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What Lies Beneath

December 13, 2012

If I can pile on to these excellent Streetsblog and Gothamist responses to Steve Cuozzo’s latest tirade against bike lanes, allow me to offer my own observations.

Intentional or not, there’s an underlying racism — or at least an uncomfortable dehumanization of others — that is subtly woven into the fabric of some of Cuozzo’s bike lane rants.  This ugliness certainly won’t stoke the outrage of politicians who are only now coming to realize the offensive material that regularly makes it into the Post, but it’s there nonetheless.

In this week’s column, the Cuozz says that the only cyclists he sees in bike lanes are deliverymen.

“I’ve clocked as few as a half-dozen cyclists in 20 minutes — nearly all of them delivering food.”

See how casually Cuozzo dismisses these cyclists?  Take my total, subtract the number of delivery cyclists, and that’s the real rate of bike lane use.

Delivery cyclists count.  Full stop.  They deserve the same safe streets I want for myself.  Full stop.  In fact, since New York’s economy practically runs on quick and reliable access to Hot Food Now, I would argue that the city has a moral obligation to protect the hard-working, low-paid people who provide it.

In a previous rant, using an argument I’ve seen deployed countless times, Cuozzo complained that the city’s bike lanes were completely empty except for all of the cyclists who were using them.  And just as he reasoned this week, those cyclists didn’t count because — wait for it — they were delivering food.

You don’t need a degree in statistics to grasp what’s obvious to any New Yorker out for a stroll: The DOT’s bike lanes are usually devoid of bikes except for food-delivery personnel. The lanes are the superhighway for General Tso’s chicken, but lonesome highways for everyone else.

In Cuozzo’s world, rather than being part of what Jane Jacobs called the “sidewalk ballet,” the “New Yorker out for a stoll” and the food-delivery person exist in separate universes.  Even his sentence construction suggests that there’s a difference between “food-delivery personnel” and “everyone else.” It’s as if the people who live and work here providing food to the people who live and work here aren’t people.

While this analysis may sound like some sort of post-modern, p.c., liberal arts college Master’s thesis claptrap, there’s always been enough “there” there if you start to dig into Cuozzo’s Sadik-Khan-obsessed mind and poke around for his Rosebud.  I wonder what would happen if he were allowed to fully express his feelings about how New York has changed during the last decade.  My suspicion is that he’d have issues with more than just bike lanes.

  1. Reader permalink
    December 14, 2012 7:54 am

    “superhighway for General Tso’s chicken” is especially noxious.

  2. December 14, 2012 10:28 am

    Those who deliver inedible vending-machine “snacks” or overpriced bottled water by motor vehicle, however, are truly paladins of the Avenues, who deserve a free place to park while offloading their wares.

  3. December 14, 2012 8:52 pm

    Cuozzo spends a lot of that article spouting thinly veiled classist remarks; he has no respect for the working class and takes his own lifestyle as the “correct” one. I’d love to see how he treats waiters at a restaurant.


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