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Tuesday’s Headlines: Don’t Block Bike Advocates Edition

Tweet kids afraid to read your tweets. Plus other news in today's headlines.

Photo: X

A bit of silly news came over the transom yesterday: Department of Transportation Chief Communication Officer Nick Benson blocked the Twitter account NYC Bike Lanes after the cycling activist pointed out that DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez uses what may be illegally tinted windows on his department vehicle.

We're not taking sides (yet!), but the whole thing seems like an over-reaction. Here's how it started. First, NYC Bike Lanes — a Streetsblog contributor who has exposed NYPD corruption and been harassed for it — tweeted last year about Rodriguez's tint.

Two weeks later, the account tagged Benson in hopes of getting an answer:

Sometime after that, Benson blocked the account.

Now, is this illegal because Benson is a public official? It's unclear; DOT has an "official" government social media account that isn't allowed to block people. But Benson certainly tweets about agency business plenty of times from his personal account (he has even used his personal account to critique Streetsblog stories, though picking up a phone and calling me to repair our miscommunication would actually solve the problem rather than score points with his boss).

Whatever the rules are, in recent days, Benson added "Personal account, views mine" to his X bio. So maybe it's no big deal.

Still, a piece of advice: muting works better than blocking. Why furnish your supposed enemies with the ammunition of being able to say a public official (whose annual salary rose to $199,000 when he joined the DOT in 2023) blocked them on Twitter? Or, put another way, "Tweet kids afraid to read your tweets," to paraphrase an old meme.

In other news:

  • Rather than cover the actual presentation, the Daily News took DOT's embargoed presentation about Second Avenue and ran the bare bones. Streetsblog's coverage had much more depth — including reminding everyone that the main reason for slow buses on this busy corridor is the NYPD's illegally parked officers.
  • Speaking of Second Avenue, The Post thinks the Second Avenue subway is too expensive. Maybe the DOT should not bother with nipping around the edges and just turn the roadway into a car-free busway. It's certainly cheaper.
  • The city has put a stop on new taxi licenses after last year's effort to add more EV cars to the fleet worked better than anticipated. (NYDN, Crain's)
  • The Times did the twosiderism thing with the final congestion pricing hearing, presenting NJ Gov. Phil Murphy's testimony as factual, when, in fact, it was not. Fortunately, the paper balanced its coverage with a killer kicker: "Wendy Brawer moved to New York City in 1986, she said, inspired by the city’s vast public transit system. But in the years that followed, she said, she was disappointed by how car-centric Manhattan had become. '“'They are almost like sacred beasts, and we barely notice how they kill and maim pedestrians and cyclists,' she said."
  • Of course, Murphy's rant was lionized in Jersey. (NJ.com)
  • But if the MTA really wants congestion pricing to work, it needs to add buses, lawmakers say. (amNY)
  • Tom Fox, who wrote the book (literally) on Hudson River Park, was featured in W42st.
  • Remember our story about how Mayor Adams set up an office inside City Hall to create a rogue chain of command over DOT? Well, he did it with Asian affairs, too. (Politico)
  • Assembly Member Helene Weinstein is retiring (NYDN) and the fix is in to replace her with term-limited Council Member Kalman Yeger (Brooklyn Paper).
  • Gothamist was the latest outlet to report on community concern over a new Tony Hawk-financed skate park in Prospect Heights — and the latest outlet that failed to point out that the glaring hypocrisy: Mayor Adams delayed a bike lane project in the same neighborhood claiming that "outsiders" were supporting it, yet seems to have no problem when the outsiders want to pave over part of a park.
  • Better red than dead: DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was in Albany pushing lawmakers to extend and expand New York City's red light camera program. (Gothamist)
  • I'm all in on Hell Gate's tribute to Brooklyn's tallest skyscraper.
  • Do you want to run a project in the bike unit at DOT? (Job listing)
  • China is eating our lunch on electric cars. (NY Times)
  • And, finally, the Department of Sanitation is serious about getting all New York City businesses to put their trash in wheelie bins already (which they were required to do on Friday). Warnings are being issued!

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