The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

ghastly jest

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Queensboro, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an effort underway to create separate lanes on the lower level of the Queensboro Bridge, one for pedestrians on the southern side and one for bicycles on the northern. I’m in favor of this plan, personally, as I’ve long thought that the shared pathway currently offered is “piss your pants” dangerous. Long standing, the shared path has pedestrians dodging fast moving bike riders who pick up a generous amount of speed as they descend off the slope of the bridge. Doesn’t sound dangerous because “bicycle,” I know, but having 150-200 lbs of primate meat smack into you when it’s moving at 20 mph on a wheeled contraption isn’t pleasant no matter what the bicycle people say. With the recent addition of e-bikes and other novel forms of electrically driven transport added into the milieu, you’ve now got what are essentially motorcycles using the bike path and silently moving in excess of 30-40 mph.

Physics, bike people, physics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a devilish challenge doing any sort of long exposure work up on Queensboro, despite its apparent stolidity. The bridge is a cantilever type, meaning that each section is geared up to the next one, and each piece is constantly moving and vibrating, particularly when heavy vehicles like garbage or semi tractor trailer trucks are crossing it. Given the high volume of traffic on Queensboro, there’s a whole lot of shaking and moving going on, thereby.

That white line, incidentally, is the only divider between the bike lane (left side) and the pedestrian lane. There are no speed enforcement mechanisms in place here, or at least none that I can point to. Those e-bikes, the mono wheels, the hover boards, and all the other novel new methods of getting around can and do go as fast as they want to go. On the very cold evening I shot these photos, I had to duck out fo the way of a couple of groups who were riding four abreast. Dangerous, this. I have spoken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bicycle people will jump about and yell about how motor vehicles are the real menace, calling them two ton death machines. At least due to license plates and mandated insurance I have somebody to sue for damages. I’m at a loss as to how the city can classify e-bikes and the ilk as anything other than motor vehicles, but sense and logic don’t find an easy place to fit into the modern political dialogue. Everything is a life and death emergency, except when it comes to pedestrian safety. Given that my “Transportation Alternative” is walking, you’d think that maybe that POV would be a part of the conversation, but there you are, and there I am dodging bikes, e-bikes, and those weird wheel things.

See you next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 7, 2020 at 11:00 am

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