New phrase puts blame where it belongs
By Bette Dewing
I clip enough from The Daily News, The New York Times, this paper and sometimes the NY Post, to fill a 600 word bi-weekly column a dozen times over. And on every walk or ride on the bus (what else?), there’s more to report, too much that “doesn’t like me.”
The “doesn’t like me” phrase was coined by Bess, my dear and greatly missed mother-in-law on her 81st birthday. “These eighties don’t like me,” she wryly observed. Bess had the gift of speaking hard truths in a no-nonsense but very likeable way. Her chronic knee-arthritis had deprived her of being able to walk around her Chicago neighborhood. We hear what a hardship automobile country is for elders when they have to give up driving, but far worse is having to give up walking—or in truth, have walking “give up” on you.
About this “doesn’t like me” way of critiquing, lamenting and protesting—it’s something that all of us should adopt!
For example, “I hate traffic law-breaking motorists, bicyclists and heedless scooter riders, walkers and joggers!” would become, “They hate me!” Let’s put the blame where it belongs.
And again we are reminded of how the new city hybrid bus interiors surely do “hate us” with their cramped and multi-level design. We must get our laments in soon, however, because they’re ordering more. This is on the advice of Katie, a representative of the Straphanger Campaign. Let’s share our grievances with Joseph Smith, president of the MTA Bus Company, at 646-252-5872. Katie, incidentally, finds these buses that are operating on First and Second Avenues “really quite great.”
So call Smith and 311 and pressure media and elected officials who don’t see the total picture when going “green.” Most of them haven’t thought about the total bus experience but only “fast,” not “comfortable” or even “safe.”
The Civitas civic group’s rider survey on the new Select Bus System on First and Second avenues also needs feedback. Businesses in the area really “hate” the resulting parking and delivery restrictions from the new system. Although the survey can be found on the web at www.surveymonkey.com/s/Q32XJ5W; knowing that many bus riders don’t have this option, I say also call Civitas at 212-996-0745.
Well, The Times seemed to like my letter about the judge who charged a 4-year-old girl with negligence after she rode her bike with training wheels into an 87-year-old woman, knocking her to the ground. The woman suffered (the right verb!) a broken hip and died several months later, which columnist Susan Dominus said was from “unrelated causes.” Oh?
In the letter, I blamed parents and other adult caregivers for failure to train their charges to ride safely and to be concerned for others sharing our cities crowded walkways. I’m more afraid of children wheeling on walkways than adults illegally wheeling because of youngsters’ “inexperience” and their undeveloped sense of safety. I know of two serious (one ultimately fatal), accidents caused by heedless child-wheelers.
Of course, crossing-the-street danger from adult “traffic law-haters” is far worse. But for the safety of both bicyclist and other city travelers, a city bike should make a nice little sound—little jingle bells. But a very traffic-safety concerned bicyclist friend responds with “It would drive bicyclists crazy!”
But you can’t have it all, Charlie! It’s not a right, but a privilege to bring private wheels into a high-density city, one with much public transit. And prudent pedestrians, who bring only themselves into a crowded city, do have a right for safe and low-stress passage. So do public transit riders.
Cameras will now catch motorists riding in the Select bus lane. How about bicyclists? Of course, that would mean a license plate. Safety First persons would definitely love that! So would some bicyclists.
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