November/December 1998, p.7

Letters, we get letters…

Gallo Whines Before Their Time

Dear T.A.:
Thanks for relating what a jerk Vincent Gallo is. I'll be sure to avoid his movies, or whatever it is that he does, in the future.
Far more interesting was the profile of James Langergaard. Unfortunately, James' "high points" omitted the time he was run over by a cab on the way to the start of T.A.'s 1993 NYC Century Bike Tour.
Jon Orcutt
Brooklyn, NY

Dear T.A.:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your Sept./Oct. issue, especially your profile of Vincent Gallo.
I am still writing down many of his nuggets of wisdom. They should publish them like they did for Forrest Gump. Do you suppose he kisses his mirror much?
Tom Tomaka
Atlanta, GA

Dear T.A.:
My husband and I are touring musicians. We were in Germany for a month with our folding bikes. The cities we visited (Dusseldorf, Köln, Mannheim, Heidelberg and Hamburg) have beautiful bike trails along both sides of their canals and rivers, and plenty of bridges or ferries to take you across, too. Drivers are courteous to cyclists. Cyclists are courteous to pedestrians. City bike lanes are painted red at some difficult intersections. And some bike lanes are even on sidewalks! I know that wouldn't work in New York but I wish there were a permanent bike path on the boardwalks like the one in Long Beach.
Anyway, thanks for the 2nd Avenue bike lane. Keep up the good work!
Ann Garvey
Brooklyn, NY

Dear T.A.:
I recently got a ticket for "disobey[ing] steady red light" at the corner of West 4th Street and Grove Street from a police officer on a bike. Officer Duffy of the 6th Precinct was very civil to me, and almost apologetic ("they're making us do this now") as he handed me a $100 ticket. Afterward, his actions belied the hypocrisy of the ticketing campaign. With his helmet strapped securely to his handlebars, he zipped the wrong way up West 4th Street. I consider riding the wrong way on a one way street to be far more dangerous than coming to a red light, observing an absence of crossing traffic and pedestrians, and proceeding through.
Regardless, I'm sure Officer Duffy wouldn't have considered driving the wrong way up that street in a squad car. The same standards and fine levels should not be applied to bicycles; even the police riding bicycles casually disregard the laws they're supposed to uphold.
Jordan Copeland
New York, NY

Dear T.A.:
I wanted to relay a message to your readers concerning reckless driving by some of our city's cabbies. In April I was side-swiped by a cab whose driver had been changing lanes without signaling at all, and then, upon seeing a prospective fare on the curb, decided to make a beeline for her, ignoring my presence on the road. I reacted angrily to the side-swipe by slapping his wing mirror loudly. This shocked him to his senses, and he reacted by pinning me against the curb and trying to grab me through the window.
When I told him I would report this incident to the TLC, his attitude changed to conciliatory. Too late. I filed a complaint upon reaching my office, and two weeks ago, went in for my hearing. His story should have won awards for fiction. The arbitrator, however, believed me, and he was fined. Cyclists should know that they can get action if they register a complaint with the TLC. The offending cabbie may be treated to fines, points on their license, and increased insurance costs.
By the way, I must say I found cover boy Vincent Gallo to be totally obnoxious. I noticed that the bike he is riding in the picture has no brakes. I have been involved in very few crashes with other cyclists over the past 20 years, but in almost every case, this involved a bike with no brakes, just like the one he has. Figures.
Mark Lewis
New York, NY

T.A. encourages anyone menaced by a taxi to file a complaint. Call 212-NYC-TAXI (692-8294). -Ed

Dear T.A.:
I got my TA newsletter and sat down to my usual letter-writing campaign. All these issues, all these attacks on us little non-polluting cyclists - helmet harassment, Prospect Park, bridges, speed limit legislation derailed, diesel demons, etc. Yet when it came time to write letters of outrage to politicians, there was just one measly little address (DOT Commish Wilbur Chapman). So I wrote that one in five minutes and now I'm ready to write more, but no addresses.
Please include addresses and a note about what we can DO at the end of each article.
Ed Bikales
New York, NY
Good point. We've included additional addresses this issue. Government contact addresses, faxes, and e-mail are also listed at: www.transalt.org/info/contacts.html    -Ed

Dear Councilman Noach Dear:
There have been proposals to earmark a portion of federal highway funds for greenways and paths for cycling and running paths. As a man who has been running marathons for as long as you've been in politics, I support these proposals. Automobiles, especially those driven to and from work daily carrying only their drivers, are the scourge of our city. Bicycles and runners do not pollute the air, add to global warming or consume precious natural resources. Children are far more likely to be injured or God forbid killed by automobiles than by bicyclists; ever tried to navigate 13th Avenue lately? Cycling or running to work or school provides needed exercise and keeps us healthy; automobile pollution makes us sick. We need fewer automobiles and more greenways and bike/run paths. As chairman of the transportation committee you killed the Sunset Park bicycle path connector. How can we trust you?
Dr. Zev Stern
Brooklyn, NY
Editor's Note: Despite spending over $1 million, Dear recently lost to Anthony Weiner in the Democratic primary race for Congress.

Dear T.A.:
I don't understand why [Transportation Alternatives' last issue of City Cyclist] was so excited about the imminent opening of the new Williamsburg Bridge walkway. Have you seen the radically sharp approach to the Bedford Avenue exit? Have you seen the extreme narrowness of said approach? Even with many "CAUTION" warnings and "DISMOUNT" signs - who will obey them? Now is the time for your legal committee to warn all relevant agencies. All cyclists and pedestrians are in serious danger.
James N. Koppel
New York, NY
T.A. is working with the City agencies to improve the bridge's final design (see Cycling News in this issue). We encourage our members to voice their concerns directly with their city councilmembers as well. - Ed.