Michael Alexander reports:

For those who complain that Vancouver doesn’t take care of business, and imagine that other cities must be doing better:

Last week I emailed the city, noting that it has been months since Pacific Boulevard had been repaved, but that the crosswalk stripes hadn’t been added (and that the temporary dashed lines that demarcate where the stripes go were so old that they were fading).

The next day, I got an emailed response, thanking me for the information.

Six days later, here are the new stripes at the busy intersection of Pacific and Davie, complete with separate stop lines for each car lane.



On the other hand, here is my wife’s experience trying to let New York officials know that someone had planted a credit card reader on one of their transit ticketing machines, to surreptitiously steal credit card information. (U.S. credit cards don’t have chips like ours do, so all your personal information is coded on an easily-read magnetic stripe on the back.)


How I Wasted Three Hours Trying to Alert ANYONE To Credit Card Skimming at New York’s Howard Beach Station


So I spent last week in NYC and yesterday my credit card company phoned about a possible fraudulent charge. …. After reading an item about credit card theft from an MTA ticket machine at Columbus Circle, I’m quite certain that my credit card was skimmed at the Howard Beach station where I bought a $6 ticket for the AirTrain to JFK.

Now I’m home in Vancouver, Canada, and have spent a frustrating three hours trying to alert anyone at the MTA or in city government to this fraud, with no success.

I started with the obvious: MTA. After working my way through their phone tree a couple of times (various unexpected disconnects), I eventually reached someone in the corporate office who had no idea what to do or who I should call.

On to New York’s finest, who put me on hold, then disconnected me. After another busy signal, I reached a woman who said I should come in and file a report.  Uh, I’m in Vancouver, Canada now.  Oh, she responded brightly, you should send us a statement in the mail.  So, I said, the fact that there may be an active credit card skimming device at the Howard Beach station doesn’t warrant any action speedier than a mailed letter from Canada?  “Hold on, I’ll run this by my supervisor.” Buzz, disconnect.

Time to elevate. I called the mayor’s office, leaving a message at Hiz Honor’s citizen complaint number. Now, time to escalate. I called the City Hall Press Office, prepared to threaten to call the press if I couldn’t get action from the city. “This line is only for reporters,” she said. “This is a story,” I said. She hung up.

I’m starting to take these hangups personally. Do I sound like a crazy lady?

So, like the camera-and-magnetic-stripe-reader at Columbus Circle, a credit card skimming contraption may well be attached to an AirTrain ticket machine at Howard Beach Station. If so, credit card information is being stolen from people going to and from JFK. And there’s no way to alert anyone in authority to the criminal activity.


Well, that’s enough to drive you into despair over NYC.  So why do we keep going back?  Why do we love it?

Here’s why.



  1. The staggered stop lines are really dangerous for people walking and cycling. Probably not safe for drivers either. A large vehicle can easily block the views of small vehicles and people walking and cycling likely increasing the chance of crashes and injuries. The stop line should be straight across all lanes.

  2. Yup .. what do you expect from a socialist run state/city/Federal airport under Obama’s “care” ?

    Chris Christy would be all over this ASAP, but he is in New Jersey !

    1. What are you talking about? How can NYC be more socialist than Vancouver with its supporting of social housing, drug culture and welfare state?

      1. Hello? Please pay attention to what is being said here and leave your negative comments elsewhere. Here in Vancouver we get a government that listens to us, and maybe even actually sometimes acts on our requests, as the one we see illustrated here. I admit, not always this quickly, but it certainly beats stinky ol’ New York any day. Though I agree with Richard that these staggered lines are dangerous, especially for anyone on a bike trying to see around the traffic stopped.

  3. Very sad that you can’t report a crime in NYC and get anyone to listen.

    The staggered stop line actually makes sense to me. The road is curving at that point so the crosswalk cuts diagonally across the road. A series of short perpendicular lines is a better approximation of a diagonal line than a single perpendicular would be. In fact it’s a bit surprising that the middle lane isn’t staggered too, but I explain below why I think only the curb lane is staggered.
    If the stop line across the first two lanes was extended to the curb it would create an enormous empty space in front of the first vehicle in that lane. A line so far from the crosswalk is unexpected and would likely be ignored by many.
    The staggered line positions the lead vehicle in the curb lane where the driver has an unobstructed view of the crosswalk. This enables him/her to accurately assess the viability of making a safe right turn without first having to ignore the stop line to get a good look at the situation. This positioning also greatly improves the safety of cyclists who normally travel in the curb lane. At the red light they are positioned ahead of all the motor vehicles making them far more visible to drivers.

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