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Tuesday’s Headlines: ‘Street Wars’ Shortcomings at the Times Edition

When you're a car-loving hammer, all you see are e-bike nails. Plus other news.

Photo: Josh Katz|

The Times’s “Street Wars” series continues.

When you're a car-loving hammer, all you see are e-bike nails.

So once again, the New York Times Metro Section's "Street Wars" series has gone off the rails. In just its second installment, the Dodai Stewart-penned, tabloid-style column has — again — started with a false premise, raising a question only a paper whose readership consists of wealthy car drivers: "Have E-Bikes Made New York City a ‘Nightmare’?"

The resulting story was a bit more balanced than that sensational headline, reporting that some regular cyclists and some pedestrians do indeed say that they feel that roadways are less safe because of all the e-bikes that have proliferated since the pandemic. And the story does meet the enemy and it is us: all of us who order via delivery and expect our burgers and pasta puttanesca to arrive while it is still hot.

But most alarming, given that "Street Wars" is a product of the world's "Paper of Record," was the complete lack of analysis: we know, for a fact, that in addition to a rise in e-bikes, there is also a rise in car ownership in this already-congested city. And we know, as a fact, that there was a massive spike in reckless driving during and after the pandemic. And we also know, as a fact, that the NYPD has undermined some of Vision Zero's earlier success by halving its enforcement of reckless driving.

None of that was reported by the Times, so you'll have to keep reading Streetsblog for balanced coverage. But what's worse: Why didn't the Times at least offer actual city statistics to show that car drivers remain the most dangerous people on the road by far?

So let me break them down for the Times Metro Desk and reporter Stewart, using readily available city statistics that are updated every few days here:

  • In 2023, there were 96,567 reported vehicle crashes in New York City, which is roughly 263 per day.
  • In those crashes, 54,235 people were injured or roughly 149 per day.
  • Of those injuries, 9,077 were pedestrians and 5,177 were cyclists. That's 39 vulnerable road users injured every day, almost entirely by drivers.
  • Of the 9,077 injuries to pedestrians, 344 (or 3.8 percent) were injured by the riders of e-bikes, motorbikes, "e-scooters" and other names for electric bikes and scooters that cops put on their crash reports.
  • Taking into account people injured by illegal mopeds — a problematic mode of transportation that the Times story didn't even address — and other one- and two-wheeled vehicles, 88 percent of pedestrians were injured by drivers of cars, trucks and other four-wheeled vehicles. And those injuries tend to be far more severe.

Yet for some reason, Stewart chose as one of her "experts" a member of the NYC E-Vehicle Safety Alliance, a year-old group whose public pronouncements are entirely about e-bikes and mopeds (or, more recently, the supposed unpopularity of Citi Bike) while completely ignoring the danger posed by drivers (including those in electric vehicles).

We hope the Times will provide more complete coverage going forward. It can start by reminding its readers that our roads remain unsafe because of reckless, impatient drivers.

In other news:

  • Speaking of the dangers of automobiles, it was a bloody weekend on the streets of the city:
    • An SUV driver struck a cop at a vehicle stop, prompting another cop to open fire at the fleeing driver. (NYDN)
    • Meanwhile, a cop ran down a suspect in Brooklyn. (amNY)
    • And another police vehicle stop led to a chase that ended up killing a passenger in another car on Sunday. (No coverage yet, but report came from NYPD.)
    • A cyclist was struck and killed in Washington Heights. (ABC7)
    • An off-duty cop was killed in an upstate crash. (NY Post)
    • A pedestrian was run over and killed by two vehicles in Crown Heights. (amNY)
  • But when it comes to car ownership, the kids are alright! (NY Post)
  • And even the New Yorker has caught the e-scooter bug.
  • Staten Islanders are saying "no" to the City of Yes, which is a bit like locking the barn door after the developers who pilfered the Rock in the 1980s and '90s have escaped. (Advance)
  • Welcome to the war on cars, San Franciscans. (SF Standard)
  • The end of outdoor dining — as we know it — is close at hand. (Gothamist)
  • Former federal transit man Larry Penner isn't jumping for joy about the initial Amtrak Portal Bridge announcement. (Mass Transit)
  • For his podcast, NY1's Errol Louis talked to "Gridlock" Sam about the earliest efforts to cut congestion in Manhattan.
  • The new street trees are coming! The new street trees are coming! (Gothamist)
  • Why is it so hard to keep car drivers from parking on the Queens greenway? (NYPD 114th Precinct via Twitter)
  • Don't miss Manhattanhenge today and tomorrow at sunset. (NY Times)
  • And don't miss — or, actually miss — the next round of repairs to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway this weekend. (Brooklyn Paper, Gothamist)
  • And, finally, we have to admit a little personal sadness at hearing about the retirement of legendary competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi. (Yahoo! Sports)

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