Archive for the ‘Bicycles’ Category

Service of Keep off the Grass: Bryant Park & Bicycles in the Big Apple

Monday, July 8th, 2019

 

Photo: eventbrite.com

Bryant Park [photos above and to the right below] is one of my favorite places to roost at lunch in summer. There are kiosks selling food in the park and plenty of takeout places around it and the price is right when I bring the fixings from home. Sitting with a friend and a box lunch under one of many trees on a green folding chair with matching round table is heavenly. I pretend I’m in Paris.

I mentioned this to a pal who shared the following story. Her son had recently been in that park to grab a bite to eat. As he did so he laid his bike on the grass in the center of the park and, she texted, “Pretty soon a security guard came along and told him he had to remove his bike. My son protested citing a nearby couple with a giant stroller also on the grass. ‘A double standard’ said my son. The guard apologized and said that they can’t approach a family and ask them to remove a stroller [the size of a Smart Car]. But a single guy with a bike can be shooed away.” She ended with “It’s all about being PC I suppose.”

Photo: activerain.com

However, when it comes to this city, bicyclists are on the long end of the stick in most other ways. A community board just agreed to new protected bicycle lanes on Central Park West from 59th to 110th Street which will eliminate 400 parking spots–but the impact on residents is far more than the loss of parking. It has to do with pedestrian safety. As I’ve bemoaned countless times before, you walk at your own risk in this city if there are bikes around. I was almost smashed into by speeding bicycles two Saturdays ago during a mid afternoon walk from 39th Street and First Avenue to 23rd Street off 5th. One bike surprised me from behind on the sidewalk; the other paid no attention to the traffic light that was green in my direction and the rider, a woman, didn’t respond or apologize to my protest. She just kept going.

Central Park West Photo: nybits.com

Michael Riedel rides his bicycle to work. The WOR 710 morning radio show co-host said he got a $90 traffic ticket for hurtling through a red light and ever since has followed traffic rules. He agreed that many of his fellow bike riders are menaces because they ignore the laws.

Shouldn’t keep off the grass rules apply to all vehicles with wheels, bicycles and baby carriages alike? Similarly, shouldn’t bicyclists be held to the same standards as motor vehicle drivers when it comes to traffic laws? Before forcing citizens to pay exorbitant fees to park in garages or leave cars out of town shouldn’t the city first increase the capacity of its public transportation options? Do bicycles cause consternation where you live? Do you have favorite places to picnic where you live or work?

Photo: 123rf.com

Service of the Race to Add Electric Scooters: Who Gets the Bike Lane? Where do Pedestrians Walk Safely?

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Photo: qz.com

It doesn’t take much to inadvertently kill someone. A few weeks ago a man in his 80s was knocked to the ground exiting a subway run into by another passenger dashing to catch the train. He hit his head and died a few days later.

That—and the fact that pedestrians and bicyclists haven’t yet learned to play well together in Manhattan at least—means that the addition here of electric scooters, that go 15 mph, has zero appeal to me.

Photo: executivestyle.com.au

There are too many accidents with good old bicycles: nine deaths and 1,260 injuries to biclcylsits in 2017 according to nyc.gov. That year one pedestrian was killed in a bicycle crash and 172 people were injured by bicycles according to police reports. These stats may be conservative. Read on.

Another website, nationswell.com, reported “dozens of bicyclist are killed by motor vehicles every year in NYC.” While I’m most concerned about pedestrians, the numbers of people opting for electric scooters will clearly add insult to injury for all.

Photo: cycle-space.com

And how many people didn’t report their confrontations? Daily either I or other pedistrians shriek at bicyclists who don’t bother using the [intrusive bicycle lanes] and chug by in a car lane; ignore traffic lights; ride in the wrong direction or zip by on sidewalks.

Scott Calvert wrote “States Race to Catch Up With Electric Scooters California– lawmakers passed bill on new two-wheeled vehicles; more states planning legislation.”

Quoting “Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “Only about 10 states currently have laws that apply to vehicle categories that appear to include e-scooters, he said, and only California’s legislature has passed a bill specifically addressing them….. ‘These e-scooters are being used. That tells you they’re filling a need.’”

The electric scooter discussion in venues such as curbed.com is focused on pilot programs and safety by rejiggering street design with repaving programs. Shouldn’t there also be a safe pedestrian lane? And who gets the bike lane—electric scooters or bicycles or will already stretched avenues and streets give up yet more space to alternative vehicles to cars? What are your thoughts about electric scooters in cities?

 

Photo: thelocal.fr

Service of Citizen’s Arrest

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Photo: steelturman.typepad.com

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said out loud, sometimes to no one in particular “I wish I could make a citizen’s arrest!” When I told my husband the subject of this post he suggested I check out just what this would entail, “because,” he added, “everyone uses that expression and they may not know.”

So a quick detour before I share my targets. According to criminal.findlaw.com, in a Breaches of the Peace section: “In general, people can’t use citizen’s arrests for misdemeanors unless the misdemeanor involves a breach of the peace. Even in these circumstances, however, individuals can only make arrests when they have personally witnessed the criminal behavior and the breach has just occurred or there is a strong likelihood that the breach will continue.”

Photo: youtube

In its conclusion: “Every individual is empowered to arrest wrongdoers in certain circumstances, but individuals looking to make a citizens arrest act at their own risk. Not only is the act of apprehending a criminal inherently dangerous, but failure to meet the legal requirements for a citizens arrest could have devastating consequences for the person making the arrest.”

I trust that you don’t take me literally and that you realize I write out of exasperation. It’s helpful to let off steam once in a while in a benign way and not make life miserable for others as some of my fellow citizens are prone to do.

Photo: nyc.streetsblog.org

The most recent affront that awoke the policewoman in me was made by a delivery truck driver for a well known brand who leaned on his horn when there was nothing the vehicles in front of him could do to move out of his way. Nobody was walking in front of him; no car was cutting him off, yet he polluted the air and turned the time we all shared with him on that street into earsplitting misery.

Joining him on my hit list are the

***selfish subway passengers who won’t let me either in or out of a train

***bicyclists who miss me by a hair when they are driving in the wrong direction, zooming past me against the light or whisking past me on the sidewalk

***impatient drivers who ignore oncoming pedestrian traffic and swerve into avenue or street while endangering all those crossing an avenue

***bus drivers who use their airbrakes with abandon even when they know incoming passengers, some frail, aren’t yet holding on or settled in seats. Note: In some busses it’s quite a distance between the MetroCard fare collecting machine and strap or seat.

***drivers who won’t pull over and stop for an ambulance to pass: Don’t they realize their sister, mother, child, spouse or nephew might one day be inside?

An arrest for the following infractions would be too harsh—maybe I’d just give a warning for

***people who bump into me and don’t apologize

***elevator passengers who let the door slam in my face or who don’t offer to hit my floor when my hands are full

Are there infractions or violations to living in crowded places in a civilized way that you would hit with a citizen’s arrest or warning if you could?

Photo: dreamstime.com

Service of Backwards

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

 

Backwards is nothing new to me. I passed economics in college by figuring out the answer and writing the opposite in exams. Long before that, at camp Frog Hollow Farm, we celebrated backwards day.

Hit On for Off

My husband’s printer—an oldie but sturdy–has been acting up. To get it to work I disconnected it from electricity. I was reprimanded by instructions on the little screen when I turned it back on [and it worked again]. The printer told me that I’d turned it off incorrectly and warned me not to unplug the printer from electricity again before first turning it off by hitting ON.

Don’t Walk the Dog

New York is a walker’s city. It’s the best way to get many places quickly as traffic on sidewalks is usually easily negotiated unless you’re passing a Broadway theater when audiences convene or exit or around famous museums on Sunday afternoon. Tourists walk at a slower pace than most New Yorkers while rush hour foot traffic generally moves swiftly.

That said, I can’t get over the number of dogs that are carried in arms and in conveyances when out for “walks.” There are suddenly too many of them to explain it as the graying of the dog population in need of assistance. Exercise is as essential for dogs as it is for people.

“Wrong Way” Signs Ignored by Bicycles

Bicycles are invading the city—racing by on sidewalks now. And bikers pay zero attention to signs on one way avenues informing them that they are going the wrong way [photo top, center taken this week]. To think tax dollars paid for the printing and installation of signs that exclaim the obvious and are ignored! At least one friend was knocked down by a bike that was bucking the tide on a major avenue.

Growing Taste Sensations

A conversation with a 5 year old took a surprising turn. She told me that when she was young, she liked to eat everything but not anymore. There’s a lot she doesn’t care for now, she said. And here I thought people’s tastes expand as they “age.”

Can you share any examples of backwards or counterintuitive behavior that you’ve seen or heard?

Photo: ecigadvanced.com

Service of the Rules Are Not For Me

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

 above the rules

Some are above the rules. To illustrate the point I’ve chosen a public figure who doesn’t flinch at keeping countless others waiting; bicyclists who ignore traffic rules potentially causing others harm and an actress who doesn’t care if she ruins an irreplaceable museum piece.

Tick Tock Not

Mayor Bill de BlasioMayor de Blasio, [photo, right], holds up the works because he can’t get places on time. His actions tell the public, “Tough; live with it.” He hadn’t held the title long when his reputation was forged: He doesn’t like early meetings and tends to be tardy at any time. Headlines still track his arrival often over the real news–why he went or spoke somewhere.

Talk about Traffic Rules

Last week, WOR 710 a.m. morning drive radio talk show hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt addressed the lawless bicycle situation in the city. Schnitt, who just moved his family to New York from Florida, said he’s teaching his children to look both ways before crossing a one-way traffic street so as not to get hit. Berman reported once being almost downed by a bike outside a sports arena.

bike against trafficEvery night as I wait for the light at 53rd Street and First Avenue, where the new bike lane I recently wrote about threatens, I must remind myself to look both up and downtown as bikes speed by both ways.

Too Beautiful to Follow Rules

And then there’s Elizabeth Hurley, a British actress, who sat on “the 16th century Great Bed of Ware,” at the Victoria & Albert Museum to snap a selfie, Henri Nuendorf wrote last month on Artnet News. “The actress reportedly triggered an alarm when she took a seat on the priceless 10-foot wide mattress to capture that perfect shot,” he wrote in “Liz Hurley Kicked Out of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for Taking Illegal Selfie on Antique Bed.” 

Great Bed of Ware

Great Bed of Ware

“The resulting image, which Hurley shared with her 164,000 Instagram followers racked up over 3,000 likes in only five days.” He continued, “The V&A has a strict ‘no touching’ rule to preserve its historic exhibits. Touching introduces dirt and oil from the skin onto an object’s surface, which can attract dirt to linger and degrade old and fragile objects.” Her objective was to generate publicity at any cost. She did. There must be better ways to do this while not potentially ruining something irreplaceable.

I don’t have to ask one question–I know the answer: “because they can.” What does it take for others to insist on a change? Can you share other examples? Are there exceptions where rules of civility by public figures or of safety should be bent if not broken?

Exceptions to the rule

Service of Two-Wheelers: Good for the NYC Orthopedic Business

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 003

I’ve written before about bicycles in NYC, the first time when the cycling program was announced in July 2012 and several times since. In a post a few months ago I described two near-miss crashes as I crossed the street with the light and bicycles ignored me.

A recent traffic alteration in my midtown Manhattan neighborhood inspired me to cover the subject again. It underscores my opinion that this city is not bicycle-appropriate and that bicycles are neither traffic nor pedestrian-friendly.

Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 004New to the East 50s on First Avenue is a bicycle lane next to the curb where cars have parked for decades. [See the photo above. That line of cars is parked!] Parked cars use up what had been a traffic lane [which should strangle the movement of vehicles on the Avenue]. Drivers backing up to park in one of these spaces will temporarily intrude on a third traffic lane slowing movement even more.

Crossing NYC Street 003 flipThis strategy, designed to protect bike riders, must have been made by a person who doesn’t walk the streets of New York or who isn’t observant. New Yorkers don’t stand on the sidewalk to wait for a green light to cross a street, they stand in the street. Potential BOOM! [The man in the photo at left isn’t even looking in the direction of oncoming traffic!] And when drivers push open their car doors to get out, how many will watch for zigzagging bicyclists? BOOM again with potential broken bones and work for auto body repair shops.

Yellow caution tapeThursday morning the city cordoned off all the First Avenue bike lanes with yellow caution tape from 49th to at least 54th Streets. I couldn’t see any reason for it and there was nobody to ask. Where did the bikers go? They were forced to squeeze into the traffic. Argh. [See the photo below.] By Friday morning the tape was still there, only on the ground, as were the toppled traffic cones they were taped to.

I’m not anti-bike; I’m increasingly not a fan of bicycles in midtown Manhattan where I don’t think they belong. I doubt they alleviate substantially the need for motor vehicles to justify their pride of place. And you?

 Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 006 flip

Service of Being a VIP

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

I found out why I so often hear crickets after I’ve held open a door to wait for a much younger person to pass regally past; why some youthful cashiers at full price grocery stores are comfortable watching me place my purchases in bags while they don’t participate; why there’s silence in return when I greet a young tenant on the floor of my office building or in the elevator of my apartment and why I must fight for a spot on the sidewalk if I’m walking against heavy foot traffic at rush hour. I’m a native New Yorker. I know how to negotiate crowds at a clip. At least I did at a time in which citizens respected each others’ space.

Helicopter parents 2So what’s the reason for the behavior I described above? These people are VIPs. Here’s proof.

David Brooks [below, left], identified them on page 6 of his book “The Road to Character,” [Random House, 2015], which I’ve begun to read [and so far like very much]. He reported responses to a 1950 Gallup Organization query of high school seniors who were asked if they considered themselves to be “a very important person.” Sixty five years ago 12 percent answered “yes,” as compared to 80 percent of seniors asked the same question in 2005.

 David Brooks The Road to CharacterNo wonder I was almost run over by two bikers as I crossed the street corner during a short walk in midtown yesterday. The light was green for me but they were in a rush; I was in the way.

This VIP approach is a striking turnabout for a person who, as a kid, often heard “The tail doesn’t wag the dog.” In the day we didn’t cotton up much to faux VIPs. We’d giggle at young officers who’d swagger or show conceit or arrogance for no reason when I was the 20-something Air Force wife of a lieutenant the same age.

Do VIPs who have earned their stripes resent all this competition? Do VIPs owe consideration to their underlings? Who changes a light bulb in an office full of VIPs? What happens when an artificial VIP disagrees with his/her boss or instructor or when two VIPs are married to one another? Are so many ersatz VIPs only in America?

VIP room

Service of Watch Out: Take Special Care When Driving or Walking in the City

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Car Accident Second AvenueAs a longtime driver in both city and country apart from the whammy of nasty weather–especially ice, fog or blinding rain–there wasn’t too much to concern me. I figured in the city the worst that could happen was a fender-bender given speed limits.

All that’s changed.

Deer surprise-leaping onto roads and smashing into cars are an ever-present danger upstate making vigilance imperative even in sunshine on a crisp fall day.

There are no deer to surprise city drivers but the other distractions and impediments aggravated by traditional NYC impatience also affect driving and especially walking in the Big Apple. There have always been accidents involving vehicles running over New Yorkers and tourists, even leaping onto sidewalks. They were attributed to road rage, physical impairment and faulty brakes.

Car Accident 90th StreetWhat’s different is that these incidents–almost misses–have happened over the past two months and I’ve photographed the aftermath. It’s disquieting. One vehicle [Photo at top] landed on a midtown Second Avenue sidewalk at a time people walk to work. Another [Photo at right] backed up on Third Avenue at such a speed that it crossed a side street, jumped the sidewalk [where pedestrians might have been waiting] and stopped by slamming into an apartment building.

Photo: Lookupcampaign.com

Photo: Lookupcampaign.com

In the city I worry about distracted pedestrians intent on communicating as they walk down a sidewalk or wait for a light. They are a danger to themselves. I’m concerned about older people who can’t jump out of the way or children who are intently chatting or are oblivious to their surroundings, lost in the reverie of the music coming from ear pods.

Add bicycles and skateboards that don’t always follow traffic rules. A recent New York Post headline was: “Nicole Kidman bowled over by paparazzo on bike” and showed photos of the actor picking herself off the sidewalk.

The East 40s were awash with police during the annual September meeting of the UN General Assembly. I saw a pair crossing a street with the light on Friday morning. One of them barely missed being mowed down by a bicycle. The rider hadn’t stopped at his red light and dashed into Second Avenue traffic treating the city like a racetrack. The policeman put on a brave front chuckling when his partner and traffic colleagues teased him. He might have been severely injured.

Have you also been aware of increased road craziness in your town or city? Is it caused by a general malaise leading to distracted drivers and pedestrians or has the well recognized lack of courtesy or awareness of others moved from human interactions to bigger and more physically dangerous arenas?

 

Photo: jalopnik.com

Service of Unintended Consequences II

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Unintended consequences

Let’s Face it

Facebook sent printed invitations to media, delivered by messenger, for a product launch. Hmmmm. Is social media already passé?

Fertilize New York

CompostWe learn on wnyc.org: “Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed expanding a successful pilot program recycling food scraps to more single-family homes, high rise buildings and schools. Within three years, the Bloomberg Administration says, the hope is that recycling food scraps will be mandatory and as much of a routine as recycling glass, metal and plastic.”

While I love the concept of a food scrap composting initiative, I think the Mayor needs to first address the way city food is sold and the space constraints of millions of residents. We buy much of our meat, fish, fruit and vegetables packaged on Styrofoam trays covered in plastic wrap so off the bat we need two kitchen trash receptacles.

New Yorkers’ microscopic kitchens—especially those in Manhattan–are the brunt of jokes and jibes. In mine there’s barely room for one tiny garbage can which works as we put out garbage daily in the morning and it’s picked up in front of the door. We keep empty bottles on a counter and put them out for pickup separately. A second can to capture just food scraps will be a challenge for space. Devoting more countertop to hold garbage is more than unsightly, it’s a health hazard and potential rodent attractant.

In giant apartment houses with hundreds of tenants, renters send garbage to the basement via a shoot. Color coded bags–blue for compost, white for paper, green for bottles, pink for plastic and yellow for other garbage–would solve the one-shoot-in-tall-buildings issue if tenants could be bothered to buy them, keep them straight and comply.

Only in New York

Bike sharingSome New Yorkers are using the bike sharing Citibikes for exercise in the fresh air. Seems they pedal in place without anyone having to slip in a credit card or join the rental system. That’s a New York kind of moxy that makes me smile.

What’s in a Name?

The “Borghese v Borghese: Battle for a Royal Name” story in The New York Times seemed different from the usual intellectual property fights. In her article Christine Haughney cited a law professor who mentioned examples that I thought only underscored the dissimilarity. One was Chick-fil-A, known for the slogan “Eat More Chicken,” that sued a folk artist who tried to trademark “Eat More Kale.” 

Princess Marcella Borghese. Photo: Wikipedia

Princess Marcella Borghese. Photo: Wikipedia

While I think that example is a stretch, an even bigger one is to ask a family to drop its name and heritage.

Revlon bought the Borghese cosmetics brand, according to Haughney, along with “the words and phrases BORGHESE, MARCELLA BORGHESE and PRINCESS MARCELLA BORGHESE” and subsequently sold the Borghese Company, now in private hands.

The first problem occurred as a result of a press release about one of Princess Marcella Borghese’s grandchildren. He was to appear in a TV program. His grandmother was mentioned as well as the fact that she “started the famed self-named cosmetics line, Borghese Inc.” The grandchild was warned against “causing any false impression in the marketplace that there is a connection or relationship between yourself and Borghese Inc. and our cosmetics products.” The next hiccup between the Princess’s descendants and the company came when the grandson applied for a trademark for pet shampoo and conditioner—La Dolce Vita by Prince Lorenzo Borghese–to be sold by PetSmart. The Company sued.

Am I reading too much into the symbolism of a social media giant choosing a traditional form of communication? Should tiny NYC kitchens and the way food is sold and tossed in giant apartment buildings stall a compost program? Do you know of other typical out-of-the-box takes on services like NYC bikers using parked vehicles for exercise? Should a family member be forbidden to sell his/her name and others prohibited to use that last name in business forever?

Tiny nyc kitchen

Service of Unintended Consequences

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Transparent backpack

One business will get a jolt as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings because it appears that backpacks won’t be allowed at future ones there or in NYC either. Not every one of the some 45,000 runners who finish the NY Marathon depends on them but enough do. Add the smaller events here and elsewhere and the numbers add up. Fanny packs are allowed and will take their place. Perhaps transparent backpacks will eventually be allowed.

pickpocketThe increased incidence of pickpocketing in Europe will fatten the wallets of manufacturers of money belts and other contrivances to keep tourist cash and credit cards safe. Pilfering got so bad at the Louvre that guards went on strike. Security felt that the Paris police were too easy on the children who perpetrated countless daily thefts. [Why children? They get into the museum free.] On a recent “Travel Show,” Arthur Frommer noted that Paris isn’t the only European city to report record theft and suggested his listeners take care.

Airline limits on luggage have impacted that industry and orthopedic surgeon and audiologist waiting rooms flourish from the fashion for platform heels and ear pods on portable music devices.

Matchlighting candleHave you scrambled for matches to light candles on your dinner table or to add calming fragrance to the atmosphere? So few restaurants use matches to promote their businesses.

Finger nails are out for Android and iPhone users who expect to type on screens. Look around: There are fewer claws than in the past.The technique for those who use voice-to-text systems harkens back to the dark ages when executives had secretaries and typing pools. They chatted into Dictaphones with letter or memo copy and secretaries typed what they heard. As in days of yore, you can also ask your phone to add a comma and a period. There was no wink symbol then.

BicylesNew Yorkers are split about what to expect from the 10,000 cycles in the bicycle share program again about to launch: Increased lines in ERs perhaps? I’d written about the initiative last summer in “Service of Exercise” when we first expected it and haven’t changed my mind: Thumbs down and I’d like to be wrong.

I saw an able-bodied 50-something man walking briskly across Third Avenue at 43rd Street last week. Suddenly he fell flat on his back. He hadn’t seen a deep hole surrounding a manhole cover and lost his balance and his footing. We’re putting thousands of bicycles on these unsound streets?

New York drivers are unforgiving and rushed. If you’re crossing where they want to go—what’s a green light?–there’s a 70-30 chance they’ll stop. Maybe the unintended consequence the Mayor anticipates is a more cordial driving attitude. That would be nice.

Do you have examples of good and bad unintended consequences or some that are yet to be determined?

 courteous taxi

 

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics