Wednesday’s Headlines: Open Space, Closed Mind Edition
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:
NYC is debating whether to open streets (i.e. no cars) to give more space for solo exercise and spreading out. Some have expressed concerns that this would require too many enforcement resources to ensure social distancing. Do you think we should open streets?
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) April 14, 2020
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. (Politico, NYDN, 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.
Last time at a bar: February 27th
Last bike ride: March 5th
Last face-to-face conversation: March 8th
Last time grocery shopping: March 11th
Last walk: March 15th
— Brian Howald (@bdhowald) April 13, 2020