Soapbox: When no one’s eyes are on the road

This column is an indirect response to another Soapbox column, “The bicycle purge of 2018,” T&V, Oct. 26, in defense of e-bikes.

By Billy Sternberg

Quality of life misdemeanors vex me. I saw a young guy’s dog almost get hit by a car because he was multitasking, running on the sidewalk with his dog by his side. Where is this guy from, I wondered? His dog doesn’t know to look both ways at a red light when his master stops abruptly. But, I wondered, would the driver have stopped had he hit the dog? The driver’s priority is a fare. The problem was the master’s mindlessness.

Before he got to the intersection, however, had the dog’s leash blocked or tripped a senior or mother with a stroller, he may have said, I’m sorry.” A basketball coach told me that if I was sorry about something I wouldn’t have done it.

But that guy probably endangers his dog every weekend. Manhattan has become a mobile play land between bikes, skaters, scooters, runners and dogs on long leashes while their masters are texting, watching videos and playing games while yelling at their kids to slow down and watch for others doing the same.

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Letters to the editor, Nov. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Pedestrian demanding accountability

Dear Editor:

I was run down by a speeding bicycle that made a turn as I was crossing to the curb on 2nd Avenue and 11th Street.

I suffered a break in my pelvis as well as torn adductor muscles. When I tell people the story each one has another story of being hit by a bicycle themselves or knowing someone close who was hit similarly. Careless bicycle riders have no liability for their recklessness.

If there was some identification like license plates or numbered placards the riders would take more care knowing that they could be identified.

We demand licenses on cars so why not bicycles, which can be as deadly when driven thoughtlessly?

Toni Davis, PCV

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The Soapbox: The bicycle purge of 2018

ebikeBy Andrew Paul Grell

Mayor De Blasio announced on October 20th that commencing on January 1, 2018, there would be a crack-down on bicycles with electric booster motors, or “e-bikes,” including targeted enforcement, confiscations, and fines. The policy as described is:

  1. Counter to post-Giuliani New York City transportation policy;
  2. Counter to the mayor’s stated climate change emissions reduction policy of April 2016;
  3. A roadblock on the way to reducing deaths and costly hospitalizations from ozone and fine particulates;
  4. Likely to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
  5. A hindrance to mechanical, thermodynamic, and economic efficiency.

No pedestrians enjoy being cut off by cyclists, electric or not. No cyclists enjoy having to detour around pedestrians in bicycle priority reservation lanes. No one – driver, cyclist, or pedestrian – quite knows what a mixing zone or a bike box are or how they’re supposed to work. And surprisingly, not many drivers know what “Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles” signs mean, even though the sign has pictures on it. Everyone, on or off a bike, wants their take-out food to arrive while it’s still hot. Everyone on this list can be satisfied, and in so doing, can initiate tremendous savings in lives, health, money and time.

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Letters to the Editor, May 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Bikes in ST? Only with extreme caution

The following letter was originally published as a comment on Town & Village Blog (town-village.com) by Brian Van in response to the letters, “Bike riding should be allowed in Stuy Town” and “Motorized bikes putting tenants in danger,” in T&V, May 14.

It’s really critical to understand that no one at all should be riding motorized bicycles through the middle paths of PCV/ST. This is immoral behavior considering the risks, and the NYPD should be writing tickets for this. It’s fish in a barrel.

As for “normal” bicycles:

I understand that many people would have reservations about PCV/ST being permissive of this. My understanding is that it would only be workable if bicycles used defined pathways and proceeded very slowly, with extreme caution, just as a way of connecting to the interior driveways. If that were to be followed, and if the cyclists were yielding to pedestrians and keeping a very long distance away from them, there can be some safe sharing of some of the paths. It’s no different from the sharing of space on the West Side Greenway, which has similar shared paths. But it wouldn’t work if everyone came tearing through at 20 mph – there would need to be restraint by the cyclists.

It’s important to consider: the PCV/ST property cut off all of the travel among side streets when it was established, and the perimeter streets were built to maximize parking and auto speed, not pedestrian or bicycle safety. First Avenue has gotten better, but the perimeter streets on the north and east are still shamefully unsafe for bicycles, and on the eastern perimeter the East River Greenway is triple-barricaded from the street by quite a lot of concrete and steel encumbrances. There is an ethical duty for the stakeholders here to consider remedies for that situation, including additional shared paths and/or petitions to the DOT to re-imagine the perimeter streets as safety-first corridors and not as highways. To be clear: Any bicycle travelling quickly through PCV/ST should be ticketed for proceeding recklessly, in any situation.

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Garodnick aims to put the brakes on scofflaw cyclists

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussed bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens last week.

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussing bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens in 2012

By Sabina Mollot

Council Member Dan Garodnick is aiming to rein in cyclists who flout traffic rules. Noting that the problem of bike riders failing to yield to pedestrians has become an increasingly common problem on the East Side of Manhattan, the council member penned a letter to five precincts covering the area in the hopes of getting cops to step up enforcement of bike infractions.

In the letter, which was sent to the commanding officers of the 13th, 17th, 19th, Midtown South and Midtown North Precincts, Garodnick said that it’s no longer just delivery people who can be blamed for cutting off pedestrians or riding the wrong way in the bike lanes.

“Rather,” he said, “commuting and recreational bicyclists are equally often the culprits of such behavior. I have seen I myself repeatedly and it has been reiterated to me by countless constituents.”

Other problems he’s noticed include riding on the sidewalks and riding in the right direction on the street but outside of bike lanes. In those cases sometimes Garodnick said he understood cyclists were breaking the rules for their own safety so he also asked police for more enforcement of vehicles illegally stopped on bike lanes or those who don’t yield to bike riders.

Garodnick noted that he didn’t think enforcement should come via a “ticketing blitz” on select days but be a regular routine and he also suggested more cops be deployed on bikes specifically for this purpose. He also noted that he’d been in touch with Transportation Alternatives, and the organization had since committed to doing outreach in areas the precincts believe it might be helpful.

“I have too many constituents who are afraid to cross the street,” Garodnick told Town & Village. “Not just because of the cars, anymore. We need more constant enforcement of the rules.”

Since sending the letter last Thursday, Garodnick said he said he’d heard from precinct commanders who said they were aware of the problem. Indeed, inconsiderate bike riders are often the bane of community residents who voice their concerns at monthly meetings of the 13th Precinct Community Council. While Garodnick noted that Central Park, which is in his district, has had the most high profile issue with bike infractions, the rest of the district, from the Upper East Side down to Stuyvesant Town, has just as many.

In particular, “from 14th Street to 23rd Street, it’s a regular problem,” he said. “As it’s gotten safer to ride bikes in New York City, which is a very good thing, we need to readjust and focus our attention onto the rules that apply to everyone.”

Letters to the Editor, Sept. 26

If it wasn’t broke…

The following is an open letter addressed to ST/PCV management regarding the renovation of the bike rooms.

I’m sorry but the bike storage changes in 250/240/405 are really unacceptable if you consider them finished, and now my three year old daughter has gotten hurt because we have two adult bikes standing in our living room, as we have had for more than a month longer than your posted notice suggested we should expect to.

You’ve replaced rails that allowed dozens and dozens of bicycles to be locked easily at the frame with one floor rack that has room for about seven bikes to be locked near the floor. These floor racks make it more difficult to lock any part of the bike, even just the wheel, to anything, and as you probably know, bikes locked at points other than on the frame are far easier to steal. This non-replacement of the decent, old, and capacious railings has carried on for more than two months since CW representative Brian Moriarty said that tenants “would be able to store them under the same conditions that they were previously stored.”

If you believe that the old rails allowed for problems to arise in how passable the open spaces of the bike rooms are, I would point out several things:

1. I didn’t ask, but I never saw any building staff having any problems passing through the open areas of the bike room even while carting large items.

2. It’s very obvious that replacement rails could be installed in such a way that even full of bikes they take up about half the space the old rails did.

3. Any difficulty at all in passing through the open areas of the bike room was created by two things:  First, the landlord’s own elimination of about 80 percent of floor capacity and about 50 percent of bike storage capacity several years ago when the private storage units were introduced, and second, the landlord’s indifference to how many bikes were stored. And of course now, that last problem is even less of an excuse, since you now require all bikes to be registered. I’ll note that trekking bikes to the Oval (during only certain limited hours) to be registered so that they’re allowed to be stored in the bike rooms is no small ordeal for anyone, much less for my family of four who owns four bicycles.

Please immediately re-install in our bike room rails that allow dozens more bikes to be easily locked by the frame.

Thank you,
David Dartley, ST

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