Today’s Headlines

  • Metro-North Trains Collide in Connecticut, Injuring Dozens and Disrupting Service (NYT 1, 2; AP; 2AS)
  • Bronx Crashes Leave One Pedestrian Dead, Five Hurt; Three Kids Critical (PostNewsDNA, NY1 12)
  • Cyclist Killed by Livery Cab Driver Near Brooklyn Museum; No Charges Filed (News, NY1, Gothamist)
  • Vito Lopez Expected to Resign Today (NYT); Times Calls on Dems to Oust Silver as Speaker
  • Gelinas: MTA Has No Idea How It Will Spend Federal Storm-Proofing Funds (Post)
  • Former Upper Manhattan Assembly Member Guillermo Linares Held Onto His Placard (Post)
  • TLC Cracks Down on Brooklyn Dollar Vans (NY1)
  • Curb-Jumping Cab Driver Crashes Into Duane Reade in Chelsea (DNA)
  • Pete Donohue Thinks It’s Silly to Ticket Cabbies for Distracted Driving (News)
  • Classy: Daily News Publishes Pro-Bike Op-Ed, Then Attacks Author Paul Steely White
  • Retired Post Editorial Page Editor Bob McManus Is an Angry Man With Much Time to Kill

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Bob

    Death, taxes, and Gelinas’ lack of nuance and comprehension.

  • Anonymous

    Was that Post Editorial against Paul Steely White actually published? It’s like some circa 2003 right-wing “fisking” of an anti-Iraq War article–incredibly unpersuasive high school-level sass that’s almost luridly convinced of its own sharpness.

    And for the love of Somebody, why are dollar vans allowed to exist on Flatbush? Why doesn’t the MTA just triple the number of buses? It’s not like people are saving much money taking those killing machines.

  • Guest

    No one thinks Daily News readers are dumber than the Daily News editors.

  • Hello Bob – Do you have a constructive comment to make about my article(s), or are you just attacking with no argument or facts, and anonymously, to boot? Real courageous + classy = you’re adding enormously to the public discourse!

  • The Post story on the cyclist killed by the livery driver takes the traditional approach of blaming the victim for the crash based on the livery driver’s self-serving account, as conveyed by “anonymous NYPD sources” who are sworn to secrecy when it comes to inquiries from survivors of fatal crashes, but can’t help blabbing anything that comes to mind when a reporter asks for a non-attributed quote.

    Why should we trust NYPD to protect us against terrorism and crime when they routinely violate their own alleged “no comment during active investigation” policy to exonerate drivers who kill?

  • kevd

    Dollar Vans are an essential transportation link for literally hundreds of thousands of people.
    They exist because the MTA is either unwilling, or unable to provide adequate service.

    I’m as annoyed as anyone by dollar van drivers’ frequently aggressive and borderline sociopathic behavior on the road. But they exist in such large numbers because bus service on Flatbush is horrendously slow and painful unpredictable. I dare you to go outside and count the number of buses versus the number of dollar vans going past on Flatbush – especially south of prospect park.
    If it is less than 10 to 1 I’ll buy you a beer.

    Most dollar vans are costing riders MORE than buses, because most riders do not have an ultimate destination along Flatbush ave.

    So many are paying $2 for the van (dollar vans cost $2, now) and then $2.50 for the subway. It isn’t about saving 50 cents. Its about the level of service dollar vans provide versus MTA buses.

    Ticket them for moving violations. Impound the uninsured and the unlicensed to carry passengers. But don’t eliminate dollar vans from Flatbush Ave. They are too essential – and the DOT seems to know that….

  • Anonymous

    I ride on Flatbush, south of the park, every day–so believe me, I know how many vans there are and understand that they’re filling a niche.

    What I don’t get is why that niche is there. It’s a bus route. Put more buses on there. Give buses a much-needed dedicated lane. Do whatever it takes to address what is clearly a yawning need–while also doing it safely.

    All of which is to say that I’m pretty sure we agree. People who live in the area serviced by those vans (in other words, people like me!) need better transportation options. I just wish it the city gave those to us in a safe way.

  • kevd

    I do agree. If the city were willing or able to provide efficient public transportation along Flatbush and all the other dollar van lines (I’ve been told there is one on Utica, not coioncidentally where a subway line was planned but never built) with ACTUAL BRT that was fast and frequent, that would be great. But until that happens the dollar vans are going to be needed.

    I take dollar vans from time to time because if I’m in DT Brooklyn or near Flatbush in Park Slope or Heights it takes less than 1/2 the time the subway or a bus would take and puts me 1 block from my Apt. in Flatbush.

    Another point is that Dollar vans COULD be operated safely (some currently are), while still being efficient and fast. That requires a level of traffic enforcement that the NYPD hasn’t shown itself to be willing to engage in. But I think it is more likely than efficient BRT or LRT (that’s for you Bolwerk!) along Flatbush.

  • Bob

    What does courage have to do with a Streetsblog comment? The irony is thick that a Post writer would remark about something being classy. No facts? Sounds like most of your columns.

    In terms of substance, how did you arrive at the MTA having “no clue” about how to spend money? The MTA made initial cost estimates; now those initial estimates are proving to be high. If it was the other way around, you’d be killing the MTA for wasting money! You go from “…since Cuomo doesn’t want to leave a dime of “free” federal money on the table” to the MTA lowering its estimates, then saying that the lower estimates are “more Cuomo’s fault than the MTA’s” (lower costs are someone *fault*?), then sprinkled in some stuff about “expensive consultants” but forgot to use any *FACTS* about how much consultants are costing the MTA for this.

    Hope this was courageous enough

  • kevd

    Wow. Hanging out on blogs that link to your own columns.
    Pretty sad.
    Don’t you have some misinformation and thinly supported conjecture should be peddling to your semi-literate readership?

  • Morris Zapp

    I rarely agree with NG and I think it’s great that she reads Streetsblog.

  • Bolwerk

    Uh, how is that any sadder than you reading a blog you’re interested in? I’ve been critical of her columns before. Hell, I don’t really see the point of today’s column either, since the way the MTA is behaving is pretty easily explainable by the regulatory environment the MTA operates in. Actually, that explains a lot of their behavior.

    But she didn’t say anything especially odious today, so I see no reason to crap on her about it.

  • Ian Turner

    It’s not sad, it’s engagement.

  • kevd

    I suppose you are right.
    But I stand by misinformation and thinly supported conjecture.

    Original comment edited to make you responses seem nonsensical!

  • kevd

    I think the entire line of argument she made today is odious. That the MTA does not know exactly how to storm proof an enormously complex subway system only 7 months after the largest storm event it has ever had to deal with is in now way an indicator of engineering or financial incompetence. A reasonable observer would hope that the MTA would take the time to explore numerous options to protect against storm water flooding. That rising sea levels and increased frequencies of catestrophic storms wer not taken into consideration during the design and construction of the new south ferry station is a valid criticism. After all, it’s not like that climate science is only few years old. There is very serious work that needs to be done to ever portion of the transit system that lies below the new 100 year storm surge level. I don’t know what the work is, Nicole doesn’t know what the work is, and the MTA doesn’t know what the work is. But only one of those three is actively attempting to use engineers to determine what that work is. Condemning them for not knowing the answers fast enough is asinine.

  • Bolwerk

    @kevdflb:disqus: not disagreeing with you, but she seemed to be operating under the assumption that the MTA was asking for a lot of money without knowing what to do with it, as if that were unusual or problematic. And, she would be right, if this weren’t the MTA and the problem wasn’t protecting the NYC subway. She might even be right that they don’t know what to do with it (yet), but it’s fairly normal for agencies to get more than they need in a single federal disbursement because….well, the feds often don’t hand out money twice. It’s why individual projects are often overbuilt, while the system itself more or less stays in the 1960s.

    Needless to say, the MTA can easily spend $6B and much more on flood prevention without coming close to making the system flood proof, so in this case it’s not a particularly egregious problem. But capital overspending/overbuilding is generally problematic.

  • Kevd and Bolwerk, thanks for making an actual argument (albeit still anonymously, the refuge of people who don’t stand behind what they say) rather than attacking.

    The point I made (clearly!) in the piece was not that the MTA is asking for money before the MTA knows what to do with it, but that the governor is forcing money on the MTA before the MTA knows what to do with it, because the governor sees this all as free federal $$$ and wants to spend it all before it disappears for some other disaster.

    Nowhere did I say in the piece that the MTA should know how to spend $6 billion floodproofing its system by now. Of course it shouldn’t — and it doesn’t, as Prendergast was pretty clear about!

    But the combination of the pressure to spend a boatload of federal $$ and the fact that much of this floodproofing is experimental (as the MTA quite readily acknowledges) can be dangerous.

    As for being skeptical of the federal money part of it, look at what we did with a good deal of our 9/11 money — spent it on the wrong things because we thought of it as free — spent so much, in fact, that the Port Authority now has to take money away from its core mission and spend it on 1WTC as well as the PATH hub.

  • Hello Bob — good for you for making an actual argument in this comment, although you still have a tendency to generalize (eg “most of [my] columns” have “no facts” — unless you a specific example of a column with no facts, don’t say it!)

    The MTA does not yet know how to floodproof its system. That’s a fact.

    The MTA also has a history of spending way too much on consultants when it is not sure what to do. That is also a fact.

    And NYS and its agencies have a recent history of spending federal money (9/11) unwisely. That’s also a fact.

    All of these things together post-Sandy could make for a bad combination. Nothing wrong with pointing that out.

    BTW, we still don’t know whether the estimates of damage (as opposed to prevention/mitigation, a separate issue) were too low or too high. We really don’t know much of anything, because all of focus from the governor’s office has been on getting as much money as possible from the federal government (which is really us, as a net taxpayer state).

  • Bolwerk

    Nicole Gelinas : Not that it really makes a difference to any point I would make, but I don’t post under my real name because I literally have a violent, mentally ill stalker harassing me. If you really care about my name, feel free to email me at my posted nickname -at- gmail. I am in private correspondence with at least a few people who post here.

    …because the governor sees this all as free federal $$$ and wants to spend it all before it disappears for some other disaster.

    No arguments here, except I guess I just don’t find it particularly offensive, or see what difference it makes that it’s Cuomo and not the MTA because…well, that’s how you get federal money. It’s doled out in politically controlled grants, not given on a need basis. It’s the only way NYC/NYS can get marginally more of its own money back from the feds. I don’t like it, but it’s the system we have. I would prefer a system where it’s given on a need basis, and then more can be given if needed. We should be a little experimental, but we shouldn’t be just throwing money down the toilet.

    The fact remains: the good news is this money will at least not go to waste the way it could under most circumstances.

  • What do you mean by implying it’s an insult to call someone semi-literate? Considering you’re missing a word in your question that would render your question grammatical and logical, that’s a rich implication.

    Do you think that people who can’t pass a literacy test (and administered by whom?) shouldn’t be able to vote, particulate in the public discourse, or even try to read and educate themselves, sort of like in the Jim Crow south?

    Strange ideas you have there — guess that’s why you’re anonymous!

  • People who read carefully (and that is apparently asking a lot!) would notice that I didn’t directly criticize the MTA (which is just a creation of elected state officials). Rather, in the piece, I kept my criticism focused on the governor.

  • Hi Morris — thank you!

    I came today because I was hoping to see some constructive comments / criticisms of my piece yesterday statistically analyzing Paris’s eight bikeshare deaths (including three the first year) to see what New York (which is statistically more similar to Paris than to any other bikeshare city re population density) can learn from those deaths to avoid similar tragedies here (aggressively educate cyclists, particularly new cyclists, on turning trucks). I haven’t seen anyone write on this topic in the American press.

    But, I didn’t see anything on this topic; I saw a few people (certainly not a majority) who didn’t read either of my articles very well from their comments, but who are making anonymous, unsupported attacks.

    (You can tell they are unsupported attacks because they use, rather than factual evidence that directly responds to points made in the piece, a lot of adjectives — “odious,” “semi-literate,” “asinine” — words that belong on the craziest of the crazy blogs, not on a serious policy forum.)

  • Bolwerk

    Does it matter who is doing it? Is the governor really acting irrationally here? To be fair, there was a several hour lag between my skimming your article and cementing on it (only to call someone out criticizing you on what I feel were inappropriate grounds), so I think I got it pretty right under those circumstances. I think Cuomo’s a dick, but in this case he’s basically just acting in the interest of his state. We know he won’t get money for SAS, TZB rail, any other useful rail project,* or any of a number of other specifically useful projects, but he will get money for an emergency appropriation to protect against storms.

    It’s worthy of sunshine, but it seems hard to criticize his behavior. It would be better to criticize the conditions that make him behave that way, because that’s where the real problem lies.

    * And here’s why he’s a dick: he won’t try to do those things. It’s fine if he tries and doesn’t succeed, but he won’t try at all.

  • Nearly all of those stupid 9/11 spending decisions were under a Republican Governor and a Republican Mayor. Were you and the Post kvetching then?

  • Anonymous

    I read that piece on the Paris bike share experience and, though interesting, it does just what I’d expect: it pushes blame on the usual suspects (essentially, DOT and those crazy, ignorant bikers) while ignoring the role of police enforcement–and, heaven forfend, the education of drivers of large, dangerous vehicles.

    You note that Parisian bus drivers were taught how to deal with cyclists but don’t even hint that such a thing should happen here. You think bikers need to learn about trucks but don’t appear to believe that truck drivers should learn about bikes or pedestrians–despite the recent slaughter of a child by the driver of eighteen-wheeler in Harlem.

    Then there’s the question of how you determined the relative density of Paris and New York and even compared their populations–not straightforward questions if you’ve ever looked into how those are determined.

    All that said, I appreciate–even admire–your willingness to come here and respond to comments.

  • kevd

    Yes, nor am I disagreeing with you. What she is taking issue with is in no way a problem. It just more poorly thought out accusations thrown at the MTA – just some red meat for those who have a need to feel upset or angry at the government for no apparent reason. From her description, the MTA is acting absolutely appropriately in this instance. There are many things to criticize them for, this just ain’t one of ’em.

  • kevd

    Nicole’s sad that people on the internet criticize her columns. Oh, and they don’t use their full legal names either! Sorry, welcome to the internet. This is how it works. We all know you probably can’t adjust to new technologies. That is why your industry is slowly dieing.

    What ideas exactly are you criticizing me for? That I am in favor of literacy tests of some form or Jim Crow laws? Those ideas you just invented and put into my head? Those ideas that I never espoused or even intimated at? Oh, clever rhetorical technique you got there. I think its called a straw-man argument. I can safely now assume that your understanding of rhetoric and discourse as poor as your understanding of disaster management and federal budgeting.

    And, please don’t flatter yourself by the suggesting that someone reading your column is educating themselves on anything other than reactionary, uninformed vitriol.
    But, good catch on the missing pronoun. I’ll consider myself zinged!

    PS. I’m not implying it is an insult to call someone semi-literate. I’m not even directly saying it is an insult to call someone semi-literate. Rather, I am insulting your readership by calling them semi-literate. Mindlessly injecting words into sentences to make them longer does not make them more effective or more intelligent, Nicole. In this case it just makes the sentence completely inaccurate.