Friday’s Headlines: Why Are Bike Lane Opponents Such Violent Hypocrites?

This graffiti appeared on 13th Street near Avenue A on Thursday. It is a reference to parking spaces that were removed to provide more safety for cyclists. Photo: Chelsea Yamada.
This graffiti appeared on 13th Street near Avenue A on Thursday. It is a reference to parking spaces that were removed to provide more safety for cyclists.

Guess what? One day after a group of self-styled pro-parking, anti-bike lane activists in Greenwich Village demanded the removal of new bike lanes on 12th and 13th streets, the lanes were vandalized with glass and signs demanding the return of “our” parking, as Streetsblog reported. It’s the second time that someone from the pro-car crowd attacked cyclists. In November, someone spread thumb tacks in the 43rd Street protected lane in Sunnyside, Queens.

The twist on the latest attack, though, is that the 14th Street opponents are led by Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer who is also the political director of the New York Progressive Action Network, a group that says it fights so that “all people have the right to live in a safe, just, and sustainable world.” In what way does that mission include employing a man who fights for cars and parking and against the safety of cyclists, many of them delivery workers? (Schwartz’s 14th Street Coalition did not respond to our email last night).

It’s going to be a busy Friday: Transportation Alternatives has started a petition drive to retain the lanes, plus the 14th Street bus lanes. Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who said the other day that he would hear out the 14th Street NIMBYs, and Mayor de Blasio, who hasn’t committed to retaining improvements built by his own Department of Transportation, will have to make a statement. And the NYPD will have to convince cyclists that they are safe by investigating and arresting the criminal(s) who endangered lives in a politically motivated attack.

Meanwhile, in other news:

  • Aha, so NOW we know why Gov. Cuomo flipped the script on the L-train shutdown: The transit union is excited because more work will be done in-house. (Chief Leader) Meanwhile, now Amtrak wants a little bit of that special Cuomo tunnel-repair sauce. (NYDN)
  • Speaking of Cuomo, he brushed off his offensive — and telling — #MeToo joke from Wednesday night. (NY Post)
  • Gothamist weighed in on TransAlt’s campaign for a New York City bike mayor.
  • A former city DOT commissioner says in an op-ed that he supports congestion pricing, but only blames Uber and Lyft for all the congestion. (NYDN)
  • Mayor de Blasio doubled-down on his highly subsidized, lightly used ferry system, announcing in his State of the City address new routes from Coney Island and from Staten Island to the West Side of Manhattan. (NY Post, amNY)
  • The Harry Siegel- and Christina Greer-hosted FAQnyc podcast focused on transit this week, featuring Aaron Gordon and MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool. Great show. But one question: When is Streetsblog’s David Meyer — aka “Aspiring Podcast Guest David ‘Amazon Cuomo’ Meyer” — going to get his well-deserved moment in the podcast sun?
  • City Lab’s Sarah Holder recounted what happened when a Bird scooter had engine failure on her. A cautionary tale. (CityLab)
  • Brooklyn Brewery founder and safe streets advocate Steve Hindy backs congestion pricing in an op-ed. (Crain’s)
  • Politico’s Dana Rubinstein had an exclusive (for subscribers only) about how rich Brooklyn Heights residents have enlisted the Regional Plan Association and other major player$ in city politics to help save the fabled Promenade from temporary destruction while the city rebuilds the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
  • The Times looked at the MTA’s worthy plan to build four new stations in the Bronx along existing Amtrak tracks.
  • Chariot announced that it is ending its van service in several cities around the country, including here in New York City. What is Chariot? Exactly. (SF Examiner, the Verge)
  • And from our friends at Streetsblog USA: Traffic deaths in North Dakota declined to 104 in 2018, the lowest number in a decade. To put that in perspective, North Dakotans are dying on the roads at a rate five times higher than New York City. (Herald Courier)
  • Larry Littlefield

    If you are pedaling a bicycle, the negative health risk of being run over by an SUV is vastly outweighed by the positive health benefit of getting exercise and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, even in the absence of enough time for a separate period of exercise pe se.

    If you are powered by an electric motor, not so much.

    For the broader community, these e-vehicles are better for pedestrian safety, parking and traffic congestion than electric powered motor vehicles, but worse on traffic and parking than mass transit.

  • JohnBrownForPresident

    Arthur Shwartz is fucking human slime and very much part of the stereotypical Democratic party – do for me, not for anyone else. This is why we have to keep attacking these centrists from the left and connect the dots.

  • Joe R.

    I kind of get pedal assist e-bikes. At least you still have to put in some effort or you don’t move. While I don’t want or need one now, I can see that changing in some future where I might lack the stamina to go 20 or 30 miles and/or the power to maintain an 18 to 23 mph pace. Also, from a safety perspective if there are no bike lanes the closer you can match car speeds the safer you are. I know I feel very vulnerable when a steep hill forces me down to a 10 or 12 mph pace. I keep checking my six for cars passing other traffic on the right and rear-ending me. Not so when I’m going 20+.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I could see them for long commutes — more than 8 miles — or in hilly places. Otherwise, you miss the point by using them.

  • AnoNYC

    2 new NYC Ferry routes planned for Coney Island and Staten Island

    Throggs Neck is slated for service in 2021, and the Astoria route is being extended to the Brooklyn Navy Yard this year.

    https://www.amny.com/transit/nyc-ferry-routes-1.25782023

  • I don’t know the answer to that, and I didn’t know this when I first started biking, but damn, turns out my piddly bicycle is like, this weapon of awesome fear and subversion. Through the internet, I am learning that people actually fear me, more than they do an errant motor vehicle. They see me coming and, for whatever reason, fear for their life! I love biking for a hundred other reasons, but I have to say this is another good one.

  • Larry Littlefield, I hope I get the opportunity someday to run you over with my bike.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve occasionally complained about NYC’s strict gun laws which prevent law-abiding citizens from arming themselves but I missed the big picture, namely that my bikes are deadlier than the meanest assault rifle. I have to thank the 14th Street Coalition for enlightening me. Now my only fear is that legislators will classify bicycles as assault weapons and ban them. In the meantime, however, at least I know when I ride my bike others will cower before me in pure terror.

  • cjstephens

    The all-powerful bike lobby wins again! (too much of a throwback?).