Today’s Headlines

  • Speaker’s Race: Nolan, Lentol Jump In; Morelle, Heastie Apparent Frontrunners (Observer, Crain’s)
  • Keith Wright (News, Capital) and Bill de Blasio Back Heastie (WPIX)
  • Could Assembly Be Reformed in Wake of Silver Scandal? (News, AP, C&S)
  • Post Pens Vintage Story About “Controversial” Uptown Citi Bike Expansion; UWS Meeting Tonight
  • Cross-Harbor Freight Plan Would Cut Region’s Truck Traffic, But Bay Ridge CB Is Skeptical (Bklyn Paper)
  • Cuomo’s Subway Snow Shutdown: TWU (WSJ) and Tish James (Observer) vs. Gelinas (City Journal)
  • The Times Has Questions About the Shutdown
  • Cuomo Oblivious to NYC’s Transit-Dependent Subway Riders (Medium)
  • Citi Bike Took Bikes Off the Street; Some Stations Knocked Out by Storm (bikeshareNYC)
  • Staten Island Woman Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter and DWI for Killing Another Driver (Advance)
  • Remember Cuomo’s Willets Point AirTrain? Best to Ignore It (2nd Ave Sagas, Ped Observations)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Kevin Love

    It is a good thing that even the Post is reduced to leading off its bikelash against Citi Bike with the not-quite-so-horrible problem of… cracked seats.

    Remember all the predictions of blood, death, gore and carnage on the street that would be unleashed by Citi Bike? That was before bike share programs in the USA racked up 23 million rides with zero fatalities. See:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/12/us-usa-transportation-bikes-idUSKBN0GC10T20140812

    One can compare that zero bike share fatalities with the ongoing deaths caused by car drivers poisoning people with their lethal pollution. Best estimate is that:

    1,421 people in New York City are poisoned and killed by car and truck drivers every year.

    5,491 people in New York City are poisoned every year by drivers and injured so seriously that they have to be hospitalized.

    Children in New York City experience 3,876 acute bronchitis episodes every year because they are poisoned by drivers.

    Children in New York City experience 219,640 asthma symptom days every year because they are poisoned by drivers.

    The smoke from a car tailpipe is made up of thousands of fine particles. Each of these fine particles can be regarded as a lottery ticket in the car driver’s death lottery. Breathe in one of those fine particles and you are playing the lottery! In New York City there are 1,421 “grand prize winners” every year. Who “win” a horrible death.

    It does not have to be this way. New York can progressively eliminate car driving as so many other cities around the world have done. For example, see a before and after video of one city that is progressively eliminating car driving:

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/11/before-and-after-in-s-hertogenbosch.html

    They changed. We can too.

  • ToastPatterson

    The phrase “Cuomo Oblivious” could be used in the headline to many, many stories.

  • Bolwerk

    Gelinas bit: “The city has learned the hard way that the best way to keep people off the streets is by shutting down mass transit” – chilling. When is it ever the city’s business to keep people off streets? That’s a great argument for why shutting down transit should be subject to every ounce of due process protection that can be mustered. A great argument for why one person, in this case one rather incompetent person, should never have the power to decide who can go where and when.

    I guess freedom is for whiners. 🙁

  • vnm

    Please let it be Nolan. She is great on transpo stuff.

  • Jonathan R

    Great comment. How about that rhetorical flourish linking the declining number of murders and traffic deaths to the imposition of movement controls? Stay at home! We must keep you safe from the dangerous streets and runaway snowplows!

  • Bolwerk

    Heh, I saw that. It was practically a non-sequitur.

    That anecdote at the end, about that family went to renovate their apartment in a snowstorm, practically undermines her argument too. Well, duh, they had a reasonable expectation that transit would keep working. Their stories don’t seem to be making it into the press (shocker?), but I’m sure a lot of other people had the same expectation and got screwed for it.

    NYC isn’t Buffalo, but most of us who’ve been here more than an undergrad term realize there can be heavy snow now and then. Gelinas seems almost surprised.

  • Daniel S Dunnam

    Lentol is my assemblyman and has always been great on transportation stuff as well. Many years ago I met with him at his office to discuss public financing for elections and he was great and ultimately really took up that issue. I think he’s pretty great.

  • Bolwerk

    I enjoyed this read, a critique of the powerful/media’s cavalier attitude about shutting everything down.

  • BBnet3000

    Its either already in there or has been added, but my comment on the headline is this:

    Cuomo Oblivious to NYC’s Transit-Dependent Subway Riders

    The story makes the same statement, but that’s missing the point. He’s oblivious to people with non-conventional work hours and who are paid hourly instead of salaried (the story does mention this). “Transit dependent” is nonsense, and what does that even mean in a city with the best transit in the country? Since all travel except presumably walking was banned, this keeps anyone in the region who lives farther than walking distance from their jobs from working non-conventional hours whether they’re “transit-dependent” or not.

  • Jonathan R

    Glynnis MacNicol says righteous-sounding things but sandbags herself by claiming, “There is no longer anything even resembling a middle class in the city
    itself; the people who live there now, the ones posting the “magical”
    pictures of the city in the snow (and to be sure it was magical, and
    post away!) can either afford the seven figures it now takes to support a
    family…”

    I hope the IRS doesn’t read this and audit my family for not reporting 9/10ths of my income.

  • Jonathan R

    If Lentol and Nolan are such paragons of transportation thinking, how come they let Shelly Silver have his way with the MTA capital budget?

  • Bolwerk

    Yes, I agree, that was silly. There is actually a significant middle class here.

    But overall at least the article focused on the victims.

  • Nicole Gelinas

    “When is it ever the city’s business to keep people off streets?”

    During a historic storm …

  • Nicole Gelinas

    It’s a non-sequitur if you cannot grasp the straightforward point that over the decades, our tolerance for accepting various types of preventable death and injury has fallen, even though preventing death and injury inconveniences some people.

    No different than saying that people can’t drive fast because it endangers others. It is just on a difference scale because of the potential for a historic storm.

  • pelican58

    “Bike-share riders may be hitting the streets of the Upper West Side and Upper East Side as early as this spring or summer as part of the company’s uptown surge, The Post has learned.”

    Has Alta/Motivate already found a new source for bikes and equipment? Mia Birk said in July 2014 that the supplier hadn’t shipped any bikes since before the bankruptcy: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/bike-sharings-big-problem-missing-bikes.

  • Bolwerk

    It’s a specious point at best. Even if I granted it, the argument that the shutdown added safety is a much bigger stretch. If anything, it increased danger and risk. Even in small ways, like people who left home and expected to be able to get back in time to take a prescription drug or something.

    Nobody died because of it, AFAIK, but then as shutdown proponents are so wont to point out, the storm wasn’t very serious. Had the storm been worse, the subway was at least as likely to save lives.

    So oppress me for my own good? No thanks.

  • Reader

    Whether people would have been safe or not is up for debate and there’s no way to prove it, other than with anecdotes. The people killed by snowplows who should have stayed home or the people who walked for miles to get home or to work because the subway shut down…there’s no way to control for any and all behavior.

    The bigger issue is whether or not Cuomo followed any established protocol whatsoever in making his decision, especially when the MTA already has numerous plans in place for all kinds of weather events. I’m not comfortable with the mayor going with his gut to protect people and overriding the experts. That seems to be a more interesting problem to explore.

  • qrt145

    Cuomo’s protocol is to estimate the publicity and electoral consequences of each course of action.

  • dporpentine

    What support can you adduce for the claim that our tolerance for death and injury has declined in recent decades? Success at achieving declines is not the same as a change in personal or social tolerance causing that change.

  • Joe R.

    There is a bit of truth to that article, though. Many of the middle class who live here, like my mom and me in Flushing, and my brother in the Rockaways, are only here because we bought our homes long ago, are living with people who did, or in the case of my brother with some help from family. Mom’s house cost $52,000 in 1978, about $225,000 in inflation adjusted dollars. Good luck getting even a small condo for that much these days. So many people who are middle class in NYC literally couldn’t afford the roof over their head if they had to buy it at today’s prices. It wasn’t easy to live on one’s own even two decades ago on a middle class income. Now it’s impossible unless you want to use 75% of your take-home pay for housing.

  • Bolwerk

    There is truth that there are people who struggle in the middle class, and people outside it who do too. NYC is not so unique in that respect.

    I think framing it in terms of class like that is dangerously imprecise at best. What people see in the term “middle class” is usually themselves and people immediately like them, not the reality of how most people live.

  • Joe R.

    Welcome to our brave new world where government protects people from themselves! Even in a perfect world where government could accurately identify the real dangers this would be bad policy. It’s horrible policy when government gets it wrong more often than not (i.e. like the former Mayor’s proposed soda tax, as if drinking soda were the primary cause of obesity). Look at all the things our illustrious City Council in its infinite wisdom has banned or restricted (closing parks after dark, banning adults without children from playgrounds, forcing businesses to lock up spray paint, helmet requirements for children under 14, and my favorite-the electric bike ban). That’s just what comes to mind in a few minutes. Think how much safer we all are because of their foresight! NOT! At best, the government should restrict or ban things proven to have negative consequences on others, like smoking in public. Protecting people from themselves, or banning things because they “seem” dangerous, is a great prelude to a totalitarian society. Get people used to a gazillion restrictions and soon you’ll have no trouble controlling them from cradle to grave. In a generation most of those used to any semblance of freedom will be dead or too old to care.

  • JudenChino

    Nicole, I love that you’re a true conservative who also genuinely cares about livable streets (and not just the rhetoric) and for that, I commend you. If we’re ever going to be successful in implementing livable streets infrastructure on a grand scale, it’s very important that we have allies such as yourself, to make the case to the NYPost readers of the world.

    That being said, the article below, I believe, straight up ethers your argument, because, for many people access to transit is a life line and not everyone else is so tethered to the “moment” like us digital mavens and to be able to just “drop” what we’re doing. What I found disheartening (and counter to conservative principles) is how the policy you endorsed does not comport with reality on how people actually live! It’d be great if everyone could just call it a snow-day, but not everyone is so lucky. Also, your reference to the women who was run over by the snow plow, was totally inapplicable. The snowplow operator was totally negligent. She was in a parking lot. It wasn’t even blizzarding. If it was blizzarding, that pregnant woman would not have been getting groceries. To use that as an example just doesn’t make sense. You might as well ban all cars because they maim and kill on sunny days as well.

    Must Read:
    A Blizzard of Privilege
    https://medium.com/thelist/a-blizzard-of-privilege-424beb8d05b

  • While we cannot point to events that didn’t happen, it would be a very safe assumption that the driving ban prevented some injuries and deaths. I was completely in favour of that. Indeed, we should have more of that type of thing — snow or no snow!

    The subway closure is harder to justify on its face, especially considering the fact that the majority of the subway is underground and not affected by snow. But there is much merit to the idea that keeping the subways open would have encouraged more people to travel, thereby subjecting them to becoming stranded.

    As it turns out, the storm didn’t live up to its billing; such is the imprecise nature of weather forecasting. But if the storm had delivered the 2 1/2 feet of snow that had been forecast, then the wisdom of the shutdown would have been unquestioned.

    The 11pm subway shutdown was announced in enough time for people to leave wherever they were and to get home; it had been rumoured since the morning, and was made official in the late afternoon.

    So, despite the ultimate lack of necessity of it, I can accept it as a reasonable precaution.

  • Bolwerk

    Precaution for whom exactly? How many people had to pick between a few wage-hours they could have used and not sleeping in their beds? Or had to choose between a paycheck and childcare? Couldn’t get childcare suddenly because the childcare had to stay in? Had to make all sorts of sucky decisions they otherwise wouldn’t have had to make?

    And what the hell is so magical about 2.5′ of snow? Upstaters and probably most northerners would say that’s not even that much! It’s a pretty safe bet that kind of storm will be happening a lot in coming decades. We’re going to need to live and work with it.

  • Bolwerk

    General response to safety objections in this thread, put safety into perspective: people are hurt every day. Chances are pretty good that running the subway when there is 30″ of snow on the ground would have hurt absolutely nobody more than otherwise. Nobody is saying the risk is zero.

    What are chances that people are harmed by an unexpected shutdown? Probably about 100%. Yes, seriously. That decision hurt people who had a choice taken away from them. The press isn’t rushing to report on them, but that’s the reality of it.

    If you don’t care about people’s freedom to make their own choices, you should at least care about that.

  • Bolwerk

    I can understand licensing e-bikes, but not banning them. And if someone can wrest my wallet from my hands in a late night park brawl, s/he’s welcome to it!

    Soda taxes? Well, they bother me no more than beer taxes. Which is to say, probably a little. :-p But still, at least that’s public health and not just me-me-me-me-me paternalism.

  • For whom *exactly* is, of course, impossible to say.

    But, theoretically, it’s a precaution for those people who would have boarded trains that became stuck on an outdoor section of track, or those people on trains that had to be cancelled mid-route, leaving passengers far from both their destination and their starting point.

    And two-plus feet of snow is, objectively speaking, a lot of snow. I don’t care if the people in Buffalo or Chicago or Montreal laugh at us for saying that.

    Finally, you’re right that major snowstorms (and all other extreme weather events) are only going to become more frequent as time goes on. Which means that we’ll need to get used to the necessity of occasionally shutting the subway down — effectively shutting the City down — for a day or two.

  • Joe R.

    Yeah, license e-bikes but only those which can go faster than about what a strong rider can do (~25 or 30 mph).

    My issue with the soda taxes was the amount. It would have essentially doubled the price of soda. Sure, it’s public health by why was soda singled out when many foods are worse? A ban on high fructose corn syrup in soda, that’s something I’d be in favor of, but a special soda tax is kind of a gray area.

  • ahwr

    Soda becomes healthy if you use evaporated cane juice instead?

  • Joe R.

    No, it’s still empty calories but only about half as many. Moreover, there’s a huge body of evidence that HFCS causes cancer and other ills which regular cane sugar doesn’t:

    http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

  • Bolwerk

    The authority’s own procedures call for shutting down outdoor track sections when necessary, and I think they’re capable of doing it without political interference. Beyond maybe increasing headways, the remainder of the system is otherwise relatively immune to any plausible accumulation. So this can’t be about danger to the system itself.

    2+ feet may be a lot, subjectively or objectively, but objectively it’s well within the system’s ability to cope with it. It’s also well within people’s ability to live with almost daily for weeks or months at a in many cities around the world. It has coped with approximately that much in the past decade. Seriously: things like ice pools you don’t even see on a clear cold day are a bigger danger for a broken back or neck.

    Regardless, if you’re going to make a case for shutting the system down, the cost of the shutdown damn well better exceed the cost keeping it operating – and that’s an incredibly tall order!

  • AnoNYC

    I hope this is true, the bike share blog has some pretty depressing statistics. With expansion, there will be a surge of new users. A lot of people that initially registered perhaps figured the company would expand its footprint much sooner.

  • lop

    A 20 ounce Pepsi has 250 calories, whether the sweetener is corn syrup or sugar.

  • Joe R.

    Pepsi comes sweetened with sugar? That’s news to me.

    The few sodas I’ve seen which have sugar instead of HFCS seem to have about half the number of calories of their HFCS counterpart. Nevertheless, my main point here was that HFCS is bad for you in ways sugar isn’t. I’d fully support a ban on its use.

  • lop

    Most don’t. It’s a new item.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/08/pepsi-cola-pepsico-sugar/7460189/

    And it has the same number of calories per ounce of soda as the usual corn syrup one according to the pepsi nutrition site.

  • Bolwerk

    If you’re going to ban HFCS, you may as well just ban heavily sugared soda. Now that stevia is unbanned, you can probably use it and citrus juices to approximate an off-the-shelf cola without anything that kills you (HFCS, NutraSweet, etc.). You might be able to do it yourself at home with some kegging equipment. (Maybe I’ll try.)

    Granted, exactly replicating Coke or Pepsi might be a tall order even for them.