Help Make Sense of Crazy Steve Cuozzo

So, Streetsblog is well past the point of bothering to rationally rebut anything that Post columnist Steve Cuozzo has to say on the subject of re-engineering streets for greater safety. The man clearly has a few screws loose, and, in the words of midtown BID impresario Dan Biederman, “He doesn’t know this field. He just loves to scream and rant about it.”

If you see this guy lurking near a bike lane, take pity on his tortured soul.

But after reading today’s out-of-touch diatribe about the Columbus Avenue bike lane, I’m still scratching my head, trying to puzzle out exactly why the Cuozz loves to scream and rant about this stuff so much.

You have the conventional theories. Bike lane rants goose pageviews. The Post is a reactionary Murdoch-financed rag that couldn’t care less about actual New Yorkers wanting to make their streets safer. And Gothamist’s favorite explanation: Cuozzo is just a grumpy old man, like Abe Simpson with column inches.

I’m starting to think there’s something else going on, though. Some deep psychological need embedded in Cuozzo’s amygdala that compels him to write this garbage.

It could be a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder, as Cuozzo’s extreme discomfort with “vehicles unattractively parked in the middle of the street” suggests. In other words: Who cares if fewer pedestrians are getting injured with the new parking arrangement! Streets are absolutely perfect when cars are parked by the curb, and the street must not deviate from the perfect arrangement!

It could be a form of stalking, where the object of Cuozzo’s obsession is bike lanes. The amount of time Cuozzo spends monitoring bike lanes certainly seems obsessive. “I’ve watched it repeatedly, at all hours and in all weathers, on weekdays and weekends,” he says of the Columbus Avenue lane. Yes, “all weathers.” While the rest of us were holed up during Hurricane Sandy, apparently, Cuozzo was out there watching a bike lane.

It could be some childhood trauma that’s blocking Cuozzo from embracing the infrastructure that would clearly give him great joy, if he would only allow himself to use it. “Growing up on Long Island,” he writes, “I lived on a bike.” Transplanted to New York, though, he finds traffic too dangerous to ride here, “with or without bike lanes.” While many New Yorkers would probably agree with Cuozzo that they don’t feel safe enough riding on the streets as they exist today, most of us think bike lanes are a good thing. Personally, I think one of the reasons they’re good is that they can help people overcome their fear of riding in traffic, especially if there’s a connected network that can get you from point A to point B.

Maybe some awful encounter with a motorist on the peaceful, bikeable streets of Cuozzo’s idyllic Long Island childhood is preventing him from seeing how the Columbus Avenue bike lane extension would create a safer, useful connection to other parts of the city.

Got a diagnosis? Share it in the comments.

  • KillMoto

    “But the city could close its budget gap simply by ticketing every sociopath on wheels who whizzes through the red light.”
    Yes Mr. Cuozzo, NYPD needs to crack down on those sociopaths on wheels who whizz through red lights.  They’re called “motorists”.

  • KillMoto

    Unrelated:  Why is that man pictured so orange? 

  • Anonymous

    While I happen to agree with everything you wrote, it seems a little ad hominem. Do you really need to use your “ink” to mock some dumb tabloid columnist? It’s fun, sure, but I think it can detract from your serious journalistic work. You know, keeping the moral high ground and all that…

  • Joe R.

    I happen to agree with his comment “vehicles unattractively parked in the middle of the street”. In fact, vehicles parked anywhere in the street are unattractive. So how about we ban curbside parking citiwide, Steve? After all, those parked cars really uglify neighborhoods.

    And if he finds it too dangerous to ride in New York without bike lanes, despite supposedly “growing up on a bike”, then either he’s a wimp, or he’s lying about growing up on a bike. Once you ride, the urge never disappears. You’ll somehow find a way to keep riding, even in the face of “40 mph cyclists” on the Central Park loop. To paraphrase one of my late relatives, when this guy goes all he’s going to leave behind is a legacy of bull$hit.

  • Jesse Greene

    I don’t know.  Is there a DSM diagnosis for selfish, entitled, jerk?

  • @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus He means that he grew up circling in a cul-de-sac. 

  • Dr. Freud

    Armchair diagnosis: the Bloomberg administration doesn’t take his calls. And in Cuozzo’s experience that is not the way things are done.

    Unlike in past decades where tabloid writers were chummy with administration officials — see “Bike Lanes, Neighbors For” — the current folks at City Hall will do what’s best for the majority of “real New Yorkers” without privately running it up the elite’s flagpole first.  That’s what’s given Bloomberg the ability to push for the cigarette ban, bike lanes, the Times Square ped plaza, and the soda size restrictions, despite the ire such things stoked from the Post, Daily News, and an army of a few dozen NIMBYs.  They went through community boards, advocacy groups, department heads, local councilmembers…just not guys like the Cuozz.

    Cuozzo and his ilk do not like the idea of a New York City power structure that does not include them at or near the top. With a billionaire mayor who doesn’t need to pander and a media system that’s now run from the bottom up, their place in the establishment is changing faster than any street can. Must be scary and could possibly cause a man to lash out at powerless delivery cyclists.

    Cuozzo’s only hope is to keep ringing his anti-Bloomberg bell until 2013 when Mayor Quinn or Mayor de Blasio right this injustice and picks up the phone.

  • knows better

    The real reason he’s afraid of riding a bike in the city, is because it’s just too embarrassing
    for a grown man to be seen on one with the training wheels that never came off of his.

  • Mike

    He craves approval from his superiors.  He knows they don’t like bike lanes, and so he figures the crazier he is, the more the bosses will like him.

  • Marty

    He wants to be like Andrea Peyser.  He figures the stupider and the nastier he is, the more he resembles his idol.

  • Ben Kintisch

    And just to think…this angry rant comes after a bike lane setback. Imagine if CB7 voted to advance the plan. I’m guessing in another couple of months, when this proposal is back to life and moves forward, we’ll have a new diatribe masquerading as a NY Post newspaper column. Maybe he needs to find something new to hate on.

  • jrab

    Successful columnists of all political stripes have a schtick. They speak as caricatures, meant to appeal to the reader’s id. Cuozzo is the marionette of the resentment of Long Island motorists, who may feel that the city could be adding more parking and motorist amenities designed to appeal to them, instead of building “pointless” bike lanes designed to appeal to city residents.

  • krstrois

    I agree with Dr. Freud but I also think his is a pretty basic class anxiety. It’s in every single one of Cuozzo’s columns and pedaling it is also Rupert Murdoch’s fundamental operating principal so he’s aligned w Daddy. 

  • Miles Bader

    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus Say, you’ve got a real point there about aesthetics…

    And you know what would be a million times better looking than parking?  A nice tree-planted divider to separate the bike lanes from cars.  Everybody loves trees!  NYC would turn into Paris overnight!

    [The bike lanes would be separated from peds by the surface level, but if you reallly want to go for broke: more trees on the sidewalk (like conventional tree planting) to further define the border!  It would be like cycling down a forest lane, and pedestrians would love it as well….]

  • Joe R.

    @google-9ed3368a6439fa92efd353af4436290d:disqus I was thinking tree-planted divider myself. Anything looks better than a row of parked cars.

    @85211970d034887d032f8c319f70adbb:disqus You may be right here, but why should motorists from Long Island (or NJ or CT for that matter) be resentful if the city prioritizes its own residents above them? Don’t they do exactly the same thing out on Long Island? I think it’s high time we stopped making things easier for suburban auto commuters. Look how many highways have cut neighborhoods in two over the years, mostly for the benefit of those living in the suburbs. Now at least if these highways incorporated a parallel subway and bike highway there would have been something in it for city residents, but they don’t.


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