Thursday’s Headlines: Meet The New Steve Cuozzo Edition


Steve Witt of Kings County Politics posted his latest anti-bike screed the other day, but it took bike Twitter a few days to find it (the site is not exactly a must-read unless your like your backrooms particularly smokey). The piece is easily condemned for its central — and glaring — mischaracterization: Apparently, seniors in Fort Greene are upset that they keep getting parking tickets for leaving their cars in the new “no parking” zones created by the city to facilitate truck deliveries in residential areas (which are booming because of all your Amazon, FedEx, UPS and Fresh Direct orders).

Witt — perhaps channeling a battle over a bike lane on Clinton Avenue three years ago (indeed, a lot of the same neighborhood sages are quoted) — decided that the latest issue about parking tickets must actually be about those damn cyclists and their damn demands. But alas, it is not. The residential loading zone pilot is about keeping trucks out of the roadway so drivers can make their way unimpeded — solving a problem that, indeed, car owners often complain about.

It would be easy (very easy) to simply dismiss or ridicule Witt’s latest attempt to surpass even Steve Cuozzo for willful disregard of the facts. But we bring it up because it’s a cautionary reminder that there is no longer a single complaint made by old timers in a community — in this case, that drivers are getting parking tickets for leaving their car in “no parking” zones — that won’t be blamed on cyclists.

So let’s remember that as we fight the good fight for honesty, safety, livability and quality of life for all.

Off the soapbox. Here’s the news:

  • There was plenty of coverage of the DOT’s expedited Fourth Avenue bike lane project (though none was as glass-half-empty as our editor’s report). Gothamist had a mini-take, while amNY, Curbed and Patch played it straight.
  • It is very rare when cyclists kill pedestrians in crashes — so when it happens, it’s big news. (NYDN, NY Post). Streetsblog also covered the July 31 crash that led to the Wednesday death of pedestrian Michael Collopy.
  • This type of road carnage — a hit-and-run driver killing a pedestrian while going three times the speed limit on Woodhaven Boulevard — is far more common, alas. (NYDN)
  • The Times puts the busway in perspective — and completely overstates the issue. Banning through traffic on 14th Street is a war on cars? Really?
  • Remember those MTA deficits? Yeah, they’re worse than you thought. (NY Post)
  • People (not too many, but people nonetheless) are using the driverless car shuttles in the Brooklyn Navy Yard (NY Post, WSJ). Gothamist, like Streetsblog earlier in the day, was skeptical.
  • The Times has finally discovered the Hudson River Greenway, which is only the most-used bike path in North America.
  • Joe R.

    The Steve Witt article is like a bad collection of stereotypes of baby boom generation car owners:

    “This is unconscionable,” said Linda Maurice Vittal, 78, who has lived on Greene Avenue since 1947. “Because I couldn’t get up at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning and move my car, I got a $185 ticket. Then I got a $60 ticket for parking there. Then, when I went to redeem my car, I got a flat tire because the lady who put my car on the trailer pushed down on it. I spent two-and-a-half hours at the Navy Yard to get my car out. Now you tell me if that’s right.”

    Norma Smith, 78, who has lived on the block since 1971, said she worked in the community when a lot of people of color couldn’t live there because it was redlined, and once she moved in she worked with a bunch of community people to get traffic safety measures installed.

    “Now everybody is coming and I don’t think I should have to wake up at 7 o clock in the morning and jump out of my bed and move a car. What kind of bullshit is that?” Smith said.

    So you have one person who’s been there since she was 6 years old, and the other who’s been there for 48 years. They’re complaining about having to move their cars. Easy solution is don’t have a car. Frankly, most 78 year olds behind the wheel are orders of magnitude more dangerous than younger drivers. Besides that, they likely have nothing to do all day and all day to do it. If they have to move their car a few times a week that’s the price you pay for free parking.

    They also have no claim to working for street safety when they think stop signs and speed bumps make things safer. Maybe if they bothered to expand their knowledge they would realize you get the best safety results by getting rid of cars, no putting in half measures which don’t even work in the long run to improve safety.

    These people are a joke.

  • iSkyscraper

    You missed the headlines earlier this week that La Marina will be allowed to reopen under new owners. But Parks made it extra clear this time that there can be no valet parking (except in the offseason for small events, and even that will be to a garage and not the street).

    La Marina would routinely gridlock all of Inwood in perhaps the most outrageous illegal valet parking scheme of all time, seizing entire blocks of public streets for their cash valet bullies. Incredibly, NYPD and officials all looked the other way for seven years (Fernando Mateo was at the height of his power at the time) and even provided traffic cops to direct valet traffic on the city’s dime. Good riddance to that mess.

  • com63

    That Times article about 14th st is terrible

  • We should all stop linking to and engaging with Witt. His story comparing losing parking spaces to the Holocaust should have caused him to lose his seat at the grownups’ table.

  • Joe R.

    When you count people walking, which is likely in the 6 figures, it’s clear that cars are a minority on this street. Streets need to be designed to move the maximum number of people, not the maximum number of vehicles.

  • com63

    Hopefully the restrictions lead to a huge increase in bus ridership and give the city ammunition to do the same elsewhere.

  • iSkyscraper

    The article is also way too negative on the Toronto example. Restaurants close all the time, for reasons unrelated to car traffic. By any measure the King St pilot has been popular and successful.

    The changes also created space for Parklets, check out the winning designs:

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps, but Linda Vittal isn’t a Baby Boomer. She has lived on Greene Avenue since the year the first Baby Boomer was born.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The grown up table is an empty place these days. We’re all middle schoolers now.

  • Joe R.

    But some of those in the photo appear to be. Linda is from my mother’s generation. That’s probably the last generation which lived through most of their childhood in a society where cars weren’t dominant. Even so, a lot of that generation embraced cars big time. The tide started to turn with people our ages and younger.


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