Wednesday’s Headlines: Kevin Parker Needs Help Edition

SB Donation NYC header 2What a day! Just when we thought nothing was going on, a Brooklyn State Senator with a history of violence and bad driving told a legislative staffer to commit suicide after she fingered him as the outlaw who parked in a Midtown bike lane.

“Kill yourself!” Senator (though maybe not for long) Kevin Parker tweeted. Yowza. (The Daily News, the Post, the Wall Street Journal, amNY and the Times also covered it, with the Paper of Record even using a meme as a lede!)

Then we got into a mini-flameout with otherwise nice guy Council Member Barry Grodenchik because he suggested that congestion pricing is elitist, which it definitely is not. Grodenchik tweeted that we’re still on speaking terms (see, people of good will can disagree and still be friends, though the jury is out on Kevin Parker).

Meanwhile, here’s today’s news:

  • The big story yesterday was the state’s MTA workgroup report. amNY played it straight. The Daily News focused on congestion pricing. The Times focused on a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter (is the MTA really going to be “dissolved”?). The Wall Street Journal focused on how everyone is really taking the financing issue seriously this time. Streetsblog focused on the fact that there is no way a bunch of craven Albany pols are going to pass congestion pricing.
  • Dollar van drivers to the rescue? Drivers say they can help during the L-train shutdown, but the city is balking. (City Limits)
  • As New York considers legalizing e-scooters, here’s a deep dive on their many issues from Mobility Lab. Fact one: Scooters are surprisingly popular!
  • “War on Cars” host Doug Gordon kindly translated a story from the Belgian paper De Standaard which revealed that the word of the year is “murderstrip” — aka a painted bike lane next to fast-moving cars. Why give Belgium all the fun? New York is lousy with murderstrips, as Queens bike queen Angela Stach pointed out two of her (non) favorites. (Sure enough, a pedestrian was killed on Cross Bay Boulevard on Tuesday.)

  • A cabbie went berserk in Midtown. Here’s hoping this isn’t the kind of guy Ruben Diaz Jr. and Fernando Cabrera were trying to protect with their lame TLC bill last week. (NY Post)
  • Here’s something that will finally make Mayor de Blasio see that there’s a problem with private carting companies: A man was injured by a garbage truck at one of the mayor’s events! (NY Post)
  • Upper Manhattan gets its own mini-L-pocalyse in the form of closed stations. (amNY)
  • Some cyclists don’t like the city’s plans for W. 79th Street. (West Side Spirit)
  • Congrats to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for publishing (surprise!) a legitimate story on the dangers of the coming repairs to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Watch out for serious pollution, says journalist Laurie Garrett. Even the NY Post followed the story.
  • MtotheI

    I actually feel bad for the cabbie. He was likely racially profiled by the NYPD which happens all the time and probably happens to him all the time. A ticket for picking up a fare more than 12″ from the curb??! By Penn Station?! That’s like when the NYPD block bike lanes with their SUVs and then write tickets for cyclists not biking in the bike lane.

  • StanChaz

    WAKE UP STREETSBLOG.
    Fittingly, Mayor deBlasio is trying to be Mayor of all the people in NYC
    not just bike enthusiasts and their narrow agenda..

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m not sure because we don’t have elections in Brooklyn, but Parker may be my State Senator. I don’t think the fact that he made an intemperate outburst is going to negatively affect his career. Based on the impact of past intemperate outbursts.

  • A strong “NO” to the idea of dollar vans operated by dirtbag private entities.

    However, if the MTA wanted to start a temporary project involving a fleet of vans going over the Williamsburg Bridge, that would be great.

  • The agenda of bike enthusiasts is anything but “narrow”, as all ostensibly bicycle-oriented improvements actually bring benefits to everyone.

    Bike Ianes calm traffic, which makes the street safer for pedestrians. This also reduces drivers’ risk of serious injury or death when they, in their negligence and incompetence, inevitably crash their vehicles into each other.

    The fact is that bicyclists’ interests are identical with the general interest.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The MTA wanted to hire new employees as van drivers at a lower wage than those who drive 40-foot buses, but with full time work and benefits, on the way to a higher wage for more difficult work with larger vehicles with more passengers. As a way of allowing it to take some paratransit in house, and perhaps run smaller, cheaper vehicles empty overnight.

    The TWU said FU. Same as the union for the Staten Island ferry with regard to contracting out smaller ferries overnight, and saving a boatload of money.

    Basically, the MTA covers very little of its high labor cost with a 40-foot long bus filled with 60 passengers. It can’t afford to pay for one year in retirement for each year worked for those driving vans.

  • Joe R.

    The blind spot of labor unions is that their model hasn’t adapted to the realities of the 21st century working world. For example, most contracts invariably specify a conventional 5-day, 8 hour a day work week. This ignores people who prefer to work 3 longer days. It also ignores people who just don’t want to work full-time. Same thing with pensions. 401Ks are standard now. They’re easy to implement, and portable when you change jobs. A pension generally requires at least 5 years of full-time work before you’re vested. People change jobs more often than that nowadays.

    The third issue is that unions see every single job, no matter how boring or menial, as a “career” position, with the contract set up that way. Newsflash—the days of people staying at the same job for 40 or 50 years are largely over. I’ve personally never stayed at a job for more than a few years. After that you get stagnant, and it gets too repetitive. You want fairly high turnover in jobs not requiring much skill to keep the work force engaged.

    The reality of union contracts should reflect all the things I mentioned. Not every job is a full-time, lifetime position, nor should it be. We don’t need expensive defined benefit plans like pensions. A 401K is fine. We don’t need to require people to work 40 hour weeks or 8 hour days, and to pay them that way even if not enough work is available.

    It can’t afford to pay for one year in retirement for each year worked for those driving vans.

    Actually, the city can’t afford to pay for this for any workers. What the city should do is buy out everyone who is currently receiving a pension by giving them a lump sum to invest as they choose. They should convert the pensions of anyone still working to a 401K by doing the same thing. It’ll be a big hit now, but in the long run the city will save.

  • Joe R.

    No, instead he’s being the mayor for car enthusiasts and their even narrower agenda, which is driving at highway speeds on every local street, and having free parking along every inch of curbside space. This is despite the fact a majority of people don’t own cars in this city, and of those who do, many only use them for weekend trips.

  • Larry Littlefield

    True, but I don’t blame the TWU for objecting to split shifts. Since most of its members don’t live in NYC. Not reasonable to ask them to drive in to work two rush hours.

  • Joe R.

    I agree 100% about the split shifts. However, even that points to the lack of smart planning in NYC. A lot of mass transit expenses are needed to deal with the two peak periods. If we could give effective incentives to spread that load more evenly over the day this problem could be mitigated. Some incentives could include tax breaks for employers who let their employees telecommute, higher transit fares during peak periods, further tax breaks for implementing flex-time and/or three/four day work weeks, etc. The idea of shorter work weeks has several notable benefits. Employees obviously end up with more days off. And they also save money on commuting expenses. This could especially help the working poor, even in absence of lower fares for low-income people. If I had to work outside home, I would rather work three 12 or 13 hour days than five 8-hour days. I figure the “free” time after working a regular day really isn’t that usable because it’s only a few hours, and you’re already tired for working. While it’s true you’ll be doing nothing but working and sleeping for those three work days, you get four days off every week to do what you want, instead of only two. That’s a huge selling point.

  • AnoNYC

    Uber’s new Jump electric bicycles just fixed everything wrong with shared e-bikes

    https://electrek.co/2018/12/19/new-jump-electric-bicycles/

  • There is no good reason to pay van drivers less.