Alt-Wheels Notes #10

Inside: Revealed! Why car drivers hate cyclists!

What Are Alt-Wheels?

Alternative Wheels. I don’t like the term “micromobility.” In fact, I hate it. It sounds like tiny wheelchairs. The person who coined that marketing term apparently never saw TV ads in American for “mobility devices” — which are basically motorized wheelchairs. Alt-Wheels are these: pedal bikes, kick bikes, handbikes, recumbent bikes, pedal tricycles, electric tricycles, electric bikes, kick skateboards, electric skateboards, kick scooters, electric scooters, electric unicycles, and the Onewheel. In Singapore, anything small and electric is separated from that bunch and they’re called PEVs: Personal Electric Vehicles. (And, by the way, while cyclists look to Denmark, it’s Singapore that’s the world leader in electric Alt-Wheels.) I don’t like using the term “vehicle” because that’s a legal term. And if governments start considering Alt-Wheels as that, we’ll have “rider’s ed,” registration, licensing, and insurance requirements for all of them. And that damn well should not happen until Alt-Wheels have street parity with cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, and everything else of that ilk, gas or electric.

New York State/City

We begin with what looks like political posturing: Have No Fear, Advocates: State E-Bike Bill Will Become Law.

The governor’s office would only say the bill is under review, and declined to cite any concerns that would prevent the Gov. Cuomo from signing it — but the fact is, it remains unsigned. Supporters had scheduled a rally last week to urge the governor to get out his signing pen, but canceled it, saying that they, too, remain optimistic that the Sphinx of the Statehouse would act swiftly.

Either someone has their facts wrong or LegiScan and the New York State Assembly and Senate websites are wrong.

Because, as of post time, LegiScan is still showing everything as undelivered to the Governor:

And the Assembly and Senate progress maps still look like this:

See the Assembly and Senate websites for yourself: Assembly Bill A7431B, Senate Bill S5294A, and Senate Bill S6597.

Veto-proof or not, I don’t see anything in the Governor’s paws according to those sites. And even when his mitts get the bills, he can twiddle his thumbs for months and months. The 2019 season is already over. He can kill the 2020 season by delay too.

The article is useful for this admission of reality:

The Citi Bikes had a speed governor on them that kept you at a maximum speed of about 17 miles per hour. Plenty of road bikers go faster than that.

Oh hell yes they do. I’ve been on the west side path (in the narrow cobblestone edge) when they have. And I haven’t seen anyone calling for a cyclist speed limit anywhere. Nor am I calling for one. Until you set a ridiculously-low speed limit for Alt-Wheels. Then I will scream.

Streetsblog NYC loses it mind: Mayor: I Want to Do Citi Bike on the Cheap (And I’ll Try to Keep Riders Safe)

Mayor de Blasio confirmed on Wednesday why the just-announced expansion of Citi Bike — one of the city’s most successful and popular forms of public transportation — will take four years to reach only a tiny fraction of the city: He doesn’t want to pay for it.

By “he” Streetsblog means we, the taxpayers. Why the hell should we? CitiBike is owned by Motivate, which was acquired by Lyft. At post time, Lyft went public with a valuation of twenty-four billion dollars. This is not a company that is, as Harlan Ellison would put it, on the street corner wearing an eyepatch with a tin cup in its hand. Let me repeat its IPO valuation: twenty-four billion dollars. CitiBike should not get a single taxpapyer cent, period. Spend NYC funds on Alt-Wheel lanes, dammit. And shame on Streetsblog NYC!

Uber searches for driver hangout space in Manhattan

The ride-hail company wants a large lot or garage where its drivers can park to avoid cruising for customers in a newly proposed zone below 96th Street where the city is seeking to limit empty app-hailed vehicles.

In 1900, motor vehicles went from being the domain of mechanical hobbyists in the U.S. to being an industry. Streets were dirt or cobble and the new motor vehicles had no street parking (nor did they want any yet — no car alarms!). They had to be stored. Businesses were created to do that. Here we are 119 years later and Uber needs car storage as if it’s 1900 again.

Oh Canada


Those are confounding rules. eScooters have motors yet aren’t allowed in streets? Bikes have direct human control and are not allowed on sidewalks? How did they come up with that? And do they differentiate between rental eSooters and owner-operated eScooters?

United Kingdom

Dave Sherry, the Avenging Cyclist seen in the recent UK Channel5 documentary, Cyclists: Scourge Of The Streets?, can be seen in action in a video he posted to Twitter (video at Twitter):

A van driver gets in Sherry’s face American-style and Sherry replies in typical and wonderfully-calm British temperament with, “All right. I’ll see you in court, yeah.”


Yes. Someone is finally thinking. Since no one has yet seen the wisdom of adopting my all-encompassing Alt-Wheels term (see top of this Notes) and calling them Alt-Wheels lanes, at least there’s someone moving away from the non-inclusive “bike lane” term.

The “Micromobility” Grift


Holy shit. What world do the “micromobilites” live in? They just don’t have any damned clue, do they? I can’t even begin to enumerate the number of YouTube videos about van living, living in a car, etc, that I’ve seen. And how is it they don’t know about Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland? Do they have to wait for the movie to hit them in their mug? (And then there will be an entire series of even more clueless tweets!) They don’t even know that safe parking spaces had to be made for such vehicle dwellers! Clueless! One-percenters conning other one-percenters and not fooling any of us at ground level. They’re an endless source of justifiable ridicule.




And a vital point is raised:

I agree. I’ve been trying to build solidarity between cyclists and Alt-Wheels. I tried to publicize the recent NYC die-in on Reddit, in two of the most-popular Alt-Wheels forums (here and here). As the pathetic number of Upvotes reveal, this is not (yet) a pressing concern to them. But it has to be. Drivers think all of the street belongs to them. That’s wrong. And it’s only by uniting the hard-work of cyclist advocacy with the additional numbers of Alt-Wheels owner-riders can this mindset be changed. And shame on the eScooter and bike rental companies for not being at public hearings. Make it your job to be there. And cyclists? Inform me via Twitter of public hearings and I’ll do my best to inform people on Reddit and in these Notes.


Thank you, China

I can already see the “micromobilites” licking heir chops over that graph. They love their graphs! (Real life, not so much.) There are many problems with the assumptions underlying that chart and other assertions made in that post. The debate is at Reddit. What I have to say is this: Buy cheap, buy twice. And hmmmm, have the “micromobilites” ever heard of astroturfing? I laugh at the very idea that they will have no idea which Redditors are trustworthy.


The opening photo for this edition of Notes shows the American televangelist Robert Schuller. Full of moxie and initiative, the lack of a formal building to preach in did not daunt him. He turned a movie drive-in theater into his church! Even after securing his own building, he continued his car ministry, as this photo shows:

Now I believe it’s time to update that photo:

Because in America, cars have turned into a religion. Drivers see themselves as True Believers in the American mythology of cars equaling freedom and “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” Never mind that their “freedom” is at the cost of everyone else and that Michael Moore disemboweled GM and showed its true face. In these days of “fake news,” they’ll slough off both as being “un-American.”

And that’s how I believe they see cyclists: As something “un-American.”

Listen, it wasn’t until recently that I finally saw the movie Easy Rider. I really didn’t know anything about it except that it had “damn hippies” in it. Seeing it was revelatory. There wasn’t much “hippie” about it, really. Just two guys on their cycles — with some drug use in-between — traveling cross-country. Their big sin? Not conforming in appearance to everyone else. They were, otherwise, OK guys. Nothing at all freakish about them other than how they looked.

And how they were perceived — not how they behaved — was what mattered.

With drivers versus cyclists, however, it’s both perception and behavior.

Let’s examine how a driver sees a cyclist:

1) Using up street space the driver believes belongs to their car

2) Doing something other than conforming — not driving

3) Doing something that’s healthy that irritates an unhealthy driver

4) Using something small and weak for transportation — and that implies the rider is weak too

5) By not owning a car the cyclist is undermining the prosperity of America

6) A cyclist gets to bypass traffic congestion but is seen as the cause of it because bike lanes

7) The driver resents a cyclist experiencing less stress and more freedom — they bought a car to be free!

8) Cyclists don’t get parking tickets or red light tickets (they do) and have storage freedom (bring it into their office)

9) Every driver is more careful on the street than any wild cyclist (an outright delusion)

10) People like top ten lists but I’m stopping at 9.

What’s the solution to all of that? To any of that?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that things will get worse as drivers find their lives getting more difficult. Why should they — who put tens of thousands of dollars into a machine, its fuel, its insurance and maintenance, road tolls, and more — have fewer rights than some hippie Euro-worshipping freak (their characterization) on an inexpensive bicycle?

I don’t know — yet — how to counter any of that.

Do you?

Additional news, elsewhere:

Posted once a day: Transportation Alternatives Daily Bike Forecast by Bike Snob NYC

Has a Morning Links compilation: Biking in LA

Updated many times a day: Streetsblog and Streetsblog NYC

Previously here:

Alt-Wheels Notes #9
Alt-Wheels Notes #8
Alt-Wheels Notes #7
Alt-Wheels Notes #6
Alt-Wheels Notes #5
Alt-Wheels Notes #4
Alt-Wheels Notes #3
Alt-Wheels Notes #2
Alt-Wheels Notes #1
Alt-Wheels Notes category

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