Harrassed in the park

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Anonymous's picture

"My wife and I were going to Shakespeare last Thursday in Central Park and were crossing the west drive, in a crosswalk, near 81 St. Despite the numerous posted ""Yield to ped in crosswalk"" signs, at least two speeding cyclists heading toward us chose to yell, ""Don't cross now! Don't cross now!"" at me (seasoned cyclist and bicycle advocate), at my wife (bicycle skeptic) and at the dozens of New Yorkers and tourists using the park on foot at that hour (7:30, or so). Is this how cyclists would like to be viewed? I can't justify why a runner would attack a group of cyclists in the park, but can fully understand the ill will harbored toward our kind by lots of people, and not just the ones who guzzle gas, pollute the planet and keep us in hock to third-world despots."

Anonymous's picture
Rob (not verified)
In agreement

I agree with you Isaac in all aspects execpt one.
An assault is just that, a physical attack to or on a person.

Bicylists must obey the rules of the automotive road.
Slowing, coasting or running a Red light is all the same.
It is against the law fo do it.

The good thing for you as a cyclist is to have the bike smarts to look before you cross. It is a skill I teach my kids...Always look before you go through any crossing or intersection, because the next guy may hit you before he stops.


Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
The difference between assault and battery.

"Actually, while Rob's definition of assault is accurate insofar as common parlance is concerned, in legalistic theory his definition is actually that of ""battery,"" (which entails actual touching), not assault. Assault is putting someone in (mere) apprehension of immediate bodily harm.

...But, then, as I remind this board periodically, I dropped out of law school twice 40 and 30 years ago...."

Anonymous's picture
Rob (not verified)
sticks and bones

"I guess this falls under the famous ""Sticks and Bones"" case of 1939 or was it 1993?

In any case we all agree. People are people some better, some worse, but we all gotta get anong.


Anonymous's picture
ted (not verified)
some, yes

There are jerks that run, there are jerks that cycle, there are jerks that drive cars. Some of them were out last night.

Cyclists complain that cars use their size and speed to intimidate cyclists. Some do. There are also cyclists that use their speed to intimidate people walking in central park.
There seem to be a lot of people out there that don't think about the consequences of their actions.

Anonymous's picture
gordo (not verified)
Two ways to look at it...


I see where you're coming from, but sometimes I end up being the guy who yells, ""Don't cross now! Don't cross now!""

As much as all the signs say ""Yeild to peds,"" it sometimes just doesn't work out that way. Does a sign that says ""Yeild to peds"" mean that a ped can simply wander aimlessly across the road without looking? Cars have to yeild to peds too, but you don't see people wander aimlessly across 6th Avenue without looking. Central Park is one of the busiest parks in the world. It's the Times Square of greenery.

I'm not saying that you, specifically, wandered aimlessly. You may have looked both ways, did all the right things and got yelled at by a hyper-sensitive cyclist. But I have yelled ""heads-up!"" from my bike countless times to make sure that the ped about to cross the street without looking won't step right in front of me going 20mph. I'd rather yell and be sure they see me, than not yell and crash. Plus, I shouldn't be relegated to riding the park at 10mph simply because a ped could wander out at any time making me have to slam on my brakes.

Walkers need to be just as wary of bikes as they do of cars. If we hit them it will hurt. And jaywalking is jaywalking (again, Isaac - not you). I wonder if a meandering ped would get a jaywalking ticket if hit by a cyclist. I doubt it.

If everyone (both walkers and cyclists alike) would simply keep their eyes and ears open we'd all be much safer.

- Gordo


Anonymous's picture
Arty Nichols (not verified)
right of way

I do not consider what the biker did an harassment. As a matter of fact I take both sides. I do 100 miles a week in Central Park, and have done so for years. Many times people start to cross without looking. Yes, it is up to the biker to not hit them, and yes it is up to the pedestrian to watch where they are going. Myself I have yelled at people***DON'T MOVE!*** reason is people sometimes, stop, step back, jump forward as a reaction. This confuses me sometimes and I yell not to move so I can pass by safely and not hit them. At 25 miles an hour slamming on the brakes is also dangerous. Point is if the biker hits anything he or she usually goes down with damage to bike and limb. I will continue to yell and scream at pedestrians on occasion, if that is what I have to do to save their lives or a serious injury.

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

"Arty, A few years back, I was cycling along a bike lane in Brooklyn, when a Christmas tree vendor abruptly shoved a tree through his wrapping machine directly into my path. I saw it coming in time and stopped and also asked him what he thought he was doing and that he wss endangering cyclists. His response to me was that ""cyclists are required to have a warning device (which I do) and warn people when they approach. As a licensed driver and experienced cyclist, I knew this to be bull-hockey and that he was vainly trying to BH his was out of a situation where he was in the wrong.

Your rationale is just as lame. In vehicle code, ""Yield"", as in ""yield to pedestrian in crosswalk"" means ""yield and be prepared to stop.""

I didn't arrive in NYC yesterday, I use the park as both a cyclist and pedestrian and witness first-hand the ill-will that cyclists generate for themselves. How do you feel the soccer-mom tourists react when they get back to whereever and their kids express an interest in cycling? How do you think they react when advocates attempt to run a bicycle trail through their neighborhoods? What behaviors might they rationalize for themselves when they're behind the wheel of a large metal cage and they encounter a cyclist on the road? How will they respond when a local politician introduces a bill that forces licensing and insuring of cyclists (effectively decimating the cyclist, cyclist consumer and cyclist advocate population)?

That you're going 25 MPH past a crosswalk and that you'd be injured if you stopped is not a valid reason to yell at peds legally and legitimately using the crossroads. If anything, it's a rationale for buying your own land and building your own cycling course."

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
peds, parks and bikes

"It seems to me that, under the law, vehicle operators are considered to have judgement and are expected to use it, while pedestrians are considered to have none and their saftey is everyone else's responsibility.

As ""fringe"" vehicle operators, we are expected to have little more judgement than peds, but when cars hit us it's not their fault because they didn't see us. We get all the responsibility and none of the protection.

This is B.S. of course, but it's why we have a 10mph speed limit in the parks, they assume that all cyclists are unskilled and unable to avoid collisions at higher speeds.

It's funny, on a cross country ski trail, the downhill, (faster), skier has the right of way. Makes sense to me.

Of course, what you describe is why I don't ride in Central Park, or go to it on foot very much either– it's more crowded than a phonebooth at a frat party. To expect better behavior in Central Park is silly for someone with your cycling experience.

I doubt that soccer moms come to NYC for a fact finding mission on the sanity of cycling for their kiddies. And even more, I doubt that training cyclists give a rats ass what her impression is."

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
I think you are reading the skiing analogy wrong

The down slope skier is going slower if you are overtaking him. You are going faster and have the visual advantage. You, the faster skier must avoid him.

Anonymous's picture
ET (not verified)
This is a hard one

"I think this is hard one, though the key is to ""look"", ""communicate"" and ""anticipate"".

I think the right thing to do as a pedestrian is to ALWAYS look before you cross, as a cyclist ALWAYS look before you ride on. Just because there are no cars in the park, pedestrians cannot assume that the park is safe like their own living room or back yard. There are people doing various activities which often leads to conflict.

When I am riding, and I see a red light, I slow down and make sure there are no pedestrians or runners crossing the cross walk if I decide to cross. If there are, and I am going too fast to stop, I'll do my best to slow down, to stop or in the worst case scenario go around them. And when I do, I say ""Sorry"" and/or ""thank you for letting me through"", something like that.

Even if I as a rider has the green light, I assume that someone busy on their cellphone, or just day dreaming in the park may walk across, so I try to anticipate.

I think the pedestrian should do the same if they are crossing the street in red light, even if there are no cars, as there are bikers, runner and rollerbladers who ""assume"" that they have the right of the way.

In this cyclist's defense, I will say that at least s/he had the sense to say ""don't cross wait""...to verbally warn people. Of course not knowing whether he had the right of the way or running through a red light, I am not justifying - I am just giving credit to the cyclist to ""communicate"". I am not sure what kind of tone he had, but we all know that when riding, riders don't have the time to say ""Sorry, I am crossing right now, I may have run a light(or you are crossing a red light)but I don't want to hit you and get us both in an accident so can you kindly please wait and let me through? Thank you and I am so sorry""

From both a biker and pedestrian stand point, I am often annoyed that people just don't ""look"", ""communicate"" or ""anticipate""


Anonymous's picture
Mike A. (not verified)

"Just as Gordo mentioned, I find myself constantly yelling ""heads up"" whenever I see a ped who is simply not paying attention. One time in particular, a cop in a van had witnessed not only my ""heads up"" but the almost reflexive shake of my head in disgust that follows. He rode up along side of me and admonished my anger and informed me that the ped had the right of way. Does this mean that she had the right to not pay attention? Also, does the club have anywhere posted that explains the proper protocol in this situation? If we all had to slow down every time we spotted someone who was looking the wrong way and/or not paying attention, one lap in the park could take an A rider an hour to complete instead of the usual 19-22 Minutes."

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)
Park Rules

What are the park rules?

When the park drive is closed, must we still follow the traffic lights?

I heard someone say that the speed limit in the park for cyclists is 10 mph. Is this true?

If this is the case, maybe the club needs to stop reccommending doing the self test in the park. Would the club be liable if a cyclist had an accident with another pedestrian and they told the cop they were just doing what the NYCC said to do on their website?

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Not 10mph

I believe the notices in the park states that the speed limit for cyclists on the park's drives is 15mph, not 10mph.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Behave, or don't ride in the park!

"'If we all had to slow down every time we spotted someone who was looking the wrong way and/or not paying attention, one lap in the park could take an A rider an hour to complete instead of the usual 19-22 Minutes'


I drive in the city. The speed limit on the avenues are 35mph. That means theoretically I can go from Battery Park to the Broadway Bridge in half an hour with the usually coordinated green lights! Never even come close to that! Why? When the lights turn green, I'm ""legal"" to gun the engine and go from zero to 35 mph in no time flat. But if I do that, I would have ""flatten"" about 20 pedestrians along the way!!! Having to ""slow down every time we spotted someone who was looking the wrong way and/or not paying attention"", the drive usually takes way over an hour!

Just because you're on a bike rather than a car doesn't give you any MORE reason to disregard pedestrians, even the stupid ones. To do the park at your ""usual"" speed, you'll have to do it mid-week, way early or way late! Yelling at (stupid) people are just like honking the car's horn. Sooner or later, people got used to it and ignore it all togather. What are you going to do then?"

Anonymous's picture
Chris T. (not verified)
The LAW says pedestrians have the right of way

All the time

Doesn't matter if the pedestrian is smart, dumb, attentive, clueless, member of certain enthic group, from another nieghborhood or anything else

They have the right of way

Cyclists have to yeild

I didn't make the law, but it is the law. Deal with it and quit your bitching

Anonymous's picture
gordo (not verified)
So that's it?

"So that's it? We just have to deal with pedestrians who should know better? This may sound harsh, but if they have enough close calls with objects that could seriously injure them, they might just look both ways before crossing the street.

I could also make an argument that cars waiting for peds in a crosswalk is different than bikes having to slow/stop for peds jaywalking aimlessly across the street. Cars do not require effort to get up to speed, nor do they require effort to stay at speed, nor do people drive cars to get exercise, NOR are cars allowed in the park on weekends.

When cars are allowed in the park, notice the peds looking both ways and NOT darting out into traffic. Since cars have to yeild peds, why aren't peds traipsing across ALL our busy streets against lights and in the middle of blocks? It's because they know better. They realize could get hurt by a car that doesn't have enough time to stop. What they don't realize is that a bike can also seriously injure them. And just because they can't hear us coming doesn't mean we're not there.

The attitude of ""shut up and screech your bike to a halt"" doesn't work in the real world. It gets people hurt and makes both peds and cyclists angry.

- Gordo"

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Exercise, you say?

"""nor do people drive cars to get exercise""

Well, if exercise is what you want, the extra effort of slowing down and getting back up to speed frequently will offer MORE exercise, not less.

People biking in the park aren't trying to get anywhere in a hurry, (in fact, they're not trying to get anywhere AT ALL). So what's the matter with slowing down for peds?

The fact being, there're too many bikes in the park on weekends. So pedestrians don't have much chance to cross the road without getting into SOME bikers way. Yelling to get them out of YOUR way simply hold them back a second or two to get in the way of the next cyclist. (As I write this, it sounds a bit selfish to me) In any case, if all cyclists do the same, walkers quickly learn to ignore them and just cross. Just like how they react to car horns at crosswalks. Worse, instead of getting out of way, some peds reacts with anger and defience by continue their crossing just to piss cyclist off!

It's one thing to use your mouth as a horn for last second warning. It's something else to try to clear a path for yourself. The latter doesn't work at all. Unlike a collision with cars, any bike-pedestrian collision will injure the cyclist as seriously as to the pedestrian. And the pedestrians know that too!

Want to ride without peds getting in the way? Go ride River Road! A lot more exercise you'll get."

Anonymous's picture
Matt P. (not verified)

"The original poster (OP) and April make great points. The OP was in a crosswalk next to a ""yield to peds"" sign. He can reasonably expect to safely cross the road to go to his play without being hit or yelled at. What else should he do? Wear a blinking red light on his head to warn cyclists that he is legally crossing the road? And April is right: if you want a great workout, go to River Road.

Some common sense rules I have learned from riding in the park and reading these boards:

1. First, check the NYRR schedule. If there's a run, stay the heck out of the park.
2. Central Park is a multi-use playground, not a serious training ground. Train and ride hard before 6:30 a.m. or after 8:30 p.m. At all other times, expect walkers, runners, strollers, skaters, dogs, horses, cops, trash trucks, etc. to get in your way.
3. Between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., do Harlem Hill repeats if you want a great workout. Otherwise, head over the GWB.

Anonymous's picture
Mike A. (not verified)

Bravo Gordo! I couldn't have said it better myself.....

Anonymous's picture
selfish (not verified)
what was it?

What did he say that was so great? That he is above the law and shouldn't have to follow the rules because he rides a bike?
I think the least a cyclist breaking the law by riding in excess of 15mph and running red lights could do is ride around pedestrians without yelling at them. If it weren't for cyclists in team jerseys riding 5 abrest and blocking the road, maybe it was be easy to steer clear of the pedestrians?

Anonymous's picture
gordo (not verified)
I yell at every pedestrian I see

"No. I don't fly around the park at 27mph yelling at everyone else on the road. I'm not THAT much of a jerk :) 90% of the time I'm able to ride around pedestrians with no problem whatsoever. The only time I call out to them is when they are obviously not paying attention AND about to wander into my path OR when they are obviously not paying attention and I have no idea where they might wander or dart. I often go days and days without calling ""heads up!"" or ""watch it!""

In addition I do not believe I am above the law any more than any pedestrian or driver feels they are so. When peds jaywalk they are breaking the law. When drivers go 36mph in Manhattan, they are breaking the law. When I go around the park at 18mph, I am breaking the law. We all do it. I'm trying to couch my remarks in a real world environment.

All I feel I deserve, as a cyclist, is the same respect drivers get in their cars (i.e. the benefit of pedestrians looking both ways before they cross the steet). I have nothing against pedestrians in general. I'm often one myself... But I do have something against those who are unaware of what surrounds them. Especially when that unawaredness endangers my life and limb, not to mention their own.

All I ask is that people be aware. It's like when a person rides an escalator to the top, steps off, then stops dead to look all around and get their bearings. The people behind have no where to go. It's not against the law, but it IS ANNOYING. Don't be oblivious...Be aware! Other people exist in the world! If you want to cross the street, be aware that there are people in cars, on rollerblades, skateboards, unicycles and bicycles who might also be using that road and may have a tough time avoiding you if you do something unexpected. Look out, for goodness sake! You might just end up hurting someone!

That's what I'm yelling in every ""Heads up!"" and ""Watch it!"" I offer up from my saddle.

I'm usually not this much of a ranter - honestly... This issue just pushes my buttons.
- Gordo


Anonymous's picture
tom m. (not verified)
summer rding in the park

I ride in the park mostly in the evenings from March to Nov. weather permitting . Yes some nights there are people all over the road joggers , walkers , kids , dogs , ect but I know this will happened on a busy summer night in the park , and that’s not going to change in the near future maybe just get worst. Also as cyclist we should be careful otherwise with the growing number of park users the park police may really begin to enforces some existing cycling rules or create more . It has already happened some people have gotten ticketed. Plus I have heard that the police get a lot of complaints regarding cyclist.

These are some things I have observed over the years, and yes most cyclist don’t do these things just like most joggers don’t run across the road without looking , but the ones that do get the most attention .

i) Some guys just feel they need to ride faster then anyone else. These to me are the most dangerous and the most annoying. I think they go to the park just to try to pass as many people as they can. You want to race get a license and enter a race.
ii) Some cyclist feel the entire park must clear the road when they ride. Anyone who thinks this will happen will obviously be very annoyed riding in the park . It just will not happen .
iii) Some feel they need to draft off some even at 18mph.
iv) Then you have guys riding at max efforts all the time in a crowed park .
v) And then you have guys riding in opposite direction. Try crossing the road you look in one direction and the next thing you know someone comes at you speeding on the bike in opposite direction.

In most cases people doing these things are inexperienced cyclist with poor bike handling skills . Put these things together and collisions and yelling will happen .

Most experience cyclist just don’t do these things , they either ride long distance group rides on the weekend and go to the park to add few more miles for the week , or they race on the weekends do interval work late or early mornings and just ride slowly in a crowded park .

cycling trips