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Friday’s Headlines: No Off-Topics Edition

Mayor Adams declined to answer "off-topic" questions from reporters at a press conference about new public spaces in Downtown Brooklyn. Plus other news.

Mayor Adams had time for speeches, but not for “off-topic” questions at a press conference in Downtown Brooklyn on July 20. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Adams declined to answer "off-topic" questions from reporters at a press conference about new public spaces in Downtown Brooklyn yesterday, as doubts swirled about Hizzoner's commitment to "getting stuff done" when it comes to key bike and bus upgrades.

The mayor announced more than $40 million in investments in the neighborhood's streets, but the event quickly grew heated as protestors outside the metal barricades at Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street began shouting down the mayor over his handling of the crisis on Rikers Island.

As the mayor's security detail handcuffed a man, Adams stuck with the program and lauded the coming upgrades, which included previously announced initiatives like the Ashland Place bike lanes and the Livingston Street bus lanes.

The $40 million will pay for $8 million in new seating and greenery along the Fulton Street Mall, and for a $32 million capital project to widen with concrete sidewalks at five intersections of Flatbush Avenue and build a raised shared street in front of the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower at Hanson Place.

The city also plans to expand painted pedestrian space in a parking field outside a city Health Department facility at Fleet and Willoughby streets a few blocks away — good luck keeping that clear in the borough's haven for placard abuse!

When the officials and politicians wrapped up their speeches, the Mayor said he would take "on-topics," PR-jargon for questions solely about the announcement of the day, but there were none, and Adams quickly left the podium, as reporters protested that he wasn't taking off-topics, i.e. questions about anything else.

Our own Dave Colon was there and prepared to ask the city's chief executive about the future of the bus lanes on Fordham Road, after MTA officials said they hoped he wouldn't do a McGuinness Boulevard on the much-needed upgrades to improve sluggish buses in the Boogie Down.

Another protester, Greenpoint dad and street safety activist Chris Roberti, was also at the press conference protesting with a sign calling on Adams to follow through with the currently-on-ice McGuinness Boulevard redesign, and the mayor stopped to hear his concerns.

"I’m glad that I got to talk to him, and I’m glad that to let him know that we care about it and that we’re gonna be here," he told Streetsblog afterward. "Obviously I think we want to have access and transparency, and I feel like that’s missing right now with McGuinness."

In other news:

  • New York City will pay a record $13.7 million to settle a lawsuit against the city and the NYPD for police abuse allegations violating more than 1,000 protesters' First Amendment rights during the 2020 George Floyd uprisings against police brutality (New York Times, Hell Gate, Gothamist, among others).
  • Oversized trucks keep getting stuck “about once a week” on the Brooklyn Bridge, causing miles-long traffic jams on the BQE and neighborhood streets as city officials have failed to solve the problem, WNYC/Gothamist’s Clayton Guse reports.
  • Speaking of the BQE, as the Adams administration tries to move migrants out of the city shelter system more quickly, some recently-ejected men have set up camp under the elevated highway near the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Gothamist). 
  • Adams is also launching a new Sunday radio show — will he take off-topic questions? (amNY).
  • These tourists got an authentic, first-hand Big Apple experience while riding their double-decker bus: a big vehicle getting stuck on a corner (WhatIsNewYork via Twitter).
  • The MTA is using AI to track fare evasion (NBCNews).
  • Literally everybody wants to be exempt from congestion pricing (Hell Gate, amNY).
  • Speaking of, hat tip to Riders Alliance senior organizer Danna Dennis, who told NY1's Errol Louis when asked whether carpools should get a congestion pricing discount, “The carpool is the bus!” (via Twitter).
  • DOT is collecting feedback on its recent reconfiguration of the East Drive in Prospect Park. You can fill it out a survey in less than five minutes here
  • Let's check in on Far Rockaway's tiny Beach 20th Street two-way "protected" bike lane (Liam Quigley via Twitter)

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