Rejoice, safe streets advocates of New York! A crucial blow on the battle for Vision Zero has been struck! Yes, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the NYPD 19th Precinct has confiscated a shitload of ebikes:
Sure, this will do nothing to reduce all the injuries and deaths caused by drivers of motor vehicles, but it will probably make food delivery a little slower, and I'm quite sure Upper East Siders will use that additional wait time to reflect on the importance of street safety.Illegal #EBikes for as far as the eyes can see.— NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) January 6, 2017
All confiscated from the #UpperEastSide streets & sidewalks.#VisionZero #UES pic.twitter.com/HO5PIvpBWs
Yes, instead of targeting the people who maim and kill, it's good to see the NYPD punishing the people who really deserve it in the name of public safety:
Some workers, like those undocumented ones at the shadier joints, aren't getting a base wage. They get by only on tips earned. That might mean just $30 to $50 per day. They're only keeping a percentage of those tips, with the rest going to their employer and/or a shift manager. When tips are paid by credit card, the card provider is skimming 2-3% off the top in transaction fees before it even gets to the worker.
Workers are typically paying for their own bikes. Buying a decent bikes is an investment towards greater earnings potential. A lighter mechanical bike or an electric bike will get the worker to the destinations more quickly and with less effort. Like any bikes in NYC, the nicer ones get stolen with regularity. A big, clunky bike isn't going to get stolen as frequently, but that sort of bike doesn't get the worker to the destinations quickly either.
On top of all that which cuts into the tips, you can bet the employer isn't providing healthcare. If they get injured while on a delivery run, they're out of work and not about to earn anything in the downtime.
Now you can add "NYPD confiscating their ebikes because some rich people find them annoying" to this considerable list of indignities. Sure, this might seem unfair, but don't forget that America is a trickle-down society and when the system favors the wealthy we all benefit. Consider Upper East Side resident and staunch anti-bike activist Woody Allen:
If the NYPD were to inconvenience Allen by allowing delivery people on ebikes to run amok, or by jailing him for child molestation, he might stop making movies. This would be a tremendous blow to our culture, which needs out-of-touch films that provoke critical thought such as "Why the fuck does this guy still bother?" Also, every generation has its token nebbishy Jewish actor, and without Woody Allen employing them as proxies they'd have nothing to do in between making movies people actually want to see:
("Nobody's actually going to see me in this, are they?")
So rest assured the system's working as it should, and by continuing to penalize the most vulnerable road users we'll have this whole drivers-running-us-down-left-and-right thing licked in no time.
Meanwhile, in somewhat more promising news, the New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that cities can be held liable for failing to redesign dangerous streets:
The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, ruled that New York City and other municipalities can be held liable for failing to redesign streets with a history of traffic injuries and reckless driving.
The ruling stems from a crash in 2004, when Louis Pascarella, driving “at least” 54 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, struck 12-year-old Anthony Turturro as he rode a bike on Gerritsen Avenue. Pascarella later pled guilty to assault.
Holding cities responsible for failing to keep us safe on the roads we pay them to maintain? That's un-American! Of course, more than ever "un-American" is a good thing, and indeed some say this could be a "game-changer:"
“This decision is a game-changer,” says Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who represents traffic crash victims. “The court held that departments of transportation can be held liable for harm caused by speeding drivers, where the DOT fails to install traffic-calming measures even though it is aware of dangerous speeding, unless the DOT has specifically undertaken a study and determined that traffic calming is not required.”
At trial, Turturro’s attorneys presented evidence that in the years before the crash, residents asked the city to take measures to calm traffic on Gerritsen, which locals described as a “racetrack.”
This all sounds incredibly promising...until you consider that the city already pays hundreds of millions of (our) dollars a year already to settle suits against the NYPD, so what's shelling out a few more bucks for some traffic victims?
A civil trial jury awarded Turturro $20 million, finding the city 40 percent responsible for the crash.
Come on, 40% of $20 million is only $8 million! Your elected officials would gladly pay that rather than face the wrath of neighborhood residents upset over losing a handful of parking spaces to a bike lane. Plus, we all know that when people get hit by cars it's usually their own fault, and it's much easier to blame smartphones for all the ills of society:
Shoppers and commuters standing in line, people crossing busy streets, even cyclists and drivers whose eyes are on their phones instead of their surroundings.
Hey, he's wearing a helmet, I don't see the problem.
Anyway, while distracted driving is a huge problem I'd say distracted cycling is pretty much a non-issue, since unlike driving a car simply staying upright on a bicycle requires at least a basic level of attention. I'd also say this is completely untrue:
Ms. Colier, a licensed clinical social worker, said, “The only difference between digital addiction and other addictions is that this is a socially condoned behavior.”
Really, the only difference between our nation's crippling opioid addiction and checking your Facebook a million times a day is that one of them is "socially condoned?"
Well okay then.