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Tuesday’s Headlines: Mayor on a Bus and an Old Lady Yelling at Us Edition

12:01 AM EDT on August 9, 2022

This mayor actually rides the bus. Photo: Mayor’s Office

Whenever a mayor rides a bus in this city, it's like the Streetsblog Super Bowl (not that it should be!). So we can't wait to hop the B41 on Flatbush Avenue with Mayor Adams this morning at around 8:30, when he'll take the bus to Ocean Avenue for a rally with Riders Alliance

The mayor's bus ride (not his first!) is particularly timely, given that Straphangers Campaign and Transit Center announced the "winners" of their annual Pokey and Schleppie Awards for the worst bus lines in town.

Kevin Duggan at amNY and Stephen Nessen at Gothamist covered the "award show," which featured what was billed as a surprise appearance by New York City Transit President Richard Davey that wasn't a surprise at all, given that Davey is keen to remind everyone that slow buses are mostly due to lack of enforcement of bus lane blockers and not enough dedicated bus lanes — both things that the city NYPD and Department of Transportation must provide.

The Staten Island Advance — the same paper that is quick to slam DOT for road safety improvements! — focused on the slowest bus on the Rock.

The B41 didn't make the Pokey or Schleppie list, but maybe it should have; according to the MTA's bus dashboard, the B41 averaged about 6.7 miles per hour during rush hour and 7.3 miles per hour off-peak in June 2015. After some pandemic-era improvements due to so few cars on the road back then, bus speeds have actually declined to 6.3 miles per hour and 6.6 miles per hour respectively — declines of 6 percent and nearly 10 percent respectively.

This despite the mayor promising to turn around the signature legacy of the de Blasio administration and actually make life better for bus riders. Since taking office, that effort has existed in fits and starts, with the mayor announcing only a small number of projects while also cutting hours on two busways and considering scrapping a  third. But the city is also embarking on a long-term fix for Flatbush Avenue, so there's that.

We look forward to the awkward handshakes between Hizzoner and Riders Alliance reps, given that the transit group has a big-fonted web page devoted to the current administration's bus service shortcomings. "So far, 3.4 out of 21.3 proposed miles of bus lanes have been completed and the clock is ticking!" the page screams.

Also from the assignment desk: Council Member Eric Bottcher will demand a 10th Avenue station on the 7 train today at 2 p.m. at the northeast corner of 10th Avenue and W. 41st St. And there's a barn-burner of a Brooklyn Community Board 2 meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss the Willoughby Avenue open street and Apolline's Garden, two things that shouldn't be controversial but, you know, cars. The Zoom link is here.

Until then, here's the news digest:

    • If you're a composting fan, your day started early, with the New York Times getting handed a scoop from the Sanitation Department about the return of residential composting for all of Queens starting in October. Everyone who is anyone followed, including our own Eve Kessler, the Daily News, Double-Duty Duggan, Gothamist.
    • Like Streetsblog, the Post saw the newsworthiness of the parents of Carling Mott blaming Rep. Carolyn Maloney for their daughter's death as they endorsed rival Suraj Patel for Congress.
    • Once again, our editor was named to City and State's annual "Transportation Power 100" list, sliding into the 53 spot — which, he gloated, was two spots above Charles Komanoff, four spots ahead of Nicole Gelinas, 24 spots ahead of Janette Sadik-Khan and even ahead of people who run actual transportation companies! Congrats to all the powerful.
    • Speaking of Komanoff, he alerted us to this edition of the Times's Ethicist column, which had a stunningly insightful answer by writer Kwame Anthony Appiah to a question about bike theft (scroll down to the second ethical dilemma).
    • When you want to understand corrupt stadium deals, who you gonna call? Neil deMause — and Hell Gate got him to do a deep dive on Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
    • The City continued its generally negative coverage of e-bikes and e-scooters with a story highlighting how the MTA is considering new rules for micro-mobility. The story's headline was full tabloid, calling battery-powered modes "Fire-Prone Electric Rides," despite the fact that conflagrations are still the rare exception not the rule.
    • Hell Gate's Max Rivlin-Nadler took a ride on the new Rockaway Rocket ferry.
    • Meanwhile, the Times can't seem to help itself, going into the subway (again!) to report about how New Yorkers are supposedly so cowered by rampant crime, which despite upticks is simply not as much a facet of New York City life as it was in the 1980s and '90s, despite the Times's effort to put it front and center. Meanwhile, there have been 60,145 car crashes so far this year, injuring 28,017 people, according to city statistics. Over the same period, there have been 816 shootings (down nearly 9 percent), injuring 988 people (down nearly 7 percent), according to the NYPD.
    • As part of our ongoing series on the New York Times failing to employ enough people who live in the city that gives the paper its name, consider the weekender piece about containerized trash. Writer Dodai Stewart did a fine job outlining the basics of the city's "Clean Curbs" pilot, but the piece had a wide-eyed excitement that would have evaporated upon any editorial scrutiny. After all, cities in Europe have had containerized trash for decades (which wasn't even mentioned in the story) and even our own pilot fails to solve many of the problems of trash pickup, merely creating a new chore for sanitation workers, who now have to unlock bins to get at the black plastic garbage treasure within. The long-term solution is obviously large containers in the parking lane that can be picked up from the trucks themselves, not that the Times has any curiosity about that.
    • Sadly, we missed this funny Hell Gate piece about the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Don't you miss it also!
    • Finally, we received a hilarious voicemail from a woman who declined to give her name, but we share it only in the interest of giving fans of livable streets a smile as they ponder just how much hate is out there. Here's the transcript, but you simply must listen to the tape. ("I hope you're happy with your little power!")

Hi. I know you think you're doing something good for New York — narrowing the streets, putting all these bicycle lanes places — and maybe you doing it for some bicyclists, but you are making New York a horrible place, an unpleasant place to live. And a place that if my children were here, I would leave in a heartbeat. You're really destructive, but not only that, but you don't even believe that people who live in New York should have a right to choose the kinds of streets that they have to walk on, drive on or live in. I hope you're happy with your little power.

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