CUT RED LIGHT OFFENSES
Tuesday January 12 2000 -- The DOT claims that the red-light cameras have cut the incidence of running red lights by sixty percent. What the DOT won't tell you however, is that these reductions are only at the intersections where the red-light cameras exist, and have been known to exist for a year or more.
What DOT also neglects to mention is that the Big Brother -like cameras don't record anything at all if you stop for the red light, wait a few seconds and then proceed along your merry way, or if you go flying through the red light several seconds after it has been red.
Reality is, the red light cameras are really just a way to tax the poor shmoe whose attention was somewhere else for a moment, had a flash of indecision, and missed the light only by a second or two. It does very little to penalize pathological offendors.
Tuesday January 12 2000 -- Helicopter noise complaints are on the rise in NYC, amid claims that the noise an affect the health of people nearby, manifesting itself as high blood pressure and hypertension.
There's no question that noise causes hypertension. The big question is, who is complaining? The latest round of complaints sound very much like the people who move to locations near airports and complain about the jet noise, or move near auto race tracks and complain about the engines screaming. The heliports have been in operation for a very long time. The only thing that has increased is the traffic. But what kind of complete idiot moves to New York City for PEACE AND QUIET?!
Sunday January 9 2000 -- Seventy-five bicyclists have died on New York City's streets in 1999, and it's mostly their fault. Or so says city officials , who are perfectly happy to take the motorist's word for it.
Unfortunately, the dead bicyclists are unable to speak for themselves. But motorists would never lie, right?
In this ever more crowded city and increasingly high-pressure society, motorists frustrations have increased geometrically. Along with this, their caution for and attention to the vulnerability of pedestrians and bicyclists has critically waned. How else do you explain the significant rise in bicyclist deaths when the number of bicyclists in NYC has actually dropped substantially from the past year?
It's bad enough that health- and environment-conscious people such as bicyclists have to be subjected to smoke belching buses and trucks, abused by pedestrians, and harrassed by police. But now Mayor Giuliani's abuse of statistics has offered motorists a free license to kill.
Saturday February 28 1998 -- Echoing the New York City civil servants' "CPR" policy, the Mayor is now taking on litterbugs, jay-walkers, aggressive drivers, and impolite people in general.
I wish the Mayor could have seen me at the 112th Precinct in Queens on Monday night, where I was given the fast shuffle regarding some motor-vehicle accident paperwork, or on Tuesday night in the same place where on the advice of my attorney I asserted my rights and finally had to go through the desk sargeant to get the paperwork done. The Mayor should have seen the conspicuously aggravated look on the face of the officer as he said "I hate doing this", and he should have witnessed the combative and argumentative attitude from that officer at every stage of the filing.
These officers don't mind the paperwork so much when it's helping fulfill their ticket quotas, or guidelines, or whatever the department is calling its traffic and parking ticket requirements this week.
Aren't these civil servants the ones who are supposed to set an example for the rest of us? How can you expect civility from the city's people when those who represent and serve them are lazy, arrogant, selfish, obnoxious, and unhelpful?
Friday November 21 1997 -- The death of a man on an upper-west side sidewalk by a fast-food delivery bicyclist has sparked anger and controversy over "those crazy bicycles". Arthur Kaye was struck backward to the ground by the bicycle, and died shortly thereafter from the resulting head trauma. The bicyclist was delivering food from a local fast-food chicken restaurant, and was given a summons for insufficient identification.
Residents of the area in typical "yeah, what he said!" fashion have stepped up complaints about reckless bicyclists who traverse the sidewalks, run red lights, and generally present a menace to pedestrians. The food delivery bicyclists are typically paid substantially less than minimum wage (if they are paid at all) and depend on tips, and therefore delivery speed, for the bulk of their income.
Bicyclists are once again the target-of-the-week but what I haven't noticed ever, is furor over jay-walking pedestrians. If a car runs a light, the driver risks a $100 fine, "points" representing a 25% advance toward losing his/her driving privileges for one year, and "points" on the part of the insurance company which permit them to increase the driver's rates by hundreds of dollars each year over the next 40 months. If a pedestrian crosses against a traffic light in New York City, all that pedestrian risks is their life, and possibly the lives around them when oncoming traffic has to dodge their flagrant display of disregard for the law.
Meanwhile, I have yet to see a solution for keeping bicycles off city sidewalks altogether. Thieves in New York City are so adept that manufacturers of bicycle locks which feature guarantees, void those guarantees within New York City limits. You can't leave the bicycle in the gutter, and you can't always reach from the curb a suitable pole or device to which a bicycle could be locked. New Yorkers will always want their food delivered in a timely fashion, and New Yorkers will still need to ride bicycles. With New York City becoming increasingly less friendly to cars and motorcycles, some compromise will have to be reached.
Wednesday November 19 1997 -- As the Christmas show season beckons at Rockefeller Center, the famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes are threatening to strike. The gross obsenity of the dancers' timing has suitably clouded the issues behind their strike threats, which have not been made public.
Moan, moan, moan; strike, strike, strike. UPS, Teamsters, Rockettes, Broadcast Technicians, yada yada yada. What ever happened to the free market system? The Teamsters claim that their strike was a victory because of hard work and unity. This is crap. The strike was a victory because it was too difficult to quickly hire 250,000 new employees to replace the misguided loafs that went on strike. The worst part is that the UPS workers were PAID to be nothing more than a nuisance for the duration of their strike.
The Rockettes are being foolish. I don't know many people growing up dreaming of hefting packages from a brown truck six days a week, but I do know there are thousands of eager young women clamoring for the thrill and glamour of torturing their toes in front of hundreds of thousands of people a year ...and there's not so many Rockettes that they couldn't be replaced.
Monday August 25 1997 -- This week the 1997 U.S. Open begins at the new 23,000 seat US$254 million Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens. The new stadium, named after the late U.S. Open champion who died of AIDS in 1993, is built in Flushing Meadow Park a mere stone's throw from Shea Stadium, and only about 1.5 miles from LaGuardia Airport's runway 13. The tennis stadium is built only about 1.5 miles off-axis from a direct approach or take-off from this runway. Amazingly, part of the lease negotiation for this new stadium reportedly allows for as much as a $325,000 fine against the city if aircraft flew "overhead" during the tournament.
We can all thank former NYC Mayor David Dinkins for this hallmark of genius. Competitors in the tournament continuously complain of noise from aircraft landing and taking off, and noise from the nearby elevated Flushing line #7 train. During tournaments, Flushing's residential areas endure increased noise from re-routed aircraft, and the airport may have to compromise safety in order to satisfy the demands of the USTA.