Monday’s Headlines: Gridlock Scam Edition

It’s the first weekday of the United National General Assembly, so welcome to a gridlocked hell created entirely by cars and mitigated made worse by important completely made up NYPD “security” protocols that punish cyclists.

So let’s start there:

  • I was happy to see the Gridlock Sam join Streetsblog in calling out the DOT for rampant hypocrisy in not confronting the NYPD on its shutdown of the First and Second avenue bike lanes — despite the DOT calling for more New Yorkers to use bikes during the annual UN diplofest. The former Department of Traffic commissioner Gridlock Sam Schwartz raised the same question we did: “I’m puzzled why there’ll be bike lane closures on First and Second Aves., even when cars are allowed. C’mon guys, use your heads — a bad guy in a car can do far more damage than a bad guy on a bike.” (NYDN)
  • So kudos to Schwartz for questioning the NYPD and DOT. No other journalist in town even questions the agencies’ decision to close a bike lane at the same time they are urging New Yorkers to bicycle more — a complete repudiation of the role of the Fourth Estate. Instead, amNY, NY1, Patch, WABC-TV, the Daily News, and everyone else parroted the NYPD’s line about the closures. The whole sorry episode makes me want to remind my colleagues of the 1 in Journalism 101: The first question we’re supposed to ask is “Why?”

In other news…

  • Congrats are in order to Brandon Chamberlin, who won TransAlt’s Five-Boro Pizza Challenge on Sunday.
  • The U.S. is getting killed on creating mass transit systems. (CityLab)
  • Daily News gets action: After weeks of covering the public schools’ bus crisis, the paper gets its first scalp: public schools support services CEO Eric Goldstein has been canned. (NYDN)
  • Wow, the Post was wise enough to follow off David Meyer’s great Streetsblog story two weeks ago about how the Yankees don’t let cyclists bring their helmets into games. (NY Post)
  • This bus driver is out of control. (amNY)
  • Cops are looking for the weekend subway pepper spray fiend. (NYDN)
  • An op-ed in the News looks at yet another downside of the Trump tax cut on commuters. (NYDN)
  • And finally, why does the New York Times celebrate cars so damn often?

Update: An earlier version misidentified Sam Schwartz. He was never DOT commissioner, but he was Department of Traffic commissioner before that bureau was put into the DOT.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Why does the New York Times celebrate cars so damn often?”

    Of course you know the answer. The same reason it celebrates suburban houses. Ad revenues.

    No one is going to make a lot of money off someone else’s low impact, low cost lifestyle that features bicycles and mass transit and fewer square feet per person. The whole world is dependent on Americans, paid less and less by generation, nonetheless spending more and more.

    In the latest iteration, if you extrapolate current trends everything will be free, funded by advertising revenues from those selling products and services people don’t really have to buy.

    Once consumerism seemed like an indoctrination, given the lack of alternative information for those who no longer participated in religion. But now that we have a global crisis of demand, that indoctrination has taken on an air of desperation.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Goldstein oversaw the yellow bus system since 2007 and survived contentious relationships with school bus vendors, some of whom were reported to have ties to organized crime families. In 2010, the CEO of a major bus company threatened Goldstein with a loaded pistol in his office during contract negotiations. Goldstein’s car was also vandalized around the same time.”

    Reading between the lines — the bus companies, to whom DeBlasio has pandered by undoing some of Bloomberg’s cost savings, once again screwed up bus service on purpose. And told DeBlasio they’d start actually serving children if Goldstein was fired.

    Who do they think they are, the UFT?

  • Jared R

    “Getting killed on mass transit”? As if this isn’t a deliberate choice? Write an article on the origins of zoning in the U.S. and you can, perhaps, educate your readers on why the U.S. is dominated by autos.

  • KeNYC2030

    This is art photography, and the photographer is quoted as saying: ‘I don’t really like cars that much, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m more interested in the aesthetics and the industrial areas in Brooklyn where I found them” he said. “Having a car when you live in the city just doesn’t seem natural to me.”

  • walks bikes drives

    Re: NYPD and the bike lanes.

    NYPD is closing the bike lanes, not for security threats, but to use as conduit routes to move the dignitaries to and fro. Full street closures happen for Trump, no one is allowed near him as he goes past, as it his own country doesn’t like him, but the same is not true for most other leaders.

    So we have to focus our criticism – arguing that cyclists are not a security issue will fall on deaf ears with NYPD planners. The council and other electeds need to get on board and present a united front that cyclists should not bear the brunt of the need to close off VIP lanes. It makes sense, on paper, that ‘bike lanes are less utilized at any one moment than motor vehicle lanes,’ and therefore the ‘least hardship.’ Additionally, the ability to replace parked cars with police cars allows the protected aspect of the bike lanes to provide greater protection for the traveling delegations. However, as we all know, this is not the full reality and that cyclists are disproportionately affected in this situation, also creating a great safety risk for cyclists displaced. For the latter reason of closing the bike lane, I understand the reasoning, and that’s why a temporary bike lane should be created on the right of those parked police cars.

  • Maggie

    Larry, that doesn’t make sense. The NYT photos of old junker cars are connected to ad revenues and generations “spending more and more” how, exactly?

    But shame on the NYT for including a photo of a car parked across the whole sidewalk without even seeing the story there.

  • Ian Turner

    Yes, actually, they are connected to ad revenues. They promote the ideals of car culture and promote cars as objects of fun and desire.

    The Times has a separation between advertising and editorial; it’s not like the ad folks call up the editorial folks and ask for more articles about cars. But the forces of business do push the organization as a whole in a certain direction. In that respect Larry is right.

  • AnoNYC

    Family of motorcyclist killed by driver making a U-turn want her charged in fatal accident

    The daughter of a Brooklyn motorcyclist killed by a car making a U-turn Saturday says she doesn’t understand why the driver hasn’t yet been charged with a crime.

    Multi-Vehicle Collision In Morris Park

    Bird’s electric scooters are getting more rugged to handle heavy use

  • Maggie

    These are photos of 40+ year old cars, while the US car industry runs on 3-year leases and a 7-year sales cycle for depreciating assets. I see where you’re coming from, and I understand that shoehorning a link to the Littlefield blog into a comment lamenting debt is Larry’s habit, but I’ll (mostly) agree to disagree.

    Similarly for suburban housing driving ad revenues. I think that’s out of date. I would argue today’s fantasy home is a condo on the High Line or a Brooklyn brownstone.

    I do think there’s an interesting point about whether we have a “crisis of demand” but I’d still much rather call out NYC’s appalling anarchy on sidewalk parking.