As I mentioned recently, the NYPD is cracking down on motor scooters on the bike paths, so I was tremendously excited yesterday as I followed a moto-scooterist off the Brooklyn Bridge and right into the open arms of the law:
Alas, the law was preoccupied with what appeared to be a phone-shaped object, and so the motor-scooterist rode right by him:
I’m fairly sure the NYPD officers stationed at the Brooklyn bridge are on counterterrorism detail (I have shrewdly deduced this because they’re usually wearing vests that say “counterterrorism” on them), so it makes sense that they wouldn’t spend a bunch of time stopping people on motor scooters–especially now given what’s going on in the world at the moment. At the same time, here’s a guy riding a motor scooter with a large container on it across a famous landmark that’s teeming with tourists, right past an officer who seems to be on his phone. Then again, he’s coming off the bridge, so if he was going to do something I guess he’d have done it already. And for all I know the officer’s reading an important message from headquarters or something:
Whatever the case, one thing I’ve realized over the years is that when you ride around the city on a bike you start to think you know everything. You’re neither driver nor pedestrian nor transit rider, and you move through neighborhoods and past endless tableaus of city life in a way that makes you feel simultaneously omniscient and above it all. However, this isn’t true, and just like the drivers and the pedestrians and the transit riders you really don’t know shit either–though that doesn’t stop you from forming opinions about how everyone else should be doing their jobs.
Still, I would really have liked to see that motor-scooterist get a ticket, even if his threat level does barely rise to the level of “meh-orrism” at best.
Of course, one reason advocates give for the preponderance of motor scooters on the bike paths is that their riders don’t feel safe in the streets:
I couldn’t agree more. Just watch how terrified these riders seem to be as they ride through a red light and into the path of an oncoming car:
How frightening that must have been for them.
Then there’s the whole cars-are-worse-and-all-we-need-is-more-space thing:
As it happens, the person who tweeted that recently published this piece on Curbed:
There are definitely parts of the bike network where lack of space is a major issue, and the Queensboro Bridge is one of them. However, a bigger issue is that people are riding a wide array of contraptions that travel at a wide array of speeds and they don’t always know how to interact with each other–especially when passing:
Scenario one sounds like what happens when you overtake someone too quickly, which is what these e-bikes often do. This person doesn’t say whether or not the “kid” was on a regular bike, or if they were going uphill at the time, but anyone who does ride over the bridges unassisted knows e-bikes have a way of appearing on your wing on inclines when you don’t expect them. Scenario two sounds a lot like scenario one, except here the passer was on an even faster bike, so this time the person wound up as the victim. Yes, the faster e-bike did pass on the right, and it’s safe to assume anyone on a Super73 is a douche, but on the Central Park roadway the slower bike traffic is supposed to be on the left so who knows?
[Pic from here.]
Speeds aren’t the only thing that varies widely between e-bikes, either. There’s also the matter of lighting. For all the craziness on the streets of big cities around the world the one thing we’ve all managed to agree upon is that the white light goes in the front and the red light goes in the back. Not anymore! Thanks to e-bikes, now that light could be green…
…or even blue!
Not only is it hard to judge how fast these things are going, but the lights don’t even clue you in on what direction they’re traveling.
As for me, I do things the old-fashioned way:
While the Homer is my regular commuter, every so often it’s fun to ride something a little racier, especially now that it’s cool enough to wear a backpack without sweating through your clothes:
Unlike the Homer, the Faggin does not have a proper headlamp, but this baby is enough to get me home:
“So what’s with the paper?” Well, I move this light from bike to bike, and as I headed home in the evening I realized I didn’t have the necessary screwdriver to adjust the size of the clamp. So I made a shim out of some scrap paper in my bag. No problem!
Most of my commute is well-lit, but there are a couple of stretches where you actually need a headlight, and this one of them:
While I didn’t get to see a motor scooter rider pulled over that morning, I did get to see this on the way home: