Monday’s Headlines: Wild West Edition

The real problem.
The real problem.

We sure wish reporter Daniel Krieger had called us before publishing that doorstop of an investigation into a recent moped-on-pedestrian crash in the West Side Rag.

It’s not that the story had a lot of inaccuracies (it had somewhere between a few and many), but in telling the story of an Upper West Side woman who was hit and badly injured by a moped rider, Krieger made the classic mistake of blaming all moped users for the crime of one man.

“The culture of these vehicles is such that most drivers don’t observe traffic laws,” Krieger wrote, using words that could describe the culture of any vehicle whose owners want to go faster than they should simple because they have the means to do so.

The West Side Rag is, of course, right that New York roads have become a “Wild West” where reckless drivers of all manner of vehicles are endangering the most vulnerable road users — and police are doing nothing. As journalists who cover the livable streets movement, we are consistently sounding the alarm that New York’s roads are unsafe, but unlike Krieger, we are often pointing out possible solutions.

Indeed, nowhere in the 2,100-word piece did Krieger bother to speak to any street safety advocates, many of whom have pointed out ways for taming the Wild West roadways, which typically involves a combination of enforcement, road redesign and creating more safe space for pedestrians and cyclists. One way to do that, as we’ve pointed out before, is to widen dangerous, narrow, overcrowded bike lanes like those on Columbus, First and Second avenues in Manhattan, which are themselves Wild West strips where moped riders race past regular cyclists and endanger pedestrians, too. Another solution would be to padlock shops that sell illegal mopeds. (Mopeds are legal if they have a license plate and drive in the roadway.)

But nowhere in his epic tome did Krieger even allude to the true elephant in the road: cars.

So Krieger pointed out that in the first seven months of 2022, 680 people were injured by e-scooters citywide. But for some reason, he failed to point out that over the same period, 27,499 people were injured by car or truck drivers — or, in other words, more than 97.5 percent of injured New Yorkers were wounded not by e-scooter riders, but by drivers.

That’s certainly a factor in our current Wild West conditions.

Krieger’s story about the “culture” of mopeds brought to mind the other “Wild West” argument we hear these days — namely that dining sheds have ruined the city.

They haven’t, of course, but just as there are reckless drivers of otherwise benign mopeds, there are restaurant owners who aren’t using or maintaining their dining areas. As the Village Sun recently pointed out, it is now entirely on the Adams administration to make sure the handful of outdoor dining facilities that need to be removed are.

It’s time to get stuff done — but that means keeping the good (like sustainable, climate-friendly modes of transportation or outdoor dining which the vast majority of New Yorkers believe has made the city better) while removing the bad (illegally operated mopeds, or rat-filled sheds).

OK, time to get off the soapbox. Here’s what you missed over the weekend:

  • Hell Gate had a must-read story about the troubled formation of a sort-of neighborhood watch group in Park Slope. Ah, remember when the New York Times used to do local reporting like this?
  • Like Streetsblog, a lot of outfits (NYDN) covered the killing of a 9-year-old boy by a reckless driver in Sheepshead Bay. QNS added in coverage of a critically injured man that we’d also mentioned.
  • The Daily News finally followed our 2019 coverage of how the NYPD has been shifting to SUV squad cars instead of safer sedans.
  • The Times asked the question on everyone’s mind: Is New York still a 24-7 city?
  • In case you missed it, the Post covered Mayor Adams’s QueensWay announcement (we did, too!)
  • Speaking of which, New Jersey is building its own linear park. (NY Times)
  • The MTA has announced an unfolded stroller pilot program. (amNY, Gothamist)
  • Police and fire response times are up, but for once, the Post didn’t wrongly blame bike lanes.
  • Gothamist was very late to cover the minor congestion pricing impact on The Bronx.
  • Yes, there’s going to be lots of car traffic on the East Side this week, thanks to the United Nations General Assembly (NYDN, NY Post), but cyclists will once again get special temporary lanes, including in the tunnel under First Avenue, as the DOT announced on Twitter. The MTA urged people to take transit, and issued a list of service changes that will keep the city moving. The city calls Monday one of its “Gridlock Alert” days, but we’ve long derided those as “Gridlock Surrender” days because city officials don’t really do anything to discourage car use by, perhaps, mandating carpool lanes on the city bridges or closing some roadways entirely to cars. Gridlock is as gridlock does.
  • Road rage led to a homicide in Queens, cops say. (NYDN)
  • The aforementioned Wild West conditions in New York obviously extend to Jersey, where a driver killed a horse and injured its rider. (NY Post)