UNFINE PRINT: Andrew Cuomo is the Latest to Wrongly Blame Bike Lanes for Congestion

This bike lane is not causing congestion. It is relieving it, despite what Gov. Cuomo believes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Is Andrew Cuomo taking Whoopi Goldberg pills?

Around the same time that ABC talk show host was erroneously claiming that bike lanes cause congestion, Gov. Cuomo made a similar specious claim, arguing that congestion in New York City is partly caused by protected bike lanes and pedestrian plazas.

It's right there on page 49 of Cuomo's "Justice Agenda" briefing book that accompanied the governor's State of the State address this week.

Friday’s Headlines: Democracy Dies in Deference Edition

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Post whoopi goldberg front pageWhoopi Goldberg landed on Thursday’s wood of the Post for her outrageous anti-street-safety comments,, so naturally she doubled-down, kicking off “The View” with more anti-bike comments that the Post lapped up. Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio clearly didn’t want to turn this into a two-day story, and declined to answer substantive questions from the press corps at his Thursday availability — even heaping praise on Goldberg as a “great New Yorker” who was “raising valid concerns” about the bike lanes that de Blasio says he believes in. “Great New Yorker”? Goldberg drives in from her West Orange, N.J. mansion for work every day then believes that arduous journey by luxury SUV gives her the right to tell the mayor how he should manage the streets for the rest of us who have to live here and pay the taxes.

Streetsblog tried to get the mayor to talk more about how Goldberg spread fear and misinformation on one of his prime initiatives, but he wasn’t biting. “I do think if someone says, ‘I think it may be causing more congestion,’ that’s a dialogue worth having,” the mayor told Streetsblog.

And that’s how democracy dies — not in darkness, but in deference (sorry, Washington Post). Instead of telling a powerful person that she was wrong, de Blasio made a political calculation that he’d gain nothing by pissing off a talk show host with a powerful megaphone, even if she lied about his signature issue. But we lose something, piece by piece, when people let lies and fear and misinformation spread rather than confront it at every turn. Perhaps we’ll have to wait for Mayor Ocasio-Cortez to set everything right someday.

OK, enough of my yakkin’, let’s get to the headlines:

  • Actually, staying on topic … Fortunately there was one person on the planet willing to stand up to Whoopi Goldberg, and that was Amanda Berry, the mother of Madison Lyden, who was killed on Central Park West over the summer because a car forced her into traffic. TransAlt put out a statement by Berry, slamming Goldberg for “complaining” about her commute when commutes like hers are the reason Lyden died. Take some notes, Mr. Mayor.
  • It’s official: The MTA, which Gov. Cuomo says he does not control, announced that it had accepted Gov. Cuomo’s plan to not shut down the L train. (NY Post, NYDN, amNY). That said, Emma Fitzsimmons’s roundup in The Times didn’t add much clarity to the confusion.
  • Candidates (well, some of them) for public advocate talked about transit (well, more or less) the other day. (City Limits)
  • Here’s a novel idea: Linking subway and bus fare hikes to actual performance improvements. (WSJ, NYDN)
  • Doesn’t this driver know the no-pants ride was last weekend — and it’s on the subway? (NY Post)
  • I was going to give the Home Reporter credit for its story about how there were 17 crashes in Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct in a single day until I got to this line from reporter Paula Katinas: “Despite the success of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, drivers and pedestrians still face danger when crossing the street, residents said.”
  • The Villager gets on the bike mayor coverage bandwagon.

Thursday’s Headlines: That’s What You Get, Mayor, For Making Whoopi

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That Whoopi Goldberg story. Wow. Everyone covered the news that Mayor de Blasio went on ABC’s “The View” to tout his national bona-fides and ended up getting lectured by an uninformed, fact-ignoring talk show host about how bike lanes are “screwing up” the city. The clip is here. After you’re done and your blood pressure drops back below 300, enjoy our full roundup:

  • The Daily News’s Jillian Jorgensen pointed out a few of Goldberg’s lies about bike lanes.
  • The Post’s story was flat out all-Whoopi-all-the-time, actually giving credence to the star’s windshield perspective on the city. (Steve Cuozzo must have been editing that day.)
  • The Times didn’t cover it (but then again, the Times didn’t cover the Citi Bike expansion, so what do you expect?)
  • Even Patch covered it.
  • Gothamist proved again why it is so valuable, as Christopher Robbins pointed out that Goldberg is not only a liar, but lives in a $2-million New Jersey estate (is that all? She must have downsized from her $9-million place in Pacific Palisades). Robbins also pointed out that cyclist Madison Lydon was killed over the summer one block from the studio where “The View” is taped. Lydon, of course, was run over when she was forced to veer around an illegally parked taxi into traffic because there’s no bike lane on Central Park West. We suggested naming it after Goldberg.
  • And lots of people made sport on Twitter, with Doug Gordon, Charles Komanoff, Ken Schwencke, Rebranding Driving@brianvan, Dani Simons, and DoorZone getting in the best licks. Bicycle Lobby had a nice caption contest of a photo of Goldberg getting out of her SUV.
  • But no one pointed out what Streetsblog Editor Gersh Kuntzman did in today’s column, arguing that Goldberg Trumpified an important issue.

Of course, there was some other news.

  • Gothamist did a second-day take-out on all the unanswered questions remaining on the L-train shutdown that appears likely to no longer be a shutdown. One nice detail? The MTA has shut down its website that had all the details of the pre-Cuomo plan. Nice.
  • The Queens Eagle wrote about an 88-year-old man who was run over and killed in Astoria, but for some reason, the Dozier Hasty-published local paper didn’t think it newsworthy to point out that the intersection had six crashes last year alone, according to city statistics.
  • Residents of Morris Park Avenue are still complaining that the mayor wants to save their lives! (News12)
  • And, finally, Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter reminds us anew that massive, three-ton SUVs with six-foot-high hoodlines are the AK-47s of the roads. Why don’t state DMVs register these killing machines as trucks instead of as cars? At least states could recoup the damage these vehicles do to our roads, our pedestrians and our planet.

Wednesday’s Headlines: Maybe the L-Pocalypse Wasn’t Such a Bad Idea After All

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Yesterday was the opposite of a slow news day, which means the Post won’t have to fill the paper with animal stories today (um, not so fast). So let’s get down to business.

The biggest story was the MTA’s emergency board meeting to discuss Gov. Cuomo’s plan to fix the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel with a less-intensive, shorter-lasting and (possibly) toxic-dust-spewing approach that (on the plus side) avoids completely eliminating service between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 15 months:

  • The day started with Emma Fitzsimmons’s bombshell report in the Times confirming everyone’s suspicion that the MTA had considered the Cuomo plan before but rejected it as insufficient given the damage to the tunnel. That pretty much set the agenda for a contentious meeting…
  • The Post’s coverage of the meeting itself focused on how the pissed-off MTA board may still derail the truncated Cuomo plan.
  • The Daily News focused on how New York City Transit President Andy Byford has been sidelined from direct oversight of the new repair project in favor of the MTA’s construction chiefs.
  • Katie Honan and Paul Berger in the Wall Street Journal played it straight.

The most detailed coverage was actually on Twitter all day.

  • Dan Rivoli of the Daily News had an epic live tweet thread that summarized everything. After Streetsblog demanded Jim Dwyer’s response, the pro-Cuomo-plan Times columnist started his own thread.
  • Vin Barone of amNY’s long thread featured board member Carl Weisbrod pointing out his lack of confidence in hearing about the new plan from the same team that created the old plan (which had rejected the new plan).
  • Second Avenue Sagas also had a live thread, which pointed out that no one knows how long the tunnel repair will last.
  • Aaron Gordon of Signal Problems pointed out a great moment when one board member caused an awkward silence when he asked about the shortcomings of the Cuomo plan. Dana Rubinstein’s Politico story (subscription only) focused on the same thing.
  • Jake Offenharz of Gothamist offered some sympathy for DOT Commissioner — and MTA Board member — Polly Trottenberg after Interim MTA Chairman Freddy Ferrer was obnoxious.
  • Riders Alliance pointed out some shortfalls in a tweet of its own.

In other news, the governor revealed his preliminary budget, which had lots of policy ramifications:

  • The Daily News’s Ken Lovett said Cuomo’s speech had lots of talk, but no specifics, on fixing the MTA. He also pointed out, “The governor would also put off a congestion pricing plan until 2021.” (At Streetsblog, that’s what we call burying the lede.)
  • The Post gave the laundry list of the governor’s progressive agenda. The Times also focused on a governor who appears to be tacking left (isn’t that where New York is supposed to be?). The Wall Street Journal called it a “justice agenda.”
  • Transportation Alternatives put out the perfect statement, reminding straggling lawmakers that congestion pricing would help raise revenue for the battered subway, reduce congestion and create safer streets. And, lest we forget, a tiny number of New Yorkers regularly drive into Manhattan for work — and the ones who do are far wealthier than the middle-class that Assembly Member Helene Weinstein and her ilk think they are protecting.

And in other news:

  • Gothamist added some additional value to our scoop about how Corey Johnson isn’t too excited about Gov. Cuomo’s 290 speed cameras. Council Member Brad Lander is upset, too.
  • Cops say they arrested the man who drove off in the confusion as Borough Park residents harassed an NYPD tow operator with racial taunts. (NYDN)
  • Wired asks if bike activists are “selling out” by jumping to Uber, Lyft, Bird or other private companies.
  • The Post offered some video of the Tappan Zee Bridge being blown up. Too bad it couldn’t have been saved as an awesome vertical park and bike route.
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