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Tuesday’s Headlines: Sacrificial Cyclist Edition

12:05 AM EDT on May 19, 2020

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Our favorite story yesterday was Christina Goldbaum's piece in the Times about the massive surge in bike sales across this great flawed country of ours. It's nice to see stressed-out commuters make the sustainable, socially conscious choice to get around under their own power — that is, of course, if people in power help them get around.

Goldbaum's story was played for optimism, especially when she wrote that the COVID-19 pandemic "may permanently transform the role of bicycles into something more essential, including a safer alternative to public transit as the nation slowly begins to reopen."

Permanently? Safer? We wish, but these are certainly not guaranteed. In fact, if Mayor de Blasio does not commit to restoring the Vision Zero budget he cut, if he does not make good on his promise to build 30 miles of protected bike lanes (currently, it's unclear if he'll build more than 10 this year, and those are only temporary), if he does not discourage driving by properly pricing curbside space — in short, if he doesn't do all the stuff that was already in motion before this pandemic — he won't be filling the streets with happy safe cyclists. He'll be filling the funeral parlors with dead ones.

Lest we forget: 28 cyclists were killed on New York City streets last year — a blood tide that has receded in the mayor's mind, but remains in temporary ebb in the real world only because there are so few drivers to menace the most vulnerable road users. When those drivers return, the newbie cyclists in Goldbaum's story will be sitting ducks — unless the mayor calls an end to hunting season.

Good talk. Now the rest of the news from a slow day in the MSM:

    • Guse of the Newsuh got a second bite out of the low-paid subway worker apple, getting Comptroller Scott Stringer to pile on the MTA for its exploitation of workers. That's New York's Hometown Paper at its "Tell it to Sweeney" best.
    • The Daily News and the Post offered more details on our story about of the death of a Queens man unloading a truck in Jamaica.
    • Thinking of getting a car? Gothamist reminds us — as if we really needed a reminder — that owning a car in New York City is foolish.
    • The Post did a lengthy story about what reopened restaurants might "look like," yet completely ignored the growing call for the eateries to get space in the street for social distancing, as Streetsblog has reported.
    • The mayor has cut service on his ferry system, which, like all transit systems, is hemorrhaging passengers. (WSJ)
    • And, finally, if we're going to dream of the return of baseball, we might as well dream big ... as in Big Sexy. Yes, pitcher (and renowned slugger) Bartolo Colon wants another stint in Queens. (amNY)

Today is Malcolm X, Sam Smith, Joey Ramone, Andre the Giant, Ho Chi Minh, Pete Townshend and our editor's birthday (yes, we remembered).

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