Monday’s Headlines: The Mayor’s Sham Surface Transportation Panel Edition
The jersey barrier of silence is starting to crumble.
Over the weekend, Dan Rivoli of NY1 finally got what all of us have been eagerly courting: a member of the mayor’s Surface Transportation Committee to finally crack and reveal — on the record — how frustrated members of the panel are that so few of its recommendations are being implemented quickly, while the pandemic (which was the stated reason for the panel) continues.
We’d heard from several members of the panel who wanted to only whisper, but Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum really called out the mayor for receiving the panel’s ideas and then burying them “somewhere far beneath City Hall.”
“We came up with what I felt were good progressive recommendations but then one day, mid-June, everything went silent,” Plum told the news channel, referring to creating HOV lanes, reducing the number of placards, creating more loading zones for package delivery trucks and cabs, eliminating the NYPD’s role in traffic and parking enforcement, and installing 40 miles of bus lanes this summer.
.Plum told Rivoli that panel members followed up with City Hall, but heard only “crickets.”
“For me, that really does fall squarely and nearly entirely on the mayor himself and his most senior leaders,” she said.
When we heard the same thing earlier last month, we reached out to City Hall spokesman Mitch Schwartz and begged him to get ahead of the story.
“Don’t believe a formal report was ever expected from the panel,” he said. “But, of course, we’ve met with them and we’re talking through their ideas. I don’t have more than that for you at the moment.”
Perhaps the mayor and his press team will be more talkative today…
In other news:
- Just like in New York, Chicago cops are terrorizing protesters, using bikes as weapons — but Trek Bikes still resists calls for it to divest from police. (Twitter)
- We also noticed Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s post-budget unannounced summer vacation, but shrugged it off. Gotham Gazette looked a bit deeper.
- It was nice to see Friend of Streetsblog Liam Quigley get some attention from the Post for his one-man scofflaw-fixing crusade. The story by David Meyer also had a great tabloid lede.
- FDNY firefighters trashed a car whose owner parked it in front of a hydrant that suddenly became incredibly important owing to a burning building nearby. The Post story, while hilarious, is missing one detail: is this what firefighters are trained to do when they find an illegally parked car?
- The increase in car theft continues. (City Limits)
- Guse of the Newsuh had a great story over the weekend about the disaster that befell a truck driver because the MTA didn’t close the Verrazzano Bridge quickly enough during Superstorm Isiais. Then he mixed it up on Twitter with NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg in a classic battle of the privileged — which Zohran Mamdani called out beautifully.
- Here’s one NY Post story about the collapse of New York City that does ring true: city parks are in terrible condition right now. (Though one park, Freshkills, is looking great, says the Times.)
- American roads are getting more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, with deaths up from 6,300 in 2010 to 8,800 last year, even as cars themselves are safer than ever — if you’re inside one. Technology that can fix that, but the government won’t mandate it (City Lab). We’re sure former Streetsblog USA Editor Angie Schmitt will be all over that in her forthcoming book, “Right of Way.” (Order now from Island Press.)
- The rich get richer … and more Citi Bikes. (Brooklyn Eagle)
- In case you missed it, Comptroller Scott Stringer upbraided the Department of Transportation for doing such a terrible job of replacing damaged or missing street name signs, a basic agency function.
- Our unmatched coverage of the NYPD’s ob$$e$$ion with protecting all of the city’s Columbus statues was followed by the Norwood News.
- Our investigation into the NYPD’s fake placard crackdown also got a nice mention in the Brooklyn Paper’s coverage of Council Member Steve Levin’s fight against scofflaws with badges.
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted the Police Benevolent Association’s endorsement of President Trump — and she won’t be the only one to point out that if rank-and-file NYPD cops support this president, they are even more out of step with the majority of the residents they are sworn to protect and serve than we thought. (NY Post)
- Oh and in case you missed it, a Brooklyn Assembly Member compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the KKK. (Brooklyn Paper)
- Finally, we were proud of two Transportation Alternatives volunteer efforts in Queens over the weekend. First, Streetsblog participated on Saturday in a petition drive to make the best open street in the city — on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights — a permanent amenity for the neighborhood (Radlerkoenigin on Twitter). And on Sunday, volunteers hung ribbons on the Queensboro Bridge to remind DOT that cyclists and pedestrians need more space on the crowded span (below):
The rain did not stop cyclists & pedestrians from supporting the campaign for #MoreSpaceQBB #QBBRibbons It’s time to open the south outer roadway to cyclists to improve safety for people pedaling, walking & running over the bridge! #bikeQNS #bikeNYC ???? pic.twitter.com/at6u5aIvvz
— Julie Huntington (@jahuntington) August 16, 2020