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Monday’s Headlines: We’ve Done it — Again — Edition

12:05 AM EDT on March 16, 2020

The city created a temporary protected bike lane on First Avenue during the UNGA, sending cyclists through the left side of the tunnel between 40th and 49th streets. Photo: DOT.

Here's what we love about Times Metro Editor Cliff Levy: He listens.

On Thursday, as we saw bike ridership surging in the city, we begged the erudite editor to cover the story.

"Well, not to be Cliff Levy’s assignment editor, but ... a perfect Times Metro story is playing out in real time this week: coronavirus is providing the perfect excuse to finally transform our streets," we wrote. "The time is right for a massive feature story about how we should institute change now before we all go back to our bad habits once this crisis fades."

Two days later, sure enough, Levy's esteemed reporter Winnie Hu not only covered the cycling surge, but got DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to admit she would do exactly what Streetsblog had been asking: create new bike infrastructure during the crisis.

So Streetsblog set the agenda, the Times advanced the story, and New York's long-suffering cyclists got something important out of it. In this business, we call that a win-win-win, right Cliff? (We reached out to DOT for examples of some of the planned changes, but heard only crickets. We promise to stay on the story this week because as bad as this crisis is, it represents a real crisistunity, as Friend of Streetsblog Steve Weintraub pointed out on Twitter.)

With that, here's the news from the weekend:

    • The Times also followed our big scoop on the Sanitation Department's efforts to get garbage off the sidewalk and into the street where it belongs.
    • Leave it to CBS2 to find an anti-cycling angle on the good news that more MTA bus lane enforcement cameras will begin keeping the city moving on Monday.
    • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, once again adrift after firing local treasure Ned Berke, found the narrowest possible coronavirus angle: that community boards are having to cancel "vital" public meetings. But the paper missed the real angle: The MTA and Port Authority have scrapped all its public meetings, but last week city DOT employees were grousing to us that they were angry to be forced to make presentations in open meetings during the virus crisis. We didn't have much more to go on than those complaints, and the DOT refused to comment. But hey, now you know.
    • Responding to the coronavirus, one of the city's biggest bike rental companies — Unlimited Biking — is now offering weekly and monthly rentals for the same cost of an unlimited MetroCard. That cuts the price of a monthly bike rental from $250 to $127 and a weekly rental from $200 to $31. (Company website)
    • Friend of Streetsblog Rob Foran took down car-loving Staten Island Advance columnist Tom Wrobleski in a letter to the editor. (SI Advance)
    • Here's some unsurprisingly Mayberry-esque coverage of a crash from our "accident-not-crash" frenemies at the Riverdale Press. The paper goes out of its way to blame everyone and everything for the crash — except the taxi driver whose recklessness caused it. Oh, and, of course, he has three speeding tickets since October — which the newspaper somehow missed, but Steve Vaccaro pointed out. Reminder to reporters: is at your service! Check the plates!
    • The transit system's present is half-empty according to The City. Subway stations in Midtown saw the biggest ridership drops in the city between last Friday and the previous Friday, including  a 48-percent drop at Grand Central and a 43-percent drop at Penn Station.
    • The MTA also has to contend with the first agency employee, a sheet metal worker, testing positive for coronavirus. (NYDN)
    • Coronavirus is also devastating the city's yellow cab drivers, with garage owners telling the Post that they'd seen business drop between 30 and 50 percent. One struggling hack said he has to find another line of work to support his three kids.
    • In case you missed it, the Times did a deep dive (with a clickable chart) about why bus service is in such decline across the country.
    • And finally, on a historic note: Neil Young!

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