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Thursday’s Headlines: Shakira Shakira Edition

Pop superstar Shakira performed for a crowd of 40,000 packed into the Times Square pedestrian plazas. Plus congestion pricing news and more.

Shakira via Twitter|

Some 40,000 people turned out to see Shakira perform in the Times Square pedestrian plaza on Tuesday night.

Public space don't lie.

Pop superstar Shakira performed for 40,000 people packed into the Times Square plazas on Tuesday night — filling public space once dominated by cars. That crowd turned out, despite hours notice, to hear the singer debut her new album Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran.

At this point the Times Square plazas are old news. Installed in 2009 and 2010 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the redesign swapped car lanes for pedestrian space. Pedestrian counts at the "crossroads of the world" grew as a result, and traffic crashes in the area declined. Despite threats to tear out the plazas from then-NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton in 2015, they remained in place.

Today they're a staple no one would ever consider erasing. Tuesday's concert showed their immense potential as a hotspot for shared civic cultural. Check out it out in the videos below:

In other news:

The MTA board approved congestion pricing with minimal exemptions by a vote of 11-1. The only barriers left are lawsuits including one from the state of New Jersey that gets a hearing next week. Read Streetsblog's coverage here. How did the rest of the media cover it?

  • NBC New York called the vote a "rubber stamp" — though support from the city and suburban reps was hardly a given.
  • The Times bizarrely wrote that "many people commute by car" into the city — despite ample data to the contrary. Significantly more people commute by transit — around 5-times as many, in fact — especially when compared to any other American city.
  • Among the descriptors The Post used to describe the toll: "back-breaking," "cash grab," "unfair," "controversial" and "detached from reality." The latter descriptor came from Upstate Democratic Congressman Pat Ryan.
  • The Daily News played it straight. The tabloid noted the absence of a few board members, including pricing booster-turned-critic John Samuelsen (who doesn't get a vote since he reps MTA workers).
  • Newsday, meanwhile, played up Nassau County rep David Mack's "no" vote and claim that the toll will spur "major companies leaving New York and going South.”
  • Coverage from Jose Martinez at The City made clear that the tolls are the brainchild of disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has since flip-flopped on the policy he personally set in motion five years ago.
  • Marketplace's alleged economics expert Kai Ryssdal missed the point completely, suggesting the new tolls will make driving into Manhattan "both miserable and expensive."

And in other other news...

  • Cheers and jeers from NYC electeds after MTA's official endorsement of $15 congestion pricing toll. (Julia Salazar via Twitter, Bob Holden via Twitter)
  • New Jersey environmental advocates propose congestion pricing lawsuit settlement that pumps some revenue back into Garden State mass transit. (NJ.com)
  • Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez batted away questions about his agency's failure to meet bike lane benchmarks he backed as City Council Transportation Chair. (NY1)
  • Parking spots supposedly reserved for curbside e-charging are being misused as... regular old parking spots. (Bloomberg)
  • DOT plans to extend its "shared street" "bike boulevard" Broadway design towards Union Square. (amNY)
  • Cops finally made arrests in two cyclist deaths from December and February. (Daily News)

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