Sunday’s Headlines: World Turned Upside Down Edition
Our old man editor is always telling us that when he was in tabloids, the rule was always, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” So, apparently, on Saturday, the NY Times Metro section went tabloid.
“Edward Grayson just led New York City’s Sanitation Department in clearing snow from 6,300 miles of streets: no small feat during a pandemic,” read the callout on the surprising puff piece on Acting Sanitation Commissioner Ed Grayson by the usually reliable Corey Kilgannon.
There was one problem with the story: The streets weren’t clear for New York’s most vulnerable and most discriminated against users: cyclists, pedestrians and bus riders.
Even the smallest modicum (which is a really really small modicum) of research by Kilgannon would have revealed the shoddy job done by Grayson and his budget-battered troops. We posted our first critique of the department on Thursday night, likely just as Kilgannon was getting the bucket to carry one of his editors’ water. Our story showed that even a full day after the cleanup began, scores of miles of protected bike lanes were still impassible.
And our story even had a picture of a Park Slope man who got so frustrated with the slow cleanup that he started shoveling the Prospect Park West bike lane himself (there is no way the Times editors missed that story; New York Times editors comprise a plurality of Park Slope residents).
Then, all day Saturday, we were fielding pictures and tweets from all over the city, with complaints from virtually all non-car users, including Corey Johnson:
A hot mess is right. This is ridiculous and horribly dangerous for cyclists throughout New York City.https://t.co/s1vW03Yt00
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) December 19, 2020
Here’s a smattering (get ready for some serious doom scrolling, #bikenyc):
From The Bronx:
It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE that the pedestrian path on the Willis Ave Bridge hasn't been cleared! This is a major connector between Manhattan and The #Bronx serving thousands a day especially those making deliveries and commuting. Do better. pic.twitter.com/nNpzL4p9Xo
— Welcome2theBronx™ (@Welcome2theBX) December 19, 2020
From the Williamsburg section of the Brooklyn greenway (which Streetsblog just reported had tripled its ridership this year):
three days since it started snowing and the #bikenyc lane around the @BklynNavyYard hasn't been touched. i already knew bike infrastructure was low on prioritization list, I didn't realize it was this low! @nyc311 @NYCSanitation @NYC_DOT @BKGreenway pic.twitter.com/V1uV441JbB
— noel hidalgo -??? (@noneck) December 19, 2020
From the Fourth Avenue bike lane near Park Slope:
If only the guy on twitter who bikes with a go pro had seen the obstacle course I had to bike through today pic.twitter.com/2T92Yk1xa3
— alexia n (@aliennazarian) December 19, 2020
From East Flatbush:
— Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) December 19, 2020
From Second Avenue in Manhattan:
Here's Second Avenue today (protected bike lane at the top). Remember when we used to tag @NYCMayor or @NYC_DOT in things because we thought they might do something, instead of just to let them know they must drink piss instantly? https://t.co/bBGa9nopui pic.twitter.com/ECH1G8gCpZ
— Jake Schmidt ?? (@TheJakeSchmidt) December 19, 2020
From Eighth Avenue in Manhattan:
Status of the busiest #bikenyc PBL in the city, but hey the minority of new yorkers using climate controlled metal boxes have bare pavement. What’s up with 8th Ave @NYCSanitation @nyc311? pic.twitter.com/QKYiQoD3fd
— Philip (@miatkowski) December 19, 2020
From Northern Boulevard in Queens:
#bikeQNS #25A #NorthernBlvd configuration is curbside #bikelane protected by #flexpost buffer. #snowplows plowed buffer and scraped off many flexposts, leaving loose flexposts & hard refrozen piles of snow in actual #bikelane.
— Two Wheels Good 212 (@twowheelsg) December 20, 2020
From Skillman Avenue in Queens:
The protected bike lane on Skillman Ave on Saturday morning—two days after a routine winter storm. Hello, ?@NYCSanitation? ?@NYC_DOT?, this is not a joke. If a car can drive through here (note the tire tracks), so can your sweeper. @nyc311 photo ?@alanbaglia? pic.twitter.com/6xLuQEIIhM
— Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) December 19, 2020
From the bus-rider’s-eye view in Downtown Brooklyn (albeit on Friday):
— Ellen McDermott (@HeyNell) December 18, 2020
So, do all those tweets and photos means the Sanitation Department did a terrible job with what was ultimately a routine snowstorm? No, but it does mean that reporters, like those at the New York Times, need to do a better job of investigating conditions in the field before retyping the Sanitation Department’s press release, as Friend of Streetsblog Jarek FA pointed out on Twitter:
Can we pull back on the congratulations for that “small feat” considering that over 48 hours after the last snow the bike lanes, bus stops and crosswalks are completely full of snow and plainly unusable. But I guess the people who don’t drive don’t count to @NYTMetro
— ¡Wear A Mask! JarekFA ?????????? (@JarekFA) December 19, 2020
In other weekend news:
- Continuing our theme that the world has turned upside down, one of the NYPD’s chief spokesmen, Al Baker, wrote a bizarre and self-serving Daily News op-ed about the shortcomings of civilian oversight of the NYPD — this coming one day after the city Department of Investigation released its damning report demanding more civilian oversight of the NYPD.
- Indeed, that report dominated the news on Friday (after our daily headline digest had been published). So here’s an overview of the coverage if you missed it all:
- Gothamist played up the mayor’s weak response to the report.
- The Daily News’s day story called the report “scathing,” but then hours later, the paper’s editorial board found fault with the report … for not going nearly far enough (especially when it came to actually assigning blame).
- The Post played up PBA President Pat Lynch’s steaming hot take — that the cops were let down by city leaders, not the other way around. The Tabloid of Record then had and ate its cake by slamming the mayor for not apologizing enough for the very police misconduct that the paper didn’t seem to have much of problem with.
- The Times played up the NYPD failure (too bad DOI hasn’t issued a report about the Sanitation Department!).
- Streetsblog’s Julianne Cuba looked at one area that the mainstream media ignored: How the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group abuses protesters with bikes.
- Road rage over parking led to a stabbing on those supposedly cleared streets. (NYDN)
- The Post is so eager to reduce cycling in the city that it played up the finally filed lawsuit against Citi Bike stemming from crashes in 2019 from faulty brakes on earlier generation e-bikes, a crisis that had been well reported … last year.
- And, finally, see that yellow logo in the top right corner of this post? That’s our humble ask for donations to keep the lights on next year. And we like to honor our donors in this space. Here are the donors since our last roll call: Thanks, Charles! Thanks, Eric! Thanks, Christine! Thanks, Matthew!