Letters to the editor, July 11

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why no help on bike thefts?

Stuyvesant Town is the “idyllic” place to live, but with a little secret. Bicycles are stored in the terrace level but some are being stolen without any concern from management, who state that it is not their responsibility if things are stolen. Noticeably there are no security cameras in or near the laundry rooms.

I had two Trek bicycles stolen about four weeks after I moved in. There was hardly a response other than to claim it under my insurance! This despite the room requiring a key to get in (which suggests an “inside” job of either a contractor or someone with key access).

Recently a friend had their $1,100 bicycle stolen, even though it had three locks including a U-lock and no peddles. The thieves knew which bicycle(s) to take, as they left the spouses bicycle, which is old. The two bicycles were locked together.

They had left for an 8 day vacation to Europe and when they came back, poof, gone (they had checked it the day they left). When they investigated, they found other cut locks in a corner together with theirs. They reported it to security but again their response was that there were no cameras to check. So someone just waltzed out carrying an expensive bicycle without any notice? Seems rather fishy to me (and them).

Additionally, now if a bike is not “registered” with the security office, their locks are cut and after six months are disposed of.
With all the “wonderful” improvements, it’s time to put cameras in the basement where the bicycles are stored.

Name withheld, ST

The root cause of bike fears

Both Sophie Maerowitz (“Bikes still a primary concern for ST/PCV residents,” T&V, June 6) and David Dartley (“Bikes not the only danger to pedestrians,” T&V, June 20) argued that as a practice bicycling is not a danger to pedestrians. Admittedly, Mr. Dartley found merely “48 instances involving… bikes… in which at least one pedestrian was at least injured,” to which he added, “There were no fatalities.” He compared that 48 to 1,400 injuries from “other types of vehicles.” By that 48:1,400 ratio, he concluded that the focus on bicycles is “a woefully inefficient way of pursuing (pedestrian safety)”. Apparently then, if we want pedestrian safety, we need to look elsewhere—not at bikes!

My reaction to Mr. Dartley’s opinion, and my reaction to Ms. Maerowitz’s, is that injuries and fatalities to pedestrians by bicyclists deflects the issue. Pedestrian fears have nothing to do with actual fatalities and injuries. That data is irrelevant. Fears are caused by bicyclists’ behavior at lights and walkways, and not by hits and kills. The issue is not “How many people have been killed/injured?” nor is it the one Ms. Maerowitz raised in her letter, “Have bike lanes made biking safer?” These questions do not bear on the cause of pedestrian fear. For that we need to look at bicyclists’ behavior at a red light and on walkways: can we cross on a green, or walk on our oval with the same level of confidence as we have had?

My pedestrian concern is my right to cross at my green and to do it without more than the customary glance to see that traffic has stopped. That split-second pause is not an interrogative. It is not meant to imply, “May I cross, or are you going to run the light?”

Since numbers show that there are not enough fatalities or injuries or both to explain fears, then we owe it to civilized life to drop those criteria and look elsewhere for the cause of fear. What is actually going on in civil life that causes people to be afraid of bikes?

John M. Giannone
Stuyvesant Town

14 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, July 11

  1. Bike advocates have been talking a lot lately about what Mr. Giannone referred to in his letter, and this is what I have found after talking to people face-to-face & reading news/information about the issue:

    First, virtually every pedestrian, and many cyclists, are anxious of getting run down by another cyclist who is doing something terribly wrong. Very few people care about the “why”, but virtually everyone knows that bad cyclists are bad news.

    That said, very few pedestrians are actually afraid of cyclists, because pedestrians constantly make deliberate moves into bike lanes & intrude on the ROW of oncoming cyclists in the middle of the street. It’s less of a “fear for my death” situation and more of a “this is my space too!” situation. There’s a stubborn aspect to it. I would say it’s 50/50 that the pedestrians are in the right/in the wrong in these situations, but that part doesn’t particularly matter.

    Note that cyclists are, pretty much, the same around pedestrians and even regular-size cars. Anxious about getting hit, but not particularly fearful. “My space too!”

    Also note that the cyclists who get killed are not getting killed in these particular interactions. Nobody would know this because the news is afraid to air any of it, because it’s not family-friendly viewing, or these things are happening off-camera. But most of the cyclists who have been killed have been killed by very large trucks or speeding automobiles. (Much the same with pedestrians, and there are a lot more pedestrian deaths by auto every year than there are cycling deaths by auto)

    So, then… what is the deal with people coming on here and saying they fear for their lives?

    Well, they don’t. This is a thing that they say because they want the cops to show up and round up all the cyclists and get them off the streets. They’re not interested in addressing the issue in a way that includes happy cycling traffic moving by safely. Many are interested in somehow getting more parking spaces back from bike lanes that were installed 10 years ago. Even opprobrium about the 20th Street lane has shown no signs of abating. But that really has nothing to do with protecting pedestrians or soothing anxieties about more cyclists coming around. In fact, the street was less safe before, and the only thing about the old design that was a “positive” for anyone was that it was a much more effective speedway onto/off of the FDR. So that anger is mostly about driving faster and parking easier. And I have no illusions that I am going to talk the long-time Stuy Town contingent out of their suburban-oriented love of automobiles. It is a privilege that you love and that you can’t be convinced to put aside.

    Although I am sure the same people spouting off about the bike lanes today will be very much preoccupied arguing for personal exclusions from congestion pricing in the near future. Like, everyone with blue eyes should have a congestion pricing exception on Tuesdays and Fridays. But also on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. And Sundays and Thursdays too. Along with everyone with hazel eyes and green eyes.

    • I gave up (thankfully) after “That said, very few pedestrians are actually afraid of cyclists”…. Were you a pedestrian? Or do you just walk across the street to buy a banana?

    • NYC Crashmapper app reports 10 crashes with 10 injuries from 2011 to November 2018, when 20th street was reconfigured for “safety” purposes.

      From December 2018 to July 2019, 8 crashes, 8 injuries..

      So, in 7 months we’ve had nearly as many accidents as the previous 7 years. But, just keep saying it’s safer now…

        • That includes all crashes, bike, ped, car.

          I thought the bolierplate talking point was that segregated infrastructure makes everyone safer?

        • Well, for starters, in every thoroughfare where this kind of treatment is installed, crashes and recorded injuries go down. That is typical and yet can have exceptions.

          For another thing, the pedestrians now do have less of a distance to cross the main street, and they have a much less perilous crossing of the bicycle infrastructure. (It’s not a credible complaint to say that a 2-way bicycle lane with red light controls is “impossible” to cross safely; there’s an exceptional amount of visibility here for anyone trying to cross the north side bike lane)

          Those alone would be good reasons to keep this around. Of course, there are other benefits, including safety benefits to cyclists who frequently found the older bike lanes blocked on this stretch at all hours of the day, by literally any cab driver making a dropoff (even when there were pull-in spaces available)

          Anyway, the design certainly doesn’t induce crashes for calm, legal drivers, but automobile drivers are very error-prone and may be getting worse as time goes on. As I mentioned earlier, 20th is used as a ramp on and off the FDR, and many drivers have a “highway mode” that they get into well before and after they use an expressway like the FDR. It would be simply moronic to blame bike lanes for an uptick in driver crashes caused by driving behavior inappropriate to local streets. But it would be relevant to figure out what could be done to calm drivers even more. Or to figure out if bike crashes in the bike lane are increasing.

          So if there is an uptick, it’s worth finding out why either way.

    • Just think… if there were only cars parked along the curb, all those people would have been saved.

        • Did not know it was your choice to make for all of us!

          Corey might be scoring points with the TA/Streetsclog crowd by parroting their anti-car rhetoric, but if he thinks he’s going to get elected mayor by promising to eliminate parking and heavily taxing motor vehicle use, he’s in for a rude awakening…

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