No one warps a two-minute segment about New York City pedestrian improvements quite like CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer.
The venerable TV newser, who’s perfected the art of windshield perspective journalism, fired a salvo against the city’s public plaza program on the 6 o’clock broadcast yesterday. This one would have been comical if it weren’t such a sad commentary on local network news producers and their on-camera talent.
Instead of drawing on New York’s vast pool of pedestrians for some
street-level perspective on the potential expansion of public space, Kramer gets her sound bytes from four representatives of a very specific
interest: professional drivers. If you think New York City should base its transportation and public space policy on the recommendations of trucker and Commack resident Tamer Sumer, this segment is for you.
The fact that nine public plazas are in the works isn’t the breaking story that Kramer would have her viewers believe, either. They were all announced a year ago. And NYCDOT’s plaza program didn’t start with the transformation of Broadway. It’s a component of PlaNYC 2030, the citywide sustainability plan which has been around for three years.
In the rush to whip motorists into a frenzy, Kramer skirts over more important details about the projects she’s describing.
That part about permanently making Park Avenue a pedestrian space between 41st and 42nd Streets? The block in question is the west side of Park, known as Pershing Square West, which is already closed to traffic six months out of the year. The plaza slated for 175th Street in Washington Heights? That’s already car-free six days a week, with the new public space providing a more permanent setting for La Plaza de las Americas, a year-round street market.
You’d also never know from Kramer’s presentation that the vast majority of new plazas aren’t slated for Midtown. They’re coming to neighborhoods like Ridgewood, Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and the South Bronx, where parks and public spaces are extremely scarce.
Note that the segment writers lead off by saying that new plazas will "devour" city streets. In case Kramer or any CBS2 producers are reading this post, here’s what really eats up space in New York City: