Sheldon Silver Bruised While Biking Over Rough Pavement

Speaker Sheldon Silver announcing the availability of free rental bikes in Lower Manhattan in 2009, the year after his Assembly ## congestion pricing##. Photo: ## Express##

Capital New York’s political reporter extraordinaire, Azi Paybarah, breaks this remarkable story:

Half of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s face is bruised and purple, and there are stitches over his left eyebrow and a scab across his nose and the back of one of his hands. Silver sustained the injuries while riding a bicycle when he hit a pothole and fell, according to a spokesman for the lower Manhattan Democrat.

“The speaker said to me he feels a lot better than he looks,” spokesman Michael Whyland said.

Despite the injuries, the 35-year-veteran legislator is keeping up with his normal schedule.

This might be a good time to ramp up the campaign to put a price on the East River bridges. The free ride creates a huge incentive for massive trucks and other vehicles to chew up the pavement on the streets of Silver’s Lower Manhattan district. Just sayin’.

  • Ian Dutton

    I’m more than a little thrilled to hear that Speaker Silver is not limited to a windshield perspective, as are so many of his colleagues. I wish him a speedy recovery and hate to hear of any bike-related injury.

  • Anonymous

    Ben — Can you get where/when/how details? Are you 100% sure it happened in Manhattan?

  • Will follow up with Shelly’s office. Might not have happened in Manhattan — headline amended.

  • Glenn

    I just confirmed that it is not April 1st. This must have really happened…

    Wishes for a speedy recovery to the Speaker.

  • fj

    safe cycling conditions providing accessibilty to virtually everyone — elderly, disabled, mothers with small children, etc. — limit the possibility of this happening and there is considerable lack of diligence in this regard; the current attitude somewhat like “beggars can’t be chosers”.
    recumbent bikes and trikes make it a lot more difficult to fall head first over handle bars but require safe infrastructures with substantial protection from cars.

    all said, it’s simply great that silver is giving it a try and will continue to gain valuable insights into on how to achieve the extreme value netzeromobility systems.

  • Louise

    Maybe Speaker Silver should think about forming a real group called Seniors for Safety.

  • No matter what happens with NYS transpo policy in the upcoming years I’m glad to know I have something in common with Speaker Silver. 

  • Tyler

    I don’t like your closing paragraph… If there’s ANY expense that deserves to be socialized, it’s commercial traffic. We all benefit from the the free movement of goods and services (either as direct/indirect recipients or employees).  In fact, I see the roadways, bridges and tunnels as PRIMARILY for three things — (a) commercial traffic, (b) health & safety, and (c) public transportation. 

    If this was the perspective when looking at street design, there would be PLENTY of space for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. The square footage per user required is just too obvious.  However, private vehicles are put on the list as a primary user.  That’s simply not the case.  I love using my car.  I do.  (I also love getting around efficiently by bike and on foot.)  I know that using my car is an *option* for 90% of my needs.  Having my own car (instead of renting, borrowing, etc.) is completely 100% an *option* all the time.  Delivery trucks are not optional.  Buses are not optional.  Construction vehicles are not optional.

    Now — can commercial traffic be improved?  Is the I-95 corridor jammed beyond capacity because our transportation infrastructure is based on 50 year old assumptions?  Sure. Of course.  But this doesn’t justify a badly thought-out toll structure.

    ALSO — putting heavy tolls on commercial traffic is highly REGRESSIVE.  Currently the city roads budget comes from state and city income taxes, city property taxes, and city and state sales taxes (plus some road usage taxes/fees in there too, but less so for the city streets and bridges).  If commercial traffic were tolled more heavily, it’s not going to reduce the traffic.  That’s ridiculous.  Goods and services still need to get from point A to point B.  And a growing population means MORE goods and services, not less.  What happens is that the costs of the tolls are passed on to the consumer.  The less you earn, the greater proportion of your wages used for necessities (i.e., a subset of goods and services).  This simply becomes a regressive consumption tax — i.e., a hidden sales tax.  The richest residents consume *far* less in proportion to their income/net worth… and would feel the impact of pass-through taxes the least.

  • fj

    regarding Louise: “Seniors for Safety”

    Yes, safety is the major issue keeping most people away but is really part of a much larger practicality issue which must be addressed to transition to zero carbon mobility.

    Automobiles have greatly raised expectation levels of practicality, including safety, speed, comfort, range, carrying capacity, etc. for what is acceptable as serious transportation.

    Netzero mobility can achieve virtually all this and more since current transportation systems based on cars and other massive vehicles are extremely wasteful impractical designs if you really think about what is required to get them to work; and what’s simply required to get much smaller lighter vehicles to do the same things better except sell enormous amounts of oil & energy, cost huge amounts of money, and produce devastating amounts of CO2.

    So, the real job is to get people to start thinking about what types of vehicles and systems can be developed to have all the extremely positive attributes of zero carbon vehicles like bicycles yet achieve the practical mobility of systems driving our current civilization which by necessity, is dramatically changing to a point where cars and other massive vehicles no longer work.

  • Call Me Skeptical…

    Shelly Silver biking?  Were there any witnesses to this alleged pothole-induced face-plant?

  • Downtown Guy

    Cover up! What really caused the bruises on Sheldon Silver’s face?

    Shelly Silver on a bike simply is not credible. This guy hasn’t ridden a bicycle since 1959.

  • fj

    be nice!  it’s great that silver, letittia james, deputy major & others are cycling as they can be instrumental to a rapid transition. 

    re:  “This guy hasn’t ridden a bicycle since 1959,” maybe that’s why he had the accident?

    That’s the issue with bikes; they are not that practical as serious transportation in the broadest sense; but, they are definitely an early stage on the critical path developing netzeroMobility that completely meets the needs of a rapidly advancing civilization that must both mitigate and adapt to accelerating climate change.

  • @twitter-93223785:disqus I’m not sure what that’s even suppose to mean: “Bikes are not practical as serious transportation” (what’s “serious transportation”?)

    Of course bikes are a practical—and important—component of a rational transportation system.  The key insight:  A reasonable transportation has a mix of modes, each one with different strengths and weaknesses..

    Bikes excel at short-medium distances, are easier than walking (especially for senious and others with mobility problems), and can carry much more baggage that is comfortable for a person to carry—and yet, are almost as “impact-free” as walking, and vastly more practical than automobiles in a dense urban area (not only are they far safer, but the number of bike parking spaces you can fit into a given volume is orders of magnitude more than car parking spaces).

    Sure, for medium or long distances, biking simply uses too much time, so rail/bus are preferable, and in the middle of a typhoon, people are much more likely to grab a taxi or take the bus even for a short distance.  For a huge luggage load, a taxi is probably your best bet.  But the fact that a bike cannot be used in all circumstances doesn’t mean that it’s not a valuable part of the transportation system.

  • fj

    Miles Bader, the statement was “not practical as serious transportation in the broadest sense”

    Please, we are on the same page except that it does not take much to make what bicycles represent which are netzero vehicles scaled to be easily powered by human power (but can be electric powered as well) — to be serious transportation in the broadest sense; to have much better range, comfort, speed, safety, general practicality, etc. than cars.

    Standard engineering techniques can be used to achieve this such as modularity, converting mechanics to electronics and electromagnetic devices, simple mechanical collision avoidance, integration with information and communications technologies, automation, use of advanced materials, etc.

    Things that will facilitate moving millions of people per hour reliably, conveniently, comfortably, practically on a daily basis at low cost, energy, emissions, etc. in a dense urban environment such as NYC and ultimately for distances of thousands of miles.

    It may seem impossible but this is readily available with existing technology and will be achieved not much differently than what it took that fellow to drive the design, development, and tweaking of existing technology to create the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.

  • @twitter-93223785:disqus Please, you’re being extremely vague.  Waving your hands and spouting buzz-words is not useful.

    Bicycles, and trains, and etc., work great as-is, today. In many cases, America is behind the curve technologically for various reasons (bad regulations, entrenched interests, NIMBYs, etc), and NYC, like many other American cities, often does have political problems with doing what needs to be done, but this is not a technological issue, it’s a political/cultural one.

    If you have specific ideas how to improve things, by all means, advocate them, but that is not a reason to avoid moving forward with existing technologies, which work fine.  Note that you’ll have to be specific.  If your ideas are truly worthwhile, they’ll be taken up—but many “great new ideas” don’t pan out when exposed to the harsh glare of reality.

  • Joe R.

    @twitter-93223785:disqus Bicycles as is work great for trips up to, say, 15 to 20 miles.  Sure, there are issues with using them for longer trips, and that’s where I agree about using technology to improve them.  The basic design of the bicycle hasn’t changed in over a century.  It’s not a bad design, but it’s not suited to high speeds because the aerodynamics are very poor.  At only 20 mph, 90% of a cyclist’s energy is going into overcoming aerodynamic drag.  Also, the riding position is less comfortable than a recumbent.  Velomobiles are the answer to the shortcomings of the common upright bicycle (which incidentally will always remain the better choice for shorter trips).
    Velomobiles represent the next step in human-powered transportation.  If we can mass-produce velomobiles for about what a high-end bicycle costs, the effect on how we get around would be revolutionary.  Think how things would change if an average rider could now propel themselves at 30 to 35 mph, and a strong one at 40 to 50 mph.  Put these velomobiles are exclusive roads with no stop lights or stop signs, and you have average speeds rivaling mechanized transport, but at a fraction of the cost/environmental impact.  For those with physical disabilities, a small motor/battery pack would let them keep up with everyone else.  Remember that the beauty of velomobiles is that they don’t need much power to sustain high speeds.  A 700 watt motor and 10 pound battery pack could give a range of 40 miles at 40 mph.  Better yet, if need be velomobiles can be enclosed for all-weather use.

    We’re already seeing the start of this in other countries.  The Netherlands has been building out a system of bicycle superhighways.  Those who ride velomobiles on them can now do long trips at average speeds well in excess of 20 mph.  Note that this is with current design velomobiles which can still be radically improved aerodynamically.  I’ve little doubt we can make a road-worthy machine which a strong rider can propel at 40 to 50 mph with better attention to aerodynamics.

  • Joe R.

    I’m hoping Sheldon Silver’s injury will finally attract attention to the Third World condition of many of NYC’s streets, especially in the outer boroughs.  Potholes to me are the second biggest annoyance when cycling ( they run a close second to traffic lights ).  There is no reason the streets should be in such poor shape.  We need to embark on a long-term program of rebuilding every city street to much higher standards.  Forget asphalt, often with no sub-roadbed.  It’s prone to potholes.  In the long-term it costs more than just doing it right the first time.  Let’s rebuild all the streets in concrete.  Concrete has been proven to last way longer.  It rarely gets potholes or cracks if done correctly.  It’s more environmentally friendly than asphalt.  It even offers marginally lower rolling resistance.  As an added bonus, the lighter color could allow us to lower street lighting levels without impacting safety or visibility.

    In my opinion the one way we could get the streets in good shape permanently is to change how we pay for them.  Instead of paying a contractor to repair a street (which basically encourages shoddy workmanship so they can repeat the repairs many times), you pay them x dollars annually to ensure that a street meets certain minimum standards.  If it doesn’t, they don’t get paid for the portion of time that the street is in bad repair.  This gives contractors an incentive to rebuild the street to such high standards the first time that they won’t need to touch it for the next 50 years.  And it goes without saying we need some kind of standards for relocating utilities so a newly rebuilt street never needs to be broken up to access utility lines.  Maybe a covered conduit along the curb might be a good place to run utilities.

  • fj

    Joe R., You’ve described great stuff in the right direction.

    To fully capitalize on the extreme value of netzeroMobility probably requires very effective collision avoidance since crashes can be life-threatening whether with pedestrians or other vehicles.  This can be done with simple mechanical systems such as rails and guideways making armoring, elaborate rules of the road, and all kinds of other dangerous stuff subject to human error and happenstance unnecessary so a special infrastructure can be designed and developed for vehicles traveling above a certain safe speed.

    Fortunately, this special infrastructure needs to support only netzero vehicles most effectively designed to be significantly less in size and weight than the people they carry, so that infrastructure costs and local impacts can be minimal; and they can be much easier to adapt to local requirements even on an ad hoc basis.

    Electronic intelligence has been making great strides in collision avoidance to the point that cars are routinely driven by these systems in crowded urban settings, but it still seems that simple mechanical collision avoidance will provide considerable advantage for some time especially in tiered systems deployed in dense urban areas; and, the reality that flooding will increasingly be a major concern.

  • He’s gutsy……..Good to know that.


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