Eyes on the Street: Disrespect, and Defiance, at the Bus Stop


This was the scene in Washington Heights Friday evening, after this guy, along with two others, parked their gigantic rental truck directly in front of a trio of elderly people waiting for the M4 at W. 187th Street and Fort Washington Avenue. Rather than sit passively with the spewing behemoth a few feet from their faces, one of them, a woman shown after the jump, took out her cellphone and began taking pictures.

Since he didn’t see a bus coming, the gentleman in the picture above sincerely couldn’t understand what the problem was. But his co-worker, also pictured below, was incensed, screaming at the woman and, indirectly, at me, for taking photos. He was angry and aggressive enough that the guy above asked him several times to calm down.

After about 10 minutes, the third man returned (they had stopped so he could use an ATM), and they drove off, honking as they went.

whbus2.jpgThis woman, who could easily be someone’s grandmother, is tired of the indignities that too often accompany city bus travel …

whbus3.jpg… and this guy publicly berates her for sticking up for herself.

  • Mattyoung

    I am taking the contrarian view in general, without commenting on this case particularly.

    Freight needs space. Large vehicles can share large space, buses and trucks may lie together.
    Bikes needs to share space with micro-electrics. another problem.

    Sharing space is easy if each vehicle talks to the others, and to system traffic. Before we debate space, lets first debate getting vehicles talking using low cost telematics. The trucker knows when space is available for short term loading and unloading, knows it by digital display. The big trucke also knows where the bikers and micro-cars are located. He knows parking restrictions, real time congestion costs. With this technology, the lady at the bus stop need not call traffic police; if the trucker driver error, then a fine will be automatically mailed to him, or a congestion fee charged.

    These devices come fro the defined Intelligent Traffic Standards and cost $50. The biker can put a wireless telematic beeper on the fender for $10. I would almost call for them to become mandatory safety features, and insurance companies will pay for them (and give a rate discount). Then everyone has actual safety without curbs or divider, merely the real time digital pricing separates the lightweight and the heavy.

  • fdr

    Lucky it didn’t degenerate into a road rage (or parking rage) incident.

  • Eric B


    The issue here is not one of shared space, but shared air. The people waiting at the bus stop have no control over where they stand or how long they stand there–that is determined by the bus authority. The truck driver decided to stick his exhaust pipe in the waiting transit users’ faces so that one of the truck passengers could run to the ATM. I would never puff fumes into my grandmother’s face and would appreciate it if no one else did either. The same goes for smoking at bus stops.

  • paco

    @ Matt, that’s an interesting idea but I don’t think its at all simple enough or cost effective enough to implement. Easier system is bus stop is for BUSES only. Even if the telematics were cheap enough, it wouldn’t address another element evident in this story… respect. The truck drivers felt their time and comfort was simply more valuable than everyone at the bus stop, and on the bus itself that would soon arrive. I’d believe they didn’t see the ramifications of one simple blocked bus stop but if they got angry when an elderly woman called them out on it… they should have their licenses revoked.

  • P

    The problem is that the city does not have sufficient curbside space allocated for loading and unloading (or, in this case, short-term standing). Because the voting public demands unlimited free parking anyone who doesn’t luck into one of those spaces is essentially forced to double park.

    Perhaps the first step toward the appropriate use of curbside space is to demonize those short-term parkers and standers who are victimized by the misallocation. But it seems to miss the true target worthy of the blame as far as I’m concerned.

  • Because the voting public demands unlimited free parking anyone who doesn’t luck into one of those spaces is essentially forced to double park.

    That’s the weak point in your analysis, P. These guys could have double-parked, but they didn’t, they parked in the bus stop. Same thing with people who park in bike lanes and bus lanes.

    On one level it’s understandable why they chose to park in the bus stop instead of double-park. If you double-park, your vehicle could get rear-ended by someone doing 40 and texting. If you park in a bus lane, the bus driver will presumably be going slower and paying more attention. If you park in a bus stop, the driver will presumably also be slowing down. And if you park in a bike lane, a cyclist going maximum speed will probably not even leave a scratch.

    Similarly for police sanctions: if you park in a bus lane or stop, the driver is probably too busy trying to stay on schedule to report it. If you park in a bike lane, the cops probably won’t bother sticking up for the cyclists. But if you double-park in a general lane, you’re Impeding the Flow of Traffic, and that’s when you’re in the TEA’s sights.

  • On another level, P, I agree with you that the ultimate responsibility is with the DOT and the NYPD, and ultimately with the Mayor. But these guys did have a limited choice: they can impose on the powerful and dangerous, or the weak and vulnerable. Like so many drivers in New York, they chose to impose on the weak and vulnerable.

  • Eric

    MattYoung, your technobabble solution ignores a much simpler solution. Bus stops are for buses, not short term parking. The passenger in the truck who berated the woman was out of line.

  • maybe they were from out of state and didn’t know it was no standing?

  • zach

    I disagree with Cap’n, I think the loud demand for universal free parking is largely at fault here. We can’t have extensive loading zones, or market-rate parking, and so vehicles are parked in bus stops and double-parked. A cop once threatened to write me a $300 or $400 ticket for parking in a bus stop, but let me off. I would have happily paid 50 cents for the 50 seconds it took me to go to the ATM, but couldn’t spend a half hour looking for parking for a 50 second errand.

  • Emily Litella

    Human communication. Something we don’t do well. These encounters always start off on the wrong foot. It seems that then only way a stranger can get up the nerve to make a simple request, or make an observation of wrongdoing to the wrong doer is to do it in theheat of anger. PEople should try to ask nicely first. IF it devolves to shouting, fine, at least the person on higher moral ground (grandma) can know that they didnt ‘start it’. People need to calm down and confront thier own anger more construcftively and it is nup to us streetsbloggers to educate others.


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