Letters to the Editor

Irish slur

To The Editor:

A recent article entitled “12 cyclists arrested in Friday’s group ride” (news article, Jan. 6 – 12) contained a reference to a police “paddy wagon” as one of many police vehicles that followed the bicycle riders. The correct name for this type of vehicle is a “patrol wagon” and the term “paddy wagon” is perceived by many people in the Irish community as an ethnic slur. I believe you and your reporters should be more careful in your choice of words.

John Seymour

Sidewalk biker

To The Editor:

I’ve been rather horrified by the article about how the police treated the Critical Mass bikers (news article, Jan. 6 – 12, “12 cyclists arrested in Friday’s group ride”). How did we get there? It seems that as soon as some citizens decide to have some fun on a critical mass, the police turns to them with a vengeance. Are we still in New York City? The police techniques described in the article are outright scary.

All the bikers want to do is to ride en masse and some of them may want to turn this into a political, anti-oil and anti-car rally, but it’s not the stated goal of the event. The goal of the event is the event: Gather as many people as possible who want to join in a massive event and do something fun together. If it’s more than that, the police should let us know what it fears exactly.

I’m not a huge fan of Critical Mass rallies. But I sense they get fiercer as a response to the police handling of the situation. And in turn, police responses get more violent and intolerant. I’ve been arrested now three times for riding my bike on a sidewalk, in a park, and in the wrong way of a street. All right, fine me. The first time, I contested and the judge asked me: “What do you have to say for your defense?” And I said: “Your Honor, New York City is a very large city and a good deal of tolerance is necessary everywhere so that everything can run smoothly. I’d like to see some tolerance applied in this case.” He agreed and asked me to pay $25 instead of the full $40 fine.Obviously, we’re not in Amsterdam or Beijing or even Tokyo for that matter, where bikes are asked to ride on the sidewalks — the streetways being considered too dangerous for cyclists. Riding in N.Y.C., it feels like us cyclists are some kind of enemies. Riding a bike could well be an efficient alternative to all the ills the city suffers, but it seems that nothing is done to promote this too-free mode of transportation.

I still ride my bike on sidewalks and opposite traffic.  N.Y.C. city streets are just too dangerous and the sidewalks are most often than not very wide and empty. There would be many, many ways to allow things like this. It would just require tolerance from one individual to another. If one fine day, it was authorized or tolerated for cyclists to have the same rights as pedestrians, it would be adopted in the most natural and easy way. People in N.Y. keep doors open for other people. There would be an organic way to let things find their flow between people.

Yves Seban

AIDS support

To The Editor:

Re “Musicianship of high order marks AIDS Day remembrance” (Arts article, Dec.9 – 15): Thank you for keeping alive the music of the four composers we lost through the AIDS plague—-we performed at Trinity Church on World AIDS DAY at our Highlights of the Benson AIDS Series. Your article was meaningful to many. We remain grateful.

Mimi Stern-Wolfe


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