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Editorial: The elephant on the scooter in the room

Ydanis Rodriguez, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, recently met with the city’s community and ethnic media to give an update on “citywide safety improvements and key initiatives” the department is engaged in.

At the meeting, calling it “a priority,” Rodriguez really pushed the idea of getting more people out of cars and into healthy biking and walking. In fact, at times, he sounded more like the Health commissioner.

Biking and walking are simply good for us, he stressed, adding that there could always be another COVID wave, and that it’s people with underlying health conditions who are most at risk from the virus. He’s right on all counts.

Noting it’s mostly the upper class and middle class who are cycling here, Rodriguez advocated for getting working-class and immigrant New Yorkers walking and pedaling more, so that they, too, can enjoy the health benefits.

Meanwhile, New York City has millions of people but limited road space, he stressed.

“This cannot be a car culture society,” he declared, adding that “the present and the future of New York City is to share the street.”

(Photo by The Village Sun)

Most traffic fatalities must not be called accidents but crashes, he continued, since the drivers involved usually are drunk, speeding or just driving recklessly.

Meanwhile, more than 1,200 intersections around the city have gotten safety improvements, he proudly shared. On the down side, most people killed in intersections are elderly, according to the D.O.T. honcho.

As for the goal of Vision Zero, meaning no traffic fatalities, there still is a long way to go. This year, as of Oct. 31, 87 motorists, 87 pedestrians and 14 cyclists have been killed, with 42,000 total injured. However, most people losing their lives are “on the [city’s] highways,” Rodriguez said.

It was a lot of information to digest. Over all, though, it’s great that the city and D.O.T. are promoting walking and biking, and creating the infrastructure to make them safer.

Rodriguez, however, notably did not mention the 80,000 ride-share drivers, a situation the city let explode that has obviously worsened traffic — mostly in Manhattan.

And, in terms of the media, the one concern they raised most often to Rodriguez was about bike delivery guys and others riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way and blowing through red lights — plus the proliferation of e-bikes, electric- and gas-powered scooters (whatever they are called) and mopeds in general. Call it “the elephant on the e-bike (or scooter) in the room.”

“Riding a bike on the sidewalk is not accepted,” the commissioner stated, assuring that only “a small percentage” of drivers and cyclists are scofflaws.

He said D.O.T. is coordinating with the Sheriff’s Office to crack down on sale of illegal scooters, as well as doing “education” on the issue, plus building out safety infrastructure.

But as the editors and reporters repeatedly stressed to him, concerns about rogue cyclists and scooter riders are among their readers’ top complaints. Clearly, the city needs a more concrete plan to address this issue.

And, as for health and walking, here’s an idea. What if Rodriguez urged all the couch potatoes who use delivery apps instead to get up and stroll to the corner store? Whoa — what a concept! In addition to getting some cardio, it would also help cut down on the chaos of speeding scooters and bikes.


  1. Ole lady boter Ole lady boter December 1, 2022

    How about just requiring NY license plates on all bikes, CitiBikes, scooters, etc.

  2. SLA SLA November 29, 2022

    NYC should be promoting and prioritizing essential MTA bus and subway mass transit especially as the bus and subway system is hemorrhaging.
    DOT is sabotaging MTA bus and subway.

    BTW in NYC bike riders are former mass transit riders, not former drivers. Bicycling siphons from mass transit.

  3. Alan Flacks Alan Flacks November 29, 2022

    Dear Readers, I have been active in local politics and community affairs over the years, so from time to infrequent time I’ve had to contact the N.Y.C. Dept. of Transportation. Now, Ydanis is a good guy (and he served on the City Council’s transportation committee I believe), but he’s now hard to reach. Furthermore, he has replaced capable Dept. people with, in many cases, essentially incompetent and inexperienced ones. That’s not good for us. Well, that’s politics: to the victor belongs the spoils.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 29, 2022

      Brain drain from city agencies is a real problem, but it’s not specific to DOT and Ydanis. This is an Eric Adams problem.
      City agencies have been operating under a salary freeze and hiring freeze. On top of that, they have been cutting back on remote work, which has pushed people out. Result is that a lot of the experienced people are gone and aren’t being replaced, with the work falling to the fewer and often less experienced people who are left.

      • Concerned Black Native NYer Concerned Black Native NYer November 29, 2022

        And to top it off, they’re being replaced with people who have ZERO experience or background in their fields….like Ydanis

  4. John W Sullivan John W Sullivan November 28, 2022

    E bikes – the ones with the lithium batteries – are a menace. How many more fires must they cause before they are banned?

  5. Concerned Black Native NYer Concerned Black Native NYer November 28, 2022

    “Riding a bike on the sidewalk is not accepted,” the commissioner stated, assuring that only “a small percentage” of drivers and cyclists are scofflaws.

    This kind of tone deaf stupidity is exactly why someone like Lee Zeldin came closer to winning that race than expected, and why a lot of seats in NY were lost to the GOP.

    Regular everyday New Yorkers are telling their officials what is going on in their city and these same officials are telling them that it’s either “the media” or their imagination.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to stand on ANY MAJOR STREET WITH A BIKE LANE IN THIS CITY to see unlicensed motor scooters, e-bikes and bikes in general, riding however they see fit at any given moment.

    Pretending that this is a matter of infrastructure is, again, tone deaf.

    When Trump is finally gone and the GOP moves a little bit more toward the center, a lot of folks in this city are in for a rude awakening…

  6. LES3025 LES3025 November 28, 2022

    Do you actually think that having the DOT commissioner tell people to pick up their own orders is going to have any effect at all?

    It would be simple to solve the problem of bikes on sidewalks. But it would require massively expanding bike infrastructure in a way the city lacks the capacity to do, and the same people complaining now about bikes on sidewalks would object to the loss of street parking and vehicle lanes that would be required. So it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

  7. L. Porto L. Porto November 28, 2022

    Sooo glad the reporters in the room pressed the issue of the rouge A-holes riding on the sidewalks!
    Plus scooters running red lights as one crosses the street!
    Loved your comment about walking to pick up that takeout food order, which I do 90% of the time.

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