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.
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.
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.
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.
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.