Letters to the editor, June 13

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Fear of scofflaw cyclists is justified

To the editor:

When graduate student Sophie Maerowitz told T&V (“Bikes still a primary concern for ST/PCV residents,” June 6) that bike lanes have made biking safer for biking, reducing fatalities by 44 percent, she addressed those ST/PCV “concerns” and “nervousness” with utterly irrelevant information.

Ms. Maerowitz’s remarks fail to address the fears pedestrians have been taught when they now cross streets that have bike lanes. To my knowledge no one has argued that bike lanes are a blunder, and no one has claimed that bikers have killed pedestrians. More so, my remarks and our fears do not come from all bicyclists running lights, nor from pedestrians splayed-out by bikes.

Plain and simple, our fear has been caused by a pattern of bicyclists’ behavior. So let’s not require what is not before our city government takes us as real.

Our fear is fed by the self-assigned cyclists’ attitude toward traffic regulations: namely that they need not obey traffic lights and right-of-ways, and they may ride on sidewalks. It doesn’t seem to trouble Ms. Maerowitz and our city fathers that her safety as a bicyclist as been secured by, among other things, a quality-of-life payment made by pedestrians.

When we pedestrians cross at a green light, we glance to see that auto and bicycle traffic has come to a stop. That glance is the exercise of a simple precaution, but that momentary act, that glance, has become a signal to bicyclists that we are uncertain about our actions, and with that split-second communication between bicyclists and pedestrian, bicyclists take the right-of-way red light-and-all.

In short, if they catch you hesitating, they figure you will chicken-out of your right. The two-way bike road on 20th Street is almost sadistic in its disregard for pedestrians wanting to board the westbound bus. Where once we merely stepped up from the curb onto the bus, we now must look to our left and then our right before crossing the two bike lanes and the newly installed island to enter the bus. Of course, on heavily-trafficked cross streets, bicyclists can be counted on to regard traffic lights. They know the difference between a pedestrian who will give way and jump back on to the sidewalk, and a motor vehicle that will kill! When it comes to size, bicyclists are realists!

Am I suggesting that bicyclists, like motor vehicles, obey red lights and not ride on sidewalks? Isn’t it weird that “Yes” sounds so unreasonable! Just who do we pedestrians think we are!

John Giannone, ST

Great, more bikes

Wow! Can you believe that Stuy Town management are actually planning to put a bike station within the grounds of ST!

Walking the grounds is dangerous enough between scooters, skate boards and illegal bikes, now we are going to have to contend with extra bikes coming and going. Does management honestly believe that people who use these bikes are going to walk to and from the roadway with the bikes? I certainly hope the complex has adequate insurance to cover the problems that will be coming with this extremely stupid move.

Valerie White, ST

Supporting the supermarket

Re: “Putting our money where our mouths are,” letter, T&V, May 30

Dear Sirs,

I wholeheartedly agree with Jane Roeder that we must do all we can to support Associated, a real supermarket.

Thank you to Stuyvesant Town management for not raising the rent on Associated and helping them stay here. Now we residents must do our part and continue to shop at Associated and not at Target or Trader Joe’s.

Pat Walcott, ST

21 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, June 13

  1. The entire bike mess in NYC can be blamed on several folks like, Bloomberg, DeBlasio, the uber incompetent Polly Trottenberg etc. However, no one is more responsible than the NYPD and the more incompetent than Polly Trottenberg, NYPD commissioner James O’Neill. Crime is in fact down in NY but mostly the credit for that goes to the over saturation of cameras, both on buildings, businesses, homes etc and cell phones. The truth is the NYPD did little to get us here. Moreover, the NYPD is the major cause of this problem. The fact is that they have a statistical ZERO percent apprehension rate when it comes to ticketing bike scofflaws. Without enforcement bike riders CAN and WILL do whatever they please. Until the NYPD gets competent leadership both at the top and in the various precincts especially the 13th, nothing will change.

    • They also have a zero percent “apprehension rate” of speeding drivers, motorists who blow stop signs, and placard holders who park at hydrants. iT’s ThE lAw!!!!

      (Please, feel free to use one of the standard untruthful replies: bikes are more dangerous than 2-ton cars, drivers are angels, cyclists never pay taxes, nothing ever happened before bike lanes, people are getting killed all the time by cyclists, etc. )

      It was a big local story recently that the 13th Pct seized a bunch of motorized bicycles. They’re constantly ticketing along First and Second Aves. Your failure to acknowledge actual stats is dishonest; your intention to have a bunch of statements posted on a newspaper website with zero research applied, unchallenged, is deplorable. At least be truthful if you’re going to shake your angry fist at the neighborhood.

      • Are you ever right? Do the math, a handful of tickets, by their own admission, (look it up), versus the millions of red lights run by cyclists is a statistical ZERO. More tickets are issued to drivers of vehicles despite the fact that vehicles run millions fewer red lights cyclists and that does not equal a statistical zero.

        Since the placard holders are NYPD you’re point there is moot, as are all of your supposed points. Sorry, but it’s another fail for you.

        • The red light and speeding enforcement cameras are handing out citations in the millions. Your lack of knowledge on the subject is again intentional, as you just want to make another hateful declaration that bikes don’t belong.

        • There are safe drivers and unsafe drivers, both in cars and on bikes, but the people complaining about the bikes are just jealous haters. Bikes are the most sensible way to get around nyc in every respect and should be hailed as a great solution that is great for the environment and great for people’s health, please stop with the nonsense you cranky old losers.

          And everyone in support of ebikes because of some twisted argument about supporting immigrants, the truth is that ebikes are very dangerous and take no effort to propel themselves at 20mph towards pedestrians and bikes, these delivery people should get some exercise and stop endangering everyone else with their reckless behavior, how are they allowed side by side with bicycles when they are motorized vehicles, that just makes no sense.

  2. Before there were bike lanes, bicycles used the roadway on the outer side of the cars, and bicyclists would ride straight ahead and risk colliding with pedestrians who would stand in the way of the bicycles & hold their ground (as long as it wasn’t in the line of auto traffic), and everyone risked getting hit by any car that weaved out of its lane – and there were no refuge islands for pedestrians to stand on in case that happened, or to limit the turn radius of cars coming off the avenues so that they wouldn’t cut carelessly into the standing area of pedestrians at the apex of a too-fast too-wide turn.

    Apparently those were the good old days. At least cyclists had a healthy fear of being killed if they made any mistakes, and people wisely stuck to the crosstown bus instead of brushing by jaywalkers.

    Now you have these big bike lanes where pedestrians are never safe, unlike the middle of First Avenue where you used to have nothing to worry about.

    Btw Miro I’ve replied to you 90 times on here but you always come in at the end of a thread and the system hides all my replies to you. I take your bet for one penny. I bet you one more penny that if you took down the red light for the bike lane at 19th and made it a crosswalk yield control, there would be no increase in severe injuries or hospitalizations there.

    • Again? LOL. Now it’s penny bet, but betting on something that is not happening but looking in the future. I repeat. (And it may be the fourth time!) I bet that there are more bikes crossing 19th Street and 1st Avenue when there is a red light against them, than otherwise. I invite you to Gracefully across the way, where the view is wonderful. The cup of coffee is free for you from me, but then, when the bet kicks in, you are going to lose and fast. And more than a penny!

  3. Just to clarify a few things.

    NYC NYPD Opendata for bike accidents in our area for the past 3 years shows accidents at 15th st & 1st Ave, 18th St & 1st Ave, 22nd St and 2nd Ave and 27th St and 1st Ave. These are bike/pedestrian collisions where at least one pedestrian was injured.

    Tickets for common violations are captured in NYC OATH data (Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings). Since the start of the year, NO tickets for any kinds of violations (bikes, dog leash, dog messes) have been captured in this data.

    Two years ago I contacted the DOT with a question about bike riding on sidewalks. The current law says that this is only permitted in areas where an ‘official’ signs say it’s permitted.

    My question to the DOT was…does ‘official’ mean a sign issued by the city or in the case of private property does it mean issued by the private property owner? In other words, it all cases does the city have to sanction sidewalk bike riding or is private property an exception?

    Persistence only paid off to one extent. A friendly DOT rep told me that she had been specifically directed NOT to answer my question.

    I share this only to indicate what any ordinary citizen is up against in dealing with city agencies and again to underscore that without your councilman taking up any particular issue on your behalf, your chances of success are worse than nil.

    The key to any issue involving the city is your councilman. Cannot be underscored enough.

    • Since the start of the year, NO tickets for any kinds of violations (bikes, dog leash, dog messes) have been captured in this data

      No, red light, wrong-way, etc tickets are DMV violations, you appear before a DOT adjudicator, same as if you were in an auto. NOT the OATH.

      If you don’t think the 13th is ticketing bicyclists, all you’d have to do look on 1st or 2nd Aves. They hide in a doorway or in an unmarked car and catch violators like shooting fish in a barrel.

      • I’ve reviewed all the opendata categories by agency including the DOT. Outside of OATH where have seen dog & bike summons recorded, I see no other place where bike summons may be captured.

        If anyone knows of a data store worth looking at. please respond & I’m happy to review.

        If the data isn’t captured and available for review, then there’s no real proof anything was actually issued..

        • They were out in front of Gristedes writing tickets this morning at 7:30.

          13th Pct website posts stats on traffic violations ticketed, but does not distinguish between bikes and motorists, as it’s the same infraction. I’d bet that internally they do, you could call or email and ask.

  4. Brian Van said “The red light and speeding enforcement cameras are handing out citations in the millions. Your lack of knowledge on the subject is again intentional, as you just want to make another hateful declaration that bikes don’t belong.”

    Pure Bullshit. You are even contradicting your own post in which you said “They also have a zero percent “apprehension rate” of speeding drivers, motorists who blow stop signs, and placard holders who park at hydrants. iT’s ThE lAw!!!!”

    Transportation Alternatives needs to do a better job training their mouthpieces.

    • This is a subtle point but nobody’s being “apprehended” because, other than for DUI, no one is committing a criminal offense. (That’s one reason why calling a technical violation of traffic code “illegal” is nonsense – it’s a violation-level offense and you certainly wouldn’t address such things with more priority than assaults, homicides or property crimes, even though getting a citation for a code offense is perfectly fair – and habitually poor drivers should have their licenses suspended, where driving then would be a criminal offense)

      For drivers, the cops don’t pull them over anymore – it’s all through the cameras, which assign no points (unlimited offenses without license suspensions) and send $50 tickets in the mail for the same things which would cost way more (and would result in license points) if written as a citation by a police officer. Bicycles don’t get picked up by the cameras – all bicycles adhere to the speed camera’s tripping points (35mph in a 25mph zone) and the red light cameras do not pick up bicycles. I wouldn’t mind if they did, to be honest – $50 is a fair charge to pay for that.

      For bicycles, the offenses they get stopped for are all handed manually. The law applies very similar laws to bicycles as it does for autos, although it’s possible to mark any bicycle path with different traffic controls as the main roadway (and, say, require bicycles to observe a stop sign instead of a full red light). Bicycles don’t get license points in any scenario. Bicycles DO get the same fines as pulled over automobile drivers, and not the same fines as drivers captured by camera enforcement. An initial red light ticket is $190 for a bicycle and $999 for a third offense; bicyclists can rack up $1500 in fines for three red light offenses where a driver in NYC caught three times for the same offense will pay $150.

      The police, at your urging, are sending their officers to stand alongside bike lanes and stop cyclists for easy red light infractions – they usually go to the empty intersections with no cross-traffic. Many of the precincts hardly write tickets to motorists (leaving this enforcement to the highway patrol). These habits have broken the system that is supposed to take frequent motorist violators off the road, so that alone would be reason to do something about that before putting more resources into bicycle policing. Meanwhile, bicycles are being pulled over for fair offenses but are paying extremely steep fines because the ticket fees are meant to discourage motorist misbehavior and are as punitive as they need to be – while the automated camera tickets are priced lower in order to not gin up outrage over punitive fines for running red lights and speeding. In fact, some states have new statutes banning any kind of camera enforcement because it’s been described as a “cash grab” and a “racket”

      I never really seem to know if anyone has this information or where they stand on these things. But bicycles are not cars. Motorists can cause significantly more destruction. Certain offenses by bicycles are QUITE dangerous (riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way) but pulling over a cyclist for not having a bell is asinine. The laws need a major revisitation & DOT needs to provide usable bike lanes that don’t have red lights every two blocks. We’ve already established that bicycling is a constant presence because it’s been described as a constant threat – with the volumes of cyclists going by, it’s well past time to make things right and not have the whole city laid out for driving-only. There shouldn’t be red lights for cyclists on every block where traffic turns away from First Avenue along the bike lane – that’s only done because the bikes are forced to split their bike lane with a “mixing zone” for drivers for half a block so that 10-12 cars a minute can still make those turns, instead of 4-6 cars a minute. There is no necessity for this. Eliminate it and make a proper bike trail that only has to interrupt for true cross streets.

  5. The people who hate bicycles are the same people who shake their fists at joggers and yell “get off the sidewalk!!”.

    These people should be arrested for menacing, not the joggers, pedestrians. The Tenants Association should consider asking everyone to sign a unity pledge to be more civil to joggers, pedestrians, people with dogs, people who play basketball, people with children, and all the other people who are regularly pilloried in these pages.

  6. Merrill, from both of her(?) recent T&V posts, seems delusional, at best. Brian should restrict his thumbnail photo to Tinder or Grindr–am tired of seeing it here so often.

  7. I guess it’s all settled because “a concerned citizen’ says anyone complaining about the millions of cyclists blowing off red lights are cranky and old. Just for the record though, if ‘a concerned citizen’ is interested this “cranky old person” will meet anytime to discuss how you can get your bike out of your ass after I put it there. POS! Any day, anytime.

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