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Thursday’s Headlines: Open Your Eyes Edition

12:03 AM EDT on May 4, 2023

Who needs a map to know where double-parking is happening?

We love the Department of Transportation, we really do. When the agency does stuff like redesign terrible streets like McGuinness Boulevard for safety (community board hearing tonight!) or creates transcendent public space like on 34th Avenue in Queens, we stand up and cheer.

We were a little less exuberant yesterday about the agency's big announcement (handed to the Daily News, but later covered by amNY) that it had created an entirely new web portal to report road segments or bike lanes that are frequently blocked by double-parked trucks. The reports, the agency said, could lead to more loading zones, a goal of street safety advocates that we have been writing about for years. And, indeed, the seeds of this new website go back to livable streets advocates' call for more loading zones in the face of community board recalcitrance.

The problem is, when the City Council passed a law in 2021 requiring the city to install 500 loading zones per year, it also required the DOT to "establish a methodology for determining where loading zones are necessary to enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion."

A set of eyes, a Twitter account or a conversation with every bus passenger in town won't suffice.

Hence, the new website. Don't misunderstand; we're sympathetic to the DOT, which is always facing community boards that believe that curbside space was created for the purpose of storing individuals' cars. But once again, the DOT is asking members of the public who want livable, safe streets to do more work to counter that narrative.

Indeed, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez admitted as much: “We want New Yorkers to help us pin down double-parking and blocked bus and bike lanes across our city. Our new web platform will empower New Yorkers to join the conversation about where problems exist and where we can build new loading zones across the five boroughs.”

We would argue that the public has already heartily joined that conversation: between Jan. 1 and April 21, 2023, New Yorkers made 12,216 complaints to 311 — about 110 complaints per day — of double-parked roadways, which is sort of amazing, given that filing a 311 service request requires a person to stop whatever she is doing to take five minutes to complete an often-balky government form on a tiny phone screen.

The DOT's new web portal is another chance to stop whatever you're doing and help the city. We just wish creating safer streets that are better for buses didn't require so much volunteer work.

In other news:

    • The biggest story of the day was the ruling by the medical examiner that the captured-on-camera death of Jordan Neely on an F train on Monday was, in fact, a homicide (Gothamist, NY Post, NYDN). The death — and the lack of an arrest in same — set off the latest paroxysms of outrage that filled the papers:
      • Gothamist went wall-to-wall with coverage that highlighted the fact that the NYPD has still not charged (or even ID'd) the killer.
      • amNY, The City and Hell Gate covered the vigil and protest at the Broadway-Lafayette station on Wednesday afternoon.
      • The Post and the Daily News interviewed Neely's distraught family members.
      • The Post offered a legal sidebar that anticipated (hoped for?) a very light charge for the killer.
      • The Times's coverage was an appalling case study in passive voice.
      • And the mayor's insensitive comments were widely criticized:
    • Like Streetsblog, the Daily News covered the horrific death of cyclist and activist Adam Uster.
    • Everyone followed Streetsblog and the Times's scoop on the Department of Sanitation's plan to finally shave the city's 5 o'clock shadow of garbage bags. The Post focused on how many parking spaces the city will "eliminate," while amNY (crediting the two titanic media outlets with the original scoop) played up the coming pilot program in upper Manhattan. Crain's also covered.
    • Speaking of the Post, the tabloid simply cannot get its head around the idea that residents of a warming world simply need to change the behaviors that have gotten us into this mess in the first place. So, yes, fuel prices need to rise.
    • Twitter has thankfully flip-flopped on its bid to squeeze money out of the MTA for the temerity of wanting to inform its riders about bus and subway delays. (NY Post)
    • Hell Gate did its own roundup of the state budget's pluses and minuses for transit users.
    • We loved this City Limits op-ed from East New York Community Land Trust board member Brianna Soleyn about all the public land that the NYPD has seized for parking cars instead of allowing neighborhood groups to house people. We citied the group's work in our epic March (Parking) Madness series, which ended with the 75th Precinct of East New York in ignominy.
    • The outer borough taxi controversy is not just about paint schemes. (The City)
    • In case you missed it, our own Jesse Coburn was a muse for a New Jersey Assembly member, who cited Coburn's three-part investigation into temporary license plates as a reason to get rid of temp tags entirely. But Coburn is too modest in his coverage of the hearing; in addition to praising Coburn's series on the record, Assembly Member Annette Chaparro also said he deserves a job! "Maybe we should hire these investigative reporters to work for our department, because they can really look into — I mean this is a massive [problem]," she told the state's Motor Vehicle Commission administrator.

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