Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio Claims Horse Carriage Deal Will Reduce Midtown Congestion (Politico, ObserverNYTNews)
  • The Post Roots for the Destruction of the Pedicab Industry
  • Here Are the Really Big Cuomo War Chest Suppliers (Politico)
  • Family Mourns Thomas McAnulty, 73, and Seeks Answers NYPD Isn’t Providing (DNANews)
  • Just Another Day of Reckless Driving and Fleeing the Scene in Brooklyn (News, DNA, Bklyn Paper 1, 2)
  • Construction Workers Parking All Over the Sidewalk in Gowanus With Impunity (Bklyn Paper)
  • Off-Duty Cop Arrested for Driving Drunk in Sunset Park (News)
  • Stapleton Residents Want Better Transit, Safer Streets to Accompany Bay Street Rezoning (Advance)
  • AMNY Listifies the News About the L Train Shutdown
  • Cap’n Transit: No More Two-Way to One-Way Conversions
  • What’s the Best Way to Handle Station Rehab Work? Vote at Second Ave Sagas

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Voter

    The mayor’s mental gymnastics as he tries to justify the horse carriage deal raise serious questions about whether or not anyone should vote for his reelection.

    Millions in public dollars to renovate a stable for a private business while roads crumble and public schools go begging for money? Bogus claims about Midtown congestion and traffic crashes?

    Then there’s this quote:

    “I think anyone who drives in New York City — data is great — human experience is great too. I drove plenty of times behind those horse carriages and we’ve all seen the crashes and what they did to the people involved and the horses involved,” de Blasio said.

    Anecdotes should not drive public policy. And has the mayor really seen the crashes? There have been something like three serious crashes in 30 years.

    Please, someone run against this man.

  • KeNYC2030

    Everyone but the media seems to be aware that this manufactured horse-carriage issue is really about developing the land on which the stables currently sit. It certainly isn’t about animal rights; in the future, more horses that could have pulled happy tourists in Central Park will be destroyed instead.

  • BBnet3000

    This is the story going around among the usual conspiracy theorists but I’ve yet to see any evidence.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    I somehow don’t think it was ever about the horses:

    25 Million?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    why ban pedicabs ?

    this seems gratuitous

  • Voter

    Yeah, if there’s so much public money to hand over to private interests, I think voters should remember this the next time their schools have to go begging to hire more teachers. And safe streets advocates ought to ask the mayor why DOT can’t afford curb extensions or the paint to restripe bike lanes and crosswalks.

  • You know what will reduce midtown congestion? Significantly reducing the number of private cars that roam its streets. Verbal and policy gymnastics from BDB.

  • c2check

    You wanna talk about human experience, Bill?
    Get out of your towncar and walk (or bike) this city’s crowded, shitty sidewalks and streets for a bit. Listen to the honking, sidestepping piles of garbage and food carts, the cars creeping within inches of a mother with a stroller in a crosswalk, or not stopping at all, or speeding through a red light.
    Walk. Pay attention.
    Let me know how your human experience goes.
    Then get back to me about following behind horse carriages in your car.

  • Maggie

    There are also so many cars parked around Central Park it’s ridiculous. I’m all for replacing these parking lots in one of NYC’s most treasured spaces with stables.

    Not about streets, but UWS residents and park users been asking for relief from the nonstop noise from low-flying tourist helicopters along Riverside Park. I haven’t clocked it exactly but my perception is about one low helicopter flyby per minute in Riverside Park… it’s relentless and diminishes the enjoyment of our city park. Nothing gets changed. I’m amazed that the city clicks a ballpoint pen and runs Central Park pedicabs out of business while doing nothing yet with the noisy helicopter tours that turn a park experience into the police chase from Wargames.

    Does that sound pearl-clutchy? I don’t mean to. I just get worn out from endless helicopters breaking up a tranquil day in the park.

  • Andres Dee

    “Horses do not belong on the streets of the biggest city in the country in the middle of Midtown traffic. It’s not fair and humane to the horses. It’s not fair to the drivers. It creates congestion. There’s a lot of reasons why this has to change. This agreement will achieve that,” – DeBlasio

    I shudder at the thought that the same argument can be turned against other non-motorized forms of transportation or recreation.

  • AMH

    More clueless pandering from the mayor. He tries to please every special interest and winds up screwing everyone over.

    “We’re obviously introducing a new element into Central Park with the horses.”

    News flash Bill–the horses have been there for years.

  • Yes, an argument about creating congestion for cars can be turned against bicycles. The only reason to get rid of the horse-drawn carriages is that the current arrangement is cruel to the horses.

    I have seen the horses out there on days of 85 degrees and more, since I take all those days off specifically in order to ride. I love that kind of weather; but the horses sure don’t. I thought that sending the horses out there on such hot days was already supposed to be illegal. If the horses are being worked in such heat, then this is an indication that they are not receiving good care.

    The whole thing amounts to animal torture, and should be stopped immediately. The horses that are currently working should be boarded at the City’s expense at an out-of-town stable where they can get appropriate exercise and care for the rest of their lives.

    And pedicabs, rather than being restricted, should be expanded to replace the horses. I’d even like to see pedicabs brought under the City’s aegis.

    So this is another disappointment from de Blasio. And it is another instance in which a union is on the wrong side of an important issue — the Teamsters are as wrong here as the TWU is on the Right-of-Way Law. As someone who is extremely pro-union, I find this terribly disheartening.

  • Joe R.

    Complaining about the helicopters doesn’t strike me as “pearl-clutchy” at all. It’s a valid complaint, just as my complaints about not being about to open my windows during the day due to constant plane traffic to/from LaG are valid. In both cases the majority are being subject to something which greatly diminishes their quality of life (noise and pollution) so a relative minority of fairly well-off people can benefit. Almost nobody in NYC, including most tourists, will ever take a helicopter tour. And a relative minority benefit from frequent passenger airline flights. If passenger planes stopped flying tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect me personally at all. Neither would it materially affect most people in NYC. It would affect the minority of wealthy who fly regularly, and perhaps some regular business travelers (again a minority of those who work in NYC).

    I guess the complaints about POVs in places like Manhattan are similar as well. Here you have a minority who may derive some convenience from driving but the majority suffer greatly because of it. Your example of parking lots in Central Park is but one example of this. It’s bad enough the 1% hoard most of the wealth. Rubbing the faces of the majority in the problems created by their ways to have fun is adding insult to injury. Having money shouldn’t mean you get to do whatever you want, regardless of how it affects those around you.

  • Joe R.

    As if you need any more proof that unions have long stopped serving the interests of the people they claim to represent. Unions serve themselves. It’s disgusting when a union like the UFT is more interested in lowering their retirement age than teaching children. And the TWU has repeatedly fought any measures by the MTA to cut costs, such as getting rid of conductors as CBTC is installed (and eventually getting rid of the motormen as well).

    Yes, what we do to those horses amounts to animal torture. I don’t even like being out on a hot, humid day. I think of those poor animals having to do hard work while breathing in polluted air. There may be a place in this world for carriage horses, but it’s not in NYC. All this to protect a relative pittance of jobs. When you count the pedicab operators who are now out of work because of this, the net number of jobs is likely down, not up.

    I sincerely hope de Blasio is a one-term mayor. The sooner he goes the better.

  • There is no reason to bring the UFT into this. Those talented professionals work in an atmosphere of constant disrespect from all sides. They deserve every perk that they can get — and many, many more.

    I am perfectly willing to criticise a union when it is wrong on a particular issue, as the TWU is in opposing the Right-of-Way Law. But, in general, what’s good for unions is good for society. My union, 1199, has frequently been in the forefront of progressive social change; and I am proud of that. This is why the TWU’s approach is so appalling to me. (The Teamsters are another story. That’s been a lost cause for quite some time.)

    The decline of unions is the main reason for workers having lost ground in terms of earnings and quality of life. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this is a dupe. And the bad news is that the majority of American workers are dupes, as most of us act contrary to our class interests. The joke is on us, as the owning class vigorously pursues its own class interests, about which it has no illusions.

  • walks bikes drives

    As a member of the UFT, I have to point out the inaccuracies of what you say. The lowering of the retirement age you are referring to was an agreement with the city to create what was called the 55/25 plan, which participants bought into in order to retire at an earlier age with fewer years of service. This was pushed by the city as a cost saving structure, and was not the idea of the union. A teacher at the top of the pay scale makes twice as much as a teacher at the bottom of the pay scale, and Bloomberg was more concerned about bodies in the classroom than quality in the classroom. While a 25 year veteran can teach circles around a first year teacher, they can’t teach more students. While there UFT does have some positons I don’t agree with, such as not wanting a constitutional convention for fear of conservative pundits pushing for a removal of pension benefits, but which is one of our best chances to get safe streets laws enected. Otherwise, the UFY most definitely has students interests in mind. Their biggest argument is that educators should be consulted on changes, not just have ill thought out changes shoved down their throats.

  • Joe R.

    Part of the problem from where I stand is we spend two or three times as much per student in corrected dollars as we did in the 1950s, and the quality of education is arguably worse. How much the UFT is to blame for that versus NYC might be an open question but I think the union deserves a fair share of the blame. A lot of the ire against the UFT, and unions in general, is due to their excesses. Sure, unions are supposed to fight for their members, but at the same time there needs to be a reality check. At least in private industry the balance sheet provides a reality check. If the union asks for too much, the company goes out of business, the members lose their jobs. There’s no such release valve for public employees. When public employee unions ask for more benefits, and the city says it can’t afford them, the standard line is always to raise taxes or fees. The problem with that is we serfs pay those taxes and fees. If these tax increases only hit the very wealthy who can easily afford them I might have no objection. I do have a big problem when subway fares go up in part to pay for retroactive pension increases and people making $5 an hour have to pay those increases. I have a big problem when real estate taxes go up to pay for the increased cost of schooling. We did all these things for a lot fewer real dollars 50 years ago.

    And another problem is public employee unions often ask for and get benefits few in private industry have, even those working for Fortune 500 companies. I’m totally onboard when a union asks for reasonable wages and safe working conditions. The days of slave labor are over. Companies should pay executives less and the serfs who do the grunt work a lot more. I’m more lukewarm about fringe benefits like health care, sick days, vacations, and especially sabbaticals. I’d rather we just pay employees decent money, and they can decide what to do with it. If they want to buy health insurance, fine. If they want to bank a lot of their pay for years and retire early, fine. If they want to save less but take some unpaid time off each year, fine. The problem is benefits cost money, but often that cost is hidden because this money is not paid long into the future. Paying decent wages right now lets you see everything upfront. And once you pay those wages you know your obligation to that employee is over forever. I could go on, but you get the idea. I never had a job where I had paid vacation. In fact, I had a few jobs where taking a day off without prior approval was an automatic fire. And I was OK with that because an employee is there to help run a business. If they’re not reliable the business can’t run, the owners lose money, possibly go out of business.

    The problem here is why don’t treat our public entities more like businesses. We should set a fixed funding amount per pupil in our schools, fixed costs per passenger for our transit system, etc. That sets the budget in stone. Out of that budget you pay employees. If employees want to be paid more, fine, but let them or the union find a way to cut costs elsewhere to pay for those wage increases which doesn’t decrease the quality of service delivered. When pressed, some unions have actually been really helpful in that department.

    While a 25 year veteran can teach circles around a first year teacher, they can’t teach more students.

    In theory I agree. In practice many of the worst teachers I had were veterans who were just riding out their last few years. With tenure they couldn’t be fired for neglecting their duties. Sure, the kids learned something under them, but not close to what the teacher may have taught them had there been a mechanism in place to ensure teachers always do their job to their full capability. If I don’t do my job, either I don’t get paid, or I lose my customer. That ensures I always work to the best of my ability. It shouldn’t be too much to ask public employees to do the same.

  • Andrew

    No need to wait for CBTC to get rid of conductors. None of the current OPTO lines have CBTC, and it works just fine.

  • walks bikes drives

    Traditionally, public sector employees earn a much lower base wage than their private sector counterparts. The trade off for that, traditionally, is greater benefits, which actually cost less than straight wages. I would have no problem losing a great deal of my benefits and get a commensurate pay increase that would put me on par with a corporate executive of similar responsibilities, but frankly, that would bankrupt the city.

    Costs are set in stone per student. A school gets a budget based on how many students it has, and how many students need additional services. Staffing and other budget decisions are based on this bottom line. But the numbers of students with disabilities requiring additional, legislatively mandated services (not decided by a teacher) have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. When I grew up, you had 95% of students in general education or honors classes, and 5% in a special education setting. These days, there are students in honors classes that have services provided by a special education teacher mandated by law. The highest growing field in education is not math, science, or technology – it’s special education.

    Sorry, Joe, but running an education system is not as simple as many make it out to seem.

  • urbanresidue

    It would really help to do real planning, instead of oversimplifying things like one-way streets:

  • Joe R.

    It’s worth noting that benefits used to cost less than straight wages. That was especially true of health care. Now with health care costs skyrocketing health insurance adds a significant amount to employee cost.

    I would have no problem losing a great deal of my benefits and get a commensurate pay increase that would put me on par with a corporate executive of similar responsibilities, but frankly, that would bankrupt the city.

    What this would do is put all the employee costs in this years budget, rather than deferring some of them to the future. Deferring costs might be OK if we knew those costs were fixed, but with health insurance costs rising it’s a question mark how much these future benefits will cost. Same thing with pensions. We can base the cost on an average lifespan but what happens if a breakthrough occurs which adds 25 years on average to life spans? I’m all for paying city employees straight wages even if it may mean a temporary increase in costs, although I don’t think that’s necessarily a certainty. At least you know when the employee finally retires the city’s obligation to them has completely ended.

    But the numbers of students with disabilities requiring additional, legislatively mandated services (not decided by a teacher) have skyrocketed in the last 50 years.

    I can’t blame the UFT for this but I can chide them for not fighting these mandates. They obviously haven’t improved education overall. In fact, they may have hurt gifted students by taking resources away from them in favor of special ed. Same thing with the latest fiasco, namely universal per-K. Yet another big expense foisted on the city for something which arguably has little or no long-term educational benefit (I would support it if it did).

    Obviously we need to look at a lot of things, not just in the educational system. Unfunded mandates are a problem across the board. So are misplaced priorities. We should be spending more on math, science, and technology. That’s the future. And it’s demonstrated children with special needs often do better in a general classroom setting. They learn not only from the teachers, but from their peers.