We talk a lot about windshield perspective on Streetsblog, so with his latest salvo against safer cycling and walking, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello has done most of the work for us.
From behind the wheel of “Mobile 2,” Aiello, in full-on Ted Baxter mode, informs viewers that the Columbus Avenue bike lane is playing havoc with commerce on the Upper West Side. Though its design maintains five lanes for cars, Aiello claims the lane is putting the squeeze on businesses, as delivery drivers are now forced to double- or triple-park.
Cue Andy Besch of West Side Wine, one of two business people Aiello talks to on-camera. Besch is appalled that city workers cleared the bike lane with shovels during last week’s snow storm, and describes Columbus as “a major truck route destroyed.” The story’s other source is grocer Richie Zingone, in a recurring role, who dismisses the lane as “not practical” and pretty much just wants it to go away.
Aiello’s Exhibit B is a totally unsubstantiated complaint that businesses are at risk because drivers are no longer “comfortable” stopping in for purchases, what with parking shifted a few feet off the curb, as if drive-through traffic is the key to viability in one of the most walkable neighborhoods in America.
The nut of Aiello’s piece, it seems, is that Community Board 7 is following up with business owners about the lane. But while Aiello implies that the CB 7 survey — he calls it an “investigation” — was sparked by a groundswell of anti-bike outrage, board chair Mel Wymore, whom Aiello also spoke with, told DNAinfo that its purpose is to clear up confusion and misinformation. You know, the kind of confusion and misinformation that thrives thanks to half-baked hit pieces on the TV.
Instead of pretending that empty curb space was abundant on Columbus prior to the installation of the bike lane, that delivery drivers who now at least have designated loading zones weren’t previously forced to double-park, and that drivers of private vehicles were once able to whip into open spots a la Kojak, it would be refreshing to see Tony Aiello and other New York journos follow the lead of their counterparts in Washington, who have demonstrated that there’s more to livable streets coverage than gravitating to the loudest complainers.