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Friday’s Headlines: Heastie’s Excuses Edition

On Thursday, we finally heard directly from man who refused to bring "Sammy's Law" to a vote. Plus other news.

12:03 AM EDT on June 30, 2023

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie dodged questions from our reporter at his home in the Bronx earlier this month. Photo: Jonah Schwarz

Legislation to let New York City set its own speed limits failed in Albany this month, despite passing the state Senate almost unanimously. On Thursday, we finally heard directly from man who refused to bring "Sammy's Law" to a vote in the state Assembly — Speaker Carl Heastie, who insists he's "not a dictator" despite personally squelching a bill backed by the majority of his caucus.

Just around a dozen Assembly Democrats who represent the city oppose the bill, the speaker claimed in an interview with Gothamist — but the Bronx bigwig opted to listen to them instead of passing the life-saving bill backed by both Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul.

“I'm a member speaker. The members want to support something, I’m but one vote, but the conference has to be ready to go forward. I'm not a dictator," Heastie said, adding that "e-bikes," which kill or injure a tiny fraction of the people killed or injured by cars, were among opponents' concerns

“They'd like to see more enforcement, not only of reckless drivers, but also of the e-bikes. That got raised in the conference,” he told the outlet.

"Some members are saying they'd like more coordination when they make requests for speed bumps and other traffic mitigation. They just would like to be more involved and included in discussions that [the Department of Transportation] is doing in their districts.”

Translation: A bill that would have given the city more autonomy to make streets safer was killed because state pols want more of a say in that very thing.

Streetsblog had tried asking Heastie about the issue last week. He declined the opportunity, but through a spokesperson, blamed the city DOT.

In other news:

  • Mayor Adams made international headlines when he told an older white tenant activist upset at him over rent increases that she was speaking to not treat him "like you treated someone that's on the plantation that you own." The woman turned out to have fled the Nazis in the 1930s. We'll refrain from further comment because we don't gild lilies. (Hell Gate, Daily Mail, The Mirror, TMZ)
  • New York's congressional delegation puts pressure on feds after latest e-bike battery fire. (amNY, U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman via Twitter)
  • Eligibility for "Fair Fares" transit discounts will expand — but not as much as advocates or the MTA had hoped. (amNY).
  • That was part of a budget deal that apparently didn't include any money for the lithium-ion battery buyback. (WCBS2)
  • President Biden's motorcade brought parts of Manhattan to standstill on Thursday, so the Milwaukee Brewers did the sensible thing and hopped on subway to Citi Field — then beat the Mets again. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
  • Now do cars. (NYC DOT via Twitter)
  • USA Today fed its national audience lies with a headline that implied the congestion pricing toll has already been set.
  • Samara Karasyk of the Hudson Square BID and Sara Lind from Open Plans wrote an op-ed on why open space is so crucial in amNY.
  • Electric vehicle registrations are up in New York City. (City Limits)
  • Bay Ridge Council Member Justin Brannan is about to get very uncomfortable. First, he has a serious Republican challenger in a slowly bleeding red district — and now he's going to finally have to put up or shut up on a protected bike lane in his district. (Bay Ridge Environmental Group via Twitter)
  • Expect to see more of the MTA's newest train model. (Gothamist, Daily News)
  • ICYMI: A deep dive into DC's bike-share system, which like New York's is operated by Lyft. (Washington Post)
  • And finally — the new $100 million bike path along the East River in Midtown Manhattan is nearly complete:

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