Monday’s Headlines: Your Efforts Are Paying Off Edition

We're told this isn't going to happen anymore. Photo: Macartney Morris
We're told this isn't going to happen anymore. Photo: Macartney Morris

It’s easy for activists to get down on themselves, given how much effort they put in, how many hours of meetings they sit through, how many petition signatures they collect, how much great testimony they provide only to watch powerless as the city ignores its own data and installs mere painted bike lanes double-parking strips for selfish car drivers in Bay Ridge in the midst of unprecedented cyclist bloodshed.

But sometimes, we get fresh evidence that your activism is working. Those came over the past few days when two of the stodgiest, cyclist-averse institutions in town — the NYPD and the New York Times — showed fresh sympathy for the plight of New York’s beleaguered bike riders.

The NYPD’s they-a culpa came from Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who admitted at a Gothamist/WNYC forum that it’s “insensitive” for the NYPD to ticket cyclists when a cyclist has been killed — and he vowed to stop the practice. Read all about that here.

Meanwhile, the Times, which has pretty much ignored livable streets and cyclist safety issues except when they affect the Upper West Side, published a near-perfect column by Ginia Bellafante about the current crisis. Every word in the piece rang true — especially Bellafante’s use of the term “privileged” to describe drivers, coming just days after the anti-cyclist New York Post used the very same term to describe cyclists, who are dying in perhaps record numbers this year.

AND … Jersey City is getting protected bike lanes! A lot of them! (WPIX)

Beyond that now, here’s the rest of the weekend news you might have missed:

  • In case the message above isn’t getting through to everyone, well, it’s time for a Critical Mass ride on July 26! (Facebook)
  • And, clearly, the above message from the NYPD isn’t getting through to Ed Mullins’s sergeants union, which took to Twitter to claim that Mayor de Blasio’s campaign trips outside the city have led to “people being killed by bicycles.” Hey, Chief Monahan, how about telling your rank-and-file that 15 cyclists have been killed by people, not the other way around?
  • In fact, Clayton Guse of the Daily Newsuh did everyone a great service by pointing out that cars are far deadlier than guns in New York City right now. Can’t wait to see the NYPD start shifting resources from homicide to vehiclecide! Meanwhile, the Post reported on more car carnage, thanks to, well, cars.
  • The biggest story of the weekend was the late-Friday release of a $4-million consultant report ordered up by Gov. Cuomo to “reform” the MTA that he runs. The upshot? Trim “the fat” (amNY) and reduce the power of Andy Byford (NY1, NY Post). Our own Dave Colon offered this analysis.
  • The East Village wants bike lanes! (EV Grieve)
  • Transportation Alternatives is the latest to call for a tear-down of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but, reminder, Streetsblog was there first, back in November:

  • Larry Littlefield

    One thing I fear is an attempt to hide the drain of money out of the city to the suburbs. I always suspect that’s what’s going on.

    At a time bonds for NYC transit and the commuter railroads were distinct. Then they were all put under the MTA umbrella, and reinvestment in the subway system virtually halted.

  • That Ginia Bellafante piece in the Times is not only not “nearly perfect”, it is actually pretty bad.

    It shows undue hostility towards Revel: “Alarmingly, the city has very little jurisdiction over these vehicles…” In fact the City has plenty of jurisdiction: you blow a red, you get a ticket.

    It also contains outright falsehoods: “…although the company offers free instruction, you as a rider are not mandated to take a single class…” Not true. You cannot become a Revel member without taking the class that the company offers.

    It then goes in for cheap alarmism: “The rules surrounding these vehicles are minimal and governed not by the city but by the state, which simply requires you to have a standard driver’s license — not a motorcycle license — to operate them.” A motorcycle licence is not required for a very good reason: because the Revel mopeds are not nearly as hard to control as a motorcycle. And anyone who can’t get the hang of riding one will flunk the class.

    People have been riding gas-powered scooters (in the older usage; not referring to those small-wheeled things on which you stand up) in this City for a long time. The Revel scooters/mopeds are the electric version; and they are less powerful than a 50cc gas-powered scooter (for which you need a motorcycle licence in New York, but not in most other states), topping out at 30 miles per hour. They are easy to use, convenient, and clean.

    The undeserved swipes at this innovative and useful service ruins the entire piece. Bellafante failed hard on this one.

  • Ferdinand: about Revel and the mandatory signup class, she got that one right. I have not taken a single Revel class (other than a quick in-app walkthrough) and I have been riding them around freely after submitting to a license check that took about 30ish minutes.

    I’m not sure a class is needed to drive Revel. It’s mostly self-explanatory for anyone who has taken driver’s ed. People take way too much stock in “driving classes” or “cycling classes” as a tool to get people to consume information that they already have.

  • Well, that must have changed. When I signed up last August, the class was mandatory. Frank Rieg himself conducted my class. He said that it was just to rule out anyone who is completely incompetent.

    But of course such people would be rare, as the operation of the Revel scooters/mopeds is very intuitive. The throttle is relatively gentle; and getting the hang of riding one of these vehicles takes mere minutes. The company probably saw that everyone they tested can handle the mopeds, and so decided that a mandatory class was not a good use of their time.

  • kevd

    If the big problem with Revel scooters is that you only need an NYS drivers license to operate one…. Maybe it is to easy to get a NYS drivers license?

  • It probably accomplishes little. Anyone who crashes a Revel and lives to tell about it is getting booted from the service & their corporate insurance covers (some of) the loss. People are going to try to generally be good with them because they don’t want to die.

    I have heard about some scofflaws using Revel, but I have also heard Revel will terminate with prejudice if they catch you.

  • I believe that it’s true that the company will terminate the account of someone who breaks the rules. Though I think they probably give the misbehaving rider a warning the first time.

    I have called the company on a Revel rider whom I saw going through a red light while I was out on my bike. The person at Revel who answered the phone encouraged me to report anything like this that I see. And another time I called in about someone who was riding a Revel scooter/moped on the Williamsburg Bridge bike path. That’s a double no-no: you’re not allowed to ride on bicycle infrastructure; and you’re not allowed to go to Manhattan. The Revel person said that the company had already contacted that rider.

  • kevd

    I’ve definitely seen some revel riders going the wrong way in a bike lane.
    I’m not going to tar the company with that brush, though. So I’m withholding judgement for now.

  • Call it in! 855-690-9180. Take note of the licence plate; it is in the format of ##BF##; so all you really have to do is to note either the first two digits or the last two, and the company will be able to figure out which user it is.

  • kevd

    I probably won’t report the one on the Prospect park loop tonight, because – its electric and it wasn’t actually going fast than the bikes.


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