The 2010 NYC Streetsies, Part 3

This is our last post for 2010, and today is also the last day you can vote in the Capitol Hill Streetsies (vent your frustration with Chris Christie over there). Have a great New Year, Streetsblog readers — we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Activists of the Year: Every December it gets tougher to choose the recipient of this Streetsie. The list of deserving volunteers and advocates in 2010 is so long it just won’t fit in this write-up. So I’ll get to the point: After a year marked by outstanding organizing, the Streetsie goes to Tila Duhaime, Lisa Sladkus, and the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance, for their heroic effort to secure the Columbus Avenue bike lane.

Here’s a sample of what Tila and Lisa put into this campaign: Gathering more than 100 Upper West Side merchant signatures on a letter in favor of protected bike lanes; collecting hundreds of handwritten letters to Manhattan Community Board 7; speaking up at numerous CB meetings; and, before the climactic 23-19 CB vote, going door-to-door to sound out merchants on Columbus and hear their concerns.

Tila's on the left, Lisa's o the right.
Tila's on the left, Lisa's on the right.

Since the lane went in, they’ve continued their outreach, in conjunction with DOT, to address merchant concerns as they arise. All those volunteer hours must make riding on the safer Columbus Avenue that much sweeter.

NIMBYs of the Year: Iris Weinshall and the “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” win this one in a landslide. In our people’s choice nominations, we separated Weinshall, the wife of New York’s senior Senator and a former DOT chief, from the group of Prospect Park West bike lane opponents who go by the NBBL handle. But after Weinshall signed a letter to the Times alongside NBBLers Norman Steisel and Louise Hainline, it’s time to drop the pretense that there’s any daylight between them.

Speaking of that letter to the editor, it’s a perfect expression of the NBBL ethos: many assertions, no facts. Reading it might give you the urge to bow your head and give thanks that NYC is no longer served by a transportation commissioner who feels comfortable attaching her name to statements like this: “When new bike lanes force the same volume of cars and trucks into fewer and narrower traffic lanes, the potential for accidents between cars, trucks and pedestrians goes up rather than down.” It’s as if all the accumulated research on the safety benefits of road diets, slower vehicle speeds, and shorter crossing distances went out the window when the street in front of Weinshall’s house got re-designed. (For a thorough debunking, read this Tom Vanderbilt post.)

We’re heading into 2011 and the new PPW is in no immediate danger, but don’t kid yourself. Weinshall et al aren’t going to quit. While they were vastly outnumbered at the battle for PPW in October, the war they’re waging now is bigger than a single street. The opinions they got published in the Times, the press hits they drummed up from the City Council hearing they helped to foment, and the letter they sent from one deputy mayor to another all make it harder for the city to go forward with the next re-design to make streets safer.

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YIMBYs of the Year: When plans for East Side bike lanes suddenly got cut off at 34th Street, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 11 wouldn’t take no for an answer, demanding that the Bloomberg administration extend the street safety treatments uptown.

Elected Official of the Year: A surprising number of pols put themselves in the running for this one. First, the honorable mentions…

State Senator Eric Adams introduced a bill to insert a bike safety component into the New York State driver’s ed curriculum. Dan Dromm marched for a play street in Queens, and Melissa Mark Viverito stood up and called for protected bike lanes in her East Harlem district. Tish James, Dan Garodnick, Gale Brewer, and Jimmy Van Bramer all acquitted themselves well at last month’s City Council bike policy hearing. Dan Squadron, Jonathan Bing, and Micah Kellner have been consistent supporters of street safety and effective transit. Jimmy Vacca has been an earnest supporter of slowing down speeders, and Scott Stringer did his level best to get the NYPD to enforce the rules of bike lanes.

Our runner-up is Brad Lander, whose office produced the survey and incredibly detailed report on the Prospect Park West bike lane. Lander’s defense of the Fort Hamilton Parkway pedestrian refuges was also deft and firm.

The Streetsie goes to Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. Kavanagh sponsored Hayley and Diego’s Law, legislation intended to protect pedestrians and cyclists which passed August 13. Among electeds, he’s also been the strongest voice for prioritizing transit on First and Second Avenue and extending the East Side bike lanes all the way to 125th Street.

Brian Kavanagh speaks at a 2009 rally for Hayley and Diegos Law.

Best Developer: Martin Dunn got an exemption from the city’s parking requirements so he could build the 458-unit Navy Green project without a single parking space.

Best Mayoral Moment: After reporters hounded him with questions about traffic flow at January’s announcement that the Times Square plazas will stay, Mayor Bloomberg channeled his inner Enrique Penalosa. “Are the roads for multiple uses — everybody, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists,” he asked, “or are they just for motorists?”

Hottest Air: Apoplectic over the PPW bike lane, Borough President Marty Markowitz accused Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan of wanting to “make life difficult” for motorists and “putting bicycle paths on every single block of New York City.”

Most Over-the-Top Marcia Kramer Story: Killer pedestrian refuges!

The Goldbricker Award: Fill out some paperwork and send a check for $250 to Dr. Sheldon Werner of Wappingers Falls, New York, and you too can acquire a bogus parking placard and all the attendant privileges it conveys.

Most Opaque Transit Platform: Did anyone come away from Andrew Cuomo’s campaign for governor any wiser about how he’ll handle the MTA’s funding problems once in office?

The WYSIWYG Award: Carl Paladino entered the general election with a reputation for being a little unhinged, and in fact he did have some nutty ideas about how to craft transportation policy.

Biggest Question Mark: In his first year on the job, Manhattan DA Cy Vance followed through on a campaign pledge to beef up his vehicular crimes unit but failed to hold drivers accountable for killing pedestrians in at least a few cases where inattention or recklessness appeared to have played a factor.

Rookie of the Year: Streetfilms intern Dahlia Lopez Ramsay knocked one out of the park with “Women in Motion.” Bike Snob raved: “Refreshingly guileless.”

Best How-to: Clarence took you on his bike commute from Jackson Heights to Chinatown. Scenic, safe, and doable, even if you’re a beginner.

The Bike-Friendly Business Award: Edison ParkFast, for knocking down the daily rate for bicycle parking to one dollar.

Lifetime Achievement: Theodore W. Kheel, transit policy visionary and one of the MTA’s founding fathers, 1914 – 2010.

  • Did anyone come away from Andrew Cuomo’s campaign for governor any wiser about how he’ll handle the MTA’s funding problems once in office?

    Sadly, yes. He’ll have the “courage” to make extreme cuts to the transit budget, but gave up on congestion pricing as “moot.”

  • Marty Barfowitz

    When she finally, blessedly retires (or is purged from the sinking ship that is CBS 2) Streetsblog is going to need to create a “Marcia Kramer Award for Windshield-Perspective Journalism.” It’ll be handed out to the crappiest, most brainlessly ideological and city-hating local reporter in NYC.

    Nice work, Ben.

  • Is that MLK checking his blackberry?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Speaking of that letter to the editor, it’s a perfect expression of the NBBL ethos: many assertions, no facts.”

    As I struggled home from the Grand Army Plaza stop to Windsor Terrace on foot Monday afternoon, I could have sworn I saw them out there collecting hard data on how underutilized the bike lane is.

    Don’t forget Steve Cuozzo, who blamed the whole blizzard response problem on bike lanes.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/psycho_cycle_policy_8Uz3OaDCdgodQ7PWqqLRMO

    “Meanwhile, while many parts of Brooklyn remained buried yesterday, crews began clearing Prospect Park West’s widely detested bike lane before wiser heads prevailed. The sparsely-used lane had already made neighborhood residents bitter over how it divided “Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue” in half, plunking a parking lane down its center and making it dangerous for pedestrians crossing it. They nearly had another good reason to hate it.”

    OK Steve, the roads have been cleared but not the bike lane. And I’m feeling sluggish because I haven’t had any exercise other than shoveling. So if I ride in on Monday and take at whole lane at my middle aged place, will you promise that the people like you out there won’t kill me?

  • Does Steve Cuozzo have an answer on how many plows had to leave streets unplowed because they couldn’t get past bikes stuck in the snow?

  • Congratulations Lisa and Tila on well-deserved recognition for your great grassroots work!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Speaking of the Post, there are still more articles expressing outrage that any bike paths may be cleared.

    So when I ride in on Monday, no problems, right?

  • Copenhagen handled their blizzard a bit better:
    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/12/blizzard-bicycle-moments.html

    Somehow clearing bicycle lanes did not get in the way of them also keeping streets open for buses and emergency vehicles.

    I’m definitely not looking forward to the grandstanding that’s going to take place over side streets being unplowed, etc. It’s all the brooklyn heights blog can talk about this week, as if it were some humanitarian crisis to not have vehicular access to your doorstep. My only complaint is that the MTA performed worse than it should have on Monday and Tuesday. But I don’t expect transit to have center stage at city hall when there are grave issues of motorist entitlement at stake.

  • PaulCJr

    I’m happy to report that Sanitation is clearing out the snow blocking the bike lanes. Well at least in the East Village. They are using small bull dosers and dumping it into dump trucks. I thanked the Sanitation guys and told them to keep it up. It made me a little happier with the city and the idea they’re getting the whole biking in the city thing.

    -Paul

  • Shemp

    It would be good to get a current shot of Iris and lose the 1980-ish one.

  • Just so you know, the west side bike path is likely to be completely unplowed above 78th or so. I made it to about 82nd and it was snow as far as I could see.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Just so you know, the west side bike path is likely to be completely unplowed above 78th or so. I made it to about 82nd and it was snow as far as I could see.”

    The Prospect Park West bike path is also unplowed, so I guess I’ll be taking a lane at my middle-aged pace. Is there a bridge that is cleared?

  • JK

    Outstanding work Ben and Noah. Congratulations on a great 2010.

  • PBK

    Ben,
    As you wrote, the fact that Weinshall actually was DOT head, is a measure of how far we’ve come.

    What she said was like she was channeling Robert Moses at a seance. Check out this debate I had with someone on Facebook regarding the bike lanes, and Emilie Gossiaux, who was struck and nearly killed by a truck, while biking in Brooklyn.

    http://inklake.typepad.com/ink_lake/2010/12/irrational-discourse.html

  • Joe R.

    Not sure where was the best place to post it, but interesting article by the NY Times regarding the rising costs of getting around NYC in 2011:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/nyregion/03cost.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

    Of course, they conveniently omitted the one mode ( besides walking ) for which the costs aren’t rising. Then again, given their past articles on the matter, they likely don’t consider a bicycle real transportation.

  • For Elected Official of the Year: keep Sen. Dan Squadron in the running for next year’s award. He’s been pushing all the issues as Brian Kavanaugh on the other wing of the state capitol and continues to score a 100% in my book.

    It’s no accident that in the photo of Kavanaugh, Squadron is right at his side. Their 1-2 punch has been one of the few bright spots in Albany.

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