Corey Johnson Just Smacked Down CBS2’s Bikelash Crap in the Most Perfect Way

Photo: John McCarten
Photo: John McCarten

CBS2 News has a longstanding anti-bike, pro-car agenda. Whether it’s Marsha Kramer complaining about supposedly murderous cyclists and demanding they wear helmets, Dave Carlin complaining about pedestrians, the channel has consistently been at the forefront of pushing back against basic road safety. At a press conference near City Hall today focused on Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s street safety bill, it was Scott Rapoport’s turn to do News Director David Friend‘s anti-safety bidding. Fortunately, Johnson shut it down in the best possible way. Here is the transcript:

Scott Rapoport: What about people who say there are so many bikes and bike lanes out there, so many bikers [causing] many injuries] and maybe enough is enough.

Corey Johnson: Cars and trucks are killing people on the streets of New York City. We of course want everyone to observe the rules of the road. We want cyclists to use bike lanes to not be on the sidewalks to not go the wrong way, but we know that what is really killing people are trucks and cars in New York City. Trucks and cars are killing pedestrians. Trucks and cars are killing cyclists. They’re maiming people. They’re two tons of steel. Cyclists are not wreaking death in New York City. We of course want them to observe the rules of the road, but let’s not conflate these two things that are very, very different things.

SR: You’ve been very firm on Vision Zero and protected bike lanes to protect cyclists. Mr. Speaker, do you support requiring city bike riders to wear helmets for safety.

CJ: No. Absolutely not.

SR: (incredulously) Why not?

CJ: Because if you require helmets, you’ll have much, much fewer people riding bikes across New York City. It is a barrier. It has not worked in other cities around the world. It has not worked in the United States of America. On face value, you might think it’s the right thing to do, but if you did that, you would have a fraction of the people biking in New York City. We want to encourage cycling in New York City, not make it more difficult. There have been studies about this, in the United States and around the world. It has been counter-productive, not helpful, not made it safer, so we are not going to go in that direction. It sounds like an easy sound bite to say, “Let’s make cyclists do that,” but if you look at the research and the facts and the studies, it’s not the right thing to do.

SR: But we are talking about safety. Isn’t it almost a no-brainer if helmets can help keep cyclists safer.

CJ: If you look at the studies, they’ll show you that it’s not a no-brainer. That actually, if you require helmets, it becomes less safe on the streets of the city because you’d have less people who cycle, which means that [drivers] don’t have to think about cyclists. It’s counter-intuitive in some ways, but that is what the science shows on this. Most people who are killed by cars and trucks, a helmet wouldn’t even help them because of the sheer scope of the accident.

SR: Not to be truculent, if a cyclist gets hit, falls and lands on his head, isn’t it logical that a helmet is going to help him?

CJ: We want people to wear helmets. But requiring them to wear helmets is a totally different thing. Go look at what other cities across the United States have found out when they tried that. It hasn’t work. It’s made it less safe for cycling in those cities.