A Round and a Roundy: Anti-Open Streets Crusaders Have their Heads in the Sand, Asses

Cartoon: Bill Roundy
Cartoon: Bill Roundy
Editorial cartoon of Bill Roundy by editorial cartoonist Bill Roundy.
Editorial cartoon of Bill Roundy by editorial cartoonist Bill Roundy.

Our national treasure cartoonist obviously has his ear to the ground. Observing last week’s rally against greenspace and street safety held by some opponents of the 34th Avenue open street, cartoonist Bill Roundy noticed that many of the foes of livable streets kept saying that “no one” consulted them when the city decided to permanently set aside the roadway space for people instead of the movement of cars (which get literally every other street in town).

“No one asked me!” is just code for ___________ (fill in the blank):

  • I’m too busy to care.
  • I’m just an angry person who doesn’t like anything the city does, even if it benefits me and my neighbors (grr).
  • I don’t need open space because I have a private garden in my building/vacation home upstate.
  • I don’t engage with the normal political and policy processes in this city, so even though everyone asked me, I wasn’t paying attention so I feel that no one asked me.

In the case of the 34th Avenue open street, the Department of Transportation (represented by Round’s orange DOT dot) did, in fact, ask a lot of people over many months, including visioning sessions, online surveys and at least two public meetings on the open street at which DOT officials were resoundingly berated for an hour.

Not to mention that the city council introduced its open streets bill more than a year ago. The bill was debated for weeks before the mayor instituted its provisions to create his own open streets program, which led to more Council legislation that the mayor signed earlier this month.

If you weren’t aware of the city’s open streets program — and how popular car-free roadways are to park-starved urban residents — you either spent the pandemic under a rock (or at a vacation home).

But people who care about Jackson Heights — like Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and urban planner Donovan Finn and Council candidate Shekar Krishnan, Council Member Danny Dromm, and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz — have all shown their support for the concept of a linear park from Junction Boulevard to 69th Street.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself “34th Avenue Open Streets Compromise” continues to campaign for reduced hours, days and length of the open street that the city calls “the gold standard,” which is why Roundy did this earlier cartoon:

Cartoon: Bill Roundy
Cartoon: Bill Roundy

There’s no compromise with the fake “compromise” group. But we’ll see what DOT does in June when it is expected to reveal its plans to the community board.