The More Things Change

As you know, I’m old and out of it, so I was surprised to learn today that there are apparently still bicycle messengers…

…and they’re riding pennyfarthings now???

What a world.

I mean sure, there are lots and lots of people delivering stuff on e-bikes and motor scooters in New York, but it’s mostly food delivery, which isn’t very sexy, or else stuff like this, which is even less sexy:

I don’t know if food delivery people and e-cargo bike delivery people have their own world championships, but if they do their lack of fashion sense probably wouldn’t make for highly compelling video.

Speaking of food delivery the NYPD is apparently cracking down on unlicensed motor scooters in the bike path:

I don’t like unlicensed motor scooters in the bike path so the vindictive side of me is like, “Good, take the damn scooters!” However, the pragmatic side of me knows that whether it’s motor scooters in the bike lane, or bicyclists or running red lights, or motorists talking on the phone while driving, or people ripping around the city on ATVs and dirt bikes, whatever the tabloid-fodder-nuisance-of-the-moment may be at any given time, what happens is the NYPD does a big well-publicized crackdown in certain locations for awhile, then they move on, then all the idiots get back to whatever they were doing–me included:

That of course is the infamous Tan Tenovo ticket:

Since getting that ticket five years ago I now make a point of running that light every single time in order to get my money’s worth, which leads me to question the effectiveness of crackdowns in the long run:

Also, I was riding home from Brooklyn yesterday evening, and while they may have been cracking down over at the Williamsburg Bridge you’d never have known it on the Hudson River Greenway, where the contraptions were coming at me fast and furious. It seems to me that with this sort of thing you need consistent enforcement everywhere, not just in a few spots at certain times–which is of course the reasoning behind speed cameras, which are utterly useless for enforcing people riding unlicensed motorbikes on bike paths anyway. So when it comes to cracking down on unregistered motor scooters in the bike lane, it’s like how they tell you to keep killing spotted lantern flies…

…even though it doesn’t do shit:

Except raise “public awareness:”

So basically it’s entomological virtue signaling.

But while I agree that there’s probably a better approach to dealing with this problem (or at least a more effective one with which to augment the old-fashioned bespoke artisanal enforcement), I’d stop short of suggesting that the people riding them are “not aware of the rules:”

The usual tactic is to treat them as victims of the food delivery apps, which is already a bit of a stretch (in part because not everyone on a motor scooter is delivering for an app), but painting them as hapless simpletons on top of that just seems patronizing:

By the way, I was unfamiliar with Brightside and the Equitable Commute Project, so I checked out their websites. The story says Brightside is an “urban mobility company,” which made me wonder if Big Scooter is behind all this, but they don’t appear to be an urban mobility company so much as a PR company:

Albeit one with a focus on “sustainability:”

Meanwhile the Equitable Commute Project promotes e-bike use in the city:

And even provides people with subsidies and loans to purchase e-bikes:

To this end they’ve partnered with a bank, as well as with certain retailers:

I was curious where their funding comes from, and it sounds like at least some of it comes from the state:

Connecting people with e-bikes seems good, though I can’t help lamenting that we seem to be losing sight of how cheap and available regular bikes are and always have been, and yet here we are creating a whole new ecosystem of loans and grants and subsidies and start-ups to replace them with more expensive bikes that have tiny motors in them–not to mention sensors to collect data:

I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just wondering if it’s necessary:

I though it was supposed to be about one less car, but in this case it’s one less pedestrian.

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