Friday’s Headlines: Why Are Bike Lane Opponents Such Violent Hypocrites?

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This graffiti appeared on 13th Street near Avenue A on Thursday. It is a reference to parking spaces that were removed to provide more safety for cyclists. Photo: Chelsea Yamada.
This graffiti appeared on 13th Street near Avenue A on Thursday. It is a reference to parking spaces that were removed to provide more safety for cyclists.

Guess what? One day after a group of self-styled pro-parking, anti-bike lane activists in Greenwich Village demanded the removal of new bike lanes on 12th and 13th streets, the lanes were vandalized with glass and signs demanding the return of “our” parking, as Streetsblog reported. It’s the second time that someone from the pro-car crowd attacked cyclists. In November, someone spread thumb tacks in the 43rd Street protected lane in Sunnyside, Queens.

The twist on the latest attack, though, is that the 14th Street opponents are led by Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer who is also the political director of the New York Progressive Action Network, a group that says it fights so that “all people have the right to live in a safe, just, and sustainable world.” In what way does that mission include employing a man who fights for cars and parking and against the safety of cyclists, many of them delivery workers? (Schwartz’s 14th Street Coalition did not respond to our email last night).

It’s going to be a busy Friday: Transportation Alternatives has started a petition drive to retain the lanes, plus the 14th Street bus lanes. Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who said the other day that he would hear out the 14th Street NIMBYs, and Mayor de Blasio, who hasn’t committed to retaining improvements built by his own Department of Transportation, will have to make a statement. And the NYPD will have to convince cyclists that they are safe by investigating and arresting the criminal(s) who endangered lives in a politically motivated attack.

Meanwhile, in other news:

  • Aha, so NOW we know why Gov. Cuomo flipped the script on the L-train shutdown: The transit union is excited because more work will be done in-house. (Chief Leader) Meanwhile, now Amtrak wants a little bit of that special Cuomo tunnel-repair sauce. (NYDN)
  • Speaking of Cuomo, he brushed off his offensive — and telling — #MeToo joke from Wednesday night. (NY Post)
  • Gothamist weighed in on TransAlt’s campaign for a New York City bike mayor.
  • A former city DOT commissioner says in an op-ed that he supports congestion pricing, but only blames Uber and Lyft for all the congestion. (NYDN)
  • Mayor de Blasio doubled-down on his highly subsidized, lightly used ferry system, announcing in his State of the City address new routes from Coney Island and from Staten Island to the West Side of Manhattan. (NY Post, amNY)
  • The Harry Siegel- and Christina Greer-hosted FAQnyc podcast focused on transit this week, featuring Aaron Gordon and MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool. Great show. But one question: When is Streetsblog’s David Meyer — aka “Aspiring Podcast Guest David ‘Amazon Cuomo’ Meyer” — going to get his well-deserved moment in the podcast sun?
  • City Lab’s Sarah Holder recounted what happened when a Bird scooter had engine failure on her. A cautionary tale. (CityLab)
  • Brooklyn Brewery founder and safe streets advocate Steve Hindy backs congestion pricing in an op-ed. (Crain’s)
  • Politico’s Dana Rubinstein had an exclusive (for subscribers only) about how rich Brooklyn Heights residents have enlisted the Regional Plan Association and other major player$ in city politics to help save the fabled Promenade from temporary destruction while the city rebuilds the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
  • The Times looked at the MTA’s worthy plan to build four new stations in the Bronx along existing Amtrak tracks.
  • Chariot announced that it is ending its van service in several cities around the country, including here in New York City. What is Chariot? Exactly. (SF Examiner, the Verge)
  • And from our friends at Streetsblog USA: Traffic deaths in North Dakota declined to 104 in 2018, the lowest number in a decade. To put that in perspective, North Dakotans are dying on the roads at a rate five times higher than New York City. (Herald Courier)

Thursday’s Headlines: The State of the City is Strong Placard Abuse

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Mayor de Blasio will give his “State of the City” address today at City Hall, which is basically a bar mitzvah for the political establishment, minus your Bubbe slipping a $25 savings bond into your hand and whispering, “Don’t tell your mother I gave you so much.” Check back later to read our fact-check if Hizzoner talks about bikes, transit, Clear Streets, Select Bus Service or anything else related to livable streets. Maybe he’ll talk about placard abuse (don’t hold your breath).

For now, here’s the news:

  • Gothamist has quickly emerged as the definitive source for all that we don’t know about the now-scrubbed L-train shutdown, posting excellent, detailed articles by Christopher Robbins and Aaron Gordon on Wednesday that were both comprehensive, but were ultimately full of sound and fury signifying nothing. (Gothamist also published a tribute to the MTA’s Joralemon Street tunnel on its 111th birthday.) Crain’s also wrote about Andy Byford promising an independent review of the new Cuomo plan.
  • And while we were talking about MTA credibility, dozens of shiny new subway trains have been taken out of service with various “maladies,” Dan Rivoli reported in the Daily News.
  • Pay up, Andrew! Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez wants the city to be reimbursed for all the L-train prep work it did, the NY Post and Metro reported. But, hang on — Rodriguez told Streetsblog last week that he would fight with his council colleagues to keep all those street safety and transit improvements! And the Brooklyn Paper’s Julianne Cuba found an angle on Grand Street.
  • Rosa Goldensohn reported that private-carting and Morris Park Avenue street safety pariah Mark Gjonaj violated Council rules by steering money to a contractor who donated to his campaign. (Politico)
  • It’s always fun to read about the current fate of Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-political hermit Simcha Felder. Here’s Ken Lovett’s take. (NYDN)
  • By the way, the Trump shutdown is going to hurt the MTA if it keeps up. (amNY)
  • Mayor de Blasio said he won’t bite on Corey Johnson’s plan to seek city control of the subway system. Why not, Mr. Mayor? Too much work? (NY Post)
  • The Department of Transportation has widened the northern sidewalk on the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge and finally created a shared space for cyclists and pedestrians — which means the NYPD won’t be able to write ridiculous tickets to cyclists just trying to stay alive. Now, the Mets- and Chinese-food-loving team at Streetsblog has a further request: Fix the absurdly dangerous stretch of four-lane Roosevelt between Flushing and the Grand Central Parkway so that everyone is safe. (Facebook) The agency also took a well-deserved bow for a bus loading island on Cropsey Avenue. (@NYC_DOT via Twitter)
  • And finally, in case you needed a reason to really dislike Andrew Cuomo, here’s what you asked for — a flip comment about sexual harassment. (Jon Campbell via Twitter)

Wednesday’s Headlines: Democrats Take Control of Albany Edition

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It’s the Democrats’ day in Albany, as the legislative session finally begins — and lots of newcomers take their seats. Streetsblog wishes lots of luck — and congestion pricing! — to new senators Zellnor Myrie, Julia Salazar, Alessandra Biaggi, Robert Jackson, Jessica Ramos and Andrew Gounardes (plus new Assembly Members Catalina Cruz and Mathylde Frontus). We invite all lawmakers to a drink on Monday and Tuesday next week when the Streetsblog team travels to the State Capital for our annual, “Streetsblog Goes Up the River” trip.

Until then, here’s the news:

  • Outgoing Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi took a swipe at Council Member Ruben Diaz on her way out. He deserves particular scorn for a bill he proposed late last year to soften penalties for bad cab drivers. (NYDN)
  • CBS2 had shocking video of the Sanitation salt spreader that ran over and killed a Bronx pedestrian.
  • The Daily News website still holds stories so that its competitors don’t see them, an antiquated approach that only means that many readers (including our editor) sometimes miss the news of the day. So in case you also missed it, Gov. Cuomo told the paper’s editorial board that the L-train debacle shows that the MTA needs to be “blown up.” (NYDN) Later, Corey Johnson used the same language to argue in favor of city control of the subway. (Streetsblog)
  • In another needlessly embargoed Tuesday story, the paper’s Errol Louis called placard abuse “the gateway drug,” echoing reporting by Stephen Rex Brown earlier in the week.
  • The Times offered an L-train op-ed from a former head of NYC Transit. In the piece, Carmen Bianco said he was “concerned” about the shortcut plan promoted by Gov. Cuomo. “As president of New York City Transit, I would have found this new course of action completely unacceptable,” he said.
  • So much for that L-train shutdown documentary! (amNY)
  • Dutch treat? Not any more. Holland is cracking down on fare beaters, using methods that may someday jump the pond to the MTA. (City Lab)
  • Long live satire! Our friends at City Lab did an appreciation for a series of videos that then-unknown comic Kate McKinnon did for our own Clarence Eckerson Jr. at Streetfilms. The videos totally hold up.
  • In case you missed it, here’s a chance to really nerd out on how subway maps — in this case, an AirTrain map at JFK — are made. (Medium)
  • And, finally, the “de Blasio stop” has apparently gone international. (Devon Live)
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