02 January 2015

Not Plugged Into Courtesy And Safety

I'm no fan of electric bikes, or e-bikes, as they're commonly known.  Actually, what bothers me even more than the bikes themselves are their riders.  Here in New York, it seems that just about all of them are delivery men (I haven't seen a woman doing that kind of work) for restaurants and stores.  

Now, as a long-ago bicycle messenger, I can understand some of the challenges of their job.  I'm guessing that most of them are paid per delivery, as I was when I sluiced asphalt slaloms through canyons of glass and steel to bring everything from legal documents to slices of pizza to packages with their own "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies, if you know what I mean.  In those days, I was young (Weren't we all, once?) and in good shape, which made me a fast rider. That, of course, is why I made decent money--better money, in fact, than I did in the next two jobs I had after I stopped plying the courier trade.

Speed equals money.  That, of course, is the reason why those delivery people ride electric or motorized bikes.   I get that.  But I don't condone their disregard for the basic rules of the road and their lack of consideration for other people.  


Last night, while riding to my bank's ATM and a store, I was nearly half of a head-on collision with some guy making deliveries on an e-bike.  I was riding between the traffic and parking lanes, both of which were full on a stretch lined with restaurants, bars, clubs and stores that remained open for the holiday.   

He was riding in the opposite direction, at least twice as fast as I was moving into the wind.  From what I could tell, he was not paying attention to the traffic or anything else. For that matter, I don't think he spoke English--or, at least not enough to understand "Watch out!" and the curses I yelled at him after he missed me by the breadth of the string in his hoodie.

It's not the first, or even the worst, instance of such careless riding I've seen by e-bikers.  I have stopped patronizing a restaurant near me because the owner refuses to talk to his delivery men--especially one in particular who routinely rides on sidewalks and, in one incident I saw, nearly killed an elderly woman who was walking by.  

Anyway...I know that a new year has begun, and this is supposed to be a time of good cheer.  But one thing I would love to see in this new year are the two "c's"--consciousness and courtesy--on the part of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, e-bikers and motorized bicycle riders alike.

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