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Wednesday’s Headlines: NJ Gov. Signs ‘Ghost Tags’ Reform After Streetsblog’s Reporting

Lots of news yesterday, both from New Jersey ... and our own damn skies.

Image: Martin Schapiro (with Hillman Foundation inset)

First, the "Streetsblog Gets Action" stuff: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill to tighten the state's lax oversight of its car dealers and choke off the pipeline of illegal temp tags that spewed uncontrollably all over New York City during the pandemic (how's that for lots of flood metaphors!).

Murphy's signature on the state legislature's bill comes as a direct result of Jesse Coburn's award-winning four-part series on how rogue dealers, taking advantage of Garden State shenanigans, basically created a massive black market in fake tags that led to chaos on our streets.

Murphy didn't put out a statement after his bill-signing, but Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, who read Coburn's series and took action, hailed the success.

“With the stroke of the governor’s pen, we are now one step closer to ending the sale of fraudulent, temporary license plates in New Jersey, and making our roads that much safer,” Ruiz (D-Essex) said in a statement. “Bad actors have exploited the system for too long, making an easy profit and avoiding accountability while jeopardizing public safety. To combat these organized schemes we needed more oversight and stronger penalties, in addition to empowering the Motor Vehicle Commission to crack down on these bad actors who profit and make our roads unsafe.”

We'll obviously be following up to see if the new law curtails the onslaught of illegal Jersey tags, but for now, we'll take a bow on Coburn's behalf (we like bowing).

In other news, the snow (all three inches of it!) dominated the coverage on Tuesday, including on the Streetsblog X feed, where I chronicled my morning commute and gave the city an A- grade for its work (though was surprised by the city's failure on Prospect Park West). Click the tweet below to get the entire thread:

We weren't the only ones with the same idea of biking in the snow to judge the city's performance:

One Redditer was unimpressed:

And this guy on Instagram wasn't too pleased about the roadways in Prospect Park:

Prospect Park at 7:36 a.m. on Tuesday.Photo: Principlesbk via Instagram

But others were pleased by what they saw:

We saw one of those "bad boys" on the Brooklyn Bridge, too!

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The mainstream press offered the usual coverage (NYDN, NY Post), and we also found time to critique the NYPD's lame safety message:

Now, to the non-snow, non-ghost car news:

  • The best story of the day was the Times's coverage of a cop who refused to play along and give a break to drivers who flashed a PBA "courtesy" card. If you recall, we once asked then-NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill about such "get-out-of-jail-free" cards and he played dumb.
  • Former Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his Vision Zero efforts on WNYC's weeklong focus on the 10-year-old initiative. In an earlier episode, Streetsblog contributor Charles Komanoff also weighed in.
  • Gov. Hochul supports the MTA's bid to raise fines for fare beaters, the Post reported, though there are downsides to criminalizing what is often a crime of poverty.
  • As an opening salvo, we love the way Neighbors for a Safer Austin Street laid out all the issues surrounding making the car-choked, two-way business strip better for all users.
  • Speaking of opening salvos, we were happy to see that Gov. Hochul's budget included a clean version of Sammy's Law, without any compromises or double-crosses. (See page 41 of this budget document.) Of course, we'll be following the effort to allow New York City to set its own speed limits as the governor's solid proposal makes it through the Albany meat grinder — and we'll be calling out those who would compromise safety simply to get something, even something lousy, passed. Hold the line, governor!
  • The Daily News and Gothamist had more details on several G-train service outages for upgrades later in this year.
  • Council Member Chi Ossé put out a great video suggesting he's going to put out a plan to add more housing. Can't wait to see it! But until then, here's a fun video:
  • Finally, as Harry Truman used to say, "Get me a one-armed economist!" On the one hand, new data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows that New York's privately owned Citi Bike system is the only one in the country that's booming in ridership. On the other hand, it was a lot colder in December 2022 than it was in December 2023, as we pointed out in a tweet to the agency and its overseer, U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. But still, the news is positive:

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