Daily Bike Forecast — by Bike Snob NYC

May 15th, 2017: Local Crackpot Has Strange Ideas About Bike Lanes

Beware of wind gusts today:

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Monday Partly sunny, with a high near 67. Breezy, with a northwest wind 16 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph.

Monday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 51. Northwest wind 9 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.

Sunrise: 5:39am

Sunset: 8:07pm

Though none of them will rival the blast of hot air that came out of one Myron Magnet over the weekend:

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Yes, apparently taxis don't go fast enough for this windbag anymore, so he chose the Wall Street Journal as his windsock and blew it (and no doubt his target demographic) into a state of formidable turgidity:

magnet

Taxes aside, New York has always seemed to me the perfect city to grow old in. There are doormen to help with packages; handymen and building superintendents to shovel the snow, take out the trash, and unclog the drains; restaurants of all kinds to deliver dinner; elevators so you don’t have to climb stairs; interesting streets to walk while you can; excellent doctors and hospitals (a bit harder to access now, thanks to President Obama’s raid on Medicare); and—I used to say—taxis to whisk you to midtown in 15 minutes. That last point is no longer true, and it’s no small inconvenience to those for whom subway stairs are an impediment.

This is an excellent point, because all aging New Yorkers live in doorman buildings, have their dinner delivered from restaurants, and travel by taxi.

Sadly, in recent years this idyllic way of life has been eroded by Obama, or Bloomberg, or de Blasio, or all three, just take your pick:

His administration pedestrianized Times Square, legalized rickshaws, and proliferated bike lanes. Because Mr. Bloomberg’s name is on the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health—thanks to his countless millions in donations—the mayor seemed to assume special expertise on the subject. Along with banning big sodas and limiting where New Yorkers could smoke, he tried to induce exercise by installing a raft of rental Citi Bikes.

Mayor de Blasio doubled down on this traffic eccentricity.

"Eccentricity," huh?  For someone with such scholarly whiskers Magnet has a pretty poor grasp of the English language.  Here's the definition of eccentric:

eccentric

Among our global city peers things like pedestrianization, bike lanes, and bike share are in no way eccentric. In fact they're the norm.  If anything, it's car-centricity that's eccentric, and we're unique only in our reluctance to take bolder steps to end it once and for all.

Consider the top five cities in the Global Power City Index:

1. London

London launched its bike share program three years before we did.  Also:

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised to spend £770m on cycling initiatives over the course of his term, saying he wants to make riding a bike the “safe and obvious” transport choice for all Londoners.

Following criticism that Khan has not been as bold as his predecessor, Boris Johnson, in committing to new bike routes, and amid increasing worries about air quality in London, Khan’s office has set out what is described as a hugely ambitious programme to boost cyclist numbers.

The proposed spending of about £17 per person per year gets near the levels seen in cycle-friendly nations such as the Netherlands and Denmark.

Sure, the extent to which he's followed through is debatable, but it's hard to imagine a New York City mayor actually boasting about being more pro-bike than his predecessor.

2. New York City

Doormen, delivery, a phalanx of handymen and service people, you know the deal.

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3. Tokyo

In Tokyo you can't even purchase a car without first providing a certificate that shows you have a parking space for it.  This is pretty much the exact opposite of New York City's policy, which is to take up public street space with your car and then threaten people with violence when they attempt to come anywhere near it:

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With space at a premium, things can get ugly, such as the time another driver snuck into a spot Bowman had been waiting to take. 

"I went to my truck and pulled out my tire iron and stood by his door, and I said 'You can have this spot, but you're taking a beating when you get out."

I don't think anyone can "sneak" into your parking space if you don't own it, but that's another discussion.

4. Paris

Paris had bike share before us and before London.  Also, here's what Mayor Anne Hidalgo has to say:

The idea is to go little by little towards a pedestrianization of the city center—one that, when complete, will see it remain open for the cars of local residents, police, for emergency services and deliveries, but not for just anyone. We are taking on completely a significant reduction of automobile traffic, just as other global cities are.

Yes, other global cities, except New York.  The eccentric one.

5. Singapore

What's that?  Another global city discouraging private cars?  Yep:

Be warned: it is very expensive to own and drive a car in Singapore. Wary of the fact that uncontrolled growth in the number of vehicles will result in traffic jams in land and road scarce Singapore, the government has implemented a range of measures to manage car ownership and usage. These include the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), Vehicle Quota System (VQS), road taxes and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP). All motor vehicles must be registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Meanwhile the only "Certificate of Entitlement" you need in New York City is the out-of-state registration you use to pay cheaper car insurance.

So yeah, New York City's bike share, bike lanes, and pedestrian plazas (or, as they're called everywhere else in the world, "plazas") are about as eccentric as Myron Magnet's facial hair is well-groomed.

Anyway, next Magnet invokes Cooper Stock:

In 2014 a taxi turning left at West 97th Street hit and killed a 9-year-old boy, Cooper Stock, as he was crossing with the light, holding his father’s hand. The death was an outrage, worsened by the noncriminal penalty levied on the taxi driver. He paid only a $500 fine and had his license suspended for six months, when he should have been frog-marched off to jail. After all, you take on heavy responsibility when you steer a ton of metal through crowded city streets, and killing a child who has the right of way in a crosswalk is not an accident.

And reveals he's even been hit by a taxi driver by himself:

When a taxi once hit me in similar circumstances—but fortunately with no injuries—the driver didn’t even get a ticket and drove off fuming that the cops had wasted his time. The City Council has now made it a misdemeanor for a driver to hurt a walker or cyclist who has the right of way, though that should include merely hitting him. And killing or seriously injuring someone should be a felony. Driver accountability is the key to traffic safety.

He's justifiably outraged over both, yet in a stunning display of cognitive dissonance he uses both examples to support his position that Vision Zero is stupid and that car traffic should move faster:

Instead, Mr. de Blasio’s response to Cooper’s utterly unforgivable death was to slow the city’s traffic still further, lowering speed limits from 30 to 25 miles an hour, turning some avenues from four lanes to two, and timing the change of streetlights so as to prevent drivers from building up speed.

Because...he thinks it's encouraging drivers to run red lights:

One campaign ad states that “78% of pedestrian injuries and fatalities happen in a crosswalk”—to which the logical retort is that it’s time for tougher traffic policing. Yet the snail’s pace of cars also seems to play a part, since I now witness frustrated drivers ignoring red lights—something I never saw before in Gotham.

Wow, Myron Magnet had never seen a driver run a red light in New York before de Blasio took office?

Incredible.

I can't wait to read his next opinion piece:

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He looks way too old to have been born yesterday, but apparently he was--though maybe he never saw drivers running red lights before because they were doing it at much faster speeds.

Either way, no screed like this would be complete without reducing bike lane users to a small group of undesirables.  Over the years, we've been told by people like Myron Magnet that bike lanes are only used by:

--Wealthy gentrifiers;

--Illegal immigrants;

--Nobody.

So who are the only people using bike lanes in Magnet's universe?  Why, "delivery boys," naturally:

Moreover, what is the rationale for the bike lanes, which in residential neighborhoods seem to be used almost entirely by delivery boys? 

Yeah that's right, delivery boys:

paperboy

So either Myron Magnet is seeing things, or else bike lanes are wormholes in time.

Unless of course he's referring to the delivery people who bring him his dinner, but that can't be, since if they're what makes New York "the perfect city to grow old in" you'd think he'd want them to have access bike lanes.

As for Citi Bike, that's for people who ride between transit hubs:

Citi Bikers shuttle mostly between Grand Central Terminal and Times Square or the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and half their trips last less than 10 minutes (and 98% less than 45 minutes), according to New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation.

Firstly, why is that bad?  Secondly, didn't he just complain it takes too long to get around in midtown?  If Citi Bikers are getting where they need to go in under 10 minutes then clearly they're onto something. 

Then there are the recreational cyclists, who only belong in the parks:

Wouldn’t recreational cyclists rather use the bike lanes in the parks?

Sure, riding in parks is nice, but how the hell are they supposed to get there?

And poor Myron Magnet is afraid it's only going to get worse from here:

What is the point of slowing traffic down so radically if pedestrian and cyclist deaths rise? Mayor Bloomberg’s wild-eyed traffic commissioner even proposed recently to pedestrianize Fifth Avenue in midtown.

Wait a minute.  Did he just call Polly Trottenberg "wild-eyed?"

Here's Polly Trottenberg:

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And here's Myron Magnet:

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If you had to describe both of these people to the police, which one would you call "wild-eyed?"

Magnet's so wild-eyed he needs two pairs of glasses:

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And finally, having built a great big logistical Jenga tower, Magnet knocks it all down with his big finish:

As November’s mayoral election approaches, a powerful promise for some candidate would be to make traffic flow freely again: rip out Times Square’s pedestrian mall (rarely full), rip out most of the bike lanes and evict Citi Bike, while policing vigilantly to keep pedestrians safe. New York isn’t reserved for young people on bicycles. It’s also for businesspeople and old people, who take cabs (and now Ubers and Lyfts) when they can’t take the subway—and who pay a lot of the city’s taxes.

Powerful idea indeed.  See, we already had that candidate:

dietl

(Wild-eyed Bo Dietl can't believe he ate the whole thing.)

"Day one when I get elected, I’m going to be on a bulldozer taking out those bike lanes."

And nobody even wants to get near him:

Republican Party leaders have decided that Bo Dietl, the bombastic former police detective and Fox News contributor, should not be allowed to run on their party line in his bid to become mayor of New York City.

County Republican leaders in New York concluded during a conference call over the weekend that Mr. Dietl did not have enough support among their ranks to get a so-called Wilson-Pakula certification that he needed to run as a Republican. Without the party, his chances of mounting an effective challenge against Mayor Bill de Blasio in November’s election seemed severely damaged, if not doomed.

But nice try, Magnet.  Other than all that it was a great article.