Thursday’s Headlines: Jane Jacobs Is Rolling in Her Grave Edition

Jane Jacobs holding up petitions. No, Arthur Schwartz, your fight against the 14th Street Busway is the antithesis of her sallies against Robert Moses's highways. Image: Wikimedia
Jane Jacobs holding up petitions. No, Arthur Schwartz, your fight against the 14th Street Busway is the antithesis of her sallies against Robert Moses's highways. Image: Wikimedia

Another day, another act in the continuing drama of the career of NIMBY advocate Arthur Schwartz.

On Wednesday, the loquacious litigator launched yet another lawsuit to harry city transit, as if he could hold back 14th Street’s buses from crawling faster than their former 3.8 miles an hour by sheer force of his torrents of words.

This suit pits disabled people against the riding public, on the idea that the MTA violated civil-rights laws when it moved some bus stops. Several outlets, including NY and Curbed covered the latest suit, which Streetsblog previewed Tuesday.

Vin Barone at amNY had a choice nugget, in which the chutzpah-prone Schwartz likened his fight against the busway to that of Jane Jacobs, who stymied Robert Moses in his quest to put an expressway through Washington Square Park. David Gurin, an urban planner and friend of Jacobs’s, called out Schwartz for the absurdity of the remark, citing Jacobs’s well-known views on the necessity of getting rid of automobiles. Roll one for Jane.

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters flooded the street in front of Schwartz’s W. 12th Street house last night to demand that he drop his earlier suit against the 14th Street Busway. PIX11 had the story. The Daily News did, too, but also had a photo of Friend of Streetsblog Macartney Morris stalking Schwartz sublimely.

In other news:

  • Why is it that the New York Times never seems to report about New York? The Gray Lady’s weekly magazine looks at how highways enforced racial segregation — in Atlanta. The writer also cites Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Syracuse and Washington as cities marred by racism-motivated roadways, but fails to mention the abundance of such highways in our own dear metropolis — the legacy of Jacobs’s nemesis Moses. Roll two for Jane.
  • No one covers outraged cyclists like Gothamist (though Streetsblog’s Gersh Kuntzman does a good job, too).
  • The Daily News went super-local with coverage of Brooklyn pols’ demands for safer streets after the death of cyclist Jose Alzorriz on Sunday. One question: Did someone forget Council Member Mathieu Eugene’s name on the letter? He’s been AWOL on livable streets issues for most of a decade.
  • NPR shone the national spotlight on this year’s carnage on NYC streets, albeit with a long anecdotal lede that our editor hates!
  • The New York Post editorial board inveighed against MTA workers’ burgeoning overtime pay, with the Tabloid of Record giving props to Streetsblog alum David Meyer.
  • Gotham Gazette got a bit earnest and obvious with its piece, “‘Breaking Car Culture’ in New York City Likely Dependent on Expanded Mass Transit.” Ya think?
  • Our friends at Bike New York and City Hall said that a bike-safety program is expanding to 25 schools this fall. NY1 had the scoop.
  • A cyclist was seriously injured in Lower Manhattan. (WPIX11)
  • Traffic in Manhattan is slower than ever, Guse at the Newsuh reports, thanks to a DOT preview (we’ll get you next time, Guse!).
  • The Daily News notes that in Staten Island, a cop wrote at least six fake traffic summonses to hector a girlfriend’s ex-beau. None of the summonses, we presume, were for parking in bike lanes.
  • Finally, the Onion finds food for scabrous satire in NYPD’s ticketing policy — on bike lanes! We hope the cops have a good sense of humor.
  • Larry Littlefield

    A quick look at the fiscal situation Generation Greed is leaving behind and you’ll see we’ll be lucky to keep the mass transit we have, unless private mass transit will become profitable somehow.

    Where will the money for the 2025 to 2029 MTA capital plan come from? Another $40 billion in debt? They are spending a lot of money on “planning” and “studies” again to pretend things will actually happen. I remember that era well. A hell of a lot of planning going on when there isn’t going to be anything but.

  • car free nation

    I realize that Schwartz makes a convenient punching bag, but I’m much more interested in who is paying him. These people, who are hiding behind this suit, are the ones who should be featured, not the spokesperson.

    I think I’ve seen block associations mentioned. I’d like to know which ones, and also if they are real, duly organized, and legal.

    Or is it just one rich person trying to protect his free parking? In the scope of real estate prices in the village, the fees for someone like Schwartz are not that high.

  • KeNYC2030

    As I told Schwartz last evening, as long as he’s going to invoke Jane Jacobs, he should heed what she said about spillover onto adjacent streets when roads are closed, which is his chief concern about 14th Street:

    “We had the same sort of fight in Washington Square Park in the late 1950s and in my neighborhood here in Toronto a couple of years ago: same prediction of traffic chaos, same result of no chaos, diminished traffic counts and no counts increased elsewhere in consequence. Isn’t it curious that traffic engineers are so loath to learn something new even after repeated demonstrations? A trial [closing] . . . will be more persuasive than any amount of talk, letter-writing, resolutions, and other endless wheel-spinning.”

  • EV3452

    Whom do you mean by “Generation Greed”?

  • 8FH

    Nobody is paying Schwartz. He’s representing the block associations and condo boards pro bono — out of the badness of his heart.

  • Andrew

    Isn’t it curious that traffic engineers are so loath to learn something new even after repeated demonstrations? A trial [closing] . . . will be more persuasive than any amount of talk, letter-writing, resolutions, and other endless wheel-spinning.

    And this is precisely why Arthur Schwartz is fighting so hard to keep this from getting off the ground: he knows full well that, once the busway goes in, the predictions of carmageddon will be quickly disproven.

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