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Friday’s Headlines: Two Long Climbs Edition

12:05 AM EST on February 3, 2023

In some ways, climbing to the top of the Smith-Ninth Street station is the easier one. Photo: Google

Our assignment desk says it's going to be a busy day today with two events that both involve arduous effort:

First, at 11 a.m., one of the great sporting events on the annual calendar — the staircase race from the street to the platform at the famously high Smith-Ninth Street station — will pit a variety of elected officials (our money is on State Sen. Andrew Gounardes or Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani).

Unlike other legs of the Frivolity Triple Crown — including the Idiotarod and the No Pants Subway Ride — this event at least has a purpose, according to Riders Alliance: "With Brooklynites bone tired of dashing up 90 feet above the Gowanus Canal to avoid a long wait for an infrequent F or G train, the race will show Albany leaders how a targeted investment in six-minute-or-better service would afford off-peak riders a more humane and dignified commute."

Astoria has one key protected bike lane running through the middle, but not much else to keep cyclists safe, activists say. Map: DOT
Astoria has one key protected bike lane running through the middle, but not much else to keep cyclists safe, activists say. Map: DOT
Astoria has one key protected bike lane running through the middle, but not much else to keep cyclists safe, activists say. Map: DOT

Then at 1 p.m., Astoria activists (and a winded Mamdani) will gather at the intersection of 24th Avenue and 29th Street for a vigil to mark the one-month anniversary of the death of cyclist Tamara Chuchi Kao, who was killed by a cement truck driver on Jan. 5. Attendees say they will call on DOT to "build, at minimum, a north-south bike lane and an east-west protected bike lane in Astoria by September."

The neighborhood has two of each — a north-south protected lane on Crescent Street and on Vernon Boulevard, plus an east-west lane on Northern Boulevard and on 20th Avenue — but it's not enough (see map).

The DOT has already promised to make changes, but the process only begins there.

“This agency is committed to ending senseless traffic violence on our streets and, in addition to taking immediate action at this crash location, we plan to discuss new potential protected bike lanes in Astoria with residents this year,” spokesman Vin Barone said previously.

That's all for later. For now, let's go over yesterday's news:

    • Opposition to congestion pricing has always been a bit of a clown car, but it's unclear why Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) thinks she's winning points by siding with congestion pricing foe Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister, who was forced out in infamy and whose name is forever linked with the word "scandal." If the Congresswoman wants to argue facts, she should have asked Johnson to refute findings such as this: "Before the Congestion Charge zone was launched in 2003, private vehicles clogged the roads and the time lost to congestion cost the economy up to £4 million [nearly $5 million] per week.
    • Hot take! Hell Gate has Gov. Hochul's number, for real.
    • So does Mayor Adams — he's not that excited to pay more for the MTA. (Crain's)
    • The NYPD arrested a hit-and-run driver. (NYDN)
    • But a state trooper who killed a kid upstate with his car got off. (NYDN)
    • Police misconduct is terrible ... and it's also expensive to taxpayers. (Gothamist)
    • Restaurant industry point man Andrew Rigie once again advocated for a robust outdoor dining program in a City & State op-ed, but the Council is still stalling a permanent plan. He made some good points. For example: "Pre-pandemic, there were only about 1,400 licensed sidewalk cafes under the old law, nearly all located south of 96th Street in Manhattan, compared to the nearly 13,000 establishments offering outdoor dining as part of the inclusive Open Restaurants program with participating small businesses in diverse neighborhoods throughout the city. It’s now 2023 and time for the city to begin the transition out of the temporary emergency outdoor dining program into a standardized and sustainable permanent system." And this: "I’m the first to acknowledge that abandoned and dilapidated dining structures must be removed. [But] restaurants struggling to recover from the pandemic are hesitant to put time and money into their outdoor dining setups because they don’t want to be told that their investment was a waste and doesn’t comply with the forthcoming permanent standards they’ve been waiting to see for now over a year."
    • Our Streetfilms colleague Clarence Eckerson has posted another doozy!

    • Meanwhile, just like in "The Godfather III," he wants to get out, but scofflaws keep pulling him back in. Here's his latest video, plus some support from Council Member Bob Holden:

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