Tuesday’s Headlines: Sympathy for Arthur Schwartz? Edition

Arthur Schwartz. Photo: @advocat4justice/Twitter
Arthur Schwartz. Photo: @advocat4justice/Twitter

Just in time for today’s court hearing on in a wealthy community group’s lawsuit to stop the city’s bus- and truck-only design for 14th Street, the lawyer for the rich West Village and Chelsea residents dumped a motion that made us rethink our initial complete and utter disgust.

Lawyer Arthur Schwartz’s self-serving lawsuit (he lives on 12th Street, after all) initially argued that the city’s busway plan is illegal because it did not undergo a rigorous environmental review — which is deeply ironic because the plan will boost transit, which is good for the environment. But late on Friday, Schwartz dumped a new motion arguing that the city’s own numbers show that local roadways in the Village and Chelsea will be deluged with cars exiled from 14th Street if the busway plan goes ahead.

We think Schwartz makes a good point; in fact, the way we see it, even one car is too many on those historic West Village and Chelsea streets. So today in court, we’ll ask car-owner Schwartz if he and his wealthy clients will be willing to give up their vehicles and their chauffeured taxi rides for a car-free Manhattan below 14th Street.

It should be a fun hearing. Streetsblog’s Dave Colon will be in the saddle. (Meanwhile, Julianne Cuba will be covering the driverless car farce at the Navy Yard.)

For now, here’s the news:

  • Also timed to today’s busway arguments, Riders Alliance calculated all the time that 14th Street bus riders have lost on their delayed commutes since July 1, when the busway would have begun if not for Schwartz’s suit. It added up to a year! (NYDN, NY Post, amNY, NY1)
  • Bike Snob confirmed what we already reported: Mayor de Blasio’s “Green Wave” plan for cycling safety is more like a small tidal swell. (Outside)
  • We appreciate that the newly revived Brooklyn Eagle interviewed incoming Transportation Alternatives’ Executive Director Danny Harris, but the piece still suffered from the newspaper’s persistent windshield perspective. Reporter Jeffrey Harrell mocked the idea that Canarsie residents should give up their cars because “a commute into Manhattan by bike is not feasible for most people,” but failed to remember that roughly 4 percent of Canarsie commuters drive to Manhattan as it is. Open your mind, Brooklyn Eagle, to the fact that most New Yorkers don’t “need” their cars as much as the city’s auto-media complex believes they do.
  • It’s really hard to believe that debris is still falling from elevated trains in Queens. (NYDN)
  • Was the MTA really considering naming the new fare collection “pretzel”? The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Berger has the scoop.
  • Larry Littlefield

    “A car-free Manhattan below 14th Street.”

    Assuming the FDR Drive and West Street are excluded for through traffic, that would be great. For those who live and work there.

    Except for two things.

    They may not be working there for long, because Lower Manhattan is a distance from the commuter railroads, so my guess is that their boss’s bosses are currently more likely to drive in that those in Midtown. So that might push some large companies elsewhere.

    And you can’t expect drivers to fund the whole MTA, now that all the other future revenues for the MTA have been spent by Generation Greed, and have fewer drivers. So no subways either.

    This is a problem with the whole “sin tax” thing. Especially when the future revenues are bonded against, you become dependent on additional sinning — regardless of the social (and in this case environmental) consequences. But thanks to future-selling by Generation Greed, there is a desperate attempt to find someone to force to pay to limit the damage to everyone else, which is why you end up with more of it.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/the-just-enough-rope-to-hang-themselves-economy/

    All the congestion pricing revenues would be bonded against and spent in five years, leaving no money to maintain the transit system after that. I expect that all the future cannabis revenues would be bonded against and spent in the next recession, the way the tobacco bonds were in the early 2000s. And then the only way to avoid bankruptcy is if lots of people drive while high.

  • Daphna

    So Arthur Schwartz real argument against the 14th Street busway is basically: keep the bulk of the car traffic on 14th Street as it is now, and let it clog that street, because otherwise MY street will have more traffic.
    Unbelievably selfish!
    And this shows the real reason they want 14th Street to retain car traffic; he Mr. Schwartz does not care about the displaced L train riders who badly need an alternative, and does not care about the dysfunction, traffic and slow bus speeds on 14th Street, as long as his street is not impacted by any efforts that would improve 14th Street and ameliorate the problems there.

  • Daphna

    What about starting with car-free below Chambers Street?

  • AMH

    As alarming as all of the debris raining down from the els has been, I couldn’t get past this bit of hyperobole:

    “Last month, a Manhattan couple was nearly crushed when a temporary brake stop fell from the No. 1 train tracks just south of 207th St. and nailed the roof of their car.”

    One of those stop arms could probably kill you if it hit you in the head, but there’s no way it could crush a person, let alone two.

  • Daphna

    There is a large sign on the West Side Highway in the midtown area “License suspended after two speeding tickets in a work zone.” This shows a desire to keep road workers safe, which is great. But what about stiffer penalties like this for other law breaking motorist behavior that endangers others? How about “License suspended after two speeding tickets in a school zone” or just “License suspended after two speeding tickets in NYC” and “License suspended after two red light violations”. etc.

  • Daphna

    There is a protected bike lane recently installed on Tenth Avenue in Manhattan that starts in the West 50’s and goes up. Is that lane going to be extended south? Does Streetsblog have coverage of this plan?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG