RE: When the NYCDOT and the Bike Lobby Marry, advertisement on page 24 of the March 2023 edition.

Dear Editors,

I appreciate how our community media provide a forum for diverse ideas or opinions, as Village View is doing.

The advertisement by Kimon Retzos is a case in point. I wish to express my counter-points.

Greenwich Village has one of the earliest and best dedicated bike lanes at Hudson River Park. Many of the main avenues now have dedicated bike lanes, and our smaller streets have shared lanes. These have been a great boon to our neighborhood.

Missing stats: From over a century of bike use, all over the world, we have a good idea that the micro-transit of biking is safe and sustainable. Now, the charge made that stats aren’t kept, compared with auto accidents, is false at its face, since those stats are kept by police departments. Safe bike lanes promote safe streets, as shown by multiple studies of traffic accidents.

Deadly DOT Street Design: Bike lanes decrease danger, not increase danger as claimed. Protected bike lanes reduce danger and injuries, as proven by multiple studies. Dedicated bike lanes in streets do not prevent emergency vehicles from passing cars in the traffic lane, since the emergency vehicles can easily drive into any lane, even with plastic standards that designate bike lanes. Dedicated bike lanes certainly haven’t stopped cars and trucks from pulling up to the curb, all over the city. It is not just bike lanes that get “priority to pass construction site, hospitals, schools, etc.”, but also car traffic lanes; so why should bikes be excluded? Even Retzos agrees that the Brooklyn 9th Avenue bike lane should be better designed, rather than eliminated.

Equity and Gentrification: Since the inception of CitiBikes in 2013, communities across all boroughs have been clamoring for more CitiBike docks in their areas. “Micromobility” has a growing appeal for all economic classes in all boroughs, as proven by Citibike and DOT data.
Discovering bicycle rides, especially during the pandemic, turns out to be fully compliant with social-distancing guidelines. I go for long stretches speaking to no one, touching nothing but the bike. Riding at less than 20 mph, I am often passed by non-electric bikers, so my e-bike is no more dangerous than others.

“Safety for everyone on our roads is our priority, and we look forward to working with legislators and communities as we develop plans to implement the new law,” said City Hall spokesman Seth Stein in 2020. “We appreciate this common-sense legislation that clarifies the rules around e-bikes on our streets.” It defines these classes:
Class 1: pedal-assist bikes, such as Citi Bike e-bikes, limited to 20 miles per hour.
Class 2: throttle-powered bikes, limited to 20 miles per hour.
E-scooters, capped at 15 miles per hour, are legalized for use statewide.
Class 3: throttle-powered bikes that max out at 25 miles per hour in cities of one million people or more (These are the bikes preferred by delivery workers).

It took years of careful consideration by local and state representatives, including community boards, to develop legalization of micromobility and the infrastructure to benefit the population as a whole, not just bike riders.

Streetsblog reported that a set of battery bills passed unanimously, except for one, in the City Council on March 2—Bronx Council Member Oswald Feliz’s prohibition on the sale of uncertified batteries, Manhattan Council Member Gale Brewer’s bills prohibit the sale and assembly of second-use lithium ion batteries, and to have FDNY develop “an information campaign to educate the public on the fire risks” posed by lithium-ion powered devices, and Manhattan Council Member Keith Powers’ battery swap program—showed that the Council is seeking to move quickly on fire safety while supporting workers. (The Fire Department said not all lithium-ion battery fires are linked to electric bikes or mopeds; the batteries are common in many household devices.)

It has become common to title groups with misleading names, like the Safety First Alliance, when they are advocating for draconian laws that do nothing to prevent the horrific deaths and injuries caused by cars and trucks daily. They obviously haven’t enjoyed the pleasures of bike riding on streets made safer by multi-modal transportation. Too bad.

And if you are really interested in helping make the city safer, spread the word about applying city safety laws on an individual basis. NYU is sponsoring a Micromobility Festival street fair on April 18, 2023, on West 4th St. between Greene St. and Washington Sq. East (University Place). It reportedly will include safety lessons for riders and pedestrians, tips for converting a regular bike to an e-bike, and much more—all free to the public.

—Brian Pape
life-long biker in many parts of the world