Wednesday’s Headlines: A Very Full Day Ahead Edition

Council Member Antonio Reynoso will rally today for sanitation reform. Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council
Council Member Antonio Reynoso will rally today for sanitation reform. Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council

It’s going to be a busy day, what with a court hearing on Mayor de Blasio’s Morris Park Avenue safety redesign at 9:30, an announcement by Revel scooters at 11 a.m., a press conference on Antonio Reynoso’s private carting reform bill, then the passage of the Vision Zero Design Standards bill by the Council, despite Mayor de Blasio’s opposition, and then we’ll end the day with a Taxi and Limousine Commission “dialogue ride” between cyclists and cabbies.

Here’s one line of dialogue we expect to hear: “Hey, Uber, get the hell out of the bike lane!”

Well, it’s a start.

For now, here’s the news:

  • Remember that group of cyclists that the NYPD harassed last month? Well, the NYPD was at it again, this time cracking down on its organizer’s weekend barbecue! (Gothamist)
  • The Daily News offered more details about that drunk driver who killed a motorcyclist on Monday — she was supposed to be the designated driver.
  • The Times has finally gotten in on the “dog-in-a-bag” subway phenomenon. And you thought only the Post loved animal stories.
  • The city has finally determined that its pilot program of letting cyclists get a head start at traffic lights is a good thing, paving the way for an expansion. Thank you, Council Member Carlos Menchaca. (amNY)
  • Queens bus riders were poised to give the MTA an earful on Tuesday night. NY1 did a preview.
  • According to the information I have been able to glean, the Revel announcement will involve an expansion of the home zone northward into Long Island City.

    That’s very nice. But, if they are going to move farther into Queens, I wish they would expand the zone eastward along Myrtle Avenue from Cypress Avenue, where it currently ends.

  • Sassojr

    Now electric scooter riders in Queens can join motorcyclists and bicyclists as groups being harassed by the NYPD. Hurrah!

    Sidenote: I’m sure if revel succeeds in growing into Manhattan there will suddenly be a call by Streetsblog that two wheeled motorized vehicles should be exempt from congestion pricing. We are a part of the solution.

  • Revel scooters can go 30 miles per hour; so I suppose it is theoretically possible that someone could be speeding on one of them in a 20-miles-per-hour zone. But, of course, that scooter would probably still be the slowest vehicle on the street. I have been on one of these scooters doing about 30 on Jamaica Avenue (speed limit 25), with cars zooming past me. And I have been doing about 25 on Bedford Avenue (speed limit 20), and cars were going onto the opposite side of the street in order to pass.

    Regarding Manhattan: Revel does not allow riding over bridges or in tunnels; so there’s no way to get one of those scooters to Manhattan (apart from Roosevelt Island). If the company wanted to operate in Manhattan, it would have to have a separate fleet of scooters for that borough alone, and probably a separate Manhattan office, all of which seems unlikely.

  • Sassojr

    None of that actually matters when it comes to NYPD harassment. NYPD operates motorcycle only checkouts at various places throughout the city (both highway and street). It has nothing to do with speeding.

    As for the comment about congestion pricing: A) The scooters may not always be limited to 30 mph. There’s no additional endorsement req’d to operate a moped (crazy IMO, but that’s the way it is). A slightly different model and suddenly they can run on at least the 35 mph bridges. B) They could have a Manhattan fleet, which could operate on either side of the CBD. There’s definitely plenty of free parking south of 60. If either case comes to fruition, my guess is that Streetsblog will suddenly join the call for two-wheeled motorized vehicles to be exempt from Congestion Pricing.

  • Sassojr

    https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/video-how-to-handle-nys-motorcycle-checkpoints

    Above is an example of motorcycle checkpoint BS that happened to a friend. The trend has GENERALLY been if you DON’T a camera, you’re probably getting a BS ticket for SOMETHING (regardless of guilt). If you have a camera and are riding clean, they let you go. The stop is illegal (No PC), because the decision that allows DUI checkpoints is fairly narrow. This is from Rehnquist’s decision allowing checkpoints in very limited cases (mostly DUI):

    “We observed that no empirical evidence indicated that such stops would be an effective means of promoting roadway safety and said that ”it seems common sense that the percentage of all drivers on the road who are driving without a license is very small and that the number of licensed drivers who will be stopped in order to find one unlicensed operator will be large indeed.”

  • The police seem to have a policy of motorcycle indulgence that more than compensates for any supposed “motorcycle harassment”.

    The occasional motorcyclist may be stopped arbitrarily; but, at the same time, the police systematically ignore motorcyclists who — both individually, and in organised groups — blow lights and engage in acts of intimidation. Motorcyclists are in fact dangerously under-policed.

    Regarding Revel: the scooters they currently use are rightfully operated with a regular driver’s licence, as there is no special motorcycle-related skill necessary. The scooters are not heavy enough or powerful enough to require a motorcycle licence.

    And we shouldn’t expect the power of Revel’s scooters to change. Anyway, even if a scooter could hit 35 miles per hour consistently (even uphill), that still would not be enough to operate on the river crossings during most hours of the day.

    Furthermore, to imagine this company running a separate Manhattan fleet of scooters is unrealistic, as the costs of such a project would be enormous. The company goes out with vans and swaps out the scooters’ batteries with charged batteries. To have to constantly cross a bridge in order to service the bikes in Manhattan would be logistically impossible; so this would require a Manhattan office, the overhead costs of which are likely far beyond what this company can afford (and would represent a poor use of capital even if they could somehow afford it).

    So, my guess is that Revel scooters will not be coming to Manhattan for a very long time.

    Finally, perhaps low-power scooters should be exempt from congestion pricing, as that is not the kind of activity that we want to reduce. But full-sized motorcycles definitely should not be exempt. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The police seem to have a policy of motorcycle indulgence that more than compensates for any supposed “motorcycle harassment”.

    No different for bicycles. These cops don’t want to be giving traffic tickets. They either want to be heroes, or they are lazy bums, and ticketing doesn’t fit either.

    So no enforcement until a “crackdown” is ordered. Then they are coming up with something to make that quota, and you get BS tickets and harrassment.

    Just as bicycle tickets should only be given by bicycle cops, they should have motorcycle and motorcyclist cops enforce against that type of vehicle — based on what they know makes sense.

  • When a mob of motorcyclists is going through red lights, sometimes even with one of them blocking traffic in the direction that has the green light, this should not require any special police motorcycle squadron to deal with. (And this is not even considering the rampant noise violations.)

  • HamTech87

    Menchaca is great. Heard he is also sponsoring a bill to ban Bull Bars. Anyone know if that is gaining traction?

  • Sassojr

    A) You didn’t address the fact that Motorcycle only Checkpoints are patently unconstitutional.
    B) They are a waste of funding because the NYPD simultaneously has a no chase policy. Which means law-abiding riders stop and get harassed. The ATVs and dirt bikes ride through with impunity.
    C) To address the issue would require actual police work. Something that a broken windows policy doesn’t fix.
    D) While a novice can generally operate a low power moped with no problem, the issue comes when they go buy a moped they can’t handle. An MP3 has more power than my Honda Rebel.
    E) What does power have to do with the argument? We need to rebalance commuting by taking cars off roads. Two wheel motorized vehicles are a part of the solution.

  • Tooscrapps

    “Morales-Cruz was driving a 2014 Infiniti registered in her name, though she didn’t have a valid license, according to the complaint.”

    – If you don’t have a valid license, you shouldn’t be able to register a car.
    – If your license is suspended, revoked, lapsed, your car registration should be suspended until it is reinstated.
    – If you’re caught driving a car without a valid license, the licensed car in your name should be confiscated and sold/crushed.
    – If it’s in someone else’s name, slap a big fine on it in order to get it back. Maybe then people will think twice about lending out their car without checking if that person should be driving.

    Couple this with a equitable way for those who have their license revoked for ticket debt to work to get that license back on the condition they don’t fall behind or rack up more tickets.

  • Motorcycle checkpoints are not unconstitutional. Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, checkpoints for vehicles are not comparable to something like stop-and-frisk, which intrudes upon individuals who are exercising a right. Indeed, I’d like to encourage still more unannounced checks of motor vehicles (but with the caveat that these not be done in a racially discriminatory manner, so as not to promote a “driving while black” type of policy).

    And this would not be a waste of resources because the knowledge that you could be stopped would encourage motorcyclists to keep their papers in order and to keep their vehicles legal. Or else it would dissuade them from riding altogether. Either way, society benefits.

    Also, the practice of checkpoints is not a substitute for apprehending people who are observed breaking the law. And apprehending those people would not require altering the no-chase policy. When a dozen or more motorcycles are headed in a particular direction, passing lights and announcing their presence by means of awful levels of noise pollution, it is possible to radio ahead to set up a roadblock. The police might not catch every single member of such a mob; but they’ll get plenty of them.

    More important, by catching even just a fraction of these dangerous scofflaws, the police would be sending a message that the days of terrorising other street users with impunity are over.

    We need to rebalance commuting by taking cars off roads. Two wheel motorized vehicles are a part of the solution.

    Replacing a car with a motorcycle is not progress. The fact that a motorcycle has two wheels does not change its status as a motor vehicle equivalent to a car. Full-sized gas-powered motorcycles are just as inappropriate for New York and other cities as are cars.

  • Well, the edge of home zone did indeed come a little farther down Myrtle Avenue, by about 500 yards: it’s now at Forest Avenue instead of Cypress Avenue.

    And the zone also now extends down Broadway almost to Broadway Junction, which is two J stops closer to me than was the zone’s previous boundary at Halsey Street.

  • Sassojr

    “Motorcycle checkpoints are not unconstitutional. Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right.”

    That isn’t what defines something as constitutional, otherwise we’d all be fucked. Checkpoints were challenged in the Supreme Court. Again, they are only allowed in a limited few circumstances (see quote). Something being a privilege doesn’t mean it’s restriction is automatically constitutional.

    Glad you’re happy with wasting money to harass law abiding riders. I’m sure you’d okay with bicycle checkpoints too. You never know who might not have a bell or light.

    “Replacing a car with a motorcycle is not progress.”

    Not sure what planet a 6,000 SUV at <20 mpg is equivalent to a 300 lb motorcycle that gets over 70 and takes up 1/10 the space (~1/4 on the highway). We can continue to pretend shoveling more money into the pit of the MTA is the solution, or we can realize that every city cited in these studies has exempted two wheeled vehicles because the MTA doesn't serve everyone's needs. A modest gain in capacity and reliability isn't enough to moved everyone who needs to be moved.

  • I’m sure you’d okay with bicycle checkpoints too. You never know who might not have a bell or light.

    Riding a bicycle is not a privilege that is granted by a licence issued by the State. Riding a bike is equivalent to walking down the street — that is, a right that is presumptively available to everyone.

    It is acceptable for authorities to conduct spot-checks on licence-holders to determine whether they are conducting themselves properly. A typical example would be an inspection of a restaurant by a health inspector. This is an equivalent to a vehicle checkpoint.

    No comparison should be made to arbitrary intrusions against individuals who are exercising a right (such as moving around the street on foot or by bicycle). Here the applicable standard that must be met before any intrusion is that of a reasonable suspicion of criminality.

    Not sure what planet a 6,000 SUV at <20 mpg is equivalent to a 300 lb motorcycle that gets over 70 and takes up 1/10 the space (~1/4 on the highway).

    (Here I shall overlook the wild exaggeration in the claim that a motorcycle takes up 1/10 the space of an SUV.)

    While a motorcycle may not be equivalent to an SUV, both are on the same side of the bright line that separates the helpful from the harmful; and they are on the wrong side.

    Putting people on people sized vehicles is absolutely progress.

    Examples of people-sized vehicles are electric scooters (such as Revel’s), gas-powered scooters (such as a Vespa), and e-bikes. Not motorcycles.

    Motorcycles are in the class of cars: highway vehicles that have no legitimate place on city streets. Good public policy involves restricting not accommodating, these vehicles.

    We can continue to pretend shoveling more money into the pit of the MTA is the solution…

    As if on cue, illustrating the identity between a motorcyclist’s mentality and a driver’s mentality, we have a gratuitous swipe at public transit.

    In reality, transit is at the core of the approach that is needed to address the issues besetting city streets. There are things that the State can do, such as placing fares at appropriate levels, and abandoning self-destructive plans to reduce the workforce.

    And there are things that the City can do, such as converting various streets into dedicated busways by getting rid of parking and reserving access to these streets to buses. Such streets would still be usable by pedestrians and by bicycles, e-bikes, and scooters (gas-powered and electric). But not by cars or motorcycles.

  • Sassojr

    “Riding a bicycle is not a privilege that is granted by a licence issued by the State. Riding a bike is equivalent to walking down the street — that is, a right that is presumptively available to everyone.”

    So spot checking to ensure compliance with the law (stop and frisk) sounds good then, right? Not too intrusive?

    “(Here I shall overlook the wild exaggeration in the claim that a motorcycle takes up 1/10 the space of an SUV.)”
    https://assets.change.org/photos/2/ot/rq/QeoTrQXQjPklUoM-800×450-noPad.jpg?1548739718

    Here’s a picture of 7 motorcycles in a car spot. An Expedition is 227″ in length, a small motorcycle can be about 30″ across.

    “Motorcycles are in the class of cars: highway vehicles that have no legitimate place on city streets.”

    Except that there are scooters with bigger engines than my small bike (330cc vs 250cc).

    As for the last point, I’ll believe the MTA can do it when I see it. Currently the best they’ve been able to say is, “It won’t be as efficient as it was in it’s prime, and won’t be as bad as it is.”

  • Och

    You can be caught up to 10 times driving without a valid license, and its only a misdemeanor punishable by $200 fine. After 10 times it becomes a felony.

  • Driver

    A service company sending vans across the bridge or tunnel into Manhattan is logistically impossible? Are you not familiar with how our city works?

  • I sure am. And I can tell you that making multiple van trips every day to Manhattan and back from the company’s headquarters (which is located on the Brooklyn/Queens border at Cypress Avenue near Flushing Avenue) in order to swap out spent batteries in the scooters there would be an untenable task.

    If we ever see Revel scooters in Manhattan, it will not be until the company is flush enough to open a second office in that borough, and to staff that office with a second team, which would operate a second fleet of scooters.

  • Sassojr

    Funny, I hadn’t even thought of that. They’re batteries, not the whole scooters that need to be charged. You can fit a TON of batteries (albeit at a mild safety risk) in any vehicle they choose to use.

  • That isn’t the issue. The problem is the bottlenecks at the bridge crossing, wwit the result that every trip each way would take at least an hour.

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