Newsweek Vs. Hell for Leather

Dailies -


HFL_Newsweek.jpgI just wrote a short argument for better bike-friendly laws in New York for Newsweek. It’ll appear in the August 17 print edition (on stands tomorrow), but it’s available online now.


  • Rainman

    Excellent column! No matter how green Mr. Bloomberg is trying to make NYC, he hates MCs and scoots and has said it aloud and in print. Until he completes his last term (ahem), bikers will be second class citizens in the greatest city in the world.

  • JWinter

    Even an adequate enforcement of existing traffic laws upon taxis and livery cabs would be a huge start. Safety is the biggest reason I don’t ride any sort of two-wheeled vehicle in the city.

    Good to see Newsweek lowered their cover price.

  • ElectraGlideInBlue

    Dear Mr Siler,
    That is one hell of a “short argument”. I am wondering just how long it will be, before – We The People, get mad as hell and not take this shit anymore.

  • Stephen

    Nice article. It really articulates why I ride a scooter to work and for most errands daily.

  • TeeJay

    Nice article!

    I live in Budapest, Hungary. The cr@p is the same as in NY. No lane splitting, cops are hunting for bikers etc. However most of the European cities I’ve been (well, actually ALL of these cities) have more-and-more scooter traffic. The mediterrians, no question. London, Paris, right, we know those stories. But the most absurde was to see the fish blooded Germans in Berlin. I was expecting that they use the big Benzs, BMWs, Audis, VWs just years and years before. Now the surprise was that even the “suits” were using bicycles, scooters and yes, some of them big bikes as well. Okay, I understand that cars cannot be replaced by bikes certain cases, but I still see that the ~90%-95% of ppl sitting alone in a big metal-glass-plastic barn in a traffic jam…

    I wonder when people realize the rational means of transportation. Of course our “wise” leaders want to postpone that moment as much as possible: they are in a need of tax money (in my country 50% of the gas price is tax, but this is common in EU).

    • vic

      same crap here,i lived in bucharest for a while and i must say it’s even more congested(which everyone complains about) than budapesta,and people on scoots and motorcycles get the same shit(and there are an increasing amount,especially on scoots)..i got my licence suspended twice for passing cars at a stop light,there we’re even talks of banning motorcycles in some areas altogheter because of some squids who we’re revving,that’s like banning beer because some kid had one in a bar…but hey,it’s easier to pass a stupid law than actually hunting down the squids,
      luckily i now moved back to constantza,.where people seem to be more bike friendly and i can park anywhere and nobody gives you shit about it
      so you see Wes,NYC is not by any means a unique case,although the fact that your local authorities are using all sorts of legal loopholes to stop people from riding on 2 wheels must be frustrating
      ps:do you have to go through the same legal hell in order to ride a >50cc scoot?

  • urbanrider

    Good, succinct article.

    I can’t believe there is a 3 month waiting list for training.

    If you want to ride a 50cc scooter in NY, what do you need in terms of a licence?

    • Wes Siler

      50cc laws are complicated here, but if it also has bicycle pedals (ie a moped) and its top speed is 20mph or less, you don’t need a helmet, insurance or title. I think you do need a car license. They are however restricted to using the right lanes and shoulders and probably aren’t fast enough to be safe for the majority of riders.

  • Licensed in CT

    I never realized it was so expensive to get a license in NYC , I am glad I got mine in CT. I did the CT DMV off-street test and got my license for about 70 bucks in total.

    I also got my license in the UK before the testing and license tiers became “relatively” draconian. London may be pro-motorcyclist but the rest of the country doesn’t seem to be.

    I agree with your point about the adequacy and availability of parking. I would not even mind paying a reasonable amount to park. The main thing that stops me keeping and riding a bike in NYC is that I don’t want to go to my bike in the morning and find it has been either stolen or taken by the NYPD to the West Side lot.

  • generic1776

    Great piece. We need more positive perspective for the masses.

  • hoyt

    Electric cars still will get 0 mp”g” while sitting still.

    2-wheeled transportation is a proven supplement to good mass transit every workday in many European cities.

    good piece. Now, about that HD scooter….

  • MrP

    To get an “M” class license in NYS is only about $31 in permit & change of document fees. You are not required to take any formal training but it is highly recommended. One of the advantages of enrolling in a private training course is the road test service. Just getting to a NYS motorcycle road test is an obstacle course for a new rider on his/her own. First you need a registered and inspected motorcycle to take the test on, and you must get it to the test site but are not allowed to ride it there. Therefore, you need a licensed rider or a trailer to get your bike to the site. You also need a car with a licensed driver (over 18) to drive the test inspector behind you as you take your test. The test itself is not as difficult as just getting there.

    Wes, love the article, but what is next? Do we rally at city hall? I have sent letters to everyone from my local rep, to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner, and to the Office of the Mayor. I sign whatever petition crosses in front on me for rider’s rights. My main issue is the lack of designated parking in the city. It is so hard to believe that in this day and age, the City of New York refuses to deal with this. The only place I know in the city that has designated motorcycle parking is in the 1st Ave and Ave C loops of Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan. 4 spots once designated for cars were converted to fit 24 motorcycles (6 in each). Good luck finding an open spot there, plus the overly protective residents don’t understand that it is not their own personal space if it has DOT postings.

    Currently I park on the sidewalk. I’m of the philosophy that the ticket for illegal parking will cost less then the repairs after some SUV backs into my bike and knocks it over.

    I’m ready to take a stand.


  • Adam

    excellent article!

  • Robert

    Nicely written article.

    After spending a month in Japan its been hell coming back as an every day rider in the states having realized the massive inefficiencies of the US traffic laws governing 2 wheeled transport.