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Department of Sanitation

Wednesday’s Headlines: Road Report Edition

12:03 AM EST on February 3, 2021

This is how pedestrians are treated after snowstorms in New York. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

We certainly won't dwell on the snowstorm except to say that Streetsblog gets action.

In yesterday's headlines, we pointed out the unfairness of how the Sanitation Department and its enablers in the press consistently focus only on cleared car lanes as the measure of snowstorm "success." We begged Pat Kiernan and Jamie Stelter of NY1 to rebalance the scales a bit — and, sure enough, Stelter got back to us to say that she and her team have been "talking for a long time about how to best incorporate bike info into my traffic reports."

The problem, as all reporters know, is that city agencies don't exactly tell us when bike lanes are taken out of service for repairs or for special events — unlike how they treat drivers, with daily press releases about every little piece of roadway expected that day.

Still, we were excited at Stetler's initial efforts and look forward to more.

On the plus side, it appeared that the Sanitation Department appeared to start clearing some key bike lanes well before its usual 72-hour delay. A spokesman for the agency said 300 day laborers also started working on Tuesday to clear pedestrian crossings. "By end of day [Wednesday], it’s likely every protected bike lane in the city will have been cleared once," said Joshua Goodman. "The biggest issue we’re worried about is people pushing snow from their cars or their sidewalks back into the bike lanes. If this is widespread, many of them will require additional passes."

Of course, nothing's perfect, as Friend of Streetsblog Shmuli Evers pointed out:

And others sent us photos of some truly epic fails. The only possible explanation for that kind of incomplete plowing is that the Sanitation worker hit something solid, discovered that he or she had actually uncovered an ancient burial ground and decided to stop working until the department archeologist could arrive:

Plus, it's always nice to remember how cities would plow the sidewalks first ... in the days before cars:

Meanwhile, the Daily News said the storm revealed MTA failures: "Jammed up signals, track fires, and a shopping cart dumped on the tracks were just a few of the headaches thrust upon Metropolitan Transportation Authority crews during the blizzard," the paper reported.

In other news:

    • Several outlets — OK, Streetsblog, the Daily News and amNY — looked at mayoral hopeful Kathryn Garcia's transportation plan, which Streetsblog said lacked vision and the Daily News said was amazingly visionary (SNARK). We asked StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure to break the tie and he said like Garcia's plan (point for the News!) because it shows how far even candidates without true vision have come (point for Streetsblog!). You gotta love that McClure — he's a regular Dag Hammarskjöld.
    • Families for Safe Streets leaders Amy Cohen and Rebecca Sonkin penned an op-ed in the Washington Post to urge Joe Biden — the only president to have lost a wife and child to road violence — to embrace a national Vision Zero initiative.
    • The Cuomo COVID scandal grew yesterday with lawmakers calling state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker a "liar." The Post is just loving the internecine warfare.
White Mesa, Utah is Biden country!
White Mesa, Utah is Biden country!
White Mesa, Utah is Biden country!
  • Want to lose an hour or five? Click on the Times's interactive map of how every election district in the country voted in the 2020 election (and make sure to select the "change from 2016" view to see which neighborhoods swung more for Trump than the last time, which is a real head-scratcher!). We noticed one place in Utah with a 100-percent Biden vote (and one place in New York City — a lone voter in the election district on the northern end of Broad Channel pulled the lever for Amtrak Joe).
  • Andrew Yang pulled a Streetsblog and got COVID (three of four Streetsblog NYC staffers have already had the dread disease) (NYDN, NY Post, NY Times). Meanwhile, Fernando Mateo jumped into the June 22 Republican primary for mayor (yes, there are multiple people running for the right to lose to the Democrat in November). (NY Post)
  • Local advocates hailed the confirmation of Pete Buttigieg to run the U.S. Department of Transportation. (amNY)
  • And, finally, is any paper on the planet more obsessed with a third-rate Groundhog Day ceremony than the Post is with Staten Island Chuck? At least Gothamist added some value to the story, but stoking the rivalry between Chuck and Phil, his competitor from the unspellable Pennsylvania town.
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