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Tuesday’s Headlines: The Paper (License) Plate Caper Edition

12:03 AM EDT on April 11, 2023

Our own Jesse Coburn was on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.

For years, New Yorkers — this reporter included — have wondered what was going on with all the temporary license plates on the road, and whether any of them were legit.

Fortunately, Streetsblog's Jesse Coburn has figured it out, and the rest of the city is catching up. Coburn spent Monday morning discussing his "Ghost Tags" series with WNYC's Brian Lehrer and his outraged callers, including a New Jersey driver who'd had his plate number stolen by a fraudsters and one visionary city resident with a novel proposal:

"I don't know why New York City permits out of state [plates]," Balfour in Queens told Lehrer and Coburn. "They don't pay taxes to renew our roads. They don't pay a fee to get their license renewed. But the New York guy, who has New York plates and New York license, he has to pay taxes on these guys that are using our roads, that come from out of state. Obviously they live here, but they're not contributing to the cost of maintaining the roads."

"I hear you, Balfour," Lehrer replied. "Though I don't think anybody, or not many people, want to go so far as banning out-of-state drivers."

Coburn's "Ghost Tags" focused on the problem of fraudulent out-of-state plates, specifically those from New Jersey and Georgia. He identified some 300,000 temporary tags issued in those two states alone by auto dealers who'd been caught issuing paper plates to unregistered vehicles.

You can read the full three-part series here. Coburn also reported this morning on new legislation proposed in the City Council to address the problem. Always remember: Streetsblog gets action.

In other news:

    • Bail reform is holding up the state budget, with the MTA's future in the balance. (NY Post)
    • Cyclist deaths are up, and DOT is teaming up with Chubby Checker on a fun new PSA campaign to warn for-hire vehicle passengers not to door cyclists. (DOT release, ABC7 NY)
    • A lithium-ion fire in Astoria that killed a 7-year-old and 19-year-old. Local media called it an "e-bike fire." Streetsblog contributor Charles Komanoff has argued that charging delivery trips based on distance could allow workers to put the extra money into safer battery technology. (NYT, Gothamist, Daily News)
    • City & State offered a list of New York City streets that could be next for pedestrianization — some are uphill battles or even fantasies, but others — like University Place in Manhattan — are no-brainers that should happen tomorrow.
    • Gothamist covered the new push to re-do the city's truck route map, as did Streetsblog's Julianne Cuba.
    • WNYC's news imprint also covered supposedly liberal Upper West Siders' new excuse to treat their bike deliverymen poorly — "technology’s potential for social unrest as it alters communities and renders jobs obsolete." (Gothamist)
    • Kids with autism will narrate subway announcements for the second year in a row. (Gothamist, Daily News, ABC7 NY)
    • The EPA is getting on the electric car bandwagon, which is not only short-sighted, but a torrent of road deaths from the much-heavier vehicles, not that you'd read either of those angles in the Times coverage.
    • DISPATCH FROM BOSTON — Former LIRR President Phil Eng celebrates his first day atop the MBTA. (WGBH)
    • From the home office: Sara Lind and Lisa Orman are the new co-executive directors of Open Plans, Streetsblog's sister organization and the fastest-growing NGO in town. Lind has served as the organization's Chief Strategy Officer and Orman as its Chief Operating Officer.
    • Finally, if it's before noon when you're reading this, please vote in our March (Parking) Madness finale. If it's after noon and polls have closed, read about how our Parking Madness tournament is making waves in academia!

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