Wednesday’s Headlines: Open Space, Closed Mind Edition

The mayor, online, on Tuesday.
The mayor, online, on Tuesday.

The blowback over Mayor de Blasio’s decision to not only shut down his own minuscule attempt to create open space, but also his dismissive attitude towards Oakland’s plan to create 74 miles of car-free streets continued on Tuesday — and this time, it wasn’t even Streetsblog tossing the match on the oily rags of de Blasio’s reputation as a street-safety reformer.

It started when Andrew Siff of WNBC4 asked for an update on the mayor’s stated goal of evaluating what Oakland and other cities had done. Indeed, he had: “Adamantly, we are just profoundly different than those other cities,” the mayor said. “I do not believe we can do that safely.” (Our story is here.)

Now it’s one thing for Streetsblog or WNBC to focus on the mayor’s closed mind toward open streets, but the story has gotten so big — “Mayor to Oakland: You’re No Big Apple!” — that it ended up all over Politico (prompting extra Xeroxing for Hizzoner’s press packet this morning!).

Also, Council Member Mark Levine’s constituents shoved it right in the mayor’s face:

In other news:

  • The MTA considered shutting down the subway and bus system early in the coronavirus crisis — but determined that doing so would end up costing more lives (NYDN). But a new report by an MIT economics professor (take that with your preferred brand of salt) takes a different spin.
  • Also related to the mayor’s zero vision failure, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris had an op-ed in the Daily News begging the city to create more open space rather than tweeting images showing what we all know: the sidewalks are too narrow!
  • Speaking of too little space, is the mayor going to close the beaches for the summer — because, if he does, that would be a real summer of hell. (NY Post)
  • Meanwhile, the Times went on patrol with cops who are assigned to break up large crowds. The real danger is not car-free streets, no. The real danger is Trader Joe’s. Edgar Sandoval’s piece is great, benefitting from the kind of access we’ve been begging to get with the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau Chief William Morris!
  • Did Tracy Morgan hit a pedestrian with his obnoxious car? Looks like it (TMZ). It’s not the first time Morgan has driven erratically — remember that time he crashed his brand new Bugatti? (Check the back plate on the latest crash — it looks temporary.)
  • The MTA looks like it will do the right thing for the families of its nearly 60 dead workers. (PoliticoNYDN, NY Post)
  • Volunteers in Queens are continually updating a list of open bike shops here. Check it out.
  • Wow, the Post actually found the “jackass loser fat-tire biker” that Chris Cuomo was complaining about in a radio interview on Monday. And the fat-tire biker is pissed.
  • Here’s the worst framing in the history of right-wing media outlets trying to spin how great Big Oil is for the world. “Thirst for Oil Vanishes, Leaving Industry in Chaos,” the WSJ headline reads. “[It’s] an unprecedented crisis for one of the planet’s most powerful industries.” Reminder: we need to get off oil. This is an opportunity, not a catastrophe.
  • Why are car thefts up right now? (WSJ)
  • Like Streetsblog, amNY covered Tuesday’s hit-and-run fatality in Queens (though, oddly, illustrated the story with a photo of Manhattan’s Chinatown). Reporter Mark Hallum did take a good angle: Deaths of pedestrians are way down because so little driving is happening.
  • Finally, the staff of Streetsblog has been doing the best we can to report the news while remaining almost entirely sheltered in place. But we do take a ride once a day, with a mask and never wantonly leaving droplets. We’ve  felt pretty responsible — until we saw Friend of Streetsblog Brian Howald’s tweet about how seriously he’s taking his coronatine.


It’s de Blasio and Bratton vs. the World on Times Square Plazas

Let’s start with some basic facts: Most people like Times Square better now that it has more room for people. Gone are the days when the sidewalks were so meager that you had no choice but to walk in traffic. After Broadway went car-free through Times Square in 2009, pedestrian injuries plummeted 40 percent. Retail rents soared. And yet, going against […]

Mayor de Blasio, Inequality, and Reforming NYC’s Streets

One of the most insightful questions of the 2013 campaign season came two weeks ago, when WNYC’s Brian Lehrer asked Bill de Blasio if he considered transportation policy “one of his tools to fight inequality.” De Blasio, who overwhelmed his opponents this election cycle by appealing to New Yorkers’ sense of economic fairness, gave this […]
In his "State of the City" speech on Monday, Mayor de Blasio said he'd soon release a plan to address growing congestion in the city. Photo: NYC Mayor's Office

4 Ways the Mayor Can Reduce Congestion Without Congestion Pricing

Mayor de Blasio's forthcoming congestion plan won't call for traffic pricing, but the mayor has plenty of other options to reduce traffic congestion. Here are four policies that would provide much-needed congestion relief on NYC streets -- it's difficult to imagine any City Hall traffic reduction initiative that doesn't include some of these ideas.

De Blasio Sounds Prepared to Let the L Train Crisis Go to Waste

The impending L Train shutdown should be a blessing in disguise — the impact of losing service west of Bedford Avenue for 18 months is so great, there’s no good option that doesn’t involve carving out lots of street space for buses, biking, and safer walking. Major redesigns of 14th Street, the Williamsburg Bridge, and the streets connecting to […]