Name-Calling Trumps Facts in the Post’s Attacks on 34th Street Transitway

The New York Post is escalating its coordinated, fantasy-based assault on efforts to make New York a better city for transit, cycling, and walking. Check out the impressive synergies from its opinion pages:

The New York Post wants to preserve the status quo on 34th Street. Photo: ##http://ontransport.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/photo-of-the-week-nowhere-to-go/##Chris O'Leary##
  • Last week, columnist Steve Cuozzo wrote a column blasting plans for the 34th Street transitway without bothering to check facts or call the business interests he purported to speak for.
  • Over the weekend, the Post opinion page published a stream of inaccuracies and lies blasting the transitway.
  • And today, professional invective-spewer Andrea Peyser wrote a column blasting the transitway and ridiculing transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

These people are not serious. A serious person would acknowledge that crosstown bus service stinks, and that it’s a problem which makes life more difficult for people who live and work in Manhattan. But the New York Post doesn’t mention bus service in any of its opinions about this groundbreaking bus project.

The ten slowest bus routes in New York City, which has the slowest average bus speeds in the nation, are all crosstown bus routes in Manhattan [PDF]. Between them, they’re used by more than 100,000 riders each weekday. The 34th Street transitway — potentially the first physically-separated bus route in New York City — is a serious attempt to improve crosstown bus service and show how streets can work for the majority of New Yorkers who depend on transit.

The Post and its columnists aren’t grappling seriously with how to improve NYC bus service. They’re groping for the snappiest phrase to discredit the project. Peyser, who calls Sadik-Khan a “hater of the internal-combustion engine,” doesn’t even seem to know that buses are propelled by internal combustion. The Post, which claims that the project is proceeding “in secret and without a shred of real accountability,” doesn’t seem to have bothered to look into how the project has actually proceeded.

The truth is that the city and the MTA have been publicly presenting iterations of this project and seeking feedback for some time. They’ve asked three community boards to weigh in on it. Last year, they started to convene a “community advisory committee” composed of elected officials, business leaders, community board members, and other groups with a stake in the future of 34th Street. They’ve hosted a series of public forums about issues like curbside access along the busway. The design is still being adjusted in response to the feedback at these meetings.

The truth is that the Post, for whatever reason, doesn’t like the project.

But people, including people with political power, do read the Post, and in its weekend opinion piece the paper asked the City Council to intercede and stop the 34th Street plan. As Cap’n Transit wrote today, if you care about transit, it’s important to contact your council member and tell them to pay no mind to the Post’s browbeating.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    What can you do when a major media outlet is completely willing — happy, even — to print lies on behalf of a political agenda?

  • Marty Barfowitz

    All Andrea Peyser would have to do is look at the “Related Articles” links that come up with any Streetsblog story about the 34th Street Transitway to see that there have been numerous Community Board meetings and that this process has been ongoing for a couple of years now. This has not been some secret, smoke-filled room thing. For example:

    Better Transit Service, Space for Peds Top CB4 Goals for 34th Street
    December 18, 2009

  • What can you do when a major media outlet is completely willing — happy, even — to print lies on behalf of a political agenda?

    It wouldn’t be the first time. Remember the Maine! What’s worked in the past?

  • Mark

    The Post’s coverage is clearly dictated by senior management at the Post or News Corp. The writers who produce the misinformation are visible. But if we are going to stop the Post’s effort to make NY’s streets more dangerous and congested, we need to identify the senior management that is giving the orders. I don’t know how to find out this information, but unless the people giving the orders are held accountable, I doubt it will be possible to get reasonable coverage from the Post.

  • Mark@4: The name you are looking for is “Rupert Murdoch”. Rotsa ruck trying to shame him into acting like a human being.

  • Glenn Moyer

    The obvious oversite was not making some significant media purchases in the Post early in the process.

  • If Macy’s was still locally owned, and Gimbel’s was still in business (and locally owned) would the Post, which sells them ads every week, be in such a hurry to condemn this plan? I think one shortcoming of national ownership of retail stores is that the owners may tend not to focus on these kinds of single-store environmental issues.

  • Andrew

    I was on an M34 this afternoon, around 5:30, that got stuck behind a limo parked in the bus lane between 8th and 7th.

    I guess I, and my fellow bus riders, don’t count.

  • gecko

    Definitely a Koched up group attempting to prevent public space and transportation for the people and the necessary — and inevitable if we are to survive — severe reduction in emissions that has been causing runaway and ultimately catastrophic climate change.

    The fossil fuel industry costs the people of this country over one-half trillion dollars and is loathe relinquishing its deadly grip.

    Don’t give a damn about people. Just think Wisconsin.

  • If Macy’s was still locally owned, and Gimbel’s was still in business (and locally owned) would the Post, which sells them ads every week, be in such a hurry to condemn this plan?

    Sure they would. Because it’s not about local businesses, it’s about the Post’s editorial view. Period. The Columbus Ave bike lane got the Post in a tizzy, too, and they found local businesses like Zingone’s to feature as the poor victims for that one. Whether it’s a local store owner or a guy who can’t get his Goya beans and bottled water from his car directly in to his house, the Post will always be able to find a character who helps them stick to the narrative.

  • mrbadexample

    I’m intrigued by the politics of this fight. The Post was glad to be a stalking-horse on Bloomberg’s assertion that the sanitation workers were the reason the 12/26 snow removal had gone so badly. And on most of Bloomberg’s priorities, the Post is ready to trumpet the administration’s initiatives. What’s the deal here? Is Bloomberg trying to get cover for dumping Janette Sadik-Khan? He’s taking heat from all angles on her initiatives–perhaps he’s asked his media buddy Rupert Murdoch to create a ‘grass-roots’ opposition?

  • Peter Meitzler

    From a traffic danger study completed by T.A. in 2009, the 34th Street corridor turns up 4 times in the list of dangerous intersections…4 times in the top 40 most dangerous NYC intersections. It must be redesigned.

    Rank Borough Intersection Fatalities Injuries

    1Manhattan E 33RD ST @ PARK AVE 0 118
    2Brooklyn UTICA AVE @ EASTERN PKWY 4 88
    3Bronx W 170TH ST @ GRAND CONCOURSE 0 60
    4Bronx E 183RD ST @ GRAND CONCOURSE 2 54
    5Bronx WEBSTER AVE @ E FORDHAM RD 0 56
    6Bronx E 167TH ST @ GRAND CONCOURSE 2 53

    *** 7 Manhattan 7TH AVE @ W 34TH ST 0 55

    8Brooklyn ATLANTIC AVE @ NOSTRAND AVE 3 51
    9Manhattan ESSEX ST @ DELANCEY ST 1 51
    10Manhattan W 14TH ST @ AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS 1 51
    11Queens 63RD DR @ QUEENS BLVD 1 50
    12Brooklyn EASTERN PKWY @ FRANKLIN AVE 3 47
    13Manhattan 7TH AVE @ W 145TH ST 1 49
    14Bronx BRUCKNER BLVD @ HUNTS POINT AVE 2 47
    15Manhattan 8TH AVE @ W 42ND ST 2 46
    16Queens HILLSIDE AVE @ PARSONS BLVD 1 47
    17Manhattan 3RD AVE @ E 42ND ST 0 47
    18Manhattan 3RD AVE @ E 14TH ST 1 45

    *** 19 Manhattan 8TH AVE @ W 34TH ST 1 45

    20Brooklyn FULTON ST @ FLATBUSH AVE EXT 0 46
    21Manhattan 1ST AVE @ E 14TH ST 1 43
    22Brooklyn EASTERN PKWY @ NOSTRAND AVE 0 44
    23Manhattan W 42ND ST @ AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS 0 44
    24Manhattan 9TH AVE @ W 42ND ST 0 44
    25Manhattan W 125TH ST @ AMSTERDAM AVE 0 44
    26Queens MAIN ST @ ROOSEVELT AVE 1 42
    27Manhattan E 42ND ST @ LEXINGTON AVE 0 43
    28Queens JAMAICA AVE @ PARSONS BLVD 0 43
    29Bronx E GUN HILL RD @ WHITE PLAINS RD 0 42
    30Brooklyn CHURCH AVE @ FLATBUSH AVE 0 42

    *** 31 Manhattan 5TH AVE @ W 34TH ST 0 41

    32Manhattan AVENUE A @ E HOUSTON ST 3 37
    33Bronx 3RD AVE @ MELROSE AVE 1 39
    34Manhattan E 23RD ST @ PARK AVE 1 39
    35Manhattan BROADWAY @ UNION SQ W 0 40
    36Queens ARCHER AVE @ SUTPHIN BLVD 0 39
    37Manhattan 9TH AVE @ W 57TH ST 3 35
    38Manhattan BOWERY @ W HOUSTON ST 2 36
    39Queens 46TH ST @ QUEENS BLVD 2 36

    ***40 Manhattan W 34TH ST b/w 5TH AVE/E 34TH ST & BROADWAY/AVENUE
    OF THE AMERICAS 1 37

    41Bronx W BURNSIDE AVE b/w W 179TH ST & UNIVERSITY AVE 0 38
    42Brooklyn AVENUE U @ FLATBUSH AVE 0 38
    43Manhattan 9TH AVE @ W 23RD ST 0 38
    44Manhattan 3RD AVE @ E 57TH ST 0 38
    45Manhattan W 57TH ST @ AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS 0 38
    46Queens 71ST AVE @ QUEENS BLVD 1 36
    47Queens UNION ST @ NORTHERN BLVD 1 36
    48Bronx W FORDHAM RD @ UNIVERSITY AVE 0 37
    49Manhattan 7TH AVE @ W 23RD ST 0 37
    50Queens ARCHER AVE @ PARSONS BLVD 0 37

    (thanks to NYTrafficticket.com)

    …The NY Post doesn’t have to be right; it just has to sell papers.

  • @Mrbadexample: I doubt it. On the contrary – JSK’s actions are perfectly consistent with Bloomberg’s general support for transportation alternatives as well as his penchant for spectacular things that he can claim as his legacy. Politically, he’s centrist, not right-wing. Just now he wrote an op-ed in the NY Times opposing Walker and supporting the right of public employees to unionize. When he does non-right-wing things like expanding sidewalks and bicycling facilities, he gets flak from the right, just as when he does right-wing things like browbeating the teachers’ union and anti-war protesters, he gets flak from whatever is left of the left.

  • Join the fight for our right to ride in Central Park. Stop the ticketing NYPD blitz against cyclists!

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  • Vooch

    Tonya,

    could the dr. cast a spell on Bratton and Allan Rosen ?

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