Friday’s Headlines: Welcome to the War on Cars, New Yorker

new yoker cover with crashed car

Yesterday’s big news was the New Yorker’s must-read 6,000-word doorstop of a story about the epic battle for street safety.

Danyoung Kim’s piece certainly hit all the right notes, giving voice, and the moral megaphone, to our city’s small army of Families for Safe Streets volunteers. And we certainly appreciated the rapier thrust of a quote from our founding editor Aaron Naparstek: “Nobody ever looks at the car as a weapon. The basic rule that I discovered over the years is if you ever want to murder someone in New York City, do it with a car.”

But permit us one quibble? In seeking to document the history of the movement for safe streets, Kim somehow managed to divorce her reporting from one of the essential pillars of journalism: current events. Yes, the article was clearly aimed at normies who need to be slowly weaned off a century of car-based Stockholm syndrome, but people who spend their days and nights in the actual trenches won’t learn much from the story. In fact, it might be worthier to look ahead than to look back — there are many battles being waged right now in the state legislature and in car company boardrooms, battles that will determine whether our planet wins or loses the war on cars.

Our glass is half-empty on that question, sometimes. Indeed, if our state leaders can’t even agree that insurance companies should be informed when their clients get repeated tickets for speeding through school zones and our federal leaders are themselves racing to greenwash electric cars, we’ll end up no better off than the valiant activists who took on the car companies in the early days of the Automobile Age. (Reminder: they lost.)

In other news from a slow day:

  • Speaking of state lawmakers, Deborah Glick tweeted late on Thursday to say that her and Sen. Andrew Gounardes’s speed camera bill (the watered down one evoked above) did indeed pass the Assembly. We’ll have a full roundup of the Albany session on Monday.

  • Two Council members made some bold promises in Streetsblog on Thursday, with Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph saying she is eager to explore car-free school streets, and Transportation Committee member Lincoln Restler vowing to crack down on placards, which was our top story of the day yesterday. (Meanwhile, the Daily News and the Post did a story on Restler’s bill.)
  • You can’t spell the fires of hell without “el.” (NY Post, amNY, Gothamist)
  • The Post got a second day on “latte-gate,” thanks to the MTA’s insistence that the paper pay for public records that should be for free in a FOIL request.
  • Queens Council Member Bob Holden wants car dealerships and rental companies to stop stealing everyone else’s free parking. (NY Post)
  • Times op-ed columnist Farhad Manjoo continues to get it, this time focusing his attention on all the (anything but) free parking we give out: “You might argue that all this parking space is necessary — how else are people in a car-dependent metropolis like Los Angeles going to get to Disney Hall without driving and parking there? But by requiring parking spaces at every house, office and shopping mall — while not also requiring new bike lanes or bus routes or train stations near every major development — urban-planning rules give drivers an advantage in cost and convenience over every other way of getting around town. We need all that parking because, thanks to all that parking, we’ve made driving the city’s default way of going anywhere.”
  • Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani want to use cameras to keep cars out of bike lanes. (NY Post)
  • Remember that MTA staff shortage? It’s ongoing. (The City)
  • The MTA released its preliminary schedules for when the new “Grand Central Madison” LIRR terminal opens. We’ll have a full analysis on Monday, but amNY took the first pass at what officials say will be largest boost in service in the railroad’s  history.
  • And, finally, Jessie Singer had a delicious takedown of Gov. Hochul’s self-aggrandizing gas tax holiday tweet:

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