waiting another five seconds to park his car.

This has been a public service announcement from the U.S. Department of Please Don’t Kill Other Human Beings.

  • Location: south williamsburg
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • PostingID: 1295924472

    See the original ad here on Craigslist.

    Thanks to Caroline S. at Transportation Alternatives in New York for spotting this on Craigslist.

    orthodox bakfiets family

    Thanks to Steve Pinkus for the above photo.

    7 Responses to “Best of Craigslist > New York…”

    1. Peter Says:

      Thanks for posting this Henry, a truly excellent “public announcement from the US Department of “Please Don’t Kill Other Human Beings” (!!). Great stuff.

    2. Sean Says:

      This is a sad incident and a really nicely written post by the young woman riding the bicycle.

      That area in Brooklyn is a clash of cultures, with a neighborhood of young hipsters sharing a shifting border with a neighborhood of Hasidic Jews. The bike lanes have been a lightning rod. The hipsters want them. The Hasidics want places to park or double-park; no outsiders riding through their neighborhood; and especially no young, pretty women in shorts or skirts riding through their neighborhood (seriously, this has been an issue).

      It’s says a lot about a culture that prefers idling double-parked traffic to the quiet flow of bicycles; riders enjoying themselves; and public space that even they could enjoy, should they choose to do so.

      I hope the guy in the cargo bikes lives in Brooklyn. I think he’s orthodox (not Hasidic), but maybe he could do some outreach.

    3. henry Says:

      Sean, I realized the Cargobike rider is Orthodox and not Hasidic (and I do understand the difference) but I just had to use that photo somewhere.

      And I think the woman who wrote the piece did so with considerable sensitivity to ensure that the indication the the “gentleman” was a Hasidic Jew should be read as just for identification and context and not bigotry. The implication is that whatever your cultural bias, not killing other people is a widely accepted value.

      Reading such things reminds me of the struggle and anger that disappeared upon moving to the netherlands a decade ago. I remember the euphoria of finally just being part of the traffic on my bike and this realization eventually led to WorkCycles, where one of the primary goals is to spread everyday cycling beyond the Netherlands and Denmark.

    4. BlackDawn Says:

      Sean: when you say “culture that prefers idling double-parked traffic” i guess you mean the american culture.

    5. Platgereden door een SUF | Doedes Journal Says:

      […] Je kan het hele stuk lezen op Graigslist of op de blog van Henry. […]

    6. david cameron Says:

      The man driving the cargo bike seems to be enjoying himself, but his young passengers appear to be mortified with embarrassment. I hope they will be able to forgive him some day.

    7. henry Says:

      Those kids in the bakfiets are much older than it’s intended for. They’re at the age where everything is mortifying for them.

    Leave a Reply