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Clifford Levy

Wednesday’s Headlines: Cliff, Call Us Edition

12:05 AM EST on January 6, 2021

A road full of cars. Don’t normalize this. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

There are two things we hate to do: One, start our morning angry and, two, turn our morning headlines into an anti-Times monologue, but we're up and we're rolling, so here goes...

Yesterday started with a bit of classic Times Metro Section revanchism as the usually excellent Christina Goldbaum, channeled her inner Cliff Levy and decided to amplify the whining entitlement of car drivers in their inexhaustible complaints about the "lack" of parking.

The story did point out that car registrations are up 37 percent, evidence right there that car owners need to look in the mirror before complaining that the city hasn't created more free space in the public right of way for them to store their shiny new purchases — purchases that, let's be clear, are bad for our air, bad for our city, bad for our planet and bad for the kids who keep getting run over and killed.

Providing a voice to this entitled minority of New Yorkers obviously clashes with this historic moment, but also clanks against the Times's recent coverage of all the many positive things the city has done with its open streets and open restaurants programs, which show how great our city can be when public space is shifted from the storage of cars to sustainable, societal beneficial uses. (People are still busing about the Times's graphic exploration of car-free streets.)

Worse, the Times story about the sadness of car owners came on the same day that the paper's print edition ran a story about the Aral Sea drying up, and a 4-year-old boy being killed by a driver in Bensonhurst. Yet for some reason, the Times can't see the butterfly effect of cars. Too much parking creates too much driving. It's like a law of physics.

Vince DiMiceli, one of the city's great editors who is, incomprehensibly, unemployed right now, hated the Times story, but strictly on the terrible journalism of it: "They should have headlined it, 'One More Reason Not to Own a Car in the City — There's Nowhere to Put it,'" the legendary editor said. "It's basically a story about how hard it is to own a car, but it blames everyone else except the car owners. And it never even points out how little time owners actually spend in the car and how much time the car sits around doing nothing."

(Oddly, Newsday did virtually the same piece on the same day, albeit in the direction DiMiceli would have favored. Matt Chayes's piece even quoted urbanist Brent Todarian pointing out that car drivers are the last people cities should worry about.)

The Times story also came on the very same morning that Transportation Alternatives released a report about the dearth of parking for a more sustainable form of transportation that the city claims is it trying to encourage: cycling. Streetsblog, amNY and the Post heralded the Transportation Alternatives' report about the lack of bike parking, which has led to a bike-theft spike and has undermined local shopping strips.

OK, we're off the soapbox, but Gray Lady, your slip is showing.

In other news:

    • A Queens judge turned aside a spurious lawsuit by Council Member Peter Koo against the Flushing busway, paving the way for the city to go ahead. (Streetsblog, amNY, Gothamist)
    • The van driver who killed 4-year-old Yoshi Balaban and seriously injured a 6-year-old outside a Bensonhurst school won't likely face charges, even a basic failure to exercise due care summons. But it was nice to see the Daily News's reliable Rocco Parascandola include a detail that the paper rarely includes: "City records show the van has received two red-light camera tickets and two school-zone speed camera tickets since 2016." (NYDN)
    • The City uncovered a scandal of scam campaign donations claimed by Comptroller candidate Brian Benjamin. The dollar figures are pretty low, but it's also pretty damning that a campaign — for the city's top fiscal watchdog, no less — would engage is such a blatant scam.
    • Hey, Amtrak Joe, a real recovery is built on better bus service, Tom Matte and Danny Pearlstein argued in the Daily News.
    • Damn you, Sweden, for making our mayor look bad ... again! (Bloomberg)

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