Do You Walk in NYC? Then You Don’t Matter to CBS2’s Marcia Kramer

kramer.jpgKramer explains the horror of giving pedestrians more space.

No one warps a two-minute segment about New York City pedestrian improvements quite like CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer.

The venerable TV newser, who’s perfected the art of windshield perspective journalism, fired a salvo against the city’s public plaza program on the 6 o’clock broadcast yesterday. This one would have been comical if it weren’t such a sad commentary on local network news producers and their on-camera talent.

Instead of drawing on New York’s vast pool of pedestrians for some
street-level perspective on the potential expansion of public space, Kramer gets her sound bytes from four representatives of a very specific
interest: professional drivers. If you think New York City should base its transportation and public space policy on the recommendations of trucker and Commack resident Tamer Sumer, this segment is for you.

The fact that nine public plazas are in the works isn’t the breaking story that Kramer would have her viewers believe, either. They were all announced a year ago. And NYCDOT’s plaza program didn’t start with the transformation of Broadway. It’s a component of PlaNYC 2030, the citywide sustainability plan which has been around for three years.

In the rush to whip motorists into a frenzy, Kramer skirts over more important details about the projects she’s describing.

That part about permanently making Park Avenue a pedestrian space between 41st and 42nd Streets? The block in question is the west side of Park, known as Pershing Square West, which is already closed to traffic six months out of the year. The plaza slated for 175th Street in Washington Heights? That’s already car-free six days a week, with the new public space providing a more permanent setting for La Plaza de las Americas, a year-round street market.

You’d also never know from Kramer’s presentation that the vast majority of new plazas aren’t slated for Midtown. They’re coming to neighborhoods like Ridgewood, Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and the South Bronx, where parks and public spaces are extremely scarce.

Note that the segment writers lead off by saying that new plazas will "devour" city streets. In case Kramer or any CBS2 producers are reading this post, here’s what really eats up space in New York City:


  • Excellent statistics shown in Undemocratic Use of Space. So I can cite them in the future, I would like to know: 1)the source 2) whether they include the space cars use for parking or just the road space they use while traveling.

  • fdr

    “In case Kramer or any CBS2 producers are reading this post…”
    Seems pretty unlikely.

  • Danny G

    Mad looking forward to the protected lanes on First and Second between Houston and 34th. And don’t forget 34th. This is a decades long cultural shift, don’t let this news lady ruin your day.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’d love to see a parking inventory like San Francisco’s expanded into an acreage of public right of way inventory in New York. The inventory could include:

    Exclusive pedestrian space — sidewalks and plazas.

    Exclusive private motor vehicle space — free parking, paid parking, limited access highways.

    Placard parking.

    Bus stops and exclusive separated busways.

    Safety space — fire hydrants and sidewalk extensions.

    Exclusive separated bikeways.

    Shared space — the rest of the street acreage.

  • The CBS affiliate story is pretty comical.

    The anchor leads in to the story by intoning: “Banning traffic in Times Square and Harold Square was only the appetizer. Now Mayor Bloomberg wants to devour streets all over the city.”

    I’m expecting them to cue the godzilla footage. Instead we get the intrepid reporter on the street who says, “Drivers are livid.”

    To prove the point, she talks to some drivers who look not very angry. The scariest guy looks like Jabba the Hut. He’s so livid, he doesn’t know what to say: “This is crazy,” he says. Then there is an edit, so that Jabba can offer more wisdom: “Crazy” he says again…

  • I used to deal with Marcia Kramer when I worked for a big-name NY politician and she was always a rotten human being.

  • Didn’t our livable street outage get NY1 to change a headline recently? Perhaps after putting comments here, also shoot an email to CBS ( and let it run up the ranks so they’ll chose some spins from outside the windshield perspective in their next video report.

  • Charles, the cite you are looking for is:

    Banister, David. and Kenneth. Button. Transportation, the Environment and Sustainable Development. University Press, Cambridge: 1993.

    but it gets better. this only deals with straight area, not time/area which is a much more accurate (and damning) way to look at how much public space cars consume. I’ll post this stuff here in a bit.

    related to this, stay tuned for some T.A. research on the total acreage of free on-street parking in NYC, which appears to approach 14,000 acres, or roughly 16 Central Parks. (Manhattan is about 14,500 acres)

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Stay tuned for some T.A. research on the total acreage of free on-street parking in NYC, which appears to approach 14,000 acres, or roughly 16 Central Parks. (Manhattan is about 14,500 acres).”

    I’ll look forward to it. BTW, the acreage of the limited access highways and interchanges should be pretty easy for the city to estimate. I said should.

  • Streetsman

    What traffic was “banned” in Times and Herald Squares? There’s masses of vehicle traffic on avenues and cross streets going through both of them right now.

  • Shemp

    Marcia Kramer is an appalling imbecile.

  • Tot Lot

    Like most NYC repoters who only see the street from behind thee wheel Kramer is sad. But worst of them all by far.

    Excellent JOURNALISM Streetsblog.

  • Thank You Streetsblog

    Someone needs to call out these reporters, if, I mean you can even use that term for them anymore.

  • spike

    All the reporters get press parking passes, so they can park almost anywhere they want. So of course they are car centric. Limiting the number of press parking passes would be a big help.

  • Publicist

    At least pea brained, motorhead Marcia Kramer uses her press placard to do her job. Hundreds, maybe thousands of police parking passes are given to network TV producers, editors and various print and electronic media higher ups who have nothing to do with breaking local news. Press parking placards are pockets of petty privileges that benefit a small group at the public’s expense. It’s a New York City specialty. They are a little bribe given by the cops and City Hall to the media elite.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    When Summer Streets was amping a few years back, I was the guest on a CBS TV morning show to talk about Bogota’s Ciclovia and others and show some Streetfilms. While the anchor of the show was really good & conversational and seemed like a real nice guy, right after the cameras went off for the segment taping, he started talking to me about – I’m paraphrasing here – how if we start doing lots of street closures like this, it’s gonna make it tough to get around the city, and that they have a hard enough time of it going out to report the news.


  • Larry Littlefield

    “If we start doing lots of street closures like this, it’s gonna make it tough to get around the city, and that they have a hard enough time of it going out to report the news.”

    I recall doing field surveys at City Planning. When I worked with others, I’d have to wait for the last guy to show up, then we’d travel down to the Navy Yard to get the 20 year old City Planning car (which broke down and stranded us once), and by the time we got to the area to be surveyed, it would be time for lunch. We’d have to stop working in time to get the car back to the Navy Yard, take the train back to City Planning, and finish our day.

    On the other hand, leaving from and returning to home, hopping on and off buses and trains, I found I was able to survey three or four similar areas in a day by myself. Just grab some of those free bus maps, mark down the areas to be surveyed on the map, and plot the route. Journalists could do the same.

    Of course if I knew then what I know now, I would have gone around by bike.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    I am convinced that sometime in the near future with advances in reporting technology and cameras getting smaller that there will be a beat reporter for one of the networks – or heck maybe NY1 – who only travels by mass transit or bike. It is coming, trust me on this: and it won’t be me.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Ever watch Rick Steves’ Europe? All his shows require is a three man crew –him, the camera man, and the producer. They generally travel by transit and carry their own equipment, write the scripts the night before, etc.

    I actually met him over in Italy, and my family was filmed following the instructions in his guide book on Capri (lots of people walking around with those guidebooks). You see him traveling by bike and transit on most of the shows.

    A tandem bike with some panniers for equipment ought to do the trick for local news. I don’t watch it much, but I have never seen a “live shot” that wasn’t simply talking near the location after the fact.

  • bill

    I have to disagree with you. I both drive, ride a bike and walk and I don’t feel that I am biased in any way toward any particular mode of transportation. Clearly there are problems and all sides have legitimate complaints. However, I am troubled by the changes that have been made by the DOT to NYC streets under Bloomberg’s stewardship. The changes have been elitist and favor a very small minority of NYers who use bikes primarily. I also think Marcia Kramer is doing an outstanding job exposing these problems as well as other excesses that are occuring under Bloomberg’s watch including the latest flair up with the traffic cop Daniel Chu in Whitestone Queens.


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