2003-07-11 / Columnists

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

The law is the law," he said. "New York City Laws and Regulations will be enforced in an even-handed manner equally, against all violators."

Sounds fair and reasonable, huh?

But it ain’t. In fact, in shows a remarkable lack of judgment and common sense. And that’s the problem going on here in good ol’ Rockapulco.

What did he say about all violators? Laws and regulations will be enforced against all violators. Is that everywhere or just on the beach? If it’s everywhere, you better walk your bicycle onto the street (if you can find one that’s not currently under construction); you better tell your seven year old to get the hell of the sidewalk and ride in street traffic because "the law is the law."

That’s right. It’s against the law to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. Many of us think that we’re subject to a bunch of old laws that nobody ever bothered to repeal or enforce. That ain’t necessarily so. The current City Council passed the following just last year: (Section one. Subdivision b of section 19-176 of the administrative code of the city of New York, as enacted by local law number 6 for the year 1996), is amended to read as follows: §19-176 Bicycle operation on sidewalks prohibited. b. No person shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk unless permitted by an official sign. A person who violates this subdivision may be issued a notice of violation and shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than one hundred dollars which may be recovered in a proceeding before the environmental control board.

And gosh forbid, your seven year old gets pulled over without proper ID. If they intend to treat everyone equally, they’ll have to bring him into the precinct. Run his fingerprints….the whole dog and pony show. (That reminds me—are we supposed to swim with ID? Or are we supposed to leave our wallets on the beach blanket?)

Anyway, the bike law was passed because messengers in Manhattan were buzzing and endangering pedestrians. Such a law might make sense in a place like Manhattan but in a place like Rockaway? Uh-uh. No how. No way.

Think about it. When parents teach their kids how to ride a 2-wheeler it has to be done in the street (in the correct direction of traffic). Not on the sidewalk, not against traffic because…. the law is the law. Tell Granny who likes to keep youthful by riding her bike that she better get off the sidewalk and not go anywhere near the boardwalk between 10am-6pm because "the law is the law."

Well, if that’s the case, then the law is a can of worms. Jaywalking? Loitering? Has that law about women having to wear robes when they come off the beach still on the books? Better check. How many inches did you park your car from the curb? There’s a law against breathing, I’m sure. But here’s my take: laws don’t have to be changed. They have to be sensibly enforced. And selectively enforced. That’s right. You want the law on the books so if things get completely out of control you can cite such laws. It’s called discretion and we expect cops to use some. If a man is speeding his pregnant wife to the hospital and is pulled over, we hope the cop will use discretion and not spend 15 minutes writing a ticket. Imagine if the woman in labor had to hear "the law is the law." (Come to think of it, if she were in labor and she heard some crock an assault charge might follow).

We expect discretion and common sense. Hypothetically, if gangs are fighting each other on the beach, we (the public) should reasonably expect that police would direct their attention to such an incident rather than say, issuing a summons to 50 year old man sitting in a beach chair with a beer a few blocks away.

Someone said in last year’s Wave, "if people don’t like the laws, there are political mechanisms that exist for legislative change." Okay. But what I want to know is, what is the mechanism for injecting someone with a dose of common sense and discretion?

**Boyle-ing Over: Recently I had to accompany a famous hypochondriac and peerless complainer (Joe Kenel to some of you) to the hospital. Although he whined the entire time, the experience was somewhat pleasant for me because the staff at St. John’s Hospital in Far Rock were so friendly, helpful, and professional. I hadn’t been to St. John’s in a while but the place looks great after some extensive rehab.

**Recently retired police officer—a chap overflowing with common sense—Marty Feeney was spotted managing a very fine Broad Channel all-star baseball team at Fort Tilden. Don’t know how his vocal chords hold up—the guy doesn’t stop chattering—-but I have to tip my hat because he spouts positive stuff at both teams. Somebody makes a good play—on either squad—he’s quick with the praise. Nice to hear (even if his voice sounds like football cleats on gravel).

Broad Channel has got a wonderful sports program. Next up will be football and cheerleading registration. (Contact Marty at BCACwebsite@ aol.com or 718-318-0600). All Rockaway and Channel kids are welcome to join—and, you know, if all the local kids got together, we’d have a powerhouse. Marty tells me that the teams play in the NSFL league which is based in Nassau. Different divisions allow for play from 5 year olds to 14. And the cheerleading program is growing and gets to compete at Farmingdale college. Kids gets great uniforms, there are very reasonable fees, great friendships are formed and fun is abundant. So, in a nutshell—this is a great opportunity for boys and girls—contact Marty!

***Hello to Boyle-ing Points reader Maureen Dahler. And thanks for keeping the light on.

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