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Tuesday’s Headlines: The Phantom Menace Edition

The car-loving New York Times does it again. Plus other news.

The Streetsblog Photoshop Desk|

This is fair use, George.

Perhaps we should be gratified.

After all, we've been covering the streets (hence our name) since the mid-aughts, so it was exciting to see the New York Times finally publish the first installment of "Street Wars," its weekly coverage of just how dangerous the roadways have become for everyone outside of a car.

Except ... it's probably not going to be about that at all.

The very opening of the story demonstrate that the paper of record is operating under a false premise as well as a misunderstanding of history: "Now more than ever," stated the subhead on the story, "the city is being forced to rethink how its thoroughfares are used."

Now more than ever? What about when cars were invented? Or when Robert Moses rammed highways through multiple neighborhoods? Or when overnight parking was legalized? That's a city rethinking how its thoroughfares were used (sorry, make that abused)!

From there, the Dodai Stewart-penned piece presents itself not only as a newcomer to the city that lends the paper its name, but also a poorly read one:

"Could congestion pricing actually reduce the number of cars in the city to a dramatic extent? If so, what would take their place? ... Could a proposal to ban parking close to intersections improve public safety? Will the Sanitation Department’s garbage containerization plan make sidewalks cleaner? Is there a way to keep package delivery trucks from blocking the streets?"

Um, have you been reading Streetsblog (and Hell Gate, and Gothamist, and the Post and amNY and Patch and even The Sunnyside Post) these last few years? Those questions have been asked and answered a thousand times by all those outlets. Yes, the Times may fantasize that such questions are the subject of "debates raging in neighborhoods," but that doesn't mean the issues haven't long ago been settled by everyone but a few car-loving hangers-on.

We look forward to more installments — ones that we hope will dig a bit deeper than the Times's surface level understanding of our streetscape.

We weren't the only people to be underwhelmed by the effort:

In other news:

  • A much-loved Black-owned restaurant on Vanderbilt Avenue claims that the open street operating on only a few weekends per year is destroying her business. But the story's one commenter puts a lot of Marie Mitchell's complaint in perspective. Still, it's worth noting that a simple thing like lots of additional foot traffic, greater safety, and room for kids to play can be perceived as hostile by older residents who may resent seeing a neighborhood change over time. Doesn't make them right, but their perspective is still valid. (BK Reader)
  • Yes, we are still widening highways, despite our stated climate goals. (NYDN)
  • Speaking of highways, on Memorial Day, people will be using them in record numbers — though that carmageddon could be mitigated if traveling with a family on Amtrak or even our MTA commuter lines wasn't so prohibitively expensive. (NY Post)
  • Are you guys noticing all the real fake plates out there? Redditers are.
  • Council Member Lincoln Restler chatted with NY1 about McGuinness Boulevard.
  • Crain's offered a Sammy's Law explainer.
  • And, finally, no one seems to care that a national monument is desecrated every day in Lower Manhattan:

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