Wednesday’s Headlines: Bollard Boondoggle Edition

Streetsblog did its own coverage of how the NYPD’s bollard-buying spree has made the Brooklyn Bridge even worse, but here’s a hat tip to transportation reporter Aaron Gordon for choosing the right words in his Tuesday article for Gothamist for the big cement blocks: “expensive, clumsy, and sometimes nonsensical.”

Here’s the rest of the headlines from a slow news day:

  • Everyone jumped on the MTA/DOT announcement that the L train shutdown will begin on (drumroll, please) Saturday, April 27, 2019, but no one added anything we didn’t already know. (Gothamist, NYDN, NY Post, amNY). That said, skilled reporter Caroline Spivack revealed a tiny bit of news: That the MTA will monitor air quality during the shutdown. (Patch)
  • Doug Gordon, who tweets as BrooklynSpoke and co-hosts the “War on Cars” podcast, pointed out that not enough streets are closed down to drivers on Halloween, when crashes spike. Kids should be safe to scream “Trick or Treat” without having their parents yell, “Trick and Retreat.”
  • Second City leads the Capital of the World? Chicago is going to use some climate change grant money to expand its bike-share system to the entire city, leaving New York Citi Bike riders in the dust. (WTTW)
  • Turns out the MTA won’t get rid of 75 station agents. (NYDN)
  • Perennial Bay Ridge candidate Sal Albanese complains about traffic rather than admit he made his own bad choice by getting in a car in the first place. (Albanese via Twitter)
  • Also on Twitter, @Fresh_Kermit gives us all a laugh about bad bike lane design. Meanwhile, a single tweet from the Department of Transportation reminded us anew why we need to get rid of cars.
  • And finally, check out this spooky Halloween parking garage in Bethesda, Md. But beware: It could … drive you insane. Muwahahaha! (DCist)
  • Fool

    MTA ditches proposal to do away with subway booths, elevator operators

    The MTA being first a foremost a welfare jobs center rather than a transportation provider is why NYC is doomed to stagnation.

  • ortcutt

    Along with elevator operators, the MTA will also be retaining its staff of VCR repairmen, bowling pin setters, lamplighters, and scriveners.

  • ortcutt

    My 3-year old asked why there was a man sitting in the elevator in 182nd St A station pressing the buttons with a stick. I explained that he was running the elevator, although I doubt that made it any clearer to either her or me why he was there.

  • qrt145

    The MTA does not have VCRs. They hadn’t been invented in the 1930’s, when they got their latest equipment!

  • sbauman

    Here’s a link to an article regarding e-bike fatalities/injuries around the world.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/10/31/electric-bicycle-fatalities-injuries-are-rising/

    As with automobiles, collision speed is the biggest factor. All the more reason to limit their speed regardless of how the driver controls that speed.

  • Joe R.

    Same set of issues as with electric scooters—namely that you have people who haven’t ridden a bike in years, perhaps haven’t ridden a scooter at all, getting on these things. The 20 mph speed of e-bikes, even the 28 mph speed of the speed pedelecs, wouldn’t be an issue for me as I’ve reached those speeds and way beyond on a pedal bike. I know what to expect in terms of braking distance, handling, etc. It likely wouldn’t be an issue for anyone else who rides regularly, either.

    It might not be a horrible idea to have people purchasing e-bikes take a training course in a parking lot or some other closed area just to familiarize themselves with the speed and handling. It’s an even better idea if policy got more people riding regular bikes from childhood. These people would already know how bikes handle. They might even already be riding at the speeds of e-bikes. Putting people who haven’t ridden in years even on regular bikes, never mind e-bikes, has a large set of problems.

    A second issue is whether or not we allow e-bikes in regular bike lanes. If we artificially limit their speed as you suggest, then we pretty much have to do this as they’re too slow to mix with car traffic. A negative side effect of this is that we make e-bikes less useful as transportation appliances. That could mean someone who may have considered a 20 mph or 28 mph e-bike will now be driving. That’s infinitely more dangerous than any e-bike.

    Or we could not limit their speed, perhaps prohibit 28 mph e-bikes from bike lanes but allow ones going 20 mph or less. The 28 mph bikes could have some sort of identifying tag so they can be cited if they ride in a bike lane.

    It’s important to not get too caught up in the hyperbole here. As with anything new, there are probably going to be more injuries/deaths until we figure out how to integrate these vehicles. That doesn’t mean we jump the gun with overregulation as is typical in places like NYC. In the final analysis, e-bikes of any speed are going to be way safer than automobiles.

  • Joe R.

    The irony is there is probably actually useful work for these people to do but anytime you even suggest people do something outside their so-called job description the TWU throws a hissy fit. Going forward, any future union contracts should state something to the effect that “Workers may be asked to do various tasks outside of the original position they were hired for. If so, they will be paid at the same rate of their original position, or the going rate for those doing these tasks, whichever is higher.”

    It’s far better to overpay, say, a station cleaner than it is to overpay that same person to push buttons in an elevator.

  • Daphna

    NYC needs wider bike lanes anyway, regardless of whether e-bikes can use the bike lanes or not. The 1′ of curbside space in a bike lane is not rideable and should not be counted as part of the bike lane, and the minimum standard width for bike lanes should be several feet wider than it is, without counting the 1′ curbside area as part of the lane.

  • Joe R.

    Totally agree. E-bikes aside, remember that bike lanes should accommodate both fast and slow cyclists. Faster cyclists go as fast as e-bikes. NYC’s narrow protected bike lanes basically force any cyclist who wants to ride fast into a traffic lane. Besides being dangerous, it’s also a public relations nightmare when drivers see someone riding in “their” traffic lane, instead of the bike lane. We can and should do better.