Wednesday’s Headlines: Scooter Day in the Committee Room

Yes, that’s a James Joyce reference, but people will be getting very e-motional at City Hall today, thanks to a package of bills aimed to legalize e-scooters and e-bikes. Streetsblog will be there in force, so come back to the ‘blog early and often. One prediction: This is going to play out badly for our side, as every two-bit reporter in town starts interviewing old ladies who claim they’re always being hit by cyclists and scooters when, in fact, they are very frequently being hit by cars.

Here’s the news:

  • Just as Streetsblog hit “publish” on what we thought was a big scoop that Councilman Rafael Espinal’s e-scooter bill would include provisions to legalize e-bikes, too, Politico’s increasingly legendary Dana Rubinstein and the Times’s J. David Goodman published theirs too! Both had great details about the bills, so we tip our hats.
  • The Postthe News, Gothamist and amNY also got in on the coverage.
  • Local news played it as a major “safety” issue, as is if scooters are killing drivers or something. (CBS2) (Just as we predicted!)
  • The Times also looked at the issue of old people hating cyclists, recycling the tired canard, “I almost got hit by a bike!” Memo to mainstream media: Cyclists “almost” get hit by cars 20 times per day. And more than 150 have been killed by cars in this city so far this year — none by cyclists. Hey, Times assignment desk, how about a story on that? The story did quote TransAlt’s Marco Conner saying it best: “There is a false picture that has been painted of cyclists pitted against pedestrians, whereas both cyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable road users. And Doug Gordon took the whole thing down in yet another perfect tweet.

  • Oh, people complained about the fare hike at the first of several MTA public hearings. (NYDN, amNY)
  • That upstate man who ran over seven people, killing one, in Chinatown on Monday is out on bail and still has his license. (NY Post)
  • The Times had a solid story about people who bike to the airport for business travel. It included some praise for the Port Authority for its “Bicycle Master Plan” — but Amy Zipkin’s piece failed to point out that the Port Authority shut down a major access road for cyclists after a van driver killed an airport worker making his daily commute on his bike, as Streetsblog’s David Meyer reported.
  •  The city is still doing business with rogue carting companies that kill. (NYDN)
  • Joe R.

    The traditional news media, like the Times and the major news networks, are playing the oldest trick in the book, namely divide and conquer, to keep our auto-dominated paradigm in place. Pedestrians and cyclists should be natural allies. Most of the things we need to do to make streets safer for cyclists also benefit pedestrians. And vice versa. Also, every cyclist is also a pedestrian. I walk more hours than I bike, for example. We probably would be allies most of the time if not for the lopsided coverage where they air only interviews from people “almost hit by bikes”. “Almost” can mean anything. I’ve seen people screaming a bike which cleared them by 5 or 10 feet “almost hit them”. It would be nice if they stuck to statistics but that’s not their style. If it bleeds, it leads.

    This doesn’t mean cyclists can’t improve their behavior, especially those who pass red lights without yielding to people crossing. But in the end statistics don’t lie. 150+ pedestrians killed by cars every single year versus 1 killed by a bike every few years.

  • Joseph Cutrufo

    News moves fast: Sanitation Salvage surrendered its license, so that NYDN headline is already old news!

  • Fool

    What total $$$ per year are the fare hikes expected to generate in revenue?

  • Fran Taylor

    Wow, Streetsblog, how many decades back did you have to reach to dredge up the little old ladies stereotype? As I approach 70, I guess I should be grateful that I can still summon up just enough energy to jump into the dustbin of history myself without waiting for the SB sweeper to push me in.

    Of course cars pose the greatest threat to us all, but where is the contradiction with wanting safe sidewalks as well as safe streets? When e-scooters were unleashed without permission or regulation in San Francisco last spring, our sidewalks became as scary as our crosswalks. When I challenged several scooter riders whizzing too close in pedestrian space, the response was typically a shrug, as if to say, “Hurry up and die, old lady, and get out of the way.” Does Streetsblog really sanction such an attitude?

    At least here in SF, some of the sharpest critics of e-scooters are also among the most reliable stalwarts in the struggle against traffic violence. Until you’ve had your own hip replacements and cataracts and learned to live with a newfound fear of falling, you have no idea how frightening a near miss can be and how life-changing an actual hit. You might want to dial back the smears against seniors who could be great allies.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    Everyone agrees that scooters should stay off the sidewalks.

    It would be great if the generation whose love of cars accelerated our climate armageddon would actually care about the world they are leaving for future generations, but it’s looking more and more like that’s not going to happen.

  • Daphna

    a 10% fare hike is being considered for subway riders but only a 4% fare hike is being considered for Metro North and Long Island Rail Road. Metro North, LIRR and NYC Transit together make up the MTA. Such a drastic different between fare hikes should not be on the table. It should not be subway riders who must pay more to support the system; commuter rail prices are highly subsidized, much more so than the subway, and their fare increase should be greater not less than half as much.

  • Simon Phearson

    It would be easier to treat the elderly with fairness and respect, and harder for the stereotypes to adhere, if they weren’t so consistently opposed to safer streets in the first place. It is not complete-streeters who need to win the elderly’s support. Safe streets obviously serve the elderly, regardless of the way that advocates conduct themselves. It’s the elderly who need to get their heads on straight.

    No one, using any mode of transportation, should conduct themselves so as to make pedestrians fear for their physical safety. That’s especially true on sidewalks and other places where pedestrians have the right of way. So I think we would all tend to support any regulatory regime or enforcement initiative that tries to ensure that e-scooter and e-bike users keep to bike lanes and streets, instead of sidewalks.

    The problem is that too many people – including too many elderly people – take the view that the best way to deal with e-scooter abuse is to ban them, or to impose such burdensome regulations that they become unattractive as a form of transportation. It’s the same kind of view that they take with respect to protected cycling infrastructure – rather than install safe bike lanes that are pleasant to use, they want cyclists to fend for themselves, in traffic, with the implicit intent that they’ll just not bike in the first place.

    Finally – and this is an unfortunate thing to have to say, but – the fact of the matter is that what we do with the streets today will form the views, and shape the lives, of generations of people who will come after you. We cannot hold to patterns of road design and management that suit just the elderly, or their preferences. It’s largely the decisions their generations have made that have put us in the spot we’re in, in the first place. The elderly should not be terrorized on the sidewalks by reckless e-scooter users, but they also cannot expect the rest of us to simply either walk or drive everywhere, with no modalities in between.

  • sbauman

    It should not be subway riders who must pay more to support the system; commuter rail prices are highly subsidized, much more so than the subway, and their fare increase should be greater, not less than half as much as the subway.

    The 2016 National Transportation Database agency profiles tell a different story. Fares constitute 42.3% of operating costs for NYCT. Fares constitute 57.0% for Metro North. Fares constitute 52.3% for the LIRR. Fares constitute 29.5% for MTA Bus.

  • Fran Taylor

    That would be my parents’ generation (I was six when Ike started the interstate highway project), and they’re long gone. We baby boomers gave the world Critical Mass and are guilty more for not doing enough to fix the problem than for creating it in the first place.

    And everyone agrees about scooters staying off the sidewalks except the many users who buzz us and then sneer at our objections.