The push to legalize e-scooters will turn NYC into ‘Mad Max’
23rd December 2018

Did you hear about the City Council’s latest transit brainstorm — pop-up toboggan lanes so that we can all zoom around on sleds during blizzards?

Haha, just kidding! Actually that plan’s on hold until the politicians push through bills to legalize stand-up electric scooters that can hit 15 mph and throttle-powered electric bikes that can reach 20 mph.

Just what we need. The asphalt jungle is already besieged by all forms of hell on wheels — wrong-way bicyclists, metastasizing Uber cars, curb-jumping taxis, lane-weaving pedicabs and rogue, wheelie-popping motorcyclists who terrify even the cops.

What next — rocket sleds?

Stupidity is the order of the day when it comes to City Hall’s mismanagement of the streets. So is cowardice: Elected officials allowed themselves to be bullied by bike-advocacy brigade Transportation Alternatives into giving cyclists the run of the mean streets.

Meanwhile, e-vehicle manufacturers — especially Los Angeles-based company Bird — enjoy a cozy relationship with the advocates. Paul Steely White, the longtime head of Transportation Alternatives, recently left the group for a cushy position at Bird, just one example of the unholy alliance.

The council’s affection for the contraptions is so warped that even Mayor de Blasio, who’s turned over hundreds of miles of precious street space to bicycles, has qualms. “Crossing the street should not be a harrowing experience,” he correctly stated but ignored that his own strategies — more bike lanes and “plazas,” infernally confusing left-turn lanes, overgrown bus lanes and traffic-light tinkering — are what made street-crossing more terrifying than ever.

So far, Transportation Alternatives likes to point out, no one on foot has been killed by a bike this year. But e-vehicles have already been a disaster in cities less congested than New York — notably in San Francisco, where riders ran over pedestrians and dumped dead machines on sidewalks and even in the bay.

Typical of New York, the case for e-scooters and e-bikes is built on pandering to tiny minorities at the expense of the mass. While bicycling advocates boast that 86,000 people now bike to work every day in town, a 50 percent jump over 10 years ago, some 3,599,786 New Yorkers go to work by other means, according to the most recent US Census.

Among the asinine arguments made for giving e-bikes and e-scooters the run of our roads is one echoed by Sunday Times of London writer and recent New York arriviste Laura Pullman: They’d be a boon to
Williamsburg residents who, faced with next year’s L subway line shutdown, could sail into and out of Manhattan on them without bothering a soul.

Ah, the suffering dozens of Williamsburg — home to a mere 33,000 people, of whom only an infinitesimal fraction are likely to use e-mobiles to cross the bridge to Manhattan. Naturally their whims come before the safety of the city’s 8.5 million residents.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Rafael Espiñal, a co-sponsor of the bills to legalize these machines, claims that e-bike crackdowns fall disproportionately on restaurant delivery workers. “Legalizing e-bikes is an essential step in giving delivery workers greater job stability and better working conditions. The work is hard enough with difficult weather, long shifts and low pay,” Espiñal said.

Sure, if an act is illegal, let’s solve the problem by making it legal — like subway fare-beating.

What motivates e-bike proponents most of all is their hatred of cars, as if they were engines of conquest inflicted on helpless earthlings by alien invaders. In fact, they’re used by human beings who regard them as safer and more efficient than rotting mass transit; or are too old and/or insufficiently athletic to ride a bike; or don’t live near a subway or bus line; or merely prefer the comforts of a soft seat, heat or air-conditioning and Bluetooth music to the harsh outdoors.

And some are just scared to be on the street even before e-bikes make them scarier.

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