Sean Sweeney: Soho Must Be Preserved for SUVs

Sean Sweeney, the one-man show known as the Soho Alliance, has been sending this video around to the media, continuing his quest to preserve Soho streets for the convenience of motorists. What we basically have here is a careless truck driver butting grilles with a sociopath behind the wheel of an SUV. Sweeney’s conclusion: Give these vehicles more street space and forget about providing cyclists with a basic safety amenity.

The head-scratching logic continues on his website, which bemoans congestion on Soho streets while railing against bike lanes, pedestrian zones, sidewalk cafes, and, in general, any measure that would actually mitigate traffic and improve conditions for people who walk and bike. The site touts clips of media outlets eating up Sweeney’s act. Like the time Fox 5 put him on camera in a Grand Street hatchet job.

But where was Sean Sweeney and his media crusade in October, when a Con Ed worker was struck and killed by a truck on Grand Street? About that tragedy, the Soho Alliance site is silent.

  • Car Free Nation

    I love this bike lane, and I use it every day. For the most part, drivers abide by the rules, and as an added bonus, pedestrians use it as an extension of the sidewalk when it gets crowded. I think once drivers become more familiar with this type of structure, we won’t have issues like the truck or the SUV.

    The great thing about the bike lane is it removes much of the danger from the trip. Last night when it was snowing, I rode home, not realizing until I got started that the visibility was poor. Because of the bike lane, I was able to ride with little fear of being sideswiped.

    By adding safety features such as this type of protected bike lane, it makes bike commuting more feasible for the vast majority of people.

    Sweeney should take a video of all the rich people with their limos standing in no parking zones during the week. If you can afford a driver to sit in your car, you can park in Soho, and not worry about tickets…

  • Rhywun

    I poked around this person’s website, and it’s apparent he wants to keep Soho for the very wealthy (“… low-rise, low-density neighborhood … lofts no less than 1200 square feet …”), hence his obsession with parking.

    Frankly, I try to avoid Soho at all costs, as it’s an extremely unpleasant experience largely due to the ridiculously narrow sidewalks.

  • Jason A

    Totally awesome! Look at the cyclist just breeze by all that nonsense at 0:48!

    Go bikes go!

    What’s the point here, again?

  • g

    In the time it takes a car to look for parking, park, then walk to the store the driver wants to go to, I can ride up to the store, park and lock my bike, walk in, and complete my transaction.

    I use this bike lane when shopping and running errands in Soho and I can safely argue that the economic contribution of this one bike rider far outweighs the economic contribution of one, even two or three, drivers. Based on time alone, I have ’em beat.

    If Sweeney is really interested in the economic future of his neighborhood, he ought to recognize that the future lies in accommodating cyclists. One day people like me — area residents who think biking is the fastest, best way to get around — will far outnumber the bike messengers or other stereotypical cyclists Sweeney seems to hate.

  • Could we take it easy with the word “sociopath”? A sociopath is a person who whips out a gun and kills 14 people in a post office. That driver is just a garden variety idiot.

  • rex

    I fail to see how that video shows anything but that people who rent trucks often are not expert at driving them in the city; SUV drivers seem to represent a disproportionate percentage of jerks on the roads; double parking is rampant; horns are obnoxious and accomplish nothing; bikes are a solution to congestion not reason for it; and Sweeny does not know his head from his arse.

  • Streetsman

    It’s not about keeping Soho for the wealthy, it’s about keeping it for the artists (and I use the term loosely) that colonized the neighborhood 40 years ago and want it to be like it was. They don’t want development, they don’t want high-end retail, they don’t nightclubs, they don’t want tourists, they don’t want bikes, they basically don’t want people. They want quiet streets to themselves like it used to be. And I don’t blame them.

    Resistance to change is nothing new for New Yorkers. Things change so quickly in this town, New Yorkers must plant themselves deep in the ground and fight tooth and nail to hang on to anything that they covet lest they turn around one day at find it has been bought, sold, outlawed, bulldozed, or simply forgotten. But those that repopulated the abandoned parts of the city in the 60’s and 70’s, that achieved their legislative sanction through protest and resistance, have seen things change around them SO quickly and so drastically that, while aging in the cocoons of their sprawling industrial lofts, their nostalgia has begotten preservationism has begotten xenophobia. And their combative attitude, once progressive, now stands to impede progress. Sustainable transportation infrastructure is our future, by necessity, and protected bicycle lanes are a major part of the road map to energy independence.

    It reminds me, eerily, of the words of one of their own icons: “Your old road is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changing!”

  • J. Mork

    “sociopath.” The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. Answers.com 17 Dec. 2008. http://www.answers.com/topic/sociopath :

    Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.

    Sounds like a driver to me.

  • Sean Sweeney

    The SoHo Alliance has advocated for bike lanes for years. We requested the and got the Lafayette Street bike lane in 1997. Everytime you ride up that bike lane on Lafayette, thank us for it.

    We have rallied for a protected Class 1 bike lane on Houston Street, along with Transportation Alternatives, Time’s Up and CB2.

    Please visit: http://www.thevillager.com/index175.html

    The woman holding the sign “Protect Cyclists” is a SoHo Alliance member and the wife of the SoHo Alliance vice-president, who also attended. That is me in the photo below in the green shirt. These are the people that you vilify?

    So, instead of taking your vitriol out on your allies, you should take it out on the bureaucrats who refused to give us a protected bike lane on Houston, instead giving an unprotected bike lane on Prince, which is constantly violated by peddlers and strolling tourists, and basically useless as a result.

    DOT is doing us no favors by giving a poorly-planned bike lane on Grand Street that has resulted in traffic congestion and constant horn honking. This is just causing resentment among your neighbors and allies.

    The SoHo Alliance is still advocating for a Houston St bike lane and a new bike lane on Broome, which would connect with the W’burg Bridge.

    If anyone here disagrees with that strategy and wants to settle for these second-class bike lane, fine. The DOT likely has a job for you.

  • Moser

    Actually, the Lafayette Street bike lane was installed in early 1994, and it was directly thanks to T.A.’s work with Dinkins admin transportation commissioner Lou Riccio, who approved the plan, and with Giuliani admin DOT commissioner Lee Sander, who implemented it shortly after the change in gov’t that January.

  • Timmy

    Not correct #10. The Lafayette Street bike lane that you are referring to was the one installed ABOVE Houston. Nice try. You can even confirm it on T.A’s website.

  • Tod

    Lafayette Ave bike lane is only 2 blocks long below Houston.

  • J

    Mr. Sweeney,

    While I certainly appreciate your work on the Houston Street bike lane, but I cannot understand your opposition to the Grand Street lane. Second class bike lane?? This perhaps the best bike lane the city has devised yet. Read the comments. People really like this lane. You want to complain about cars honking? Try working towards honking restrictions, increased meter rates, and more delivery zones. You want to be allies and work for livable streets? Great. Show us. We’re working hard for livable streets. What have you done lately?

  • g

    Why do we have to choose between the bike lanes on Houston and Broome and the one on Grand Street? Can’t nearly all streets in NYC eventually have bike lanes? Nearly every street has a crosswalk, correct?

    Seems that Sweeney has a case of NIMBYism: move the bike lanes to the edges of his neighborhood, just don’t have too many running through them.

    Has he ever been out of the country?

  • i’m confused. i came across this, not knowing anything about the intent of the person who made it.

    if the point of the person who took this video is to make bike lanes look bad, he/she is doing a terrible job. i was convinced that this video was against suvs and delivery trucks and car congestion.

    the idiot in the suv refuses to move for the impatient asshole in the avis truck, who sits on his horn.

    i think this “Sean Sweeney” is a mole. they actually want more bike lanes in soho, judging from this video.

    thanks sean – couldn’t agree more!

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Sean Sweeney supports the Houston Street bike lane because he doesn’t want people biking through SoHo and because, at this point, it is 100% clear that there will be no Houston Street bike lane. It’s very easy to throw support behind things that aren’t going to happen. For another recent example of this, see Fidler, Lew, 9 CARAT Stone Plan or whatever the crapola was that he threw out there during the congestion pricing debate so he could refer to himself as a transit advocate. And let’s set the record straight: Sweeney’s “organization” has played no substantial role in the creation of the bike lane on Lafayette Street or any other for that matter. The SoHo Alliance exists primarily to oppose new developments.

    Regarding Sean’s suggestion that the Grand Street bike lane is “poorly planned,” I’d love to hear more from this expert in bike lane planning and urban design. What are your suggestions for a safe cycling infrastructure through Lower Manhattan?

  • Rhywun

    > It’s not about keeping Soho for the wealthy, it’s about
    > keeping it for the artists

    At this point, aren’t they pretty much the same? Let’s face it, if you didn’t get in 40 years ago, you’re not living in Soho today unless you’re in the middle six digits. Calls for minimum loft sizes are exactly equivalent to the snob zoning one sees in the tony suburbs of Westchester (but replace square footage with acreage).

  • Carol Friedman

    I am in artist in residence who has lived and worked on Grand Street for more than two decades. The residents on our block are predominantly artists; the businesses are modest store-front affairs. Grand Street is hardly a commercial thoroughfare. I am neither anti-bike nor pro-motorist. I don’t own a bike OR a car. I am not sure why everyone is using this forum to bash Sean Sweeny and the Soho Alliance. Sean and this organization have done a great deal to preserve the integrity and civility of our community. There is evidently a huge disconnect as far as a reasonable assessment re: the effects of this bike lane. As someone who actually lives and works on Grand Street (between West Broadway and Wooster; the very perch where this video clip was shot) I can tell you that the video represents not one dim-witted truck or SUV driver, as has been suggested, but truly exemplifies what goes on here continually and ALL DAY LONG. The bike lane on Grand Street is a disaster. The problem is not the addition of bike lane, per se, but that a configuration of this sort (in which a lane of parked cars which starts eight feet from the curb creates a single lane of traffic) is suited to a much wider commercial street. Two problems exist: One, due to the single lane of traffic, the horn honking is extreme. Really extreme. People cannot exit a cab or take groceries from a car or pause to park without unleashing a honking war. Ambulances and fire trucks cannot get through. Two: As the video shows, cars turning onto Grand Street mistakenly position themselves behind the lane of parked cars. Once they realize their mistake, they must then back out into the southbound traffic on West Broadway. This causes the kind of traffic tie up and horn honking that one sees and expects midtown but not on our formerly peaceful residential block. Not to mention the extreme danger to unwititing pedestrians simply attempting to cross the street. Why this issue has morphed into a free-for-all tirade against Sean Sweeny (and the “rich” Soho residents..??? !!) seems sophomoric at best and ignores the real issue at hand: that the Department of Transportation has made a huge error in choosing a street of this narrow size for a bike lane. The straw man hollerers are largely misinformed about the fabric of our community and who actually lives and works here. We are not “anti-bike.”This is not about liking bikes or not liking bikes. It is about the expectation for a reasonable quality of life that should not be compromised at anyone’s expense or for any one group’s benefit. I invite the disbelievers to stand on the corner of Grand and West Broadway on a Saturday afternoon and watch (and listen to) the absolute mind boggling madness and the horn honking. The travesty here is that the Department of Transportation made a terrible mistake and will neither admit nor amend it. PS: it is not possible to control or police horn-honking. Like getting rid of rats and roaches, the only effective thing to do is to eliminate the conditions that invite them.

  • Grand Street Resident

    Everyone is missing the point here. The traffic mash ups and horn honking are perpetuated by drivers that for the most part do not live in NY and do not care about the noise or confusion that they create. They are basically oblivious to the fact that people actually LIVE here.

    As a resident of Grand Street, I must weigh in and comment that the bike lane is ridiculous. Insane. Grand Street is too narrow. The person who suggested that Sean Sweeny wants to “preserve Soho for the rich people” obviously knows nothing about Soho or about Sean The second person who asks “where was Sean Sweeny when a Con Ed worker was killed by a truck on Grand Street” is MAKING Sean’s argument. These rude and oblivious motorists, whether day trippers from New Jersey or oversize commercial trucks
    making their way to the bridge, are the ones who cannot get through the new one lane street and the ones perpetuating the horn honking havoc. It’s not that we as residents don’t advocate bike lanes. It is that the installation of one on this tiny narrow street was a terrible. Minimal reserach would have bourn out the fact that this street is simply an inappropriate choice.

    Sean Sweeny was the initial and lone advocate who fought for the installation of bike lanes to begin with!!! Do your homework.

  • SoHo Resident

    This particular configuration of bike lane is causing infighting between to groups that would otherwise be aligned. Why not come-together around the idea of more bicycle infrastructure of a type that does NOT cause this level of discord?

    I don’t get it.

  • Lee

    Make it a no-parking zone (except maybe at night), problem solved! As the locals have pointed out, they don’t own cars, so they don’t need the parking there anyway.

    That was easy.

  • One, due to the single lane of traffic, the horn honking is extreme. Really extreme.

    Sounds familiar. Other people, when faced with this kind of situation, have tried to solve the underlying problem rather than scapegoating their potential allies. If you really believe that the drivers don’t live in the area, then where are they from? Why are they there? Is there a way to get them to go somewhere else?

    People cannot exit a cab or take groceries from a car or pause to park without unleashing a honking war.

    Has it ever occurred to you that double-parking is illegal for a reason? That making streets wide enough to double-park compromises safety in a really bad way? That there might be other places to unload a car or get out of a cab besides the driving lane?

    As the video shows, cars turning onto Grand Street mistakenly position themselves behind the lane of parked cars.

    This lane has been in place for what, two weeks? But you and Sweeney have been against it from the beginning. Rather than waiting to see if the drivers will get used to the change, you’ve been condemning it from day one.

  • “I am not sure why everyone is using this forum to bash Sean Sweeny and the Soho Alliance.”

    It’s because he is using status to bash a protected bicycle lane I use every day? I care about having this lane a lot more than I care about you or Sweeny’s feelings, quite frankly, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourselves “anti-bike” or anti-salad-shooter or anything else, that has never been the point or the charge. You’ve set out to be very publicly anti-this-bicycle-lane (throwing yourselves in front of provocative regional television producers, and now a failed youtube stunt), forcing people that depend on the lane to oppose you just as passionately. There is precious little we could align on, I’m afraid. Hard as it would have been to believe two decades years ago, today it is the “bureaucrats” of the DOT effecting positive change and comfortable artists stooging for the status quo.

  • FRAT BOY

    One, due to the single lane of traffic, the horn honking is extreme. Really extreme.

    Sounds familiar. Other people, when faced with this kind of situation, have tried to solve the underlying problem rather than scapegoating their potential allies. If you really believe that the drivers don’t live in the area, then where are they from? Why are they there? Is there a way to get them to go somewhere else?

    BRILLIANT. WE’LL JUST CONTROL THESE PEOPLE IN THEIR CARS. LETS PUT UP SIGNS ASKING THEM TO BE NICE AND NOT HONK THEIR HORNS. I THINK YOU SHOULD RUN FOR MAYOR. THIS SORT OF BRILLIANCE IS BEING WASTED. OR BETTER, WHY DON’T YOU DIRECT TRAFFIC ON THE CORNER?

    People cannot exit a cab or take groceries from a car or pause to park without unleashing a honking war.

    Has it ever occurred to you that double-parking is illegal for a reason? That making streets wide enough to double-park compromises safety in a really bad way? That there might be other places to unload a car or get out of a cab besides the driving lane?

    YOU ARE JOKING, RIGHT? YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT ENTIRELY. THE WAY THE STREET IS SET UP NOW, THERE IS NOT A LANE OR SPACE TO ‘DOUBLE PARK’ THERE IS NO PLACE TO STOP A CAR. PERIOD. YOU ARE SO INTERESTED IN YOUR PLATFORM THAT YOU HAVE NOT EVEN LOOKED AT THE SITUATION. COME LOOK AT IT ON THE WEEKEND. THE ‘DRIVING’ LANE IS THE ONE AND ONLY THOROUGHFARE !!! THAT IS THE POINT. THERE IS NO CURBSIDE PLACE TO GO. DELIVERIES CANNOT BE MADE. GET OFF YOUR BIKE FOR A MOMENT AND STAND ON THE CORNER ON SATURDAY AND THEN COMMENT ONCE YOU HAVE.

    As the video shows, cars turning onto Grand Street mistakenly position themselves behind the lane of parked cars.

    This lane has been in place for what, two weeks? But you and Sweeney have been against it from the beginning. Rather than waiting to see if the drivers will get used to the change, you’ve been condemning it from day one.

    NO ONE HAS BEEN AGAINST A BIKE LANE. WE HAVE BEEN AGAINST A BIKE LANE ON A SINGLE LANE RESIDENTIAL STREET. AGAIN, COME DOWN ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND WATCH THE INSANITY BEFORE YOU MAKE MORONIC COMMENTS

  • Carol Friedman: “People cannot exit a cab or take groceries from a car or pause to park without unleashing a honking war.”

    Solution to the exiting-a-cab problem: Use mass transit. The MTA has lovely maps that will acquaint you with subway lines and bus routes.

    Solution to the groceries-from-a-car problem: Buy a fold-up shopping cart. I use one and so do several 80-year-old ladies in my neighborhood. I see them trundling their groceries through the streets of the UWS every day. The carts are available at any hardware store.

    The real problem here is not a bike lane. The real problem is the windshield perspective of Soho residents who are apparently affluent enough to own cars in a place where a car is clearly a luxury, as well as an oppressive, noisy, polluting, menacing presence to everyone else who lives in the area — both your neighborhood and mine, Carol.

    Bikers and their lanes are not to blame for this. Drivers are.

  • THE WAY THE STREET IS SET UP NOW, THERE IS NOT A LANE OR SPACE TO ‘DOUBLE PARK’ THERE IS NO PLACE TO STOP A CAR. PERIOD. YOU ARE SO INTERESTED IN YOUR PLATFORM THAT YOU HAVE NOT EVEN LOOKED AT THE SITUATION.

    Well, I have, actually. There’s an entire lane on the north side that is supposed to be for deliveries, as well as the parking that acts as a barrier. You haven’t mentioned either of those, and in fact throughout this entire discussion, the antis have acted as though car traffic and parking is an uncontrollable force of nature that can never be altered. There is apparently no room to modify the current plan, the only thing they will accept is returning it to the previous layout.

    I’ll also point out that using all caps is considered “shouting” in a forum like this, and is very rude. Not to mention your insulting language. If you actually want to have

  • … a reasonable discussion, you might want to tone it down a bit.

  • Carol

    Lee
    Make it a no-parking zone (except maybe at night), problem solved! As the locals have pointed out, they don’t own cars, so they don’t need the parking there anyway.

    That was easy.

    Hi Lee, this is a good idea but there is so little parking as it is and car owners will be up in arms. And in another few years, the remaining parking lots will all be gone because condos have been committed to every one of these outdoor lots. These lots may be unaffordable but visitors park there and at least free up the competition for some of the free spots. Years ago, I had no parking at night signs installed, after many years of lobbying, just so the double parked taxi’s could sit curbside, (instead of double parking) allowing the night traffic to pass. Large trucks were leaning on their diesel horns all night long, because the idling taxis would not move and traffic could not pass. Now after all of that work the DOT has created a slightly worse situation. It’s simple math. No one can pass. Period. Perhaps there can be parking on one side of the street only. But car owners will rightfully complain.

    The only abatement of honking now is between the hours of 3 and 6 AM and during the day when there are curbside spaces available, allowing traffic flow. When cars are parked on both sides, no one can pass at all. Saturday and Sunday here is now absolute chaos. I have watched the cops from the 1st precinct actually knock on the windows of the cars sitting behind the parked ones to point out to the drivers that they are sitting behind a row of parked cars. True.

    The blog bashers should spend a minute and talk to the bartenders at Toad Hall or Lucky Strike or the various shopkeepers on the ground floors. These folks watch the insanity all day long. Everyone on this blog seems caught up in straw man arguments instead of realistically looking at the effects of an ill conceived location for a bike lane.

    I am not sure what happened with the Houston Street idea as the street width could handle a bike lane more efficiently. Bike lanes should not exist on a single lane residential street. I love the idea of a bike lane, and this is not a NIMBY situation. This is just a bad situation that now needs to be amended. And the fire trucks truly cannot pass.

  • Carol Friedman

    Mark,

    This is not about my habits, nor my neighbors either, vis a vis groceries or cabs. I am not a car owner and I walk everywhere—and with my groceries! I am not advocating anyone’s bad behavior or habits. I am only reporting what I see and hear. We all know that you cannot instruct people how to behave, especially the out of state visitors trying to find the Holland tunnel or make their way to Chinatown. The passing cars simply need two lanes of traffic.

    Carol Friedman: “People cannot exit a cab or take groceries from a car or pause to park without unleashing a honking war.”

    Solution to the exiting-a-cab problem: Use mass transit. The MTA has lovely maps that will acquaint you with subway lines and bus routes.

    Solution to the groceries-from-a-car problem: Buy a fold-up shopping cart. I use one and so do several 80-year-old ladies in my neighborhood. I see them trundling their groceries through the streets of the UWS every day. The carts are available at any hardware store.

    The real problem here is not a bike lane. The real problem is the windshield perspective of Soho residents who are apparently affluent enough to own cars in a place where a car is clearly a luxury, as well as an oppressive, noisy, polluting, menacing presence to everyone else who lives in the area — both your neighborhood and mine, Carol.

    Bikers and their lanes are not to blame for this. Drivers are.

  • Years ago, I had no parking at night signs installed, after many years of lobbying, just so the double parked taxi’s could sit curbside, (instead of double parking) allowing the night traffic to pass.

    […]

    The only abatement of honking now is between the hours of 3 and 6 AM and during the day when there are curbside spaces available, allowing traffic flow.

    Okay, there’s the solution! Meter the curbside spaces over the weekend, no one will have any reason to double-park, traffic will flow, and people will not honk as much. But no, it’s not so easy.

    Perhaps there can be parking on one side of the street only. But car owners will rightfully complain.

    So you had the solution all along, but failed to mention it because you have too much sympathy for the car owners.

    There are two actions that you acknowledge would resolve the traffic tie-ups: freeing up some space for loading on weekends, or removing the bike lane. Years ago, you got the DOT to make some loading zones, but apparently now that’s not acceptable; it’s the bike lane that has to go.

    I love the idea of a bike lane

    Just not enough to actually try to make it work.

  • Lee

    People might complain about no parking, but they are already complaining anyway with the parking in place, so what’s the difference. But if you take out the parking there will be less chaos on the street. So you can have chaotic driving, complaining drivers, and happy cyclists – or you can have have more orderly driving, complaining drivers, and happy cyclists. You choose. There will never be satisfaction for the car-parking situation in SoHo, you’re just going to have to accept that. If you want to drive a car in NYC that’s just something you’re going to have to put up with – package deal. Bad parking, but plenty of alternatives.

  • Lee

    Anyway, the studies would indicate that if there is less car parking in ratio to the population, then people are more inclined to take mass transit or ride bikes. In effect the extra parking induces car driving that otherwise would be bike and bus/train riders, or people would just walk more like they used to. Maybe that would be better for your sanity.

  • Max Rockatansky

    I’ve got an idea – why not close off some of the streets in Soho to traffic? Then there would be enough room for people to walk and bike safely without the nuisance of cars! It would be perfect. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

  • Now that Sean Sweeney’s boast,

    We [SoHo Alliance] requested and got the Lafayette Street bike lane in 1997. Everytime you ride up that bike lane on Lafayette, thank us for it. (#9, above)

    has been recycled by Grand Street Resident,

    Sean Sweeney was the initial and lone advocate who fought for the installation of bike lanes to begin with!!! Do your homework. (#19)

    I feel compelled to respond — notwithstanding that Moser’s fine capsule history of the Lafayette Street lane (#10) nailed Sweeney by pointing out the lane was christened in 1994, not 1997.

    I was at the heart of cycle advocacy in NYC from 1986, when I assumed the presidency of Transportation Alternatives, until circa 1993, when I rotated off the T.A. board and also turned over the editorship of our City Cyclist magazine. Everyone who lifted a finger to advance bicycling in NYC during those years hooked up with T.A. at one time or another. My rolodex was stuffed with close to a thousand names — from stalwarts like Charlie McCorkell of Bicycle Habitat to anonymous photographers or bike couriers who took photos or made messenger runs for us. Sweeney’s wasn’t among them. Whatever he was doing with the SoHo Alliance, bike advocacy wasn’t part of it. Similarly, in later years when many of us expanded our focus to pedestrian rights and fighting car mayhem, Sweeney/SoHo wasn’t part of the mix.

    As I write, I’m looking at the cover photo of the May-June 1994 City Cyclist showing the Lafayette Street lane. I’m thinking of the years of toil by so many people that went into that piece of infrastructure and similar “wins” for cycling, from full-time bike lanes on the East River bridges and the GWB to improved access to subways and commuter rail. It’s possible that Sweeney and the Alliance helped at some point, but I suspect he has no conception of what it really took to accomplish these positive changes.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Solipsistically, Charles Komanoff feels that if something was done about traffic or environmental problems outside of his auspices, then nothing was done.

    Since Mr. Komaoff starts at 1986, so shall I.

    Back then, while the fledgling TA was indulging in simplistic bike-lane demonstrations, TA or Mr. Komanoff was nowhere in sight when it came to the real source of the downtown traffic mess, namely, the iniquitous reversal in 1986 of the Verrazano Bridge one-way toll on Staten Island.

    This ‘temporary experiment’ has dumped millions of polluting trucks and cars seeking to evade the toll in S.I. into lower Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn over the last 22 years. The seasoned activists of the SoHo Alliance did not respond with publicity stunts, instead in 1987 we filed a lawsuit against the MTA and Gov. Cuomo to have the tolls reversed back to the original configuration. Although our legal effort was not successful, SoHo Alliance and its members have continued to persevere, holding elected officials feet to the fire – as recently as last Monday – to reverse this disaster.

    If you don’t believe it, please refer to the offices of Sen. Schumer, Congressman Jerry Nadler, NYS senator-elect Daniel Squadron, Speaker Shelly Silver, et alia. They will tell you how I constantly badger them to change the Federal Law (of Al D’Amato) that federally institutionalized a local traffic change in 1990. I apologize in advance that SoHo Alliance focuses on the big picture, and not just bulb-outs on Houston Street, which seems to be Mr. Komanoff’s forte.

    Talking of which, in 2007, SoHo Alliance pledged $5000 to Councilmember Alan Gerson to fund a lawsuit against DOT for its placing two dedicated left-hand turns bays on Houston Street to make it easier for cars to idle while making the left-hand turn on Mercer and W. Bdwy. These bays uprooted trees and are sited nowhere else in CB2 except on the West Side Highway! Unfortunately, Gerson was unable to raise the other half of the money, and the lawsuit did not proceed. But the SoHo Alliance puts its money where its mouth is. Do you, Mr. Komanoff? Because if you do and you or your allies wish to come up with the $5000, we can proceed together in action against the DOT for this decidedly pro-car, anti-environment construction project.

    And talking about the environment, it was SoHo activists that convinced the Landmarks Commission and the Parks Department to permit trees in SoHo, where they had never been allowed before. We now have dozens of trees and planters. Where were you in this streetscape effort, Mr. Komanoff? Or are trees just not part of your agenda?

    I won’t even mention our active participation in demonstrations organized by Trees Not Trucks to stop illegal interstate truck traffic on Broome Street leading to the Holland Tunnel. I never saw Mr. Komanoff or anyone from Streetsblogs once at these rallies. Or aren’t diesel fumes your concern?

    The Alliance is currently in NYS Supreme Court as well as the NYC BSA to reverse the building permit granted to Trump SoHo, a mega-project located at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, which will worsen an environmental and traffic nightmare. We worked, lobbied and demonstrated against this project. Where were you, Mr. Komanoff?

    The SoHo Alliance was the lead community group in negotiating with the City Planning Commission in 2005 to remove some 16 parking lots in SoHo to be replaced by housing and retail. This removed about 1000 parking spots in SoHo. Again, Mr. Komanoff, why did you have no involvement in this issue?

    Finally, I never said that the Alliance was solely responsible for the Lafayette bike lane. We weren’t. I mentioned our participation because a commenter said we did nothing to get bike lanes. In fact, the SoHo Alliance did lobby DOT for a bike lane on Lafayette Street, independently of TA. It is only yourself to blame that you are unaware of our assistance.

    Perhaps if you had reached out, as Teresa Horney of TA did in 2006 regarding a Prince Street traffic survey that we both participated in, our name would be in your Rolodex, Mr. Komaoff. But you didn’t. In over 22 years, you never once reached out for our valuable assistance. All you have done is criticize. And that, Mr. Komanoff, is completely your fault and your style, not the SoHo Alliance’s.

  • Sean, I never said that you and the SoHo Alliance have accomplished zero. I simply tried to lay to rest your outlandish claim to have “got [sic] the Lafayette Street bike lane in 1997,” and to unmask your equally self-serving claim to be committed and effective bicycle advocate(s). Thanks for acknowledging these points.

    As for the rest, while you were throwing resources down the rathole of a well-intentioned but, by your own admission, futile fight to rationalize the Verrazano Bridge toll, I was helping to build an organization (Transportation Alternatives) that has catalyzed a renaissance in cycling, walking and public space provision in NYC and nationwide, and another (Right Of Way) that galvanized civic awareness of and resistance to motorized violence against walkers and bike-riders.

    I’ve since moved on. My Rolodex is now geared to even larger causes such as carbon taxes and road pricing. I don’t crow about my work, I just do it.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Charles, I never said or even implied that the SoHo Alliance fight to reverse the one-way Verrazano toll was ‘futile’. Nothing remotely close to that. Quite the contrary. Why would you say that? I hate to call you a liar, but …
    Please show me where I indicated it was futile. In fact, I said we are still “persevering’.

    Incidentally,it is not as futile as you may think, my defeatist friend. Schumer’s protege, Senator-elect Dan Squadon and I have talked about it repeatedly. Even on Broome Street during Friday rush-hour traffic. It will never be reversed till we have a Dem Congress. We now have that, more or less. Squadron thinks it is possible. Do you know something he doesn’t? And how the SoHo Alliance chooses to spend(or waste) our money on environmental causes is none of your business, particularly since you have never given a dime, although you are a neighbor.

    Furthermore, if you don’t think the SoHo Alliance is not advocating for bike lanes(“unmask your equally self-serving claim to be committed and effective bicycle advocate(s)”), visit: http://www.thevillager.com/index175.html

    There are Alliance members present holding up ‘Protect Cyclists’ sign, including myself? Where were you, Charlie? Out on your bike touring somewhere else perhaps?

    Also, you can contact Asst. DOT commissioner Forgione who will tell you that I have requested a Broome Street bike lane. I pushed and won for it at the CB2 level, which has a reso endorsing that proposal. TA is pressing for a similar lane on Delancey, hooking up with the Wburg Bridge. Since Delancey merges into Broome, our request to have a Broome Street bike lane is a no-brainer. Do you disagree? I bet not. So, where’s the beef?

    Charlie, don’t misrepresent. I did not voluntarily ‘crow’ about my work. You doubted our good works. I supplied you with the record and hopefully educated you.

    Sorry that it deflated your stereotype.

  • Ahem. I had so many thoughts about this issue (the cycle track, not who’s done more for bicycles) that I wrote a whole blog post about the need to plan for loading zones.

  • Danny

    Sounds like TA and Sweeney are about two replies from getting on the same page, and teaming up to get Grand Street a concrete separated bike lane with dedicated mid-block loading/dropoff zones for vehicles and trucks. After that’s done, you can both work on Houston Street.

  • tim koelle

    Folks-the problems at this particular intersection have little to do with the bike lane.

    Vehicles get stuck here all the time; and everyone honks.
    I live on this corner, and see them getting mashed-up all day long. The main reason is the changeover to a one-way street for the last block of Broadway. ALL southbound traffic has to turn left, east, onto Grand St. This creates a bottleneck and a free-for-all in the other lanes as drivers fight for a way thru.

    Worsening the problem is the surplus of bars, so that from Thurs thru Sun eve, noisy drunks are out on this corner hailing cabs. Just one cab stopping at this intersection can create havoc (and honking).

    The sudden, and unexpected, one-way barrier is most likely a means to ease traffic on Canal…..which gets backed up due to the Holland Tunnel…..on and on.

    My point is that the bike lane may, or may not, create problems at this intersection….but this is minor, and tangential to the root issues.
    Enforcing the noise law is not a solution. Honking is a symptom. The main problem needs fixing. The issue is more complex than bike lanes.

    Debate on bike lanes, driver behavior, SUVs, Sean Sweeny, and ideas to improve our daily urban experience is great, and useful. But do some homework first; visit the site; come down on a Friday evening and watch.
    Contact me, and maybe we can find a way to pressure the city to fix this.
    You can piss and moan on blogs…call each other names……or try do do something.

  • Mike Doherty

    Sean,
    Keep biking..and give them hell

    All the Best
    Up Mayo

  • Merkjuliana01

    Sean Sweeney is an ugly human being and an asshole!!!

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