Friday’s Headlines: Brad Lander’s Brad Lander Moment Edition
Love the sinner, hate the sin?
Street safety hero Council Member Brad Lander got murdoched on Thursday as the Post used four reporters to stake out the Brooklynite and Comptroller hopeful to discover that his car has been nabbed for eight camera-issued speeding tickets since 2016 — and seven between Oct. 25, 2019 and March 25, 2021.
That’s a bad look for the city’s leading lawmaker on cracking down on reckless drivers.
Or is it?
We at Streetsblog tend to wield a particularly sharp shiv towards reckless drivers, given that speeding and running red lights is the selfish cherry on top of the disgustingly fattening sundae of car culture. Over the years, we’ve made poster children of self-important drivers such as State Sen. Marty Golden (14 school-zone tickets, plus impersonating a cop to harass a cyclist in a bike lane), then-Council Member Jumaane Williams (18 tickets) and Queens Council Member Paul Vallone (26 tickets, plus three more last year). Council Member Brad Lander now finds himself waking up this morning with fleas from lying in the bed with those dogs.
But Lander is different in one crucial way: All of the above scofflaws were diehard opponents of basic street safety measures — including some of the measures that Lander himself has championed (Williams has since reformed and become more progressive on these issues). Yes, it is a terrible thing to speed or run red lights — but it is significantly less terrible if you are also fighting (as Lander has) to increase penalties for reckless driving, supporting redesigns of our terribly dangerous roadways, advocating for lower speed limits, championing the rights of victims’ families, advocating to improve the quality of crash investigations so that they lead to fewer future crashes, calling for safe routes to school for kids, demanding reform of NYPD practices that make our streets less safe, and, of course, fighting to get more speed cameras installed (including the cameras that got him into the Post in the first place).
And there’s another thing to consider: Lander is a human being, which means he is flawed. But if a guy who has spent a good chunk of his career fighting reckless driving is himself speeding, that tells you a lot about our systemic problem of reining in speeding. In other words, our entire road system and culture encourages speeding. Just take one look at Third Avenue in Manhattan or Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn or Boston Road in the Bronx — these are all notorious speedways that were built to move cars through our communities as fast as possible. Our very system encourages drivers to speed.
At least Brad Lander — flawed, human, speeding Brad Lander — has been trying to dismantle that system. Does that make him a hero? No (and his weak apology on NY1 didn’t help). But does getting seven speeding tickets in the last 18 months make him a hypocrite?
In other news:
- Street safety opponent Council Member Chaim Deutsch pleaded guilty yesterday to tax evasion. Speaker Corey Johnson wants Deutsch to resign, but there’s no way he will. (NY Post, NY Times)
- Who hasn’t Andrew Yang offended? The latest in the Times.
- In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, 34 states have introduced bills cracking down on protesters, including some that would bar the prosecution of drivers who run them over. (New York Times)
- Wow, the mayor really stepped in a big heaping mound of compost yesterday, proudly announcing that the city’s organic recycling program would resume, only to find himself on the defensive from environmentalists demanding an expansion of the program, which now requires building owners to opt in (amNY, Patch). Council Member Antonio Reynoso called it “the very opposite of environmental justice,” which is tough to take on Earth Day, especially (Waste Dive). There’s more to this story, so we’re hoping to follow it.
- More cameras coming to the subway. (WSJ)
- A pedestrian was struck and killed by a truck driver in Harlem. Naturally, the Daily News reported that the truck killed the woman all by itself.
- The Port Authority is disputing that report that its PATH stations are polluted. (amNY)
- Nathan Kensinger did what he does best — in this case, a deep look at how the MTA is trying to hold back the sea from destroying our transit system. (Gothamist)
- From the assignment desk: Rep. Ritchie Torres and other pols will rally today along the Cross Bronx Expressway to demand federal money to fix the scar created when the highway cleaved the borough. The City did something of a preview of the event by linking the highway to COVID and the area’s epic asthma.
- The City also followed our earlier exclusive about how community groups are having to raise their own money to prop up Mayor de Blasio’s struggling open streets “program.”
- Of course, if you care about open streets, you should go to W. 103rd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue on Saturday to see the full potential of our city when cars are banished. StreetopiaUWS will be programming cultural events, which means a performance by Jodi Sperling’s Time Lapse Dance troupe, plus music and mirth. (Here’s a flier.)
- Mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia wants more electric cars. (Gothamist)
- Here’s some more on the incoherent MTA messaging on subway crime. (Gothamist)
- There’s a new (and tiny) bike share company in town — possibly violating Citi Bike’s monopoly. The DOT told us and The Post that the agency is looking into it. “All bike-sharing systems within New York City require prior written authorization of the Department,” the agency said.
- Several outlets covered the DOT’s exciting announcement of an expansion of parking for car-share companies — which has shown to reduce private car ownership and total vehicle miles traveled in the city. (NY Post, Streetsblog)
- The NYPD is in the doghouse over the robot pooch that creeped out public housing residents. (NYDN)
- In case you missed it, Upper West Side Council candidate Sara Lind, whose campaign manager said some things she probably shouldn’t have said the way she said them, answered the haters on Medium.
- Retired federal transit man Larry Penner remains busy, writing about President Biden’s $2-trillion infrastructure plan in Mass Transit.
- You gotta love the irony in this Daily News headline about Sean Hannity and his new neighbor Donald Trump. (Of course, Hannity will drive!).