Speak up!

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See something, say something — on the spot. And we salute a New Yorker who did just that. This is about everyday city threats that really stress us out. Patricia Dale wrote a letter to the editor of this paper which reminds me not to give up trying to quell what are euphemistically called “quality-of-life lawbreakers.” Patricia is a third-generation New Yorker who is now distressed that the city is no longer a great walking city. She notes the countless cellphone users unaware of those around them and she speaks out on the spot. She’s also concerned about bikes on the sidewalk and she told a mother of a little boy who was racing by that’s “it’s illegal to use the sidewalk.” The mother replied “Why don’t you stop being a grumpy old lady as my son is learning to ride his bike.” And she spoke to a young girl walking backward on a crowded sidewalk barely missing Patricia’s post-surgical knee. The mother chastised her, saying “Don’t speak to my daughter.” Also one Sunday morning, she told a truck driver who was blaring his radio, “Just remember its Sunday morning and people are resting.” To which he replied: “Pay me some money and I’ll turn down the sound.”

Sometimes it’s risky to speak out, and most of us stay silent. If enough of us did say something, things would change. But we need to be encouraged to speak out at civic meetings and I remember some years ago at a 79th Street Association meeting, two officers from the 19th precinct urged us to remember that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” And of course, bring these stressful concerns to the paper as Patricia did. And at those same meetings, a bicyclist, Roger Herz, had a seven-point message to curb the heedless bicyclists. The only one I remember has to do with speaking out. If you see a red light running bicyclist, yell “Red light.” If you see a wrong-way bicyclist, shout “Wrong way.” And if you see a sidewalk bicyclist, yell “Off the sidewalk.” And some of us did and still do but only a few.

Of course we use also yell at motorists failing to yield to pedestrians ... the most dangerous traffic infraction, howl “Yield.” Of course you could be nice and smile while you yell. We really need to speak up to set an example even if people look at you strangely. It is they who are dangerously remiss. And do check out the Useful Contacts found in this paper to call elected officials and community boards about lawlessness and lack of consideration. And now some city councilman is urging legislation to legalize electric scooters. State Senator Liz Krueger is one official very concerned about the issue. Somehow the city is only looking out for travel modes but not about how bike lanes are hurting small businesses. The primary duty of government is to protect public welfare and doesn’t that mean looking out for the common good. Perhaps we’ve gone rather off topic of “speaking out on the spot” but remember bicyclist Roger Herz urged us to do just that. And Patricia Dale is such a model New Yorker for doing just that and also for bringing her concerns to this paper. If more of us did this and spoke out, this could be a great safe walking city again. We need a real movement to speak out ... to not be silent and bring it to the elected officials and to this paper. It can be done if enough of us try


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