Wednesday’s Headlines: Congestion Everywhere Edition

Canal Street. File photo: Joseph Tedeschi
Canal Street. File photo: Joseph Tedeschi
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Finally, a reprieve from the dead Oblomov week between Christmas and New Years!

The top story yesterday was the Times’s deep dive into the carmageddon that we have been documenting for months. Like Julianne Cuba’s story on the same topic on the same day, and Dave Colon’s story about terrible bus speeds a day earlier, the Times team of Winnie Hu, Patrick McGeehan and Nate Schweber rightly explored how more cars mean more congestion and more death.

The only knock on the story? Given their car-culture bona-fides, the Times team left the impression that traffic is just a natural condition of life in New York City rather than something politicians can fix through basic car-reduction strategies — strategies that Mayor de Blasio ignored consistently.

In fact, the only mention of Hizzoner in the Times story was to suggest he had done all he could: “During the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio has encouraged people not to drive, and the city has added a significant number of bus and bike lanes.” No mention of how HOV lanes, road closures, massive increases in dedicated bus lanes, pedestrianization, loading zones, and increases in parking costs could have helped solve the car problem. Or how de Blasio’s distribution of placards exacerbated it, as Jon Orcutt reminded via the Daily News’s legendary Bill Bramhall:

Meanwhile, the Times piece was such a talker that Charles Komanoff weighed in, using the story as a jumping off point to remind us all that outer-borough residents will benefit most from congestion pricing, which is something we need to keep talking about because of how the issue has been demagogued by borough pols.

And David Meyer did his excellent post-mortem of de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative in the Post, which is limping to the end.

But beyond that, the slow news week continued. But there were some important developments:

  • Gov. Hochul gave a late Christmas present to advocates (and the Post, which got the early leak) by signing the bill requiring the MTA to develop better plans for cyclists, both on trains and over the currently off limits bridges. The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas of Queens and state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi of the Bronx, would also add pedestrian and cyclist advocates to the MTA’s ridership councils (so let’s see if that part happens).
  • Times reporter Steven Greenhouse tweeted a pretty big (albeit incremental) bit of news: The National Labor Relations Board may be ready to throw out the idea of DoorDash, Uber, GrubHub and other “gig” workers as independent contractors, a precursor to them getting more rights.
  • A new rule requiring cops to record the race of people they stop is already being criticized by cops (and the Post), who likely don’t want the full depth of their racial bias to be recorded.
  • Ross Barkan tried to explain incoming Mayor Eric Adams to the nation via the Nation.
  • Forbes offered a good idea: the executives at food delivery companies should deliver food to see what they do to deliveristas.
  • The NYC Ferry just added a stop in Throggs Neck, which will really cut commute times for people living near that dock. (WCBS2)
  • In a Daily News op-ed, architect Jonathan Cohn has a better idea for getting to and from LaGuardia Airport (and it ain’t the AirTrain!).
  • One day after Apple shut down its hyper-lucrative retail stores due to Covid, the California-based computer company changed course after customers complained that they weren’t able to be ripped off in person for tech gear. (NY Post)
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