Thursday’s Headlines: Jimmy Van Bramer is Right Edition

Jimmy Van Bramer's winter gloves make a strong argument for his candidacy for Queens Borough President.
Jimmy Van Bramer's winter gloves make a strong argument for his candidacy for Queens Borough President.

Run, don’t walk (and definitely don’t drive) to the corner of Crescent Street and 43rd Avenue in Long Island City this morning at 8:30 to rally against illegal parking with Council Member (and future Queens Borough President?) Jimmy Van Bramer. If you’re wondering why Van Bramer picked that corner, all you had to do was Google it:

crescent 43

Check out what’s going on here: A double-parked United States Postal Service truck and a double-parked SUV pretty much destroy DOT’s good intentions, making the roadway increasingly unsafe for all users.

“This intersection is just one example … where illegal parking has gotten out of control. It must be stopped,” Van Bramer told us. “When cars turn our sidewalks into parking lots or block our bike lanes and crosswalks, they put pedestrians and cyclists in danger. … The NYPD must step up its enforcement and ticket and tow cars that are blatantly breaking the law. Not just sporadic ticket sweeps. We need a comprehensive, zero-tolerance policy and legislation to increase penalties.”

After the rally, Van Bramer might want to head to 30th Street and 40th Avenue, where Friend of Streetsblog @DutchLIC caught this fun video of a truck driver frustrated because his fellow drivers won’t let him in when he was trying to drive his box truck off the sidewalk.

And now, here’s the news roundup:

  • Wow, that Uber/Lyft strike really fizzled out (NY Times, NY Post), which is a shame because the drivers are paid really poorly by two tech companies worth hundreds of billions.
  • What could go wrong? The MTA is going to use its police force to monitor LIRR overtime. (Um, won’t that mean the cops will have to work overtime, too?). (NYDN)
  • The Times had an interesting take on people who don’t pay their parking tickets.
  • The Brooklyn Eagle’s sharpshooting Noah Goldberg ran the plates on a Brooklyn driving school’s car and found results he wished he hadn’t. It’s a small piece of a larger story we have to get around to: Driving schools don’t teach new drivers nearly enough about safety.
  • And the Eagle’s Queens counterpart also had a nice get: The Sergeants Benevolent Association tweeted — possibly illegally — a porn video to highlight its opposition to congestion pricing. Even if you oppose congestion pricing — which cops do because they don’t like tolls because, you know, cars — the argument made by this particular tweet is, shall we say, overblown. (Hat tip to David Brand, who, with Brooklyn Eagle Editor Ned Berke are finally shaking the dust off Dozier Hasty’s torpid media empire.)
  • And, finally, here are three more examples why people shouldn’t really be allowed to drive, first from the Post, then the News, and then the Post again.

  • Oh, and one more thing. Our editor wanted to add a personal shout-out to New York Post Political Editor David Seifman, whose retirement party was last night at O’Lunney’s, one of two old haunts for Posties. In 45 years in the business, Seif did outstanding work covering City Hall without fear or favor (of Uncle Rupert!), but he was also a kind, calm mentor to three generations of news reporters. Former Mayor Bloomberg stopped by, as did Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (below in photo right, presenting Seifman with an official borough proclamation). Also below, Seif checks out the fake wood given to him by his Post colleagues.

seif two shot

  • Simon Phearson

    The illegal parking in LIC is getting really out of hand.

    Some time ago, the DOT painted some road-calming stripes and pedestrian zones into the intersection of Crescent, 44th Rd, and Hunter Street. These stripes narrowed traffic lanes and shortened crossing distances, which makes sense, considering the Citi building is right there, apartments are going up all around there, and one of the larger grocery stores is right there. Pedestrian traffic has increased rapidly in a short period of time. Shortly thereafter, however, it seems that some of the stripes were just summarily stripped away, in an almost obviously haphazard fashion, as though done without the DOT’s direct authority or say-so. Of course, the previously-striped space was immediately co-opted for parking.

    Now, all of those spaces are jam-packed with parked cars, some carrying placards, other “placards,” others nothing at all. That includes the broad tan pedestrian zones that the DOT, in all its wisdom, decided needed no physical separation whatsoever.

    It really seems like the 108th Precinct, whose station house is clear over by the Vernon/Jackson stop, treats the whole neighborhood as their overflow parking lot.

  • Vooch

    The horriying video should be sent to every CB member& politician & journalist that is against traffic calming.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The drivers are paid really poorly by two tech companies worth hundreds of billions.”

    Or so their VC’s assert when selling them off. We’ll see.

    This is sort of indicative of the entire economy. Paying Americans less and selling them more is very profitable, for corporations, executives, the financial class, our trading partners, and our early retired public employees. Until it isn’t, because there isn’t enough future left to sell off or borrow against anymore.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here is what is egregious.

    I can imagine a driver “zoning out” and going through a light along with traffic, which is why automatic over-rides can’t come soon enough.

    But the other vehicle was stopped at the light, and the driver who ran the light had to swerve around it to do so. It was driving like a getaway car in a high speed chase.

  • NYCBK123

    It’s great to talk about Uber and Lyft but why do we pretend that taxis are/ever have been better for drivers?

  • Larry Littlefield

    They were 50 years ago — back when drivers were employees of taxi companies, rather than “independent contractors” renting vehicles and/or medialions and taking all the risk.

    The change happened in the 1970s. Suddenly wage and salary employment in the taxi industry plunged by 80 percent. And yet the taxis were still on the streets. It shifted from a job for PhD students paying their way through and aspiring actors to an immigrant job.

    And for decades after, until recently, city approvals for higher fares were hard to come by, reflecting the different attitude the public sector takes to the serfs on the outside relative to the public unions and contractors on the inside. Only in the past 10 years have fares for yellow taxis started to rise more than inflation, and even that in part reflects more money going to the government to pay for pensions.

  • crazytrainmatt

    Does anyone know if DOT’s white and yellow striped zones and the gray areas have any legal significance? I always assumed so, but after looking it seems to me parking in NYC is entirely governed by curb signs and the only paint with legal significance are lane markers and crosswalks.

  • Daphna

    There are concrete barriers of various shapes and sizes deployed by the NYPD throughout midtown cluttering up the sidewalk and taking away pedestrian space with the dubious excuse that an attempt to drive into a building might be made. Let’s re-purpose all those concrete blocks to make the striped pedestrian areas (or areas that had been striped) on the streets of LIC protected!

  • Joe R.

    My opinion is automation and robotics are the only way out for society, period. As the population ages, you’re going to have an increasing number of people who can’t contribute anything economically, yet they will still need goods and services. The pool of people willing and able to provide those goods and services will continue shrinking. Moreover, if you use taxes to support the non-working population, those working will be so heavily taxed many might just not consider it worthwhile to bother working at all. Therefore, you need what is essentially free labor to deliver goods and services at prices the masses are able to pay. You’ll also eventually need universal basic income as automation puts more people out of work. However, the UBI need not be in the form of money taken as taxes from working people. It could simply be a voucher entitling you to a certain amount of robotically produced goods and services.

  • NYCBK123

    Good points! I just wish some would stop pretending taxis have been great for anyone in the past few decades, as if the taxi understudy can claim any moral high ground.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m not sure the Luddite fears will come true even now.

    If robot everything can produce so much, and so many people are thus unneeded elsewhere, that when I call customer service I can talk with an actual human instead of going through 15 minutes of voice mail hell, that would be great.

  • walks bikes drives

    There was a police car 20 seconds behind the car in the video. Why couldn’t they catch him?

  • Joe R.

    Manning phones is one area where software is already getting pretty close to indistinguishable from a human. We obviously have a way to go, but if you can get a robot on the other end immediately, without the long waits for a human, and the robot can assist you just as competently as a well-trained human, then why would you even need humans manning phones?

    It’s the more creative jobs which will probably never be replaced by automation. Then again, those are exactly the jobs people do well and find most enjoyable.

    History has shown us that automation most likely will mean new jobs managing the automation, while the drudge jobs done by automation disappear. There probably won’t be a 1 to 1 replacement in terms of man-hours. More likely “work” will mean something you do part-time for extra income, while the UBI will be enough to take care of basic necessities. To me that’s better than what we have now. More leisure time means a healthier, happier society.

  • walks bikes drives

    Total Not Connected Question: why is the 2019 Century the final one?

  • …[if] the robot can assist you just as competently as a well-trained human, then why would you even need humans manning phones?

    For anything but the simplest interactions (such as checking your balance), this condition is not close to being met.

  • Joe R.

    Not now, but in a few years? Probably about the same time robocars are ready for prime-time so will software to man phones.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Wondered that myself. Declining participation, so not enough revenue to cover costs?

    I’ve never done it because since I get around by bike, I don’t have the energy for a separate ride around the city.

    I’ll bet when it started riding through the streets was more of a special thing than it is now. If people want to tour around the city, they just do it.

  • AMH

    That’s what I was thinking, and why I’ve never done it. Pay to ride around the city in traffic? It’s not like you get a protected course like the 5-Boro, or even any traffic controls like with the Tours de Boros.

  • AMH

    Or even to expand (rather than constrict) pedestrian space in midtown.

  • walks bikes drives

    Well, we got our answer…

  • 6SJ7

    You can’t park in a striped area.

  • 6SJ7

    I understand the concern over double-parking, but deliveries have to made as quickly as possible.

  • Vooch

    because they very likely work with the driver !

  • walks bikes drives

    Nah, the car was a Chrysler 300, not a Dodge Charger.

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