Monday’s Headlines: ‘Hey, Mister Softee — Slow Down!’ Edition

killer mister softee

I scream, you scream, we all scream … at Mister Softee!

Something is seriously wrong with one of the soft-ice cream company’s drivers after two Queens cycling activists spotted the same sinister soft-serve seller trying to kill them on the Rockaway-bound lanes of the Addabbo Bridge (aka the “murderstrip”) on separate occasions.

On Saturday, it was Angela Stach posting a video of the frozen fiend driving in the bike lane (which should be protected, by the way), which prompted Laura Shepard to recall her own experience with the vanilla villain. (Yes, it’s the same truck!)

“It’s beyond disturbing that he’s terrorizing my #bikenyc friends on the Addabbo #murderstrip a year after telling me I’d be ‘another memory like the rest of them,’” she said.

There are two ways to solve this problem: 1. The bike lane on the Addabbo Bridge could easily be protected simply by moving the current barrier to encompass the pedestrian and cycle lanes. If you know the roadway, you also know the feeling of having cars whizzing by at highway speeds less than two feet from you. 2. The NYPD needs to put the heat on Mister Softee. Revenge will truly be a dish best served cold.

Now, here’s the news you might have missed over the weekend:

  • Easy collar: A drunk driver smashed into a police precinct house in Harlem. (NYDN)
  • The anti-street safety Riverdale Press is suddenly upset that Citi Bike’s expansion doesn’t seem to include the tony neighborhood up the hill. Perhaps if the local community board had been more receptive to road redesigns…
  • Lincoln Anderson defends bike lanes in often anti-bike lane paper, The Villager.
  • Car carnage kills one (NYDN) and injures two in Queens (NY Post)
  • Patch’s Noah Manskar offered a first-hand primer on what it’s like to be a cyclist in New York City. Perhaps Steve Cuozzo will read it!
  • East Village residents hate all the garbage trucks parked on their residential blocks (NY Post). The same thing happens at the Sanitation garage on Second Avenue and 14th Street in Brooklyn. Got any others? Our assignment desk is eager to hear from you.
  • The MTA is getting tough with its union employees, with an opening contract salvo that could eliminate (don’t say it) double-time shifts! (Newsday)
  • Meanwhile, the MTA is going to fix the 42nd Street Shuttle. (Second Avenue Sagas)
  • And residents of Fort Greene are worried about the DOT’s loading zone program taking away parking spaces? What about one driver’s garbage? Apparently, you can put any private property on the street, as long as it has a license plate on it. (NYDN)
  • The Times’s Ginia Bellafante continues to school her colleagues at the Paper of Record with her full-throated promotion of cycling. “Without a systemic rethinking of the primacy of cars in urban life and the implementation of more aggressive ways to de-incentivize driving and particularly careless driving, it is hard to imagine a new world emerging,” she writes.
  • And, in case you missed it (or had bronchitis), the Times did a nice job on this story about the ramification of driverless cars, thanks to this chilling idea: Big Auto’s effort to rein in supposedly rogue pedestrians.

Alex Cordero cropAnd finally, from the assignment desk: Cyclists and advocates will gather tonight to mourn Alex Cordero (photo left), who became the 16th cyclist to die this year when he was killed on July 23 at the corner of Clove Road and Castleton Avenue in the West Brighton section of Staten Island (the death toll is now 18).

Meet at Borough Hall at 6:30 for a bicycle procession to the crash site. At 7 p.m.m there will be a ghost bike unveiling and remembrance of the teenager who is gone too soon.

Activists are hoping to connect with Cordero’s family to offer support. Family members are asked to contact Rose Uscianowski at rose.uscianowski@transalt.org.

  • Counterpoint: The Times story on driverless cars was bad and written by someone who gets paid by the auto industry.

  • Och

    This ice cream motherfcker needs to be arrested.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Something is seriously wrong with one of the soft-ice cream company’s drivers.”

    I think it’s fair to assume what that is. The ice cream truck is not designed to travel at highway speeds. I assume that traveling in the regular vehicle lane over the years at a lower speed, that ice cream truck driver has been honked at, cursed at, given the finger and threatened by other drivers.

    So he pulls to the right and rides in the bike lane instead.

    That isn’t right, but I’ll bet he isn’t the only sociopath involved in this behavior.

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    To clarify: We meant “nice” in that the reporter revealed a lot of horrifying Big Auto backstory. We were not suggesting we were excited to read what the auto industry has planned for us!

  • I wonder if this criminal Softee driver is the same fiend who sets up in the two-way bike lane on Shore Front Parkway around Beach 90th Street.

    Also, I am curious about what “detour” the Twitter user Angela Stach was referring to, such that it still lands you on the bridge to Broad Channel. When I think of a detour to Rockaway, I think of the route through the Five Towns, which requires no bridges.

    Anyway, the main obstacle to getting to Rockaway by bike is not the bridge to Broad Channel, but, rather, the bridge between Broad Channel and Rockaway. On that MTA-controlled bridge, bike-riding is not allowed. I’m sure that some people do it; I myself have done it plenty of times over the years. But new signage gives the strong impression of increased enforcement.

    We need pressure on the MTA to allow bike-riding on that bridge, as well as on the other major route to Rockaway, the Marine Parkway bridge — and, of course, on the Triborough Bridge. When you’re being lapped even by the Port Authority, which allows bike-riding on the newly-reopened Bayonne Bridge and plans to do likewise on the Goethals Bridge, then it’s clear that something is very wrong.

  • qrt145

    Maybe that drunk driver was upset at the cops parking illegally on the sidewalk and decided to smash into their cars.

  • kevd

    since they’re all protected lanes in the 2030 green wave plan: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01e9c50bdc1e055750f0156459fc87691b226152b74dc0290fd9a01807895e10.png

    I’m sure the marine parkway, addabo and broad channel bridge will be jewels of the bike network in no time!

    Ave V to Riis beach is such an easy bike rout to implement – zero parking to remove, plenty of space – I can’t see why the DOT hasn’t upgraded it yet. Just add 8 feet of asphalt to the western sidewalk and add some traffic control to the Belt Parkway entrances and exits and call it a day.
    it could be done in a month.
    Moving the addabo jersey barriers is even easier.

  • Komanoff

    Yes, Ferdinand. I said some of the same in this tweet amplifying Laura Shepard and Angela Stach: https://twitter.com/Komanoff/status/1158366119582949376

  • reasonableexplanation

    The Broad Channel/Rockaway beach has a ton of new signage telling you bike riding is not allowed. I’ve been riding it for at least a decade, and I’ve never seen anyone walk their bikes across it. There’s no reason to. One day there’s going to be enforcement, and it’s gonna suck.

    Same for the Marine Parkway bridge. Literally everyone rides across it, and has been doing so for many years, and it’s fine.

    By the way the Addabbo Bridge layout doesn’t make sense; it’s:

    car lane | painted bike lane | concrete barrier | bike lane size area | chain link fence | another biking size lane (where people fish)

    Why that wasted area between the concrete barrier and chainlink fence? Why not move the concrete barrier over to protect the bikes… it won’t take any additional space.

  • Have you ridden those bridges recently? Is the traditional lack of enforcement still the norm?

    I am tempted to give one of those bridges a try this week. However, I really want to avoid any confrontations with pissed-off cops!

  • HamTech87

    It is their own fault. They weren’t wearing High Viz.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I ride them every other weekend, and just rode them yesterday actually.

    Everyone riding across, nobody walking their bikes, as usual.

  • Nice!

    One day a few weeks ago I had intended to ride down over the bridge from Broad Channel. But I became dissuaded by the new big metal sign, and also by the several painted “no bikes” symbols (a bike with a slash) on the sidewalk. It felt like a trap; I was imagining meeting up with cops who would be all indignant: “Didn’t you see the sign?!” So I turned back.

    But your experience is encouraging. Wish me luck!

  • Wilfried84

    Those cops are always parked in the bike lane, so I can’t help a bit of Schadenfreude.

  • Wilfried84

    Like the Queensborough, and wherever else, they completely ignore bikes, except when they don’t. It’s never a problem, until the few days a year the cops decide to do a blitz, and you get unlucky. As all things NYPD, it’s completely capricious and arbitrary.

  • AMH

    It’s all the more terrifying given how often you have to walk in the street because of the cars on the sidewalks here. The driver could have very easily killed a few pedestrians before hitting the building.

  • AMH

    “Imagine Manhattan without jaywalking.” Where walking is just walking. Imagine Manhattan without cars.

  • It’s true that the police department behaves in a capricious and arbitrary way. So you never know whether any given cop is going to ignore you or beat you up, or something in between.

    But riding on the Queensboro Bridge is legal, unlike on the bridges to Rockaway.

  • Wilfried84

    No, it is not legal. It is also an MTA bridge, and you’re supposed to walk. There are signs at the bottom that say as much. There have been sporadic reports of police stings.

  • Joe R.

    My brother lives in the Rockaways. He never once mentioned any police presence when riding across the Marine Parkway bridge.

  • Another encouraging report! Thanks for mentioning in.

  • Daphna

    This is a great idea: 1. The bike lane on the Addabbo Bridge could easily be protected simply by moving the current barrier to encompass the pedestrian and cycle lanes.
    There other places throughout the city where there is substantial protection separating a pedestrian lane from the bike lane, but only a painted buffer separating bikes from traveling motor vehicles. In all cases the physical barrier should be between the bikes and motor vehicle travel lane so that BOTH pedestrians AND bicyclists are protected. This does not take a genius to figure out. 6th Avenue in Manhattan from 34th Street to 35th Street needs their planter barriers moved to the other side of the bike lane in a similar way that the Addabbo Bridge bike lane needs.

  • Ian Turner

    The obvious problem with moving that barrier is plowing snow. Sanitation would have to send out a second, smaller snow plow just for the bike lane.

  • Wilfried84

    Oops, you’re right. Brain freeze, I meant the Triborough.

  • Right. I have experienced the increased enforcement on that bridge. Cops once told me to get off my bike, and so I wound up having to walk it most of the way across the bridge.

  • Daphna

    I did not know the Triborough does not allow biking. I thought the elevated path was shared pedestrian/bicycle. It is very narrow but almost no one walks that bridge so there is no conflict.

  • Fool

    shame!

    shame!

    shame on the MTA for trying to extort labor! Raise fares, raise taxes!

  • While in my experience there are more bicyclists than pedestrians on the Triborough Bridge, I have encountered plenty of pedestrians up there. Bicyclists just have to defer to them at all times.

    The other thing to remember is that the span from Queens to Randall’s Island has three sets of stairs; on account of that alone it’s a big pain in the neck.

    So, my desire to avoid a ticket (or even worse treatment by the police), combined with the three sets of stairs, has made me avoid the Triborough lately. If I am going uptown, I just take the Queensboro Bridge and First Avenue. If I want to head to the bike wonderland of Randall’s Island, I go to the Bronx first, and then come down onto the island through the new crossing.

    There is some question as to whether bike-riding is allowed on the 102nd Street crossing from Manhattan. I thought that it was supposed to be allowed, and I did it many times. But then I saw police on the Randall’s Island side telling cyclists going in both directions to get off their bikes. So the only truly safe and unequivocally legal way is through the Bronx.

  • AMH

    I wrote a comment on the Times article, but I worked too carefully on it and the comments were closed before I could hit submit. Infuriating. I was amazed at all of the nonsense comments on this article. To summarize:

    – Cyclists are too fast. Cyclists are too slow.
    – Cyclists don’t belong in the street. Cyclists don’t belong on the sidewalk.
    – Cyclists ride in the middle of the lane. Cyclists ride too close to the parked cars.
    – Cyclists run red lights. Cyclists block traffic when they stop for red lights.
    – There are too many cyclists. Bike lanes are empty because there aren’t enough cyclists.
    – Cycling will never be safe until we have protected lanes everywhere. We can’t have protected lanes because it’s not safe.
    – I’m afraid to bike because of all the cars. Bikes are more dangerous than cars.

    When will we wake up and realize that cycling only becomes safe when we decide to make it safe? There are cities that have done exactly that, and it was a conscious effort. Get out on a bike, see what it’s really like, and then ask your elected officials to redesign the streets to be safer for everyone.

  • muffinstumps

    I go about 15 times a year. At most I have seen cops enforcing it once per year – at most. Maybe I just get lucky on the days/times I go, but so far this year I’ve been lucky. (specifically talking about Gil Hodges)

  • Nice. And, if the cops stop you, they just tell you to get off the bike, right? (As opposed to giving a ticket.)

    So maybe I will give it a shot one day next week.

  • muffinstumps

    correct – I’ve been told to walk when they are there. I’ve never seen them issue a ticket.

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