The Race for Public Advocate: Ten Candidates Address Street Safety, Transit

Meet your would-be Public Advocates: (top row from left) Jumaane Williams, Rafael Espinal, Nomiki Konst. (second row, from left) Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez, Danny O'Donnell. (bottom row from left) Michael Blake, Ron Kim, Dawn Smalls

It's a free-for-all for the most least important job in city government: Public Advocate!

There are 17 candidates running to fill the seat vacated by new Attorney General Letitia James (remember her leadership in the job?). The New York Times has endorsed Council Member Jumaane Williams. The Daily News picked Council Member Eric Ulrich. StreetPAC tapped former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Still, it's hard to tell the players without a scorecard, so today, Streetsblog provides one for Tuesday's special election — the answers to our candidate questionnaires!

Friday’s Headlines: ‘You Get a Car, And You Get a Car…’ Edition


The story of the day was Mayor de Blasio’s non-crackdown crackdown on placard, which David Meyer of Streetsblog exposed for the sham it is. The Times’s Winnie Hu broke the details of the new strategy a few hours before it was announced, but the Metro section never updated the story to emphasize how little de Blasio was actually committing to — and how glowingly he spoke of cars and city workers who “need” to commute to their jobs in them.

The Daily News called out the mayor for a weak program that doesn’t get at the heart of the problem: the estimated 125,000 city workers who get free parking. Indeed, as Jillian Jorgensen (and Meyer) pointed out, de Blasio promises to build or lease parking lots so that cops have plenty of spaces after their long commutes from their homes outside the city. The Post also focused on the lack of cuts to placards overall.

City Limits also looked at the connection between all that driving and all that congestion. The Wall Street Journal and amNY also covered the mayoral announcement, albeit with less skepticism.

Meanwhile, here’s the other news of the day:

  • Nuthin’ to see here? A piece of wood from an elevated subway train in Queens javelined through the windshield of a parked car and easily could have killed someone. The MTA says it’s “investigating.” (NY Post, WSJ, amNY)
  • The L train will be out of service this weekend — and every weekend through mid-March. (NYDN)
  • Corey Kilgannon offered a primer on manhole explosions, which are so popular this time of year. (NY Times)
  • Thin-soled gumshoe Vin Barone did not go as far as Streetsblog in amNY’s coverage of AARP’s support for congestion pricing on Thursday, but the message is clear: Seniors can and most likely do support congestion pricing because they benefit far more from good transit than from the ability to drive into Manhattan for free.
  • Sounds like an R-ible idea for Bay Ridge: Some southern Brooklyn pols say they want the Manhattan-bound R train to terminate at Court Street in Brooklyn Heights, rather than crossing the river into Lower Manhattan. That would end the slow, but one-seat ride to Manhattan. (amNY)
  • It was nice to see usually car-friendly CBS2 do a story about how a construction project and double-parking in Brooklyn is endangering cyclists and delaying the completion of a protected bike lane.
  • Did you see that car that drove on the sidewalk in Borough Park because private school buses park wherever they want? This is every day in that neighborhood. (Gothamist)
  • Oh and don’t miss the answers to our public advocate questionnaires, featuring 10 top candidates!


Thursday’s Headlines: Race Against the Machine Edition


So our friends at Transportation Alternatives walked alongside a 14th Street bus yesterday — and the bus won by just five seconds, as Gothamist reported. The goal was to show that 14th Street still needs a dedicated bus lane and car-free conditions that were promised as a mitigation during the now-scrubbed L-train shutdown.

The lousy bus service on 14th Street persists even without the shutdown, so why not solve the problem?

Too bad the activists picked a school vacation week to prove their point. They would have easily beaten the bus in normal traffic.

Here’s the rest of the news:

  • Mayor de Blasio will make his loooong-awaited announcement about placard abuse today at 2:30 p.m. Aaron Naparstek offered a possible preview.
  • Some of the many public advocate candidates debated on NY1. It’s archived here. Earlier in the day, StreetsPAC endorsed Melissa Mark-Viverito. Check Streetsblog later for the candidates’ responses to our street safety questionnaires!
  • The de Blasio administration lied to FEMA in 2014 … to get more city cars! (NYDN, NY Times) Meanwhile, the Post joined Streetsblog in noticing that Mayor Vision Zero has a lot more city cars than his predecessor!
  • Why is putting benches for pedestrians so controversial? Park Slope’s community board voted 16-13 in favor of installing “street seats” on the neighborhood’s main shopping strip. Reminder: this program does not rob space from pedestrians — it takes it away from drivers. Oh… (Patch)
  • Carnage in Rockland County. (NYDN)
  • And, finally, we don’t see Mayor de Blasio on Time magazine’s cover of Dem hopefuls.


Wednesday’s Headlines: Your Livable Streets Dance Card is Full Edition


It’s a busy night in the Streetsblog world tonight, what with dueling events. At 6 p.m., Friend of Streetsblog Charles Komanoff will participate in a panel discussion on congestion pricing with fellow FOS Jon Orcutt and Nicole Gelinas at the Center for Architecture. RSVP here.

Then, at 6:30 p.m. at the Powerhouse in Dumbo, urban planners with Street Plans will show off what they do best at a talk called “Tactical Urbanism.”

And now the news:

  • Mayor de Blasio’s pedestrian safety announcement didn’t get much ink, though Streetsblog was there, highlighting the chauffeured mayor’s insistence that he is, indeed, a pedestrian. Other coverage by NY Post, amNYABC7, Metro, and Patch.
  • But from the same substantive press conference came a bit of news that the mainstream press jumped all over: Mayor de Blasio once told his police drivers to pull over a woman that he saw texting while driving on the FDR. The Daily News and the NY Post covered it, yet none pointed out the obvious irony: de Blasio’s detail drives past FedEx trucks, taxis and other cars illegally parked in bike or bus lanes, but he never told us about how he ordered the cops to write summonses in those cases!
  • And the mayor also defended his ticket crackdowns on cyclists in the days after a cyclist is killed. (NYDN)
  • At the same time, other reporters were covering a hearing downtown at which MTA officials said congestion pricing couldn’t even start until 2021. (NY Post, WSJ) Meanwhile, far-seeing urbanist Vin Barone at amNY focused on the MTA’s claim that it could reform itself.
  • Eyesore … or reminder of the horror of cars? (NY Post)
  • Fresh from the Amazon fight, the next war could be against Uber, the Times’s Emma Fitzsimmons surmises.
  • Hey, NY Post, what’s with all the animal stories? There was a kitten on a subway train and raccoons on a subway train. When you see de Blasio on a subway train, that’s news!
  • Why is this film series called a “Drive-in”? Consider us offended. (amNY)
  • And, finally, some personal, er, personnel, news.


Tuesday’s Headlines: Hizzoner Talks Vision Zero Edition


The mayor will be in Bay Ridge at noon today to announce the 2019 Borough Pedestrian Safety Plans.

This is exciting. Check back later today to get the full details. And if you want to brush up on the topic, here are the 2015 versions.

For now, here’s the news:

  • The Riders Alliance will accompany pro-congestion pricing lawmakers to subway stations this week. First up, State Senator Mike “Bezos Buster” Gianaris this morning at 9:30 at Queensboro Plaza. (NYDN)
  • The Times’s Winnie Hu takes the pulse of congestion pricing with an explainer on how we got here and how hard it will be to convince the David Weprins of the world.
  • Cab drivers are upset at Council Speaker Corey Johnson because he dissolved the taxi committee in the City Council because it was being run — and run poorly — by an unrepentant homophobe. (NY Post) Unrepentent? Yes. (NY Times)
  • Car carnage in Queens. (NYDN)
  • Gothamist followed last week’s Streetsblog’s scoop about City Council placard abuse legislation with some more details about the extent of placard corruption.
  • We don’t like cars, so we don’t care too much about auto insurance costs — except that they’re probably too low, given the social costs associated with the automobile. Car drivers may disagree. (amNY)
  • You don’t hear much about the Bronx’s D- and B-pocalypse over the next few weekends. But self-effacing exemplar Vin Barone has the scoop. (amNY)
  • The Daily News editorial board weighed in on the broken Amazon deal…under what may be the longest, least-comprehensible headline in modern tabloid history. So much for “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” Meanwhile, the collapse of the corporate welfare deal for Amazon may end up destroying the state Democratic majority — IDC fashion. (WSJ)
  • And, finally, Streetsblog contributor Laura Shepard posted an epic Twitter thread after being doored in the East Village.

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