Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Community Boards

You may recall that not too long ago I attended my local community board meeting in support of the city's plan to upgrade the deadly drag strip that separates me from the city's third-largest park:


Well, last night the board met again to vote on an idiotic resolution designed to basically scuttle the whole thing, and with the taste of stupid still lingering in my mouth I hopped on the WorkCycles headed on down to the shitshow.

To give you an idea of how New York City community boards work, imagine being really, really hungry and deciding to order a pizza.  Now imagine that before ordering your pizza you first had to consult with a group of 30 people.  Of these people, ten have severe gluten allergies, another ten have religious dietary restrictions, and the remaining ten have never eaten a pizza but have seen them on TV and therefore have very strong opinions about them.

Sounds annoying right?  Sure it does.  And when you're talking about a city street that people can use without dying it's downright infuriating.

Anyway, after about two hours of congratulating themselves for their service, denying various permits, and doing everything they could to keep the neighborhood preserved in formaldehyde, it was finally time for the board to vote on the resolution to sweep the bike lane under the musty, dated rug of which they are so fond.  But first, they each had to unzip their pants and dangle their stupid opinions.  It's hard who was the dumbest, but the top contenders have to be:
  • The bloviating parody of an elder statesman who grumbled on and on about the city's conspiracy to create motor vehicle traffic, and how if people can't drive here from other places then the entire economy will collapse;
  • The hateful woman who blamed the 12 people who have been killed on Broadway since 2010 for their own deaths;
  • The guy who rejected comparisons to successful projects of a similar nature in Brooklyn because this is the Bronx, and "we're not close to New York City like Brooklyn is."
That last one in particular was a special kind of stupid.  I mean sure, as someone who's experienced with stupid I get what he's trying to say in the same way I can tell that dark spot deep inside the Jell-O is probably a raisin.  See, while the Bronx is obviously a part of New York City, it is common in the other four boroughs to refer to Manhattan as "the city."  Furthermore, there are also people who do refer to Manhattan as "New York."  However, those people tend to be no younger than 70 years old, whereas this guy seemed to be around my age, making him a real whipper-snapper by community board standards.

Regardless, let's look at the statement that "we're not close to New York City like Brooklyn is."  Here's New York City:


(From Britannica Kids, fittingly.)

Here's what's colloquially called "the city," or "New York" if you were born during the Wilson administration:


Now here's Brooklyn:


As you can see, some of it is very close to "the city," and some of it is farther away.

And here's the Bronx:


Like Brooklyn, some of it is very close to "the city," and some of it is farther away.  (City Island and Coney Island are roughly equidistant to Times Square.)  Both boroughs also share a similar population density and low rate of car ownership (under 50% for both).  However, being smaller than Brooklyn there is simply less of the Bronx that is geographically removed from Manhattan.  Furthermore, the Bronx is part of the same street grid as Manhattan, and certainly in the western half of the borough it bears more resemblance to Manhattan than any neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Perhaps most vexingly, the meeting took place here, just a few blocks from Manhattan


And the very board on which this guy sits literally represents a neighborhood in Manhattan:


Of course the raisin in the Jell-O here is that our neighborhood is farther from downtown Manhattan where all the shiny tall buildings are than, say, Brownstone Brooklyn is, and this is the concept he was awkwardly trying to extricate from the misshapen Jell-O mold that is his brain.  However, not only are we all part of the same city, but our bodies also react similarly to being hit by a car, which is what makes this sort of isolationist thinking so goddamn toxic.

Indeed, one wonders why instead of fighting the city they live in and maintaining deadly conditions for the people they supposedly represent (inasmuch as a group of people who aren't elected and serve until they die can represent anybody) these people don't just move here and be done with it:


In the end, the community board passed the cockblocking resolution, with 20-something people voting for it and I believe five voting against it.  (In all fairness, there were two board members who expressed their support of the plan, one of whom in particular did so eloquently and with an unerring logic that was no doubt completely lost on his fellow board members.)  The community board's role in all this is merely advisory, meaning the DOT can go ahead with this anyway, but of course the board holds political currency so this will almost certainly result in delay.  And while the local officials who are actually elected are in favor of this plan, who knows what will happen in the wake of this vote.

Hopefully nobody else dies due to all this dicking around.

(Ironically, only now that I'm an old fuddy-duddy myself do I truly recognize the importance of making your voice heard at your community board meetings.  Unfortunately it's hard to attend them unless you're retired.)

Lastly, in more dispiriting news, the city has experienced its first bike share death.  The media responded by perpetuating a victim-blaming narrative, and the NYPD responded by ticketing cyclists.

And so it goes.

46 comments:

N/A said...

haha, "raisin in the jello". Great image!

N/A said...

Do you speak at these meetings, Wildcat?

John Swanson said...

Podium!

Anonymous said...

"It's hard who was the dumbest, but the top contenders have to be:"

Pure gold today!!!

Anonymous said...

TOP 5, this scranus slept in again!

Spokey said...

well

at least top tempest in a pee pot.

Spokey said...


and no

i haven't read it yet

janinedm said...

To be fair, the Bronx has a childhood asthma rate of 8.1%. So maybe they're protective of cars so they can keep the borough in a number 1 spot at something.

Old Timer said...

Huh? What?

Spokey said...


hmmm

i do call the boroughs by name (i.e. brooklyn, staten island, etc) except for manhattan which i do call new yoik. and of course i get confused or at least i am confusing when it is not obvious whether i am referring to the city or the state.

Focus503 said...

Okay, one last time,

This borough is small, but that one is far away.

Small???? Far away....

Anonymous said...

But if the curmudgeons moved to Westchester then they'd have to put up with having the paved Fred superhighway that is the South County Trailway running through their backyards, and have their Sunday leisure drives frustrated by Bike Sundays on the parkway. Staying in the Bronx they've got double parking and old Put mud to for protection.

purpleriv said...

Happy 10th Anniversary! Cheers!

dancesonpedals said...

With that guy's brain it's more like a turd in the punchbowl.

theEel said...

weed.

JLRB said...

Whatsedativesyouriding to make it through those meetings without losing your shit

Name said...

Is it your blog's tenth anniversary here as well? If so congrats.

Here almost from the start (and caught up reading back to the first post).

Got here through a mention on Fixed Gear Gallery(Ha!)

Anonymous said...

One of the leading causes of asthma in NYC is....wait for it.....cockroach feces.

Freddy Murcks said...

Snob - Instead of going to community board meetings, have you considered hitting your face with a hammer? The hammer would be less painful and about as productive.

As for the NYPD, of course they would respond to a charter bus killing a cyclist by targeting cyclists for arbitrary harassment. Automobiles are sacrosanct; cyclists are expendable.

The Poop Police said...

Speaking of feces: Anyone find it super lame that the NYPD Mounted Unit doesn't have to curb their horses? I mean if somebody's chihuahua dropped even a pebble of a turd in the Central Park running lane, you can bet your sweet ass somebody would make a stink about it. But huge piles of horseshit...that's all fine and dandy?

JLRB said...

Just realized my fake-ID-during-college birthday is the same day as the birth of this here blog. Celebrate another trip around the sun ...

(just clicked the squares until all the cars were gone - if only)

Anonymous said...

And I was disheartened simply to see SF Bay Area's new bike share program sponsored by Ford.

McFly said...

Could you put a green arrow on The Beastie Boys house?

Vote Early and Vote Often said...

Not only is this is the country that elected Donald Trump, but this country allows it to be legal to do so by a negative 3,000,000 votes. You were expecting intelligent statements?

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

I wonder if recumbabe goes to her community board meetings?

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

The electoral college is an intelligent system, even if it would have let "the other one" in.

vsk

Anonymous said...

Hey BikeSnob!

I just discovered you are now opining over at TA. Good on ya! I am a longtime fan as well as longtime member of TA. Glad to see it! This line in your post here is emblematic of what I love about the BikeSnob column: "...I get what he's trying to say in the same way I can tell that dark spot deep inside the Jell-O is probably a raisin." Keep that attitude comin' - a fan

JLRB said...

RCT - I think she prefers community broad meetings ... ba dum

While commutilating this morning in the withering heat I sensed someone on my wheel but did not see anyone at first glance - kept hearing something back there - turned out to be a recumb-trike-mobile - lower than I expected it to be in my field of vision. Fast bugger - once we left the MUP to the streets he was off like a bullet - weaving that low rider in and out of traffic. No thanks. Being invisible on a standard bike is enough for me.

janinedm said...

Looks like it's not either/or. “Allergy to cockroach is one of the greatest risk factors for asthma in low-income urban communities. Our findings indicate a complex relationship between allergen and air pollution exposures early in life and a possible underlying genetic susceptibility. Combined, these findings suggest that exposures in the home environment as early as the prenatal period can lead to some children being at much greater risk for developing an allergy to cockroach, which, in turn, heightens their risk of developing asthma.”

Also, I was thinking about it more. There's kind of a lack of self respect in the council members' thinking. The Bronx is beautiful in many parts. It's not just an area you go through to get to places. Why not make more parts of it accessible? Why is it so important to clear everyone off of the streets to aid the swift movement of people who don't live there? I imagine when Port Morris becomes the Piano District (ugh), the sentiment won't hold.

Tim the Artist said...

Keep fighting the good fight snob!! It's very encouraging to have a voice against willful ignorance. Thanks for doing what you do. I still don't understand how anyone can argue against "let's make it safer for everyone".

JLRB said...

What would you rather attend - a community board meeting, or a Trump cabinet meeting?

wishiwasmerckx said...

I wish to offer up my congratulations on the 10th anniversary of this blog.

I am not a regular reader of Bicycling Magazine, so I am embarrassed to admit that I first learned of the existence of these august grounds from a shout-out in that rag a few months after you launched. I then went back and read from the very first post forward.

To the best of my knowledge, I have read every post ever.

If the number of daily comments is an accurate measure, I now fear that your TransAlt blog will swallow up this blog altogether in a hostile takeover. It has been a long time since I have gotten the chance to contest for the 100th comment of the day, for we almost never see that threshold anymore. Being a creature of habit, I will probably keep reading until I am the last one left, claiming the podium uncontested daily. By that time, I suppose BSNYC will probably just e-mail the posts straight to my inbox.

Thanks for countless hours of entertainment. Thanks for leading me to thinking deep on some deep and some seemingly shallow topics. Thanks for expanding my already-considerable vocabulary.

Here's wishing you another 10 years of making a living writing about cycling...

Spokey said...


i contest that podi. unless i've croaked that is. well maybe i'll contest it anyway.

i have noticed no more fake ted.

we do miss frilly, road queenie, rollie, et al.

Anonymous said...

I love a good rant and you nailed it.

Feel better now?

Dean & Gene said...

Take a wrinkled raisin and do with it what you will...

Spokey said...

who are you calling a wrinkled raisin?

Some guy from upstate said...

Some would say, that the northern part of Manhattan bears more resemblance to the Bronx. But what the fuck do I know.

leroy said...

10 years? Really? Wow.

My dog wishes to remind you it's not the years, it's the mileage.

He also told me to make sure I told you thanks!

dancesonpedals said...

You can't spell LGBT without a BLT

Anonymous said...

Wildcat, Happy belated blog birthday and thanks for all the great writing.

BeerDrivenCyclist said...

Forty tooth?

bad boy of the sooth said...

The Great and Powerful lob has blessed you with ten years of great writing.congrats!

JLRB said...

How did L get to be first in LGBT?

Wesley Bellairs said...

You live there. Include yourself amongst the morons.

BamaPhred said...

Did Lob bestow his blessing on you WCRM? I offered rum, burned a cigar, and poured a bowl of clarified butter to swim in, so that cheap SOB shoulda brought something nice for the 10th blogulation anniverse.

JLRB said...


Comment Deleted But it was cathartic typing it