The 2012 NYC Streetsies, Part 3

Welcome to the third and final installment of the 2012 NYC Streetsies. If you’re just joining us, read parts one and two first.

Note: The Streetsblog and Streetfilms year-end pledge drive ends at midnight, which means time is running out to enter to win a Specialized hybrid bike courtesy of Bicycle Habitat. Everyone who gives $50 or more by the end of the day will be in the running. On top of that, we’ve got some great bike-themed posters to give away to a couple of lucky donors who contribute today. Please give if you haven’t yet and help Streetsblog and Streetfilms deliver high-impact reporting in 2013.

With this post, we’re calling it a wrap for 2012. Have a great New Year, Streetsblog readers!

Elected Official of the Year

In one of the more encouraging trends for livable streets in NYC, it seems like the competition for this Streetsie gets a little more crowded each year. In the City Council, Brad Lander continued to be a strong voice for safer streets and better transit; Gale Brewer concluded 2012 with a definitive statement backing the extension of the Columbus Avenue bike lane; Tish James helped usher in some traffic-calming treatments on one-way streets in her district; and Julissa Ferreras welcomed the arrival of Corona’s new public plaza and a 20 mph zone. In the state legislature, State Senator Dan Squadron earned a commendation for leading the campaign for a safer Delancey Street.

The second runner-up is Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, who responded to the bike-ped crunch on the Pulaski Bridge with the sensible suggestion that a safe, protected lane for cyclists should be carved out of the roadway. It looks like the idea could have some legs. First runner-up is Council Member Daniel Dromm. Facing a barrage of withering coverage of the 37th Road plaza in Jackson Heights, Dromm stayed steady and brokered an agreement in which the merchants who’d been shredding the plaza in the press turned around and agreed to take ownership of it.

The winner and Streetsblog’s Elected Official of 2012 is Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. This was the year that the East Harlem representative’s persistent advocacy for safer streets in her district finally paid off, when the first protected bike lane above 96th Street was installed on Second Avenue. From speaking on the City Hall steps in 2010 to facing down the misinformation campaign against the project in 2011, Mark-Viverito was at the center of the effort to bring complete streets to East Harlem. This wasn’t the first time she’d taken a stand for livable streets, either. Mark-Viverito was the council’s clearest voice for congestion pricing in 2008, and she’s a big proponent of Bus Rapid Transit. If every City Council member was so willing to embrace change, progress would come to NYC streets a lot faster.

Worst Elected Official

There were a lot of contenders for this one too, but in the end it was clear who deserved the honor: City Council Member Inez Dickens. The appalling vehicular violence on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard — 11 deaths since 2006 — demanded action. But Dickens was nowhere to be found when DOT proposed a traffic-calming redesign for 35 blocks of the avenue. While neighborhood institutions like the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Abyssinian Development Corporation endorsed the changes, the local community board (with its many Dickens appointees) stonewalled. Dickens continued to say nothing and let the proposal wither on the vine.

DOT eventually went ahead with a scaled-back version, leaving many blocks untouched until next year at the earliest. With those safety upgrades still on the table and major bus enhancements potentially in the works for 125th Street, Harlem’s streets could start functioning much better for everybody pretty soon, but the neighborhood’s change-averse political leadership isn’t helping.

Activist of the Year

With so many New Yorkers in the trenches fighting for livable streets, picking one honoree for this award is never easy. So this year we’re picking two. The Bronx Helpers and Make Lafayette Safer share the 2012 Streetsie for Activist of the Year.

The Bronx Helpers rally for pedestrian safety. Photo: Transportation Alternatives

The middle school and high school students of the Bronx Helpers led an impressive, three-year organizing campaign to win safety fixes at the intersection of 172nd Street and Townsend in Mt. Eden. Then they topped that by applying for and receiving a 20 mph zone that covers 17 square blocks of the neighborhood. The next generation of street safety advocates already has an impressive track record.

Hilda Cohen and Ali Loxton formed Make Lafayette Safer to tame traffic on one-way Lafayette Street, where they regularly walk and bike with their kids. They gathered 1,600 signatures and took their petition to the local community board, leading to a DOT proposal for slower traffic light sequencing and sharrows. And that was just a taste of what these activists have in store, it seems — Cohen’s “Make Brooklyn Safer” project is as wide-ranging as it sounds.

Medal of Honor

At a February City Council hearing, the families and loved ones of Mathieu Lefevre, Dashane Santana, Rasha Shamoon, and Stefanos Tsigrimanis spoke movingly about NYPD’s willful and callous failure to thoroughly investigate traffic deaths. It was a courageous undertaking. The same can’t be said for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who didn’t show up to the hearing.

Best Constituent Message

Fed up with Council Member James Vacca’s fixation on bike enforcement, Vincent Ferrari recorded drivers repeatedly running a stop sign in his East Bronx neighborhood. “Because while you’re taking up issues of bike problems and bike this and bike that, the cars are running wild,” he said, addressing Vacca and the council. “Do something about it. It’s your job.”

Best Amateur Street Engineering

Ian Dutton built the Bergen Street guerrilla bike lane with a handful of plastic posts that Con-Ed left lying around. And it worked brilliantly…

Photo: Ian Dutton

Favorite Streetfilm

Nothing beats an epic tour of the world’s best bike infrastructure, and Elizabeth Press delivered with this 14-minute opus from the Netherlands:

Most Revolting Ad Campaign

Universal Pictures teamed up with Mazda to appropriate Dr. Seuss’s beloved Truffula tree steward, the Lorax, and turn him into a pitchman for the carmaker’s CX-5 crossover SUV. As if giving “The Certified Truffula Tree Seal of Approval” to an SUV wasn’t nauseating enough, the promotion also involved guys in Lorax costumes invading schools and baiting kids into getting their parents to a Mazda dealership.

Photo: National Education Association

Best Comedy

You’ve got to laugh at the paranoid delusional stylings of New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo, or else that vein in your forehead might burst.

Best Comedy (Editor’s Pick)

There’s something about the Park Slope “Inefficient Parking” Flyer that just tickles my funnybone. And unlike a Steve Cuozzo column, I’m really glad it exists.

Best Book

Jeff Speck’s Walkable City.

Lifetime Achievement

Danny Lieberman, 1959-2012.