Friday’s Headlines: End of Days Edition

Mayor de Blasio as he signed the state of emergency declaration on Thursday. Photo: Mayor's office
Mayor de Blasio as he signed the state of emergency declaration on Thursday. Photo: Mayor's office

It’s officially a state (well, more accurately, a city) of emergency.

Mayor de Blasio signed that declaration at a press conference yesterday (NY Post). What’s it mean? Basically whatever the mayor wants. “It allows a much deeper intervention” into public life, he said, including, but not limited to, closing transit systems, banning large gatherings, shuttering theaters and even banning cars from city streets to protect the booming numbers of cyclists flooding the streets.

Will he do that last one? Hahahaha, this is Bill “I Get Driven to a Gym” de Blasio we’re talking about. People may think the livable streets crowd is minimizing the threat of coronavirus, but, in fact, we’re as serious as a heart attack: the double-digit-percentage declines in car traffic and subway and bus ridership (NYDN, NY Post), coupled with the increase in cycling and shutdowns of so many cultural institutions, presents the mayor with a unique opportunity to cement changes in commuting behavior now, before the crisis fades and everyone goes back to his or her bad habits.

That means emergency protected routes. That means more space on the Queensboro Bridge. That means massive enforcement of drivers blocking bike lanes — all the things that if put in place now, could put us on more sustainable  ground once the virus is finally conquered (and it will be, right?). (In addition to coverage, Streetsblog’s song parody team cranked out a new ditty, this one mocking the mayor’s lack of ambition on transportation.)

But for now, we’ll all deal in our own way with the fin-de-siècle, post-9/11, “Cabaret” feel of the city these days. Let’s start with today’s news roundup:

  • The Daily News got a second-day story on the deal that allowed the killer driver of Victoria Nicodemus to walk without jail time.
  • The Post and the Wall Street Journal followed our exclusive on the Department of Sanitation’s new containerized garbage pilot.
  • In case you missed it, a very good bill by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes — which would make the state DMV teach newbie drivers better about cyclists and pedestrians — has passed the Senate and now heads to the Assembly for an expected passage. (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Corey Johnson’s big climate change agenda — the subject of his corona-scraped State of the City address — got a little ink (NY Post). The Times focused on Johnson’s proposal for a real — and full — composting program.
  • Here’s an insight into why NJ Transit is struggling — it’s trains are old! (NY Times)
  • NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg doubled down on her support for Gov. Cuomo’s expensive and ill-advised plan to add 500 cops to the subway system. (amNY)
  • Wow, the Red Hook Star Review is no fan of the BQX streetcar! (Trigger warning: This ain’t subtle at all!)
  • And in one last coronavirus note, this shit just got real in a major culinary way. (NY Post)