Brace yourselves, Streetsblog readers, and enjoy the journalism of Noah Kazis while you still can. On August 1, Noah will be departing Streetsblog and moving on to Yale Law School in the fall.
We will be welcoming Stephen Miller as our next NYC reporter shortly thereafter. Stephen is currently finishing his master’s degree in planning at Pratt and has written previously for Greater Greater Washington. You may have spotted his byline on Streetsblog NYC this summer, and you may also be following him on Twitter. We’re thrilled to have him covering the local livable streets beat full time.
Next Monday we’ll be throwing a little going-away party for Noah here at Streetsblog world headquarters on Lafayette Street, but before I get to the details I’d like to share a few thoughts on Noah’s work at Streetsblog and his contribution to the movement for sustainable transportation and livable streets.
I knew Noah was a keeper the night in January 2010 when we covered the release of plans for Select Bus Service and protected bikeways on the East Side. It was a momentous story, the big reveal for the biggest street redesign project, in terms of sheer length, that NYC DOT had taken on. Noah and I watched the presentation, interviewed a few key players, and headed to our respective homes, where we worked on the story together, chatting remotely, until after midnight. We got it wrapped up and ready to go for the next morning.
Noah has never let up in the two and half years since. His flair for teasing out telling details from the depths of complex studies, RFPs, environmental impact statements — you name it — has generated one high-impact story after another. For an early piece on the massive “sarcophagi” bollards surrounding the Atlantic Terminal LIRR entrance in Brooklyn, Noah dug up NYPD’s counterterror standards for “High Tier” potential targets and let his measuring tape tell the tale of anti-pedestrian overkill. The Brooklyn Paper duplicated Noah’s results. And now, a few years later, those monster bollards are coming down.
There are many storylines where Noah’s coverage really stood out, and I would like to acknowledge a few of them here.
His pieces on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement have called out the hypocrisy of the Cuomo administration’s rush to build an oversized, cars-first, double-span bridge — no questions asked — while making up excuse after excuse to avoid building transit infrastructure as part of the project. No other reporter has provided the level of scrutiny and skepticism that Noah has.
In a series of posts last year about the Department of City Planning’s off-street parking studies, Noah managed to get access to sensitive draft documents that portrayed an agency at odds with itself. Some passages showed a serious attempt within the department to close loopholes in the limits on off-street parking in Manhattan, while other passages, backed up with sloppy data, seemed to originate from a faction seeking to undermine those limits. When the final documents were released, the shoddy analysis was gone and the sustainability-minded reforms remained.
Noah’s post pointing out the political and public support for protected bike lanes in East Harlem, at a time when DOT seemed to be retreating from the project, was a critical piece of advocacy that helped move street safety forward in a neighborhood that really needs it. A few months later this major complete streets project was back before the Community Board, and a handful of NIMBY business owners haven’t been able to stop it.
We’ll be celebrating Noah’s greatest hits and his full body of work at Streetsblog next Monday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. on the 13th floor of 148 Lafayette Street. Please RSVP by Friday if you would like to join us for some drinks, snacks, and conversation on the roof deck as we give Noah a proper sendoff.
Everyone at Streetsblog, Streetfilms, and OpenPlans wishes him the best, and we know the equanimity and keen analytical mind that he displayed here will enable him to flourish as he embarks on his law career.