Friday’s Headlines: Mr. Mayor, Please Stop Belittling Us Edition

Meet the virtual de Blasio. Same as the live de Blasio.
Meet the virtual de Blasio. Same as the live de Blasio.

Another press conference with Mayor de Blasio, another chance for Hizzoner to mock Streetsblog.

Look, we don’t phone into the daily web conferences with the mayor looking for a fight — far from it. In fact, yesterday, our grizzled editor started his question by first wishing the mayor a “very joyous Passover.”

The mayor did the same — albeit in Yiddish! — before launching into what has become his typical lament that Streetsblog only asks him questions on our beat.

“And I hope – I want to see you one day throw me a curve ball and ask a non-transportation issue,” he told the editor of the city’s premier (and only!) all-transportation website. “I really believe it’s in you.”

Of course it’s “in” our editor, who’s been doing this since before the future mayor was just the member of a Park Slope school board. But you play the hand you’re dealt — and you ask the questions your readers want the answers to. (In this case, the mayor ended up belittling our question, as Dave Colon’s story showed.)

But it’s funny — the mayor never accuses other reporters of asking overly narrow or parochial questions. Alex Zimmerman from Chalkbeat, an education website, asked the mayor about whether kids were logging onto their online classes in sufficient numbers — a fair question, though clearly angled to his readers. A reporter from News12 The Bronx asked about … The Bronx. Sydney Kashiwagi from the Staten Island Advance asked about … Staten Island.

So just to be clear, Mr. Mayor, if you call on Streetsblog, you’re probably going to get a question about a topic of great interest, like our recent coverage of the rise in motorist deaths, the epidemic of speeding, the NYPD’s failure to act on same, the failure of the city’s open-streets pilot program, or how your COVID-19 budget cuts will make cyclists less safe.

The fact that you think these stories are of narrow interest says more about you than it says about us.

Now, for the news from the unmockable reporters:

  • Apparently, Oakland, California is going to open 74 (that’s seventy four!) miles of “slow streets” for the public. (Oakland Mayor’s Office. Skip to 1:12:40 on the video). It’s 10 percent of that city’s streets. Sort of makes Mayor de Blasio’s 11-day pilot program of opening 1.5 miles (.02 percent) of our streets pale by comparison.
  • Great minds obviously think alike. Aaron Gordon also did the “tape-measure-on-the-sidewalk” story on Thursday, just like our own Dave Colon. (Vice)
  • The Times’s Winnie Hu did a great story on how we can fix our city’s destructive love affair with the automobile (and thanks for the links!). But the Times Metro Section’s inherent car bias came through in several places, not the least of which in the description of how easy it is for drivers to get around town now (it’s heaven to not get stuck in traffic caused entirely by … other drivers). Hu also offered pro-car Assembly Member David Weprin the space to say that after the crisis people will “need their cars more than ever,” though he provided no evidence why the city should allow the air to get repolluted and the roadways to return to being inefficient productivity-busting parking lots. And Hu failed to draw the obvious conclusion from the fact that road fatalities are basically unchanged from the same period last year (hint: the remaining drivers are really reckless!)
  • In a related story, urban planner and Friend of Streetsblog Brent Toderian put out his top-10 list of things cities should be doing now — during the crisis — rather than waiting until after, when it will be too late. (Via Twitter)
  • The Queens Chronicle had a nice detail in its coverage of the increase in speeding during the virus crisis: apparently, the city DOT reached out to the New York chapter of the infamous car lobby AAA to ask it to remind its members that the school-zone speed cameras are still on. Wouldn’t want anyone to get a ticket, would ya?
  • Why is Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer not calling us back? We have a great Manhattan story we’d love to talk to her about!
  • And finally, a tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded New Yorkers “unplug from stress and seek joy.” She was talking about “Ru Paul’s Drag Race,” but she might just as easily been talking about our song parody about the mayor’s open space program (album cover below).

car-loving monster album cover

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