Thursday’s Headlines: Congestion Pricing Clusterf*ck Edition

Gridlock Alert day in Manhattan. (Funny, no one told the car drivers.) Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Gridlock Alert day in Manhattan. (Funny, no one told the car drivers.) Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Here it is, the day you’ve been clenching your fists in anticipation for: the opening of the 16-month congestion pricing public comment period. As our own Dave Colon pointed out the other day (and Guse of the NewsuhDavid Meyer of the Post and Stephen Nessen of WNYC did on Wednesday), not much is going to come from these public gripe sessions except a lot of public griping (and plenty of long-suffering New Yorkers begging for relief from cars).

Speaking of relief from cars, these hearings are coming at the right time, given that this week was a “Gridlock Alert” week (aka when the city DOT waves its white flag of surrender to the invasion of drivers rather than actually managing the roadways by restricting the access to the city’s core). We asked Mayor de Blasio about doing a better job with that … and he said he’d think about it.

In that context, it’ll be fun to hear suburban car commuters complain about paying a toll to ruin our neighborhoods, pollute our air and delay the rest of us. As Charles Komanoff points out in these pages today, congestion pricing isn’t a burden for drivers … it’s a bargain.

Meanwhile, Streetfilms auteur Clarence Eckerson Jr. sent us one of his favorite pro-toll videos, a classic featuring Doug Gordon. It’s worth rewatching here (or below):

In other news:

  • A package of City Council bills to help delivery workers will pass today and is expected to get the mayor’s signature (The City). We wrote about the package earlier this year, mostly focusing on a Justin Brannan bill that would allow delivery workers to turn down assignments by the app companies, which often make delivery workers travel vast distances or risk punishment. The ability to turn down unprofitable assignments could make roadways safer because long-suffering delivery workers would no longer have an incentive to travel at breakneck speeds.
  • The mayor said that the final phase of the four-phase Queens Boulevard project will be done a month early, which is nice (NYDN, amNY). Not to be the rat at the garden party, but the original plan called for the protected bike lane and traffic calming improvements to go way deeper into Queens. And since the fourth phase of the project was announced to Queens Community Board 6 in June, 2018, then delayed, there have been 543 crashes in just the stretch of Queens Boulevard between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike, injuring 18 cyclists, 38 pedestrians and 105 motorists, according to city stats.
  • A prominent former Port Authority Commissioner — once an ally of ex-Gov. Cuomo — now says Gov. Hochul should kill the LaGuardia AirTrain because it is “worse than an embarrassment. It’s a waste of precious resources. It’s a boondoggle.” (NY Post)
  • The overly large city fleet is at least gradually electrifying. (amNY)
  • And here’s sad news for anyone who appreciates a great New York trailblazer: Melvin Van Peebles is dead. (NY Times, NYDN)