Wednesday’s Headlines: Aaron Gordon for the Win Edition

The only time Mayor de Blasio acts...
The only time Mayor de Blasio acts...

We were all so pleased to read Aaron Gordon’s latest piece in Jalopnik, which dissected the failure of Vision Zero from multiple angles including, but not limited to, the city’s “paint and prayer” bike lanes, community boards, the NYPD, local prosecutors, the absence of bike parking, and a safety strategy that seems only to kick in after a cyclist has been killed.

“By targeting safety, and only safety, it … dis-incentivize people from riding bikes more regularly,” Gordon writes. “And by targeting deaths, and only deaths, Vision Zero has nothing to say about all the near misses, close calls, and stressful interactions with multi-ton vehicles looming mere inches away from them, which is all according to plan as far as DOT is concerned.”

Gordon’s piece follows similar outrage in other media as cyclist deaths soared to 19 (so far!) in a year soaked in blood. The only thing missing from Gordon’s piece was a stinging indictment of the mayor’s complete disregard for reducing the number of cars in the city — an indictment handed up last month by a grand jury named Dave Colon.

But why quibble? Gordon’s piece sets the bar. Perhaps the mayor could vault it — if he was in town and not on the campaign trail (he’s in Iowa in the morning and New Hampshire at night on Wednesday).

And now, yesterday’s news:

  • In a Day Two story, Denis Slattery and Guse at the Newsuh found Republicans who accuse Gov. Cuomo of a money-grab over the state’s new license plates (the Post obviously had that angle, too). Meanwhile, Streetsblog’s Gersh Kuntzman played with Photoshop to create what he considers realistic license plate images.
  • The City’s Yoav Gonen has the scoop on a City Council bill that would require the cops to track the race and ethnicity of drivers they pull over — which could really put a crimp on the NYPD’s automotive version of “stop and frisk.”
  • The City also reported on a renewal of dockless bikes in the Rockaways.
  • Friend of Streetsblog Clarence Eckerson Jr.’s latest Streetfilm is about Transportation Alternatives’ effort to make all of University Place — instead of just one block (once the busway starts, that is) — a “shared street.” We, of course, favor full pedestrianization of University Place, plus about 1,326 other New York City roadways, but you gotta start somewhere.
  • Benjamin Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas opines in Curbed that the fight over 14th Street busway could determine the future of city transit, citing a Streetsblog article by Noah Kazis.
  • The Post’s David Meyer and Alex Taylor beat a favorite drum at the Tabloid of Record, caviling about the thievery of MTA employees. This time, it’s toilet paper and sundries.
  • Sometimes you get sick of the New York Times’s backbending on road safety. The Paper of Record looked into how the criminal justice system completely absolves drivers who kill, but ended up absolving the powers that be — even quoting the notorious lawyer who defended the bus driver who killed Dan Hanegby! (The story prompted an epic Twitter thread by Streetsblog.)
  • Gov. Cuomo signed the bill banning floating billboards (NY Post), though Gothamist has really been the Website of Record on the floating billboard story.
  • CBS2 covered Tuesday’s court hearing on the Central Park West condo board’s lawsuit against a bike lane … without covering the hearing at all. (Need a primer on the case? We got you covered.)
  • The MTA says buses on 14th Street have gotten faster, albeit only incrementally so. Here’s hoping the DOT doesn’t abandon its quest for a car-free busway, as Arthur Schwartz hopes. (NYDN)
  • The city’s library systems are pitching in to help Citi Bike’s outreach to low-income New Yorkers — who can get a month of free rides. (QNS)
  • CNBC tests different methods of getting to the airport and finds that a helicopter trip is only 14 minutes faster than transit, but $213.07 more costly. Time is money, but why would you spend $15.21 a minute to shave a quarter-hour?
  • NBC4 reports that a rider fell from a New Jersey Transit train when the wrong door opened. Yikes!
  • And, finally, some sad personal news. (NYDN)
  • Urbanely

    CNBC tests different methods of getting to the airport and finds that a helicopter
    trip is only 14 minutes faster than transit, but $213.07 more costly.
    Time is money, but why would you spend $15.21 a minute to shave a

    I suspect it’s the same reasons that people take Uber or Taxis instead of mass transit: the certainty of knowing when the ride will show up (and possibly arrive at the destination), and not having to conditions on mass transit (crowding, irate passengers, too hot/too cold, random delays, etc). Don’t underestimate the amount people will spend to avoid the hell of NYC mass transit, even for 15 minutes.

  • Joe R.

    It’s probably more for the prestige than the value of the time savings. Taking a helicopter is a way of saying I’m so rich I can piss away over $200 just because. Considering there aren’t exactly a plethora of helipads in NYC I tend to think the time spent getting to the helipad more than offsets any time savings from using the helicopter in most cases. Here there was a net time savings, but it wasn’t much.

    I personally wouldn’t take a helicopter if it was free. Those things seem to crash constantly.

    I’ve found most people don’t even think logically in terms of time savings. Automobile travel is a great example. In NYC it’s almost always slower than rail, it’s always a lot more expensive, yet some people will insist on using automobile travel.

    Distance traveled here was about 15 or 16 miles. If a person used a velomobile on decent, mostly non-stop bicycle infrastructure you could probably beat the 42 minute helicopter travel time. Even on a regular bike that’s an hour trip for a decent cyclist.

  • Andrew

    It’s simply the convenience factor: carrying suitcases on transit is inconvenient, especially when transfers are required. The only way to make transit a popular way for travelers to reach airports is by making it considerably faster, or at least considerably more predictable (which amounts to the same thing on airport-bound trips).

    At LaGuardia, buses are decidedly less convenient than cars (for anybody not coming from near a stop on one of the airport bus routes, it’s a two-seat ride at best), and the buses offer no speed advantage at the highly congested airport.

    Given limited roadway space, there are only two solutions to the LaGuardia congestion problem. Option 1: Establish a (strictly enforced) exclusive bus lane through the airport and along its approaches, so that buses will save time over driving. Option 2: Toll the airport roadways for all private cars (including but certainly not limited to taxis and TNC’s), to push a lot of the people currently arriving at the airport by car onto the buses. The Port Authority, NYCT, and MTA Bus will need to respond quickly by running far more frequent service (they’ll get some of that for free with the shorter running times, but not enough), at accommodate the vastly increased ridership.

    New Yorkers rely on transit for other purposes, so I don’t buy your explanations. People use transit when it makes the most sense for a given trip, and right now transit doesn’t make the most sense for most people going to the region’s airports.

  • NYCBK123

    Still don’t get the ‘Newsuh’ thing but starting to hate it less! 🙂

  • Maggie

    Obviously the buses to LGA are an epic disaster indicative of a state and city that under current leadership, are completely failing to care about or achieve baseline competence for constituents. I dare the board of PANY, the MTA, or any elected official to hop on the bus on their next trip to and from LGA and then weigh in on the current clusterf*ck of a system.

    But in terms of fixing it, I wonder if it would work to just have separate Q70 buses for each LGA terminal to the subway, instead of one bus inching around the loop to all the terminals.

    Who knows, maybe they need to structure it as a union contract in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars before we can get any common sense improvements acted on.

  • Erik Swedlund

    I think it’s because of this on Clayton Guse’s Twitter bio:

    Transit and data reporter at @nydailynews. It’s pronounced Goose-Ah, damn it.

  • NYCBK123

    Mystery solved! Thank you.

  • I thought it was just a weird affection, like calling film “fillum”.

    It also reminded me of the great melodic rock song from the late 1980s, Warrant’s “Down Boys”, in which the last word in the first two lines of the first verse ends with a extra “-uh”.

    Certain things you do really make me mad, I must confess-uh
    The way the streetlight silhouettes your thighs inside your dress-uh

  • Urbanely

    Let’s be clear….I’m not against public transit. I wish it was more extensive, more frequent, and less crowded. And yes, of course NYers rely on transit for other purposes….but there are plenty who opt NOT to take transit when it is available, because of the reasons I stated. That’s part of why For Hire Vehicles have become so popular. I have said in the past that reliability is only part of the MTA equation. Customer experience is another part, and if we really want to get the last of the people out of their cars someday, in absence of a private car ban, MTA will have to consider the things that I mentioned. Otherwise those who can afford to skip transit will continue to do so. Someone willing to pay that much money for a 15 minute helicopter ride isn’t likely to pile on with the masses as long as they have the money to opt out.

    You get no argument from me on the hassle of getting to LaGuardia via public transit.

  • Urbanely

    “I’ve found most people don’t even think logically in terms of time savings. Automobile travel is a great example. In NYC it’s almost always slower than rail, it’s always a lot more expensive, yet some people will insist on using automobile travel.”

    That goes back to my point about the experience of being on the MTA. I know people who actively avoid transit. Mostly women who have been harassed/assaulted on the subway in the past. It’s not about time saved, it’s about a feeling of personal safety in their vehicles or in for hire vehicles and not having to risk interacting with crazies.

  • This is why I have long suggested that conductors’ jobs be converted into people who walk through the train, in the manner of LIRR conductors. Of course they wouldn’t be taking tickets; they would be there to answer questions about directions, and mainly just to serve as a reassuring presence. Such a policy would likely persuade some people who have had bad experiences on the subway to give it another chance.

  • AMH

    According to Bill de BusIsSlow, that last headline is the real crisis of the year. The mayor who can scarcely be bothered by the multiple crises of traffic fatalities, a nonfunctional transportation system, homelessness, unaffordable housing, lead poisoning, etc. is willing to “do whatever it takes” to help a business owner who can’t be bothered to pay taxes. Really says a lot.

    Di Fara is THE best pizza place in New York City. It MUST be saved. I’m ready to do anything I can to get them reopened — as are thousands of New York City pizza-lovers.My team and I are looking into how we can help resolve this situation.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) August 21, 2019

  • AMH

    I’ve also heard teenage girls do this:


  • Latoya Velazquez

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