The Week in Review

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A HIKE IN THE HAND… The MTA topped headlines for most of this week. Following Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s promise of aid from Albany to prevent a transit fare (and, presumably, motorist toll) hike, he and a passel of fellow lawmakers signed off on (another?) letter asking MTA to delay an expected decision until April. But MTA chief Lee Sander resisted, saying that even if state moneys could cover the shortfall (which he doubts), there is no guarantee legislators would deliver in the first place. Sander could be forgiven his skepticism, as Brodsky himself seemed to validate that last point. Tempering his initial overtures, Brodsky said on Wednesday: "We’ll try. There are no guarantees … But working cooperatively, I believe that additional monies can be found to save the fare." Now who wouldn’t stake the future of a multi-billion dollar operation depended upon by a city of millions on a pledge like that?

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAW SOMETHING. A handful of MTA’s bike-to-train customers in Williamsburg exited the subway this week to find the two-wheeled half of their commute combo missing. For liability purposes, MTA doesn’t allow bikes to be locked to subway stairwells, and decided to enforce this policy at the Bedford Avenue L station via saw and seizure (though one bike was mysteriously spared). Commenter Joe says such heavy-handedness is counterproductive: "Instead of being reflexively hostile, what they should be saying is ‘Are these bikes from our riders? There must be a high demand for bike parking from our customers. Let’s see if we can work out a solution and provide them with better service.’" Turns out that solution could be on its way, albeit from a different acronym.

LIKE "GROUNDHOG DAY," WITHOUT THE FUNNY. Whether it was from lack of lead time or lack of proximity to Manhattan, the first hearings of the NYC Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission were sparsely attended affairs dominated by familiar faces repeating familiar arguments. Not so here on the island, where scores turned out not to bury congestion pricing but to praise it. Commenter Pablo, however, observed that while the Hunter College event had the numbers, the crowd was heavily populated by "politicians and interest groups." "Both these groupings have platforms to speak about this issue. The regular public however does not have this platform and that is what the event should have been." Point well taken. Are the "official" hearings yet another forum for the same people to bark (or coo) at one another over and over? If so, what’s to be done about it? More hearings? Seems like someone warned us about this whole public referendum thing.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Among the usual suspects at Hunter College was Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose anti-pricing remarks did not impress Joan Boyle: "The first part of his presentation had to do with finding a place to park his car on the street, a problem which he evidently shares with constituents. No idea who that could be and it is scary that he does not realize that no leader in modern New York should own a car here. He needs to lead if he wants my vote for mayor, and selling the car is step one … His ideas about enforcing existing laws immediately seemed great to me, though of course congestion pricing and much more need to be implemented to deal with the crisis in traffic in East Midtown where I live. Bottom line for me, very disappointed in his stance on this."

Photo of bike on Columbia Street in Brooklyn by StreetFilms’ Clarence Eckerson, who speculates that despite the officious verbiage, the sticker is probably homemade. Clarence also notes that there were, as usual, several un-ticketed and un-stickered double parked cars on the block along with a van parked in front of a fire hydrant. And no bike racks.

  • Mario

    Not to be too apocalyptic or anything, but unless I’m mistaken MTA’s seizing of bikes violates the 5th amendment of the Bill of Rights, which states, “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” They can’t just take them—they have to hold a hearing first. So commuters can get their bikes back, right?

    Also, I question MTA’s signage. I live in California, where signage laws are strong, so that is my bias. I can’t recall seeing a clear and legible sign at any subway stop in Manhattan that reads that bicycles cannot be locked here. Short of that sign, MTA (under CA laws) would owe some people for the trouble they went to to get their own bikes back.

  • by the way

    FYI

    I know that T.A. is working with the city on a comprehensive bike parking bill that will affirm cyclists’ right to lawfully lock to street appearances, require agencies to duly notify cyclists whose bikes are suspected to be abandoned, and, of course, require commercial buildings to make allowances for bicycles indoors.

  • mike

    Brad- why did you leave out the part of the comment of the week where she praises Weiner?

    Here it is: “He was very articulate, as usual, on other ideas he had and the Commission members sat up in their chairs when he spoke (some seemed to be sleeping during earlier testimony).”

    Gotcha

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Actually, among the politicos Weiner hit it out of the park, he wasn’t preaching to his choir but he came over as impassioned, articulate and studied. Where were the pro Congestion Pricing future Mayoral Candidates? Conspicuous by their absence. He cared enough about public debate that he showed up and laid his cards on the table.

  • Dave H.

    Due process of law allows for private property blocking a public right-of-way to be seized without a hearing (providing that it is either returned to owners or a hearing is later provided expeditiously). Think of what happens when your car gets towed.

  • Eric

    Someone needs to run spellcheck on his or her stickers. Siezed?

  • vnm

    Niccolo,

    “He cared enought about public debate…”

    Ha! A guy comes out to grandstand in front of a receptive audience and you believe he’s doing it for our democracy?

  • Crazy.. think of what happens when your car gets towed..

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