Whose Streets? Eric Duke’s Streets

"Maybe I just won't pay our property taxes if my street is taken away from me," the TV production studio owner said of the city's plan to dedicate a seven-foot strip of public street space to bicycling.


NY1’s Ruschell Boone has the story from Manhattan Community Board 5 last night, where the transportation committee postponed a vote on protected bike lanes for 26th Street and 29th Street.

The crowd who showed up was about evenly split between supporters of the project and opponents, Boone reports.

To be more specific, some people showed up to tell the board that something has to be done to create safe crosstown bike routes. Last June, in separate crashes, charter bus drivers ran over and killed two people who were biking on crosstown streets in this area. The victims, Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis, were following all the rules. The DOT redesign will give people on bikes a separate right-of-way, where impatient people operating lethal motorized machines won’t end their lives [PDF].

Then there were people like Eric Duke, the owner of Chelsea Television Studios on 26th Street, between Seventh and Eighth. He appears to be very upset about what will happen to on-street motor vehicle storage.

“Maybe I just won’t pay our property taxes if my street is taken away from me,” Duke told Boone. “I think that’s a very fair compromise if it goes that way.”

What is a poor beleaguered businessman like Duke, who owns a chunk of the most valuable real estate on Earth, going to do if a sliver of public street space is set aside for cycling? Just look at this:

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

We can mock Duke all day, but he’s participating in a system that’s been known to justify his tone-deaf sense of entitlement on more than one occasion. If property owners shout loudly enough, they can dictate what happens on public streets.

It’s up to DOT to ensure that doesn’t happen here. A CB 4 committee has already endorsed the project, and the city plans to present it to CB 6 as well. DOT has said implementation is on track for spring or summer.

Fine-tuning delivery zones, parking regulations, and intersection treatments makes sense at this stage, but the city can’t sit back and watch more people get hurt while the Eric Dukes of New York delay public safety measures.

  • JarekFA

    “Maybe I just won’t pay our property taxes if my street is taken away from me,” Duke told Boone. “I think that’s a very fair compromise if it goes that way.”

    Let’s be extremely clear here. These are some of the most entitled and selfish motherfuckers out there. I say “most,” in the sense, that “most” people wouldn’t be so flagrant in announcing their selfishness.

    And why is it selfish? You don’t own the public road in front of your home or business!!!

    Every day, someone who isn’t me, has their car parked in front of my house. It’s never my car parked in front. That’s supposed to be ok. That’s supposed to be the way things are. That’s supposed to be fair. Ok, whatever. But if a couple car parking spots are removed, he won’t pay his taxes? What a selfish silly bitch is that man. It’s not his personal parking spot. Get a spot in a garage!

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    “Maybe I just won’t pay our property taxes if my street is taken away from me” – in that case your property will be sold at auction in order to pay the tax you owe.

  • Max

    Insane. I work within CB5 and know so many people who bicycle around here, particularly CitiBike to Penn Station. Crosstown Bike Paths on 26th and 29th would help ensure that people don’t die as they just try and live their lives.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well, if he isn’t allowed to use the street as his private property, it doesn’t make sense that he would have to pay property taxes on the street.

    That is what he meant, isn’t it?

  • Larry Littlefield

    The executive/financial class, the political/union class, and the serfs.

    I wonder what the income tax rate is on his (probably counted as investment) income, compared with my labor income.

  • bluecanary1

    I sincerely hope Duke is the next victim of a garbage truck driver not paying attention to the road.

  • Setty/Steven

    A lot of long-time business owners are basically saying “I wish the city were more like it was in 1975!”

    Which I suspect most of us would disagree with

  • The NY1 report was the worst kind of “bothsides” reporting.

    On one side you have people who don’t want any more New Yorkers to be crushed to death beneath the wheels of multi-ton vehicles, an unspeakable tragedy that leaves children without parents and parents without children and that ruins countless lives beyond just the deceased.

    On the other side you have someone who thinks he and his customers might have to circle for parking for a few minutes in one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city. There’s more than selfishness at play here. There’s a downright lack of empathy for other human beings that gets a voice on local news. It’s sick.

  • City Biker

    I someone wants to print this and mail it to Eric Duke, please feel free!
    * * * * *
    February 2, 2018

    Dear Eric Duke:

    Dan Hanegby was run over and killed by a bus while biking in your neighborhood a few months back. Dan’s widow has not missed any of her $4,000 per quarter property tax payments. You can go right on and f*ck yourself.

    The People of New York City.

    Parcel (BBL): XXXXXXX
    Property Address: XXXXXXXXX

    Owner name: HANEGBY, DAN
    Property address: XXXXXXXX
    Borough, block & lot: BROOKLYN (3), 00234, 1103
    Outstanding Charges $0.00
    New Charges $3,937.62
    Amount Due $3,937.62

  • Adrian Horczak

    I don’t think the DOT has made these kinds of protected bike lanes before. When the streets are narrow, there’s a buffered bike lane so that vehicles can pass if there is double parking

  • J
  • Joe R.

    Only thing good about 1975 was that housing was actually affordable to someone with a regular job. Other than that, nothing good about that era at all. The subways suck, crime was on the rise, and the US was in a general state of malaise.

  • J

    Also, designing to accommodate double parking is ludicrous. We need to better manage limited curb space to prevent double parking in the first place. DOT is getting better at doing this as part of projects, but it’s still not great.

  • Joe R.

    Hey, one good turn deserves another. Maybe we should all say we won’t pay our property taxes if we don’t get a bike lane. Fact is nobody “owns” the street. Your taxes pay for the streets but at the same time NYC is free to apportion street space as it sees fit. If one day NYC decides to outlaw curbside parking altogether in favor of a better use, car owners have zero legal recourse. If your business depends upon people coming in cars, perhaps you should have parking on your premises. If that’s too expensive, then maybe your business isn’t viable if it depends upon the city offering up free curbside parking.

  • NYCBK123

    FYI: Since CB5 overlaps with City Council District 4- CM Powers has a survey for priorities that I encourage people to fill out. Transportation, congestion, traffic, safety. All on the list. And you can write in your own responses. Thanks. We need to make sure the voices of reason are heard loud and clear.

    Link- https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfE5T8QtXLVsVF_SZmO1WYsAFL79WyopOBOdHd5uus6bby5zg/viewform

  • Larry Littlefield

    Aside from crime, because today’s young people aren’t as bad as the young people of that era, and affordable housing, I would see some aspects of 1975 coming back once Duke’s generation is done with us.

    And not just in NYC.

  • kevd

    Please do that, Eric Duke.
    I bet it will work out great for ya! Go nuts. Taxes are totally voluntary.
    Just ask Wesley Snipes!

  • Vooch

    Schadenfreude can be a wonderful thing.

    Poor Mr. Duke must be furious every day, every limo ride, every cab trip, and every time he drives to the Hamptons. The SERFS are taking away his GOD GIVEN right to drive 50 MPH everywhere.

    I‘m thinking Duke & Marty Golden should start a therapy group.

  • Adrian Horczak

    I forgot about that one. Clinton St in Manhattan is another example. I just have the heavily utilized DeKalb Ave bike lane in Brooklyn on my mind. This kind of design is just so rare, but it should be prevalent on all streets that can accommodate it!

  • Maggie

    The city is already paying to defend a $600 million lawsuit after cyclists died on unprotected routes last year. How many more of those does he want to see in 2018?

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    I feel the same way. Since I don’t own a car and I bike everywhere, I am not going to pay my property taxes until there is a protected bike lane on my street.

  • Andrew

    I don’t own a car and I get around by subway. I’m going to stop paying property taxes until there’s a subway track on my street.

  • Tyson White

    People were freaking out before they made the same change to Grand Street. Now that it’s done it seems everyone forgot the panic they went through.

  • Adamlaw

    Mr. Katz. Please go ahead and stop paying your property taxes and let the City foreclose on the tax lien the impose on your property then move to a nice retirement community in Florida. That sounds like a fair compromise.


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