The Observer asked people they deemed to be “influential” New Yorkers for a short piece of advice for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Of the 57 members of what the Observer calls “the peanut gallery,” 14 had something to say about transportation.
If nothing else, it’s good for some insight into what New York’s drive-everywhere class (or, in many cases, the driven-everywhere class) thinks of pedestrian plazas and bike lanes.
Not that everyone on the Observer’s list is a cars-first curmudgeon — there are a lot of good ideas in there. But here are the cranky ones who just want city streets to live up to the car commercial fantasy:
- Glenn Beck: “Lose the stupid bike lanes on the streets, and worry less about my fat intake.”
- Writer Jay McInerney: “Reopen Broadway around Times Square. Get rid of the concrete islands/turning lanes on Eighth, Ninth and all other avenues — one thing Bloomberg didn’t fix was traffic flow.”
- New York Times columnist Frank Rich: “A pet peeve: Reconfigure Times Square so it might be a true Crossroads of the World again rather than a hideous quasi-food court for idling suburban tourists.”
- Talk show host Wendy Williams: “Open Herald Square back up to traffic. Fix the potholes… And get rid of these bicycles! They’re in the way, taking up too much room.”
- Bhairavi Desai, executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance: “Recognize that taxi drivers are central to the transportation system. That means not replacing us with bike lanes or denying us access to bus lanes…”
- Soho NIMBY extraordinaire Sean Sweeney: “The city… must cease catering to realtors, tourists, chain stores and cycling zealots.”
Don’t despair — some prominent New Yorkers have good suggestions that range from the simple to the inspired:
- NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan: “New York needs better infrastructure — better roads, better bike lanes, better subways, better airport trains, better airports, faster buses, healthier bridges. It requires some political courage for a politician to commit to something that won’t show results for a decade, but that’s the sort of vision that will be critical.”
- New York Fashion Week creator Fern Mallis: “I wish he’d do more about trucks double-parking and add more cabs without raising prices.”
- Anne Fulenwider, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire: “I’d like better F train service on the weekends!”
- Red Rooster chef/owner Marcus Samuelsson: “Harlem is evolving by leaps and bounds, so why aren’t we included in the places to install Citi Bikes? If we’re going to give urban America the same opportunities as the rest of the country, we need to provide the same amenities and healthy choices.”
- Former EDC chief Seth Pinsky has a somewhat ironic suggestion: “Encourag[e] investment around underdeveloped transit nodes.”
- Porn impresario Michael Lucas: “I want the mayor to continue along the path toward a quieter, more humane city. I want fewer private cars and more bicycles. I want pedestrian zones and crosstown trams. I want more green and less honking…I want a city that’s built for humans, not machines.”
- WNYC host Brian Lehrer expanded on his questions for de Blasio last month: “When tackling inequality, don’t forget transportation. The Bloomberg era has seen higher housing prices close to Manhattan, therefore longer commute times for people gentrified into living further out. At the same time, many new jobs are not located along the inbound-outbound subway grid, so bus rapid transit is probably a key to future improvements in transit. There are other ways to improve transit too, but my advice: Physical mobility matters to social mobility.”
So, who is more in tune with progressive transportation policy, Glenn Beck or Brian Lehrer?