New York vs. Mobile Audio

Apparently New York is over it’s love relationship with mobile music players. Both the iPod and Zune have come in for some slagging over the last few days, if for different reasons.

First up, Microsoft are being blamed for disturbing Lower East Side residents with their beefed up boombox SUV blasting marketing music at 3am up and down the street. This was on the corner of Ludlow and Stanton, which as anyone who lives here knows, is not the quietest place in New York most nights. I used to have a friend who lived above that corner and I was amazed she could ever sleep – it’s crazy loud until 4am with folks partying, then at six the trash collection starts up and morning rush hour. Ouch.

It’s all too easy to bash Microsoft, but also this week we have to watch out for Apple. Their evil iPods are being blamed for two recent pedestrian deaths in Brooklyn, so a local senator is proposing banning pedestrians from listening to iPods or cellphones while they cross the road. Wow. That’s the most amazing piece of transferred blame I’ve ever heard (other than the whole Iraq war thing). If you want to stop pedestrians from getting run over on New York crosswalks then enforce the ban on drivers user cellphones! It’s amazing how often you can be crossing the road only to look across and see a car suddenly turning into you, with the driver having one hand pressed to their ear with their phone and the other distractedly turning the wheel. I’ve got three words for you idiots: hands free headset. At least taxi drivers have learnt that one, but even they seem to be less aware of pedestrians than before – plus I really miss the random conversations that used to happen to pass the time whenever you got a cab.

It’s high time we started to name and shame these drivers, who are supposed to be in control of these large metal boxes but who insist on risking lives by using cellphones dangerously while they drive. Maybe we could create a site where you can upload videos and photographs of these people driving with one hand on the wheel, the other on the phone. Or maybe if the fines/penalties were in line with the human impact, people would start to take notice. I look forward to a day when I can cross the road in New York again without worrying, back like it used to be in ’98 when I first got here.

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