Monday’s Headlines: Tryptophan Haze Edition

Map shows all the crashes in Council Member Vickie Paladino's district since January 2019. Perhaps her district needs more "radical bicycle activists."
Map shows all the crashes in Council Member Vickie Paladino's district since January 2019. Perhaps her district needs more "radical bicycle activists."

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The big news over the holiday weekend (besides new entries in our boss’s ongoingcriminal mischiefseries on Twitter) was Council Member Vickie Paladino’s out-of-the-blue attack on constituents and officials who prefer safe streets to the current congestion and anarchy. First, her tweet:

Which was followed by these tweets:

First, perhaps it’s too much to ask in the Age of Twitter that elected officials actually read the stories they’re tweeting about, but Paladino’s first tweet was an anger rant against a straw man: Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was not “making threats” to car owners; if you read the BK Reader story to which Paladino linked, Rodriguez never even said what the headline suggested: “DOT Commissioner Tells NY’ers to Think Twice Before Getting a Car.”

The closest he came to that was, “The street is public access, and we have to share the street.” (Wow, such controversy!)

Rodriguez also said — quite reasonably — that his goal is “to continue making New York City … safest for the 8.6 million New Yorkers and for the 48 million visitors that have already come to the city by this time.”

So what set off Paladino? Who knows? It’s not as if Paladino’s district in far eastern Queens has become a DOT laboratory: it has the fewest bus lanes of any City Council district and it’s near the bottom for protected bike lanes and bike parking spaces, according to city stats.

Yet according to other city stats, Paladino’s District 19 is one of the most dangerous places for human life. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 22, there were 1,421 reported crashes in her district, which is more than four every day. Those crashes injured roughly two people every single day: 25 cyclists, 75 pedestrians and 497 motorists. Three pedestrians were also killed in her district.

That’s a lot of death and carnage in a neighborhood with few pedestrians. Fortunately, Doug Gordon had the perfect takedown for Paladino:

We’ve been in touch with Paladino, who may have more to say soon.

In other news:

  • Kudos to the New York Post for following our exhaustive coverage of motorists who cover their license plates with leaves or tape. The Tabloid of Record even linked to one of our old man editor’s recent “criminal mischief” videos, but, oddly, did not mention the case of lawyer Adam White, whose arrest for un-defacing a plate started the recent news cycle:

  • A senior citizen was run over and killed by a Jeep driver on deadly Seagirt Avenue in Queens. We’re always amazed when crimes like this happen and the local press doesn’t do even basic reporting. The Daily News, for example, had a picture of the car — yet didn’t bother to run the plate to discover the driver had three school zone speeding tickets, all in the same area as the killing. Nor did New York’s so-called Hometown Paper point out that the Department of Transportation has finally announced it would redesign the roadway, where, since 2019, there have been 239 reported crashes between Beach Ninth Street and Rockaway Parkway, leading to 90 injuries — including to 19 pedestrians, and seven cyclists — and one motorist fatality, according to Crash Mapper. Neither did amNY. Someday, we hope, local papers will cover road violence as exhaustively as they cover other types of violence.
  • Winnie Hu did a good job balancing the competing interests behind the QueensWay linear park and the QueensLink transit proposal, and we’re glad she pointed out (as we did last year) that the MTA may be overstating the cost of restoring transit (NY Times). Our own Kevin Duggan had a story about a new effort by the City Council to boost the transit plan.
  • Speaking of the New York Times, we were impressed that Detroit’s house organ finally did a deep dive into why so many Americans are killed on the roads, in high-driving periods and in low-driving periods. The Emily Badger and Alicia Parlapiano story was filled with great prose, including, the killer nut graph: “Periodically, the illogic of that [high American] toll becomes clearer: Americans die in rising numbers even when they drive less. They die in rising numbers even as roads around the world grow safer. American foreign service officers leave war zones, only to die on roads around the nation’s capital.” It’s almost as if Badger and Parlapiano read Streetsblog, where USA Editor Kea Wilson has been killing it on this subject for years (with a little help from Gersh Kuntzman and Yonah Freemark).
  • And speaking of good jobs by reporters, Christopher Robbins of Hell Gate spent 24 hours at the Moynihan Train Hall and again decried its lack of seats. We’ve been all over that from Day One.
  • A man on a moped was killed by a drunk driver, cops said. (Both the NYDN and NY Post identified the vehicle as a “scooter,” which it was not.)
  • A hit-and-run trucker killed a cyclist on a notoriously dangerous Queens roadway, not that the Daily News or the Post pointed that out.
  • Another man was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver in the East Village. (NYDN)
  • Subway roofs are collapsing. (Gothamist)
  • Speaking of subways, here’s one down side to surging ridership. (NY Post)
  • Again, speaking of subways, unlike our analysis of the gubernatorial election — which showed that transit riders strongly backed Gov. Hochul — the Times went in a different direction.
  • Talk about criminal mischief!

  • You know how we’re often complaining about bad a job the NYPD does with cracking down on placard abuse or drivers who cover their plates? Well, apparently, the NYPD does an equally poor job with its fake crackdowns on sidewalk-cluttering illegal vendors. (NY Post)
  • The MTA will pilot hydrogen-powered buses in The Bronx (amNY), while also using artificial intelligence to help keep buses from breaking down (Gothamist).
  • If Westchester wants to pretend it’s the “sixth borough,” its residents had better start paying their fair share and its towns better start building more housing. (NY Post)
  • Sad news out of the Catskills: Friars Club Dean Freddie Roman is dead. (amNY)
  • And, finally, permit us to go in depth a bit on a great Graham Rayman story in the Daily News on Sunday. The piece described how two bad cops were quietly allowed to retire rather than be punished for grossly fabricating reports on cases they were supposedly investigating. The story noted that “Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell signed off” on the penalties for the officers, which means she is at least vaguely aware that cops do indeed falsify records. Yet for some reason, there’s never any punishment for the thousands of cops who willfully lie on 311 reports (as Streetsblog has long documented) or harass people who file 311 service requests. So of course we don’t expect any punishment to the cops who ignored a complaint Sunday from a Corona-based Friend of Streetsblog, who noticed that cars were illegally parked against the median in the easternmost shared block of Paseo Park. First, the photo:
    All the cars on the left are illegally parked. Parking on the right side is also illegal, but DOT has not replaced the signs yet. Photo: Tipster
    All the cars on the left are illegally parked. Parking on the right side is also illegal, but DOT has not replaced the signs yet. Photo: Tipster

    The tipster called 311 to report the illegally parked cars to the 115th Precinct … which closed the case in four minutes, and said officers had “determined that police action was not necessary.” Yet the cars remain unticketed.

    So Commissioner Sewell can boast that she reined in two reckless cops. But she certainly knows there are thousands more out there lying to the public every day.

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Carl Paladino’s Crusade for Free Driving

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Last week, we profiled Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s transportation platform, which tended in the direction of airy platitudes. In contrast, his Republican opponent Carl Paladino has probably never been accused of playing things too safe, and on transportation policy, he’s true to form. Paladino’s been blitzing the campaign trail with a no-holds-barred anti-toll, anti-transit message. […]