Gerson Looks to Rein In Runaway Safety Improvements

gerson_1.jpgNot long ago, Alan Gerson spoke in favor of giving pedestrians more space at Petrosino Square.

Alan Gerson’s office has more on what we suspected was a bill intended to give the Lower Manhattan City Council member and his colleagues more power over DOT implementation of new bike infrastructure. Judging by this comment from Gerson communications director Paul Nagle, the new law would not be limited to bike lanes, but would mandate a "review" of basically any outrageous new project designed to improve conditions for transit users and pedestrians.

[T]here will not be a DOT "bike lane" bill introduced by Gerson [on Tuesday]. Gerson is working on a bill with lawyers to create a better
process of review for both Council and Community input into street
reconfigurations, which can, but don’t necessarily, include bike lanes.
In our district alone this bill would refer to the "bus bumps" on Lower
Broadway, the "stripes" on Rutgers Street, the Grand Street traffic
islands and the Chatham Square reconfiguration. This last fiasco has
the community up in arms, as DOT came to the CB3 hearing last week and
basically announced no major changes to the plan could be made no
matter what the community said at the hearing.

So after decades of cars-first transportation planning, which has been particularly unkind to Gerson’s constituents, now that DOT is acting in the interests of cyclists, pedestrians, and transit patrons — i.e. the overwhelming majority of street users — it’s clearly time for City Council and community board oversight.

We put in a call to Transportation Alternatives to get their take on Gerson’s initiative. Here’s what Wiley Norvell had to say:

Street designs by their very nature will never achieve consensus. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about truck routes, whether we’re talking about bike lanes, whether we’re talking about parking.

Safety is not the job of community boards; it’s not the job of council members. It is the job of the Department of Transportation.

More on Gerson’s bid for streets reform reform as it develops. In the interim, think it’s time to rain fire yet?

  • Non-biking peds should note that we are affected as well. Rain harder.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    I think the Wiley-Norvell quote proves that some change, although perhaps not what Gerson is proposing, is needed. I don’t care whether you’re an old-school, expand-highway-capacity planner or a livable streets proponent … arrogance is arrogance.

  • Unless Gerson’s lawyers are trying to write up a ban on activist organizations cheering a friendly administration, then yes it would have be a different change.

  • k. geis

    Thank you Mr Nagel for keeping tabs on us, and for dropping the science on us when we were jumping to conclusions.

    Now that all’s clear, objection seems totally warranted.

    The DOT wasn’t worthy of oversight while it was doing terrible things. But with bureaucracy turned around and Ms Sadik-Khan rapidly improving the city’s physical plant, /now/ we need a review commission?

    I am reminded of the absurdity of submitting bike lanes to environmental impact statements in light of the alternative of preserving the automotive status quo.

    Disclosure/point-of-view: I carpool to work a couple days a week with my girl and my dog over the Manhattan Bridge HOV lane; the rest, I bike, or subway if I can’t cope with the weather.

    I have driven in and around New York for twelve years and for more than 150,000 miles, and am switching to bicycles as I age and as civil support for it grows.

    Traffic flows more efficiently post-JSK on Chrystie, 9ave, the bridges, and Grand St than it did pre-JSK; so both the driver and biker in me are looking forward for more improvements.

    If oversight delays improvements and maintains the status quo, we should ask why the oversight arrives _after_ the improvements, and not at any other time in the past three generations of councilmen.

    I work in Gerson’s district.

  • downtowner

    As a constituent of Alan Gerson, I applaud his attempt to rein in the career bureaucrats and politically-connected appointees at this rogue agency. They represent no one and were elected by no one.

    The mistaken statement by the TA rep above is totally and typically without merit. Safety IS a concern for both CBs and the City Council. In fact, most CBs have a Public Safety committee or component, and the same applies to the Council.

    The PEOPLE elected Gerson to look after OUR interests and to defend the businesses and residents of OUR community against the narrow agenda of the current DOT regime and their schills on this blog.

    Do not relent, Mr. Councilmember, in your efforts to bring some sanity to what has been happening downtown at this out-of-control agency. DOT has ruined the quality of life in several areas of the district. Ignore the taunts from the extremists here that will follow, just as I shall. They don’t vote. We do. We’re in this together.

  • k. geis

    It should not be allowed to stand on this board that the DOT hasn’t offered ample review time for detailed revision plans.

    Per this guy, you’ve had detailed schematics for two years and rough ones for a full decade. I work fifty hours a week at an utterly unrelated job, and yet can tell you exactly how wide the new car lanes are, and how much pavement is being lost, simply because I can read and can do math.

    The documentation is there.

    Paying attention is a suggestion for citizenship – you shouldn’t vote if you’re not paying attention – and a moral requirement for legislators.

    Anyone who complains wasn’t paying attention.

    (re downtowner, Gerson)

  • JK

    Maybe what T.A staffer means is that the safety and well being of cyclists and pedestrians is a civil right. It is not subject to being vetoed or constrained by community boards or councilmembers. This comes across as a revolutionary idea given that New York City spent a century marginalizing pedestrians, and bicyclists, and establishing a popular mindset that the free movement and storage of private cars trumps all else.

  • Timmy

    I live in Soho and I support the bike lane on Grand but I must say the people on this board and at TA have to be some of the most political neophytes I have ever heard. You have started fights over closing Prince street even though the entire neighborhood opposed it. You call people names. You post pictures here and on the TA site of Hummers on Prince St. implying that everyone who lives in Soho drives huge SUVs. You talk about “raining fire”.

    I’m frankly not at all surprised that Gerson is putting up this legislation given that anyone who is viewed as fighting you guys is going to get more votes. The sad thing is most of the people on this board are too dumb to realize what the political dynamic really is.

  • k. geis

    Isn’t the political dynamic a bit more worthy of lament than some radical cyclists’ personal failings?

    This board’s for choir-preaching, as far as I can tell.

  • Davis

    Timmy,

    What you and the Sean Sweeney’s of the world don’t realize is that you’re in descent. Freefall even. The “entire neighborhood” didn’t oppose Car-Free Prince Street. That’s an absolute fantasy borne of your own extraordinarily narrow view of what comprises the “neighborhood.”

    You managed to drum up a few dozen old-time SoHo, loft-dwelling gentry to a Community Board meeting to shout down a plan that would — and soon will be favorably received by the vast majority of people who use SoHo’s streets.

    The fact remains, there are plenty of neighborhoods around the city that want more and better car-free spaces, bike lanes and transit options. There’s no reason to expend energy fighting with you. But, make no mistake: If livable streets activists really wanted to push that project and make it happen, we could easily — easily — drum up the support necessary to make a Car-Free Prince Street happen. Just like what happened on 9th Street in Park Slope a year and a half ago.

    You are just a member of a vocal minority who want to see SoHo return to the way it was in 1983 when a painter could pretty much park his Vanagon right in front of his Crosby Street loft with no problem. You’re the one, btw, who is clueless about the direction the political winds are blowing. Gerson, btw, is basically irrelevant.

    See you on Car-Free Prince Street in 2009 or so.

  • JK

    Nobody denies that it’s complicated to reconcile universal goals with local perspectives. But it’s a mistake to allow community boards or council to veto safety improvements. The community boards around Queens Blvd didnt do a damn thing when 10 pedestrians a year were getting killed there. Then they complained about the safety improvements and were ignored by the Weinshall DOT. (City Council also did nothing about Qns Blvd during decades of carnage.) Bike lanes and cycletracks save life and limb. Should community boards or council be able to veto those improvements? Should we have a city where cyclists and pedestrians are protected in one community board and unprotected in the next? It doesn’t make sense. Agreed that it gets more complicated when you consider Prince Street pedestrianization. That’s not strictly a safety improvement, though pedestrian crashes would go down if it was pedestrianized.

  • J

    I think the problem is that no one knows who represents the community. Is it the couple of store owner who are having a harder time parking at there store? Is it the mother who bikes her kids to school each day?

    Right now, a lot of people only participate in the process when they want to oppose something. The only people that consistently participate in the process are those brave souls who sit on the community boards. They deal with everything, big and small. It’s a big pain in the ass to sit through those meetings, but they do it, and they are the ones we have said will represent the community on the most local level and the most democratic level. Does this system leave a lot of people out? Yes, and it happens on both sides of issues. Do you have a better way? Let’s hear about it. Otherwise, if you are complaining about a DOT initiative, you better ask yourself when was the last time you sat through a CB meeting.

  • Streetsman

    The political dynamic is that power is concentrated in organized, vocal minority interest groups that dominate the political landscape, monopolize the community review process and fan the flames of controversy in the local media by making unsubstantiated, incendiary remarks based entirely on conjecture, such as:
    “This could be the demise of Little Italy.” (Grand Street bike lane)
    “This once-vibrant commercial strip is beginning to look like a ghost town” (Fordham Road select bus service)
    “The DOT tried to bulldoze Soho”(Prince Street temporary pedestrian street)

    The current DOT is not shaken by all that noise and posturing, but instead continues to implement fact-based user-oriented transportation improvements informed by lessons learned from international best practices, not by the daily jabber of the parking-obsessed local merchant associations who are used to getting VIP treatment from city officials.

    I can’t think of anything more inaccurate than to call this DOT “politically connected appointees”, having a “narrow agenda”. For decades New York City has suffered having politically-appointed DOT commissioners hellbent on maintaining unsafe status-quo street designs, and capitulating to the interests of the local connections. For once, the agency is finally being managed by a qualified leader, selected for their merits, not by which Senator’s wife they were. This DOT has an extremely ambitious, wide-ranging and totally transparent agenda that makes the safety of street users more important that whether or not a store owner can park his SUV in front of his door all day. No wonder the old guard is so upset.

  • Geck

    The problem with local oversight of these issues is that it fails to consider the larger picture. The loss of a few parking spaces outweighs the ability to put in City-wide changes that are essential to deal with growth, pollution, congestion, etc. It is too easy for important improvement to get bogged down in NIMBY attitudes. Unfortunately, many people a afraid of change and can’t see beyond their own windshields.

  • Ian Turner

    J,

    Community boards are no more democratic than the DOT you malign. Just like transportation commissioners, community board members are appointed by politicians and serve at their pleasure. One need look no further than Brooklyn Community Board 6 to see what happens when community boards try to take a stand. To call them democratic, especially in comparison to other appointed organizations, is a fallacy.

    Community boards do have a useful place to play, but their opinions and credibility would carry a lot more weight if they were elected rather than appointed.

    Cheers,

    –Ian Turner

  • Streetsman

    I’m not against local oversight on the merits. Moses wanted to ram an expressway right through downtown and it was the “NIMBY attitudes” of “local oversight” that helped avert the catastrophe. However, that was a discussion based on the obvious blight and social destruction that highways cause to neighborhoods. Bicycle and pedestrian improvements, on the other hand, increase safety, social connections, retail activity, and accessibility, reduce traffic noise, improve air quality, etc etc. If your not willing to discuss issues on the merits, but instead want to make egregious claims like a bike lane signals the demise of your neighborhood, don’t expect officials to listen to you.

  • Timmy

    #10, I guess we can add ageist to the list also given that you call us oldtimers. Btw, I not sure what you are smoking but you tried your best to get people to the meeting to support your side and no one showed up. Here is the NYTimes story:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/nyregion/thecity/23prin.html

    Your so politically unsophisticated it’s funny.

  • Larry Littlefield

    How many members of the NYC Council would sign this statement:

    “As we have created the environment to make this possible, parents may be assured that children of middle school age and older may reasonably travel to school and around the city by bicycle, with no greater danger than they would face walking on the sidewalk or riding in a car.”

    Do they feel confortable signing the statement? And if not, what does that mean?

  • “…with no greater danger than they would face walking on the sidewalk or riding in a car.”

    Larry, you’re setting too low a standard. Walking is by far the most dangerous form of transportation.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Thank you, Timmy @#17, for correcting the prevarications of #10. Remarkably, I thought the exact same thing that you did upon reading it: “What are you smoking, dude”? Flying high?

    As the NY Times confirms, there were not “a few dozen” opponents to the Mauling of Prince Street at the community-board meeting as “Davis” misrepresented. Close to 200 people contributed their evening to attend the community-board meeting and speak out for the welfare of their neighborhood, and every single man and woman from SoHo opposed this plan. Every single one of the two hundred! This was democracy in action, not NIMBYism, as the jejune name-callers would have us believe.

    On the other hand, not one person, resident or business from SoHo spoke in favor of this DOT proposal, even biking enthusiasts – zero, zilch, nada. Of the few people who did support mauling Prince Street, four were from the Village and two from Brooklyn!?! Go figure.

    Paul Steely White of T.A. was present and can confirm this.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Sean, I go to lots of board meetings and remain quiet, doesn’t mean that I support the position of the majority, just that opposition is fruitless. As to where the proper level of transportation decision making lies in an urban democracy however, the city level is that location. It is in fact what makes New York a city and not a collection of little villages like Long Island and New Jersey.

    And transportation, even more than land use, is the area of government policy most appropriately applied at the city level because transportation involves moving people and things from one political jurisdiction into another. Both generator and recipient of the resulting traffic must live with whatever decision is made. And the pro Sadik Khan writers here are quite correct in recounting the decades when making more space for cars was the priority of the city-wide decision makers.

    But, Mr. Gerson has a perfectly clear right to put whoever he wants on the Community Board, he is after all their elected representative, and they have a perfect right to “advise” that cars be accommodated, that the dangerous bicycles be chased away and that pedestrians be banned or whatever. And if the neighbors hate Ms. Sadik-Khan so much, vote against Mr. Bloomberg, the evil genius that appointed her. If Mr. Weiner prevails expect every yahoo from Neponsit to drive their SUV downtown and park it for free wherever they wish.

    The Community Boards have their place, their place is to tell you what is wrong with anything that benefits anyone else, to chase away developers and to assure parking above all other transportation considerations. But it is the job of the Mayor and the City Council to set policies that benefit the city as whole. If Mr. Weiner or Mr. Gerson wants a different system they are free to propose it and in this case Mr. Gerson has. I personally do not want any cars driving down my block at all but nonetheless get the spill over from the BQE as people snake through Brooklyn to the “free” bridges every time the Expressway backs up, which is every day two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. I thank Mr. Weiner and Mr. Markowitz and Mr. DeBlasio for that privelege, but ultimately the decisions are really made in City Hall and Albany. I’d like to change the process though to prohibit that sort of traffic but I’m not going to burn four hours a month at Community Board meetings in that effort. What I will do instead is write checks to politicians who support a city-wide decision making process on Land Use and Transportation issues and learn to live with the result until the next election.

  • Have Bus Will Travel

    This is gonna be fun! But I’ll add it is a bit insane that the City Council virtually sat on its hands for years while nothing happened positive for cyclists and pedestrians in this city and then when good ideas start being implemented, suddenly they want to get involved. Give me a break!

    I am all for more community input, but not if it will hold up a project for years and years – which was the status quo for the last 30 or 40 years.

  • Davis

    Timmy,

    Aside from, perhaps, a desperate last minute post or two here on Streetsblog, no one made any effort to get livable streets advocates out to that Community Board meeting to support the car-free Prince idea. The only information the community was receiving was the “Mauling of SoHo” crud that Sweeney was spreading (Note that Sweeney is still, essentially, fighting the commercialization — the “malling” of SoHo — a battle that his so-called “organization” lost about 20 years ago). DOT, frankly, blew the car-free Prince effort. There was no community outreach or advocacy around it at all.

    As soon as someone does decide to organize a car-free Prince campaign, you’ll know about it. Trust me. It’ll be big. I have no doubt that the idea will be popular and accepted and a well run campaign will manage to generate at least enough of a counterweight to your NIMBYism that we’ll at least get to see some weekend trial events come to fruition. This, of course, is your deepest fear — simply trying it. You know that car-free Prince will be popular and people will want more of it. Your nightmare: shoppers, tourists, residents and parents with children walking down Prince Street enjoying a sunny weekend morning or brisk pre-Christmas shopping day. Arggh! How horrible.

    As for being “politically unsophisticated.” All I can really say is thank you, Timmy, you hardbitten SoHo activist for educating me on the realities of New York City politics. You SoHo guys have been so effective in… well, come to think of it, you haven’t really done anything progressive or constructive lately, have you? Like a Community Board you just kind of focus your energy on stopping things. I know you stopped that Robert Moses thing back around the time when my parents were getting married… Good work on that one. What is the SoHo Alliance anyway? Do you have members? A board? By-laws? Is there an office aside from Sean Sweeney’s apartment? You guys are so sophisticated and yet… the organization seems to be one guy with some extra time on his hands.

    A couple of years ago sophisticated like you, Timmy, were saying that things like separated bike lanes were “politically impossible” in New York City. Yet, politics and street designs are both a lot more malleable than you realize.

  • Timmy

    Three things #23. First, here is the link to the story that proceeded the board meeting re the Prince Street proposal.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/03/07/soho-partnership-dot-propose-car-free-sundays-on-prince-st/

    As you can see, it was 5 days before the meeting. It wasn’t a last minute post. The people holding your views had plently of time.

    Second, I like a lot of others in the neighborhood are in our 30s. We actually care about what happens and we appreciate what the older folks have done for us.

    As to your claim that you can make the proposal happen, bring it on.

  • Wiley

    To clarify my remarks quoted here. Years ago, as traffic-related deaths were mounting in the face of City inaction, T.A.’s call again and again was “DOT – do your job.” Safety should be the single most important priority for their agency. We’re increasingly seeing this ethic take hold, whether it’s closing part of the Park Avenue tunnel for pedestrian safety, or turning car traffic lanes into protected cycle tracks. There are times when community boards and council members call for safety, and in these cases the City should take note. But when the outcry against a DOT safety measure is motivated by convenience, especially the convenience of parking an automobile, safety should win out every time.

  • SoHo Resident

    I too support Councilman Gerson in his efforts to bring public review process to the heavy-handed DOT.

    There needs to be balance. Bike lanes are great. Put them in as many places as possible, The Grand Street Bike Lane in it’s current configuration? STUPID. West Broadway and Grand is a constant gridlocked mess.

    It’s as if people on this blog eat only the indigenous rats and pigeons of Manhattan rather than the bounty that is delivered (unfortunately) by truck everyday.

    Let’s be realistic. Bike lanes, light rail, subway freight, east river tolls, HOV pricing, etc. All good ideas in my opinion but all should go through public review.

    Why not?

  • Ian Turner

    SoHo Resident,

    The perspective of a lot of people here, myself included, is that the best way to address automobile congestion is via road pricing. That enables trucks to get through without generating so much smog or wasting so much time, and a $20 tax on a truckful of merchandise is negligible. But our state politicians decided we don’t want road pricing, so we have to find another way.

    The problem is that right now the biggest force against congestion is congestion itself. Who wants to drive through such bad traffic? The corollary is that it doesn’t much help to add more road space, because the new roadways simply attract more cars so that the overall congestion is the same. This, at least, at peak hours. The conclusion that I and others here reach is that it doesn’t matter if you take road space away from even the most congested parts of the city: You will retain the same amount of congestion either way.

    If congestion is bad no matter how you stripe the roads, then, why not take space away from cars and give it to people?

  • Max Rockatansky

    Two things I’ve never understood about the Grand Street issue. First, it’s never been gridlocked when I’ve been there – typically during rush hours. Second, and this is more of a general statement, why should a minority of people in the city who drive cars get to determine the layout of streets? I can’t really muster a lot of sympathy for someone who wants to drive around the city and then complains about traffic. There are plenty of other options which millions of people use daily.

  • SoHo Resident

    While it is definitely a cheap way of creating a physically protected bike lane the very assumption that a bike lane needs to be physically protected is what is up for discussion. I don’t think it should be. This type of parking arrangement obstructs visibility, causes massive congestion at it’s inception point and unnecessarily chokes a reasonably wide street turning Grand Street into a “not so grand” street.

    What needs to change is the culture. The automobile/bicycle relationship. This type of bike lane segregates the two factions, teaching neither how to behave around one another.

    I’m all for more bike lanes. Broome Street from Centre Street going west could use a nice West-bound bike lane in my opinion. The Prince Street bike lane is a little bizarre just because Prince Street is so narrow. Regardless, I feel that parking cars in the middle of the street is not the way to go.

    The city is broke right? If we installed cameras along these bike lanes and electronically ticketed vehicles that abuse them it would be a massive revenue stream for the city. Liek they do in Europe. You see the flash go off and you know you’re going to get an unpleasant surprise in the mail.

    The Grand street bike lane hurts bike lanes in general. It is not liked by any of the merchants (and I’ve talked to a lot of them) and is getting a tepid reception from residents. Put the bike lane back where it was (on the north side of the street, beside the parking lane) and paint it green.

    Everyone I’ve spoken with loves the Lafayette Street Bike Lane. It’s all a matter of scale. Houston Street is the correct place for an unprotected bike lane on both sides of the street in my opinion. Put them everywhere they fit, just don’t put parked cars in the middle of the street where they cause problems.

    PS: Just to clarify that I’m not your typical NIMBY. Get rid of all non-commercial parking for all I care. I sold my car last year. Who the hell has the time to play the parking dance? And toll them damned bridges already!

  • Ian Turner

    16

  • Ian Turner

    SoHo Resident,

    I’m all for automated bike lane enforcement, especially as NYPD has no interest in enforcing this manually. However, you’d have to get any cameras past David Gantt. That said, I guess all that takes is an extra 80 grand or so.

  • Houston Street has been a boulevard of death for bicyclists, so putting in an unprotected lane on both sides strikes me as an invitation to slaughter. If any place in this city could use a protected bike lane, it is Houston Street.

  • If a lane for bicycles is a good thing, it is a good thing all the time and not just when motorists are feeling generous enough not to park there or use it as a murderous passing lane. Both of these abuses are frequently taken with Lafayette’s buffered lane. Everyone I’ve spoken with agrees that Grand’s protected lane is better, but then I don’t move in lofty SoHo Residential circles. (Just lowly soho worker circles—maybe if I yell out the window I’ll be heard from a loft?)

  • What needs to change is the culture. The automobile/bicycle relationship. This type of bike lane segregates the two factions, teaching neither how to behave around one another.

    Does any bike lane teach drivers and cyclists how to behave around each other, cameras or not? If we want shared space, then let’s have a real woonerf. Otherwise, protected is the way to go.

    And I agree with Doc: if you can’t enforce it, don’t mark it.

  • Streetsman

    The need for bikes to be physically separated from busy traffic is NOT up for discussion. If mixing cars and bikes (which is what we’ve had for the last 60 years) worked well, there wouldn’t be hundreds of cyclists being killed every year in traffic accidents in this city. I just can’t stress that enough. Hundreds of people are being killed every year on bicycles in New York City – men, women, children, anybody. These are some novices and some experts, some in bike lanes and some out, some obeying traffic laws and some not.

    The thing about the Grand Street bike lane is that it’s not a stupid cockamamie notion that some loonies at the DOT dreamt up this summer. They are emulating a successful model from other cities that have <a href=”“high levels of cycling of low levels of injury. And we have already seen here in New York where some people argue they won’t work, that the cycle tracks make streets safer, and more people are cycling as a result, which in turn makes cycling even safer.

    It has worked exactly the same way in other cities. Generally the only people who feel comfortable on unprotected bike lanes are young, able-bodied, fast-riding experienced cyclists. In order to make cycling a meaningful share of commuter culture, and a practical way to get around, it has to be made safe enough for all ages, body types, and experience levels, and that means separated from traffic. Once there are networks of protected routes safely inter-connecting popular destinations, the level of cycling will dramatically increase. And the new cyclists will be safer, slower, less aggressive demographics of cyclists (women, children, seniors, etc.) that will better abide traffic laws. And the number of cyclists on the road will be so great that drivers and pedestrians will also be more attentive, injury rates begin to plummet.

    And the most amazing part is that in EVERY ONE of the dozens of cities this has been done so far, there are always groups of locals saying it won’t work here, it makes traffic worse, it’s inconvenient, they’re not necessary, it’s more dangerous, business will fail, no one will use them. The mayors of Portland, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Paris, etc. could have predicted exactly what people like Soho Resident would say – they could produce thousands of similar claims. And yet each of these cities is now showing unprecedented traffic safety, more vibrant and more successful commercial areas, cleaner air, better health, less traffic congestion, and the list goes on and on.

  • Streetsman

    As for Sean Sweeney, if you call “democracy in action” your crude misinformation campaign, papering the area with alarmist oppositional flyers saying that the city was going to destroy the neighborhood, prompting concerned residents to show up in outrage at a proposal they knew nothing about, then you are actually more delusional than people say you are.

    I don’t remember ANY business owners from Prince Street speaking at that meeting. And the reason FEW (not no, but few) residents showed up to speak in favor is because the city did not engage in propaganda prior to making their plan public to the community. The resulting turnout was a group of misinformed, threatened, bloodthirsty residents showing up like a torch-weidling mob to burn someone for a proposal they hadn’t even seen, and take out all their frustrations with city government on a single target. It was a turkey shoot. They never even listened to the idea, they booed, they hissed, they made a mockery of the entire community board system.

    Any idiot could get 200 angry people to show up at any community board meeting, in any neighborhood, any day, by putting up ridiculous posters saying that the city was proposing to turn their street into a “theme park” “every Sunday”. But none of the hundreds of people that support the idea ever had their voices heard because they were not similarly called to action. It wasn’t a publicized hearing – it was just a subcommittee meeting that you chose to manipulate. But after that hoax of a meeting, that kangaroo court, that joke that you think represents a model of the democratic process, the little mob had spoken and the city, it seems, decided they would rather pack up their plan and take it to other neighborhoods that are more interested in improving the quality of their street life (see: Bedford Ave., Montague Street, etc), where it worked wonderfully without “unregulated peddlers,” “mimes,” “honking,” “pollution,” or bicycle accidents as you claimed it would. I hope you and all the residents that showed up to desecrate that meeting enjoyed your summer of a crowded, loud, car-filled, exhaust-choked, vendor-obstructed Prince Street. They all have you to thank.

  • SoHo Resident

    Pardon me but I must make a factual CORRECTION:

    There were several Prince Street business owners at the infamous CB@ Prince Street MAUL transportation meeting and at least two of them spoke out against it. One was a gallery owner (on Price) and the other was (I believe) a general contractor (just off of Prince on Greene). There was also a reporter from the POST (he sat right next to me) and a reporter from the Villager. Check your memory. Check your facts.

    We need to keep this discussion civil and factually correct. Bike lanes GOOD (we all agree). Parking lane in the middle of the street BAD (in my opinion).

    Also, I believe the Lafayette bike lane is fairly successful. Sure motorists abuse it at times, but the only time I find it a problem is during rush when the abuse is ubiquitous. That’s when the DOT should enforce/enrich!

  • Sean Sweeney

    Again, thanks to a commenter – this time Soho Resident – who was at the meeting to correct the misrepresentations and prevarications of some of the other commenters here. Actually, there were quite a number of small business owners at the meeting, and several of the large businesses sent in letters supporting the position of the SoHo community.

    And unlike ‘streetsman’ who claimed to be there yet supplies false information mixed with bitter scorn, at least T.A. head, Paul Steely White, had the honesty, graciousness and courtesy to approach me after the meeting to offer congratulations on producing such an effective turnout.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Sean, keep on crowing but the fact of the matter is that there was no effort whatsoever to counter your overwrought propaganda and organize a turn-out in favor of a Car-Free Prince Street trial run. There was only one team on the field. As soon as someone takes the time and effort to organize that campaign, the Car-Free Prince trial is going to happen, and it will happen with the overwhelming support of your Community Board, your local businesses and the majority of your neighbors who don’t bother to show up at local meetings about such matters.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Again, more disinformation!

    Marty, contrary to what you claim, there WAS a serious effort to organize a turn-out in support of closing Prince St.

    Days before the meeting, streetsblog regular Ian D. postered Prince Street with fliers denouncing the SoHo Alliance and urging the residents/businesses to attend the meeting in support of the DOT proposal. The SoHo Alliance did the same thing. However, SoHo Alliance members did not remove Ian’s posters, although our posters were torn down. No aspersions cast, but you go figure.

    150-200 people paid attention to the SoHo Alliance posters and showed up to protect our neighborhood.
    Not one person, business or cycling advocate in SoHo paid attention to the opposition posters. Not one!

    Marty, if you want to take time off of your daily and obsessive commenting on the streetsblog and actually do something fruitful like organizing a car-free Prince Street, as Timmy above challenged: Bring it on, dude!

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Marty, contrary to what you claim, there WAS a serious effort to organize a turn-out in support of closing Prince St.

    Oh, Sean, how charmingly naive. One guy putting up flyers on a lamppost isn’t a “serious effort.” When organized activists finally decide to undertake a “serious effort” to make Prince St. car-free, you’ll know all about it. It will look something like this:

    http://www.transalt.org/campaigns/prospark

    Or this:

    http://www.grandarmyplaza.org/

    Or this:

    http://www.livablestreets.com/projects/inwood-livable-streets/summary

    Or even like this:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/category/special-reports/9th-street-road-diet/

    And if those efforts seem too serious to prospective activists, I would also just add that I think it would, in fact, take quite a bit less work to win a few car-free trial weekends on Prince Street. The institutional support is there and the opposition is highly irrational and not at all representative of the diverse group of constituents who have a stake in Prince Street. Someone just needs to do the organizing work and stand up and rebut the NIMBY’s. I wish I had the time to do it myself. It would be an incredibly fun campaign to put together.

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