What’s All The Commotion In The Battery?

The Battery
A couple of weeks ago I came across a blog called BatteryPark.TV. The blog focuses on life in and around Battery Park City. No, I’m not planning on moving down to the battery. In fact the blog itself doesn’t even interest me. Nearly every post promotes the continued gentrification of New York. End the concerts. Eliminate the food vendors. Bring on the Citi Bikes (not that I’m against the bike share program). And for the love of god, stop the ferries from tooting their own horns!

It was the post concerning ferry horns that had me reading BatteryPark.TV. In Wolfgang Gabler’s post on the issue, Gabler questions why the use of horns is necessary. After-all, he finds them annoying. “Maybe everyone who feels stressed out by this could write an email or call them to stop this” he writes. His hope is that riling the troops will put a stop to this madness! As Gabler has since learned, the horn use he loathes so much is required by law–and for good reason. In a world without marked intersections, marked lanes, and traffic signals, visual and audible signals keep the waterways safe. Horn use is an integral part of a functional waterway. Without these “disturbing” rules, countless lives would be lost on our waterways. But what’s one kayaker’s life when the peace and tranquility of hundreds of Battery Park City residents is at risk? I mean, they pay extra to live there. That has to count for something right?!

“…a person who takes it upon himself to get into a kayak at 6 in the morning and paddle around lower Manhattan knows exactly what he is doing. He is seeking fun and excitement in an inherently dangerous sport, and the thrill and glory of being among the “big fish” is a big part of that. The theoretical risk of somehow surprising this non-existent, thrill-seeking novice insomniac kayaker someday — that is not nearly worth waking up hundreds of hard-working families every single morning.” –Anonymous

I suppose now would be a good time to introduce myself to the BatteryPark.TV community. Hi! My name is Chris Schiffner. I’m a local kayaker, cyclist, and waterfront activist. I’m one of those detestable people whose lives you hold little regard for. One of those people you would rather see pinned under a ferry than risk interrupting your beauty rest. But enough with the formalities. Now that you’ve drawn a line in the sand–even vilified one of my friends–it’s my turn. You live in New York City. One of the most densely populated cities in the world. What’s more, you picked one of the busiest parts of the city. The Battery is filled with numerous transportation options–buses, trains, bike share programs, and ferries. It should come as no surprise that a neighborhood that’s so densely populated, surrounded by parks, and flanked by New York’s highest concentration of water-based transportation options, might come with some caveats. New York City is the city that never sleeps…and it earned that reputation. The next time a pesky ferry wakes you from a sound sleep, remember that phrase wasn’t just randomly plucked from a Rolodex. Don’t like it? Move! No one’s forcing you to live there. I hear the Hamptons are wonderful this time of year. With all that extra money you brag about spending to live in The Battery, you shouldn’t have a problem finding some new digs. But don’t you dare suggest that your distaste for ferry horns makes your sleep more valuable than my life. That, sir, just makes you a douchebag.

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12 Responses to What’s All The Commotion In The Battery?

  1. There is no chance of ever changing the minds of those who:
    a. Don’t want to understand the inherent differences between on land and on water activities
    b. Refuse to accept the reasoning behind Coast Guard rules and other long honored marine practices
    c. Can not accept the fact that the use of our waterways inherently belong to the public
    d. Are so set in their ‘righteousness’ they are incapable of rationally accepting other points of view

    And while there is no possibility of changing the minds of such people, it is important to keep shouting out as there is always the danger of having a candidate for political office play to the loudest voices.

    I bring to your attention that the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance has a petition to ask general water use commitment questions of all the candidates for public office. I urge that you who are interested sign this petition:

  2. Pretty funny article! Good to know that you really think that only excessive honking will safe your life on the water… in the streets you have to pay a $350 fine for using your horn without a cause.

    Ever thought about a solution for such an important security problem (with no incident in many years) that’s more socially acceptable – like flash lights?

    Most of the traffic on land doesn’t need acoustic signals, that’s strange… There is also a law against noise pollution, but of course those horns are absolutely necessary like every other rule and regulation on this planet.

    I know a rule is a rule and should never be discussed or touched. That’s the quintessence of a democracy, right? ;-)

    I should mention that I actually have three different boat licenses.

    • I’m not a boater, a ferry driver, or a wealthy Manhattan resident, but your silly flashlight idea is absurd! Vehicles use lights to signal and make their presence known, and it works because roads are narrow and directional. On the water there are no streets and traffic lights, because it’s a huge expanse of water. Also, the difference in scale between a ship or a ferry and a kayaker is quite different than say, a tractor trailer and a corolla. Sorry to burst your self-righteous bubble, but I think you might want to put a little more brain power behind your next solution. Meanwhile, let’s just all be ok with this silly rule that exists to save lives, k?

      • You are not a boater (like me) and so you don’t know that mosts signals on water are light signals… but you are intelligent enough to know a lot about things you don’t have any experience with.

        In Europe we don’t use horns when we are leaving a harbor, so all european boaters are dead already, but they don’t know it yet…

        • Sounds like this Europe you speak of has it all figured out! Maybe you should live there.

        • Thank you very much for this philanthropic advice, it’s always good to know that there are so many hospitable people around here.

      • Wolfgang, you’ll find we’re all much more hospitable when you stop saying things like your sleep is more valuable than a kayaker’s life. When someone moves to our country, tries to change laws that have existed for eons, and goes on to tell lifelong citizens that their lives aren’t worth saving, we’re not going to take a friendly tone. If you don’t want someone to snap back with a statement like “move back to your country” then don’t compare our country to your country of origin and tell us all the reasons it’s better. You’ll also find people much more hospitable when you don’t place a picture of their friends on a website along side a post vilifying them. Then, to make matters worse, YOU decided to remove comments supporting views differing from your own and YOU banned the people who posted the comments. You, sir, set the tone. It was not a friendly one. It was not a constructive one. YOU get to live with the tone you set.

  3. the editor of that site is certifiable–very hateful. Best to ignore his irrational tirades against anyone. He will screen out any comments that are even slightly critical. We need a more critical media outlet in BPC that is willing to question local politicians, but his views are so toxic, it is hard to continue reading him.

    • It’s even harder to continue reading him if you try to post a critical comment (or even just, oh, a link to the regulation in question) again after he screens you the first time, and he blocks you from the site entirely.

      Not that I really miss reading that site.

  4. Would it have any effect on Wolfgang Gabler’s posts, if we reminded him that his expensive little community is actually built on the hulls of ships that were used to fill in the massive harbor area he calls home?