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Friday’s Headlines: ‘Do Not Buy a Car’ Edition

12:06 AM EDT on August 7, 2020

The mayor in his natural habitat: a taxpayer-funded SUV.

Mayor de Blasio yesterday dismissed the notion that  carmageddon is coming to city streets, even as he wisely counseled New Yorkers not to buy a car to get around in plague-smacked Gotham.

“Tragically, a lot of people do not have a job to go to yet, and that will take a while to restore and a huge number of people are working from home,” he said during his daily press briefing, explaining why he wasn’t concerned about the coming congestion, which is being predicted by scores of experts. “So, I don’t think we’re going to see overwhelming numbers of folks on mass transit for those reasons. And I also don’t think you’re going to see overwhelming car traffic for those reasons.”

Even so, the mayor said, “my advice to New Yorkers is, do not buy a car. Cars are the past. The future is going to be mass transit, biking, walking, and there’s so many options right now.”

Hizzoner, who tools around town in a taxpayer-funded SUV, also declared, “I’m never going to own a car again. I can tell you that much,” prompting much ridicule on Twitter but also knuckle raps from Staten Island’s car-loving representatives and general incredulity.

Transportation Alternatives also lit into the mayor, saying that he is “not in a strong position to be offering this kind of advice” because of his many pro-car statements and lagging record on transforming streets. 

The mayor also insisted again yesterday that the NYPD is removing barricades from the streets it stole around the city. The barricades, however, aren’t coming down fast enough for at least one business: an East Village coffee shop that went belly up owing to lack of foot traffic because of the Ninth Precinct’s fortifications (EV Grieve). And Twitter Friend of Streetsblog Hannibal filmed his four-minute encounter with rude cops manning a barricade in Midtown.

In other news:

    • Just like old times? A vandal smashed dozens of subway windows (Gothamist, NY Post)
    • The city's busway program, supposedly our salvation during COVID, is mired in delays (NY Post, Streetsblog)
    • The Lexington Avenue subway (the city's busiest) will close for three weeks — and we were given five days' notice (NYDN)
    • The MTA has accelerated some improvements during the pandemic (amNY).
    • At least 900 officers have failed to comply with interviews at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, leading to a huge backlog (Gothamist).
    • Big Dog Excelsior Car Guy will meet President Trump in New Jersey this weekend for talks about the Second Avenue Subway and LaGuardia AirTrain (NY Post). What? No congestion pricing, governor?
    • Speaking of the AirTrain, former federal transit man Larry Penner is down on it (Mass Transit Magazine).
    • The city is exploring the purchase of the private companies that bus our school children (NYDN, NY Post)
    • Don’t expect any more room for cyclists on the Brooklyn or Queensboro bridges anytime soon (THE CITY).
    • Major improvements are coming to Amsterdam Avenue between 103rd and 104th as part of the open restaurants plan (Peter Frishauf via Twitter).
    • We don’t endorse candidates but we do endorse cycling on a Sunday with “War on Cars” podcast host Doug Gordon, who’s joining City Council candidate Whitney Hu for a “Rideraiser” in Sunset Park. The two will talk about streets safety, transportation and the Industry City rezoning. Info here. (And of course we’ll post details for any candidate who hosts a ride, so email us!)
    • Damn you, Jake Offenhartz! Our grizzled editor was just asking the same question! But to himself!

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