Wednesday’s Headlines: Carpocalypse Now (and Again) Edition

The horror. The horror.
The horror. The horror.

Yesterday, Gothamist was the latest outlet to upbraid the mayor for not seeing what no one needed crystal balls to see: that if the city didn’t act boldly, we’d be back to where we started: congested roads that are killing fields for cyclists.

“Traffic fatalities are higher now than they have been at this point in the year compared to every year going back to 2014,” Christopher Robbins wrote. “Of the 184 people killed on city streets so far in 2020, 19 were cyclists, and seven of them were killed in September alone, making it the deadliest month for New Yorkers riding bikes in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s two terms. Just 10 percent of workers have returned to their offices in Manhattan, yet vehicular traffic congestion has returned to pre-COVID levels before the lockdowns began.”

So it’s a mess — but a predictable one (as we predicted here, here, here and here — and satirized here and here).

On the other hand, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg will be showcasing two bike infrastructure projects that her agency completed this year —with ribbon cuttings on Sixth Avenue (which historians will recall as Ed Koch’s short-lived protected bike lane) and at the northwest corner of Central Park. Our own Dave Colon will bike over and ask the tough questions (like when will there be more space for pedestrians on the Queensboro Bridge or when are we getting scooter share — see below).

In other news:

  • The MTA loves its contractors … maybe a little too much, you know, given how much it costs to build anything in this town. (NYDN)
  • The state comptroller put out a mega report yesterday that said our transit system will basically collapse without federal cash. The Daily News and the Post focused on the MTA’s mounting debt, while amNY and the Wall Street Journal focused on the declining service.
  • NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea better polish off that resume — all seven (current) Democratic candidates at a forum last night said they’d fire the top cop. (NY Post)
  • Days after state Attorney General Letitia James recommended that the NYPD no longer be involved in traffic stops (Streetsblog), Shea announced a committee to “reimagine” city policing (we’re guessing James’s recommendation will not be addressed). (NY Post, WSJ)
  • The city bought a big school bus company as part of its effort to improve service. (amNY)
  • It was nice to see former TransAlt Executive Director Paul Steely White back in the news yesterday. Gotham Gazette featured the aptly named advocate, now working for Link, a scooter company, promising that his company would be front and center when the city finally issues its long-awaited RFP for scooter-share programs. Spin, Lime and Bird expect to be in the mix, too.
  • Set your calendar (and prepare to be disappointed): Elon Musk said he’ll build a $25,000 Tesla in three years. (NY Times)
  • And, finally, our colleague Clarence Eckerson Jr.’s footage for Streetfilms was featured in this Bloomberg/City Lab video about how to turn a city into a bike-friendly city.

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A Bike Bell That Maps Where Cyclists Feel Unsafe and Pings the Mayor

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London cyclists who encounter stressful, dangerous conditions can crowdsource a map of weaknesses in the city’s bike network by simply tapping button on their handlebars. Brandon G. Donnelly at Architect This City has more: Hövding — a Swedish company best known for its radical airbag cycling helmets (definitely check these out) — is currently crowdsourcing unsafe conditions and cyclist frustration in […]