Wednesday’s Headlines: The Best and Worst of De Blasio Edition
As predicted, Tuesday was “Tale of Two de Blasios” day in New York.
On the Jekyll side, the mayor crowed at his morning press conference about the opening of the protected bike path on the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, a major achievement that, of course, everyone covered:
- The Daily News focused on the win for cyclists and pedestrians.
- The Post focused on the boom in urban cycling that precipitated the new lane.
- Not a word from the Times.
- amNY pointed out that Mayor de Blasio was supposed to attend (and ride), but did not.
- Gothamist’s coverage was the most comprehensive, pointing out the flaws of the lane, and providing much-needed context.
- The full Streetsblog team — aka the Best Damn Street Reporting Team in the World — attended the inaugural ride. This reporter videotaped his entire seven-minute crossing, if you want to watch:
Here it is, our old man editor's historic first ride on the new Brooklyn Bridge protected bike lane (he's fourth behind DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman, speeding away on an e-bike). Do not adjust your screens — this is not slow motion (that's just his speed). https://t.co/IBFn3QU9Hp
— Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) September 14, 2021
Of course, you gotta take the good with the bad. Mayor de Blasio’s Mr. Hyde side was under fire all day, with two rallies featuring ghost strollers to symbolize the death of 3-month-old Apolline Mong-Guillemin, whose death was preventable if only the mayor and his agencies did their jobs, as Streetsblog reported. Transportation Alternatives organized the rallies — a morning event at City Hall and a bigger rally in Union Square.
- The Post covered the City Hall event.
- Triple-duty Duggan at amNY covered both rallies.
- Gothamist also covered both rallies and again provided great context, including the current year death toll: 189, compared to 150 at the same time last year.
- Update: The Times threw a few paragraphs at the bottom of a story about a speech by Eric Adams.
- Streetsblog reporter Dave Colon put the day’s events in perspective:
On the same day that the mayor is supposed to cut the ribbon on the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane, advocates are rallying in front of City Hall to decry “go-nowhere task forces” and what the say is the mayor’s failures on Vision Zero pic.twitter.com/SeKbVgDnqo
— Good Idea Dave (@DaveCoIon) September 14, 2021
It all comes against the backdrop of how our city is figuratively choking on cars right now. We all remember that last year, during the pandemic, when car volumes were way down, de Blasio was warned repeatedly that he needed to take steps — like those taken by Paris and London — to make sure car ownership and use didn’t soar when the pandemic started to subside.
He ignored those warnings, and now the quality of life in neighborhoods across the city is being stolen by car drivers; we are not merely talking about the danger represented by 3,000-pound vehicles moving at 30 miles per hour on our residential streets, but the way that the existence of cars prevents us from letting our kids go out and play, or hang out with friends; how car drivers steal all the public space, including the travel lanes and the curbside lanes for the movement or free storage of their private vehicles; how our very city is designed around the selfishness of the car driver.
How bad is the carmageddon? Well, yesterday, Gov. Hochul trumpeted new ridership numbers for the MTA’s subway and commuter rail operations, which hit a post-pandemic milestone of 2.77 million riders on the first day of school on Monday. Sounds good right? Wrong: On the first day of school in 2019, the subway carried 5.74 million passengers, or more than double, according to our friends in the MTA press shop.
So even if millions of people are working from home, or biking, walking or taking the bus to work, that still leaves scores of thousands in cars, causing gridlock, endangering our kids, filling our lungs with a grimy taste of failure. (amNY also found the ridership numbers newsworthy, in a glass half-full kinda way.)
OK, off the soapbox. Time for the news:
- There was more fallout from Mayor de Blasio’s failure to implement the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Act, with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea even wondering about it. (NY Post)
- A cyclist was badly injured by a hit-and-run driver in the Bronx who then crashed into an NYPD squad car (which, judging from the picture in the Daily News, was, of course, illegally parked).
- It’s funny — Guse of the Newsuh covered Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s request for her borough to have a seat at the table when the details of congestion pricing are ironed out, but he didn’t cover Charles Komanoff’s awesome debunk of Brewer’s mucking about.
- The Grand Prospect Hall was denied landmark status. (Brooklyn Paper)
- Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa seems to want it both ways — slamming Eric Adams for his driving record and for his plan to make the subway cheaper for working people. (PoliticsNY)
- Quadruple-duty Duggan also covered a Council hearing at which the MTA said it might close some stations early during storms to keep out customers. (amNY)
- Hat tip to the Maria Velez Clarke, the increasingly frustrated principal of The Children’s Workshop School on E. 12th Street in Manhattan, who has been waging a calm battle against parents who feel they must drive to the neighborhood school to drop off their little darlings … and park in the bike lane at the same time. “You may not park in the bike lane,” she wrote in a letter to all school parents. (Via Twitter)