Thursday’s Headlines: More Windshield Perspective from the Times Edition

The Times Metro section once again offered a pro-car take on a serious public issue — the end of free on-street storage of privately owned vehicles in the public right-of-way — making us wonder anew who Editor Clifford Levy thinks is reading his paper (reminder: the majority of New York households do not have a car).

It’s hard to fathom the usually reliable Jim Barron’s piece, which began, “For drivers, finding a parking spot in New York City is already hard enough. There are so many regulations. So many hydrants. So many loading zones. And so few empty spaces. Now a local transportation committee in Manhattan has broached the unthinkable: eliminating free street parking altogether.”

It also described the 14th Street busway — long a bete noir of Levy’s minions — as “radical” (even though car-free transitways are fairly standard all over the globe).

But what was even worse was the Gray Lady’s publication of outright lies: “There are fewer parking spaces now than there have ever been,” Milton Ingerman, who was identified as “a retired physician who parks on the street on the Upper West Side,” told the paper.

This is simply untrue: Free overnight parking did not even exist until the 1950s — so clearly there were far fewer free places to store a car in the good old days. How does this stuff get past an editor? In fairness, Barron’s piece did offer “the other side” of the story — but its tone continually suggested that car drivers are completely reasonable for wanting to hold onto the ability to put their private belongings along virtually every curb in the city for free so pedestrians have to compete with garbage bags every afternoon and cyclists can be squeezed into the doorzone. (The story did not mention that road deaths are up significantly this year.)

After the Times story came out, Mayor de Blasio was asked about the proposal at his weekly media gaggle and he seemed to suggest that free on-street car storage is some kind of birthright, which prompted lots of people (including Times architecture writer Michael Kimmelman) to lose their shit. Not to defend the mayor (like, ever), but in fairness, we don’t think he understood the question when it was posed by Politico’s Erin Durkin and later by Gloria Pazmino of NY1; he seemed to think the proposal by members of Manhattan Community Board 7 calls for eliminating all parking, not merely charging for it (Streetsblog).

And from the assignment desk (how timely!): Rachel Weinberger — we call her the East Coast Donald Shoup! — will be teaching Community Board 6 in Brooklyn about the issue with a primer to the Transportation Committee at 6:30 p.m.

What a day. Here’s the rest of the news:

  • If you smell something, please don’t say something. (NYDN)
  • Several outlets covered Veronica Vanterpool’s resignation from the MTA Board. The News focused on her firebrandedness.
  • Former Streetsblogger David Meyer has finally brought some sanity to the Post’s drumbeat for more cops in the subway, pointing out that cops run up big overtime bills. (NY Post)
  • The reform of the rogue private carting industry is now law — and Mayor de Blasio celebrated with an old-fashioned bill signing. (NY Post)
  • Camera enforcement on the 14th Street busway begins today (NY Post)! And the service is so good, the MTA may add more (amNY)!
  • Sorry, but there’s more to the story about the pedestrian struck and killed after he fainted on Eighth Avenue. The Post shared Streetsblog’s skepticism.

Update: An earlier version of this story overstated this year’s death toll, based on earlier statistics. Updated statistics provided by the DOT show that total road fatalities are up 8.4 percent this year.