Psychotic Softee Driver Has Been Spoken To, Says Company Veep

This rogue Mister Softee driver has been told to stop harassing cyclists on the Addabbo Bridge. Has the stern talking-to worked? A company vice president wants to know. Photo: Laura Shepard
This rogue Mister Softee driver has been told to stop harassing cyclists on the Addabbo Bridge. Has the stern talking-to worked? A company vice president wants to know. Photo: Laura Shepard

The bike-hating Mister Softee driver who has terrorized cyclists on a key route to the Rockaways has been told to knock off “the stupid stuff,” a company vice president told Streetsblog.

James Conway, who oversees the national organization, said he was so concerned by reports that a Mister Softee driver was parking in, and driving on, the unprotected bike lane on the Addabbo Bridge that he called his New York distributor to make sure the issue is “taken care of.”

That conversation happened earlier this month, Conway said, after he learned about the driver’s antics. In one instance from last summer that recently re-emerged, cyclist Laura Shepard said the Mister Softee driver was blocking the bike lane on the bridge.

Shepard was eventually able to pass the rogue ice cream vendor, only to be threatened by him.

Other cyclists have reported seeing the same driver exhibiting equally egregious behavior on the dangerous span — which does not afford any protection for cyclists from motorists traveling at highway speeds. Like Shepard, cyclist Angela Stach observed the Softee driver motoring at high speed in the bike lane earlier this summer.

When she questioned the driver’s misuse of the roadway, he said, “Fuck you, bitch,” she said.

Both Shepard and Stach’s tweets featured replies by other cyclists with similar reports of sightings of the dastardly dessert dealer.

Conway said the only explanation for the driver’s behavior would be the fact that Mister Softee trucks can’t go highway speeds — but even then, the unidentified driver should not be in the bike lane

“Maybe the driver feels like he needs to be in the bike lane because the other cars are going so much faster than him, but even in that situation, he shouldn’t be doing that,” Conway told Streetsblog. “We don’t want confrontations between our drivers and cyclists. I told my distributor: I don’t want to see any vehicle riding in the bike lane. And I don’t want to see one of our Mister Softee trucks breaking the law. Based on the pictures I’ve seen, there’s no reason for him to do that. It’s unsafe and it’s bad publicity.”

Even if the Mister Softee driver was a model citizen, the Addabbo Bridge is an unsafe span. It features two highway-like lanes for cars and trucks and a painted bike lane that is separated from those cars by a buffer that is sometimes less than two feet wide (see picture below).

Cyclists are constantly in danger on the Addabbo Bridge. Photo: Google
Cyclists are constantly in danger on the Addabbo Bridge. Photo: Google

The city Department of Transportation referred questions to state DOT, which maintains the bridge. The state DOT did not immediately respond.

In the meantime, Conway specifically asked Streetsblog readers to “let us know” if anyone sees “any of the stupid stuff” from this point forward.

So there you have it, cyclists: If you see this terrifying treat trader engaging in any “stupid” stuff on the Addabbo Bridge, please contact James Conway by calling (856) 939-4103 or tweeting a message @softee1. Please also email gersh@streetsblog.org or tweet @streetsblognyc so we can follow up.

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