I Remain App-rehensive

Further to Thursday’s post, Tom Boonen has apologized for his Colnago comments:

Actually, he didn’t so much apologize as he did repent and genuflect:

Though he also included this highly ironic photo, so perhaps his “apology” is more subversive than it seems at first glance:

When you consider how much dope they were on, attributing any of this result to the bike is like saying Charles III got to where he is today by virtue of his work ethic.

The result of that race would most likely have been the same if they had no bikes at all and decided to run the course–or ride one-legged, which of course he did a few years later:

Ah, yes, wanton doping and helmetless stunt-riding. Those were the days.

Meanwhile, further to the video I appended to the end of Friday’s post, e-whatever batteries keep exploding in New York City, but don’t worry because the Streetsblog pundoscenti have the answer:

And that answer is distance-based charge on food delivery apps, set by the city, that will somehow fix everything;

Now, by way of disclosure, I should point out I’ve never used a food delivery app. If I want someone to bring food to my home, I just call the restaurant. Or, if I want to eat food in my home from a restaurant that either doesn’t have delivery people or won’t bring it to me because I’m too far, I go and get it myself. This is not an ideological choice. Mostly I operate this way because it has has worked for me my entire life and I don’t see why I need to incorporate an app into the process–like, how much more convenient does food delivery need to be than calling someone and telling them what I want for dinner? However, I will say that, as a bicyclist, when I see people tearing around the city on all manner of e-whatevers and unregistered gasoline-powered motor scooters, I’m even less inclined to order food that way. This is by no means because I have any issue with people trying to make a living, or because I somehow think that the stoned kid driving for the pizzeria and using a takeout menu as a parking placard contributes more to the “livability” of the city than the guy with the Seamless bag piloting a moped on the sidewalk. However, as an old fuddy-duddy, app delivery just seems like more Internet craziness to me–craziness I can see all around me–and I do feel weird putting my food order out there in the ether so people on scooters can run a bunch of lights and compete with each other to see how fast they can get it to me.

Nevertheless, obviously plenty of people want to be able to eat absolutely anything their heart desires in the privacy of their own homes, and most of those people couldn’t care less how it gets to them, so it’s silly to think these apps will ever go away. It’s even sillier to think a $2 fee is going to encourage someone to order for a restaurant that’s slightly closer to them, or that delivery riders will opt for non-electric bikes, especially when, in addition to delivering on them, they also commute on them. (I see them riding into the city from as far away as north Yonkers, because guess what? It’s expensive to live in places where people order in a lot.) But really, we think the City of New York–the same city that can barely build a functional bike lane–can be trusted to pull off something like this?

And even if they could, should they? If the city doesn’t like the way the delivery apps operate–and it shouldn’t–why not make them meet certain requirements and let them pass that cost onto their lazy-ass customers themselves? I couldn’t care less what people have to pay to get their food delivered, but I do care about the city starting yet another racket and getting involved in the food delivery business. A “city-chartered entity” running “safe-charging depots?” These agencies can’t walk and scratch their balls at the same time, so the last thing we need is to give them an excuse to stop walking altogether and go digging around in their own ass cracks. Maybe if they manage to finish repainting the fucking bike lane in my neighborhood they resurfaced like two years ago I’ll start to think differently. I mean, sure, the city’s public housing is falling apart, its buses barely move, it’s choked with traffic, its bike lane network is completely disjointed, and the city agencies themselves are the biggest perpetrators of the illegal parking that so maddens the smuggies, but yeah, let’s create a Department of Commercial Bicycle Delivery Charging complete with a well-compensated “Deliverista Czar” to do the apps’ job for them.

Like, you know these apps are exploitative:

So why the hell would you advocate for underwriting them?

We’re bailing out their bank, for chrissakes, isn’t that enough?

In a way though I suppose the situation with delivery riders today is not so different from the situation with the pushcarts of yesteryear, which the city addressed by building public markets:

Some of those markets still operate today, though ironically getting rid of the last of the pushcarts was done at least in part to alleviate traffic congestion, and as such was no doubt quite a boon for the automobile:

In any case, I’ve long marveled at how the “livable streets” set always seems to push for the interests of the apps, even when their business interests run inherently counter to their goals of getting more cars off the streets. Hilariously, they couldn’t have been more excited about Uber and Lyft. Like, did anyone actually believe this would happen?

I sure didn’t:

Granted, I was incredibly short-sighted. I mean, everyone knew Ubers would be both self-driving and dirt cheap by 2022:

But yeah, in those days, Uber was totally going to reduce car ownership:

Not only that, but according to “experts” it was also going to solve the housing crisis and revitalize public transportation:

And we all know this totally happened:

That’s why you should always listen to the experts.

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