The 2008 Streetsie Awards, Part 3

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Bureaucrat of the Year: In just a year-and-a-half, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has transformed New York City’s Department of Transportation into the envy of city transportation agency officials across the country (OK, maybe Portland, Oregon where the former DOT commissioner was elected mayor isn’t envious). In this Streetfilm, Sadik-Khan shows off and explains some of the most recent developments…

Activist of the Year: With so many outstanding livable streets advocacy projects popping up across New York City, it’s hard to single out just one community activist for praise. Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Committee Chair Mike Heffron did a great job in 2008 organizing activities and drumming up support for livable streets in a borough where it can often be tough to find allies.

Teresa Toro wins a big honorable mention for helping to organize this summer’s Williamsburg Walks event, for winning approval for Community Board DOT’s Kent Avenue bike lanes and for her years of hard work as chair of CB1’s transportation committee. Working on a Community Board can be a thankless task and Teresa did it well.

This year’s winner is Florent Morellet. Proprietor of the recently closed Meatpacking District restaurant that bore his name, Florent was a key instigator and steward of the Gansevoort Plaza project, a leading voice for the protected bike paths on 8th and 9th Avenues, an eloquent defender of the Grand Street bike lane
and an important behind-the-scenes political player, in general. Even as he was being priced out of his restaurant of 23 years (rent was going to jump from $6,000/month to $50,000!), Florent continued to work to make his neighborhood and his city better for pedestrians, cyclists and, unfortunately, landlords too.

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Favorite Streetsblog Commenter: There’s a real glut of worthy candidates for this honor, but we’re giving it to "Marty Barfowitz." The deciding factor? It could be the consistently insightful, pull-no-punches mini-essays on topics such as NIMBY opposition to bike lanes and the State Assembly’s culpability for killing congestion pricing. Or it could be the pseudonym that appeals to both our outer political cynic and our inner eight-year-old.

Most Effective LSN Member: Honorable mention goes to Dave "Paco" Abraham, whose achievements in 2008 included a successful one-man lobbying effort to sell Duane Reade on the benefits of bike racks. The top spot belongs to Susan Donovan (below), who could be spotted drumming up support for Amtrak funding in a widely read Daily Kos diary, and, in an impressive media coup, leading NY1 through the automobile-clogged sidewalks near Yankee Stadium on game day — proof that livable streets advocacy and local TV news are a great match.

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Best Lenswork: Goes to Jacob-uptown for his photographic documentation of conditions on New York City sidewalks, bike lanes, and bus routes, the best of a bumper crop submitted to the Streetsblog Flickr pool this year.

Best LSN Group: With 47 members, LSN’s Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets group is doing a great job of making use of our online organizing tools. Let’s hope that 2009 brings a redesigned Dyckman Street and some new Community Board members to northern Manhattan.

Most Weirdly Effective and Totally Accidental Online Advocacy Effort:
State Farm pulled one of its TV advertisements from the air after a
Streetsblog-incited Internet mob told them that their attitude towards
bike commuting needed a major adjustment. Here’s a description of the ad. And here’s State Farm’s response

Best Advocacy Campaign: Michael O’Loughlin and the crew at M+R win a huge honorable mention for the Campaign for New York’s Future. Though they weren’t able to bring congestion pricing across the finish
line in Albany, the Campaign put together an unprecedented coalition of business, labor,
environmental, public health, religious and community groups and won approval for congestion pricing in City Council, something that many said would be impossible.

Honorable mention also goes to Joan Byron and Brad Lander at the Pratt Center for Community Development for their Transportation Equity Project. The idea of bringing together lower income communities to advocate for better bus service is an absolute no-brainer. But no one was doing it until Joan and Brad stepped in to fill the void.

The winners are the Prospect Park Youth Advocates because no other advocacy campaign employed the Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band to such great effect.

Best Livable Streets Education Initiative: After fifth grader Michael Needham, Jr. was killed by a reckless, speeding motorist while riding his bicycle, P.S. 76 in the Bronx might have decided to discourage students from riding bikes (like this New Jersey high school principal did in May). Instead, P.S. 76 began working bike safety, skills and street awareness into its curriculum. With the help of Bike New York, P.S. 76 implemented a month-long, bike-oriented physical education program for students and their parents and even raffled off a brand new bicycle to one student — a bold move for school administrators and a fitting tribute to Michael.

Best Celebrity Livable Streets Endorsement: Step aside David Byrne. It’s Jay-Z.

Best Out-of-the-Box Transportation Policy Thinking: With regrets to Councilman Lew Fidler and his 9 CARAT STONE Plan, we’re going to have to give the award to Charles Komanoff for the Kheel Plan and his Balanced Transportation Analyzer. Honorable mention goes to TOPP’s own Mark Gorton, for his four-part Smart Para-Transit opus.

The Old College Try Award: Goes to Paul Newell
for running a Democratic primary campaign challenge against State
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. If nothing else, it forced Shelly to
campaign for the first time in ages, and may have provided the nudge that pushed the Speaker to stop obstructing the traffic-reducing Gansevoort Waste Transfer Station. It’d be great to see a dozen Paul Newell’s taking on State Assembly Democrats come 2010.

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