By Allen Houston
Simmering Bike Resentment
East Siders may have grown used to delivery guys on bicycles hopping sidewalks and dangerously whizzing in and out of pedestrians as they rush to drop off Chinese food or pizza. But they seem to have finally reached a breaking point. The debate over whether to restrict bicyclists may not only be about these riders and alleged misdemeanors; rather, it could be part of a growing hostility toward the increasingly bike-friendly city that New York is becoming...
Delivery Drivers Drive Anger, Pols Respond
East Side Council Member Jessica Lappin and State Senator Liz Krueger said the issue of delivery drivers is one of the top constituent concerns in their districts.
Lappin introduced a bill in January 2006 that called for business owners to be fined for reckless driving instead of delivery drivers, because drivers weren’t paying the fines and the tickets weren’t detouring local business owner’s behavior.
“This issue is consistently one of the biggest quality of life issues on the Upper East Side,” she said.
Krueger and Assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh recently reintroduced a bill in the State Senate that passed last session before faltering in the assembly that would require business owners and drivers to share responsibility for reckless riding.
“The system that we have isn’t working,” Krueger said. “I believe this law would have a significant impact on all delivery drivers and the businesses that they work for.”
Krueger also believes that electric bikes need to be regulated.
“They are an evolving technology,” she said. “When you electrify a bike it acts differently. They put pedestrians and other bike riders in danger because they go three times the speed.”
As to the animosity between pedestrians and bike riders, she chalks that up to fitting a huge number of people “on the head of a pin.”
“You name a topic of importance in Manhattan and at its heart it’s an issue of land use,” Krueger said. “We have an incredibly dense population who live on top of each other and uses the sidewalks and roads. How that space is used is always going to engender heated discussion.”
Kavanaugh, who co-sponsored the bill, believes that the culture is changing but that many people are still angry at reckless riders.
“There are a significant number of people in New York who are generally concerned about the increase in biking. They don’t like it,” he said.
He believes that education and talking about the many benefits of biking from the environmental impact to how it would ease congestion is one way to turn around people’s opinions about cyclists...