Monday’s Headlines: The Face of the All-Powerful Bike Lobby Edition

The Lower East Side rogues gallery?
The Lower East Side rogues gallery?

Who knew that our humble old man editor was the public face of the “bike lobby” in this city? We certainly didn’t, until one of our hockey pals sent us an anti-outdoor dining video created by a group called “Clean Up CB3,” which is claiming that the neighborhood represented by Council Member Carlina Rivera has become a “shantytown” thanks to the city’s Covid-era effort to help the restaurant industry.

How does our editor figure into all of this? Well, his shining visage ugly mug shows up early in the video as part of a rogues gallery of people who have ruined the Lower East Side — villains that include “the developers,” the “nightlife mayor,” the “NYC Hospitality Alliance” and a “CB3 appointed bar owner,” whatever that means. Our editor portrait featured the derisive label, “Trans-Alt-Bike lobby.” (Point of information: Gersh Kuntzman is neither an employee of Transportation Alternatives, nor a lobbyist. For one thing, lobbyists make a lot more money than journalists.)

In any event, the issue of outdoor dining is not going away, given that the City Council will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the zoning change that will codify the rules about the structures, their design, how much restaurants will have to pay to use the public curbside space, etc.

Opponents of open dining held a rally in Washington Square Park on Saturday to complain about the “sheds” (Village Sun), and like all people who care about public space in this city, we believe there should be a full debate about the best use of our curbside space — and how it should be priced to maximize public benefit (and not, indeed, filled with debris, as amNY reported). But we remain troubled that opponents of dining areas never seem to look in the mirror and realize that free private vehicle storage is clearly the worst use of public space. At least restaurants employ people, bring tourist money and add lots of money to the tax rolls. People parking for free on the street only take public space, “giving” only pollution, road violence and noise to our commonweal. At the very least, they should be charged handsomely for that space.

In other news:

  • It was a weekend of carnage on the roadways, with the most horrific story being 99-year-old Holocaust survivor Jack Mikulincer killed by a driver as he rode on his motorized wheelchair (with a high-vis vest!) in Manhattan Beach onDN wood on Holocaust survivor Saturday. But neither the NYDN (right) nor the NY Post paid much attention to the culpability of the driver. (amNY did a roundup that included several fatal crashes that killed only drivers and occupants of cars.)
  • Even an NYPD officer on a motorcycle was injured by a car driver in a scary crash captured on video on Saturday. (NY Post)
  • MTA CEO Janno Lieber wrote about transit equity in an amNY op-ed.
  • The Daily News followed up on our story last week about e-bike rider April Reign who was killed by a school bus driver. Predictably, the News wasn’t interested at all in the details of the killing or the fact that the bus driver was not charged. But it did mention that Reign’s sister, Wendy Feliciano, “plans to bring the issue of cyclist and pedestrian safety to City Council members.” Here’s hoping they listen.
  • Former Mayor de Blasio really is thinking of running for Congress. (NY Post)
  • The city has given Colin Jost and Pete Davidson more time to move their ferry (perhaps so they can turn it into the dinner theater as we recommended two weeks ago?) (NY Post)
  • Early voting has opened in two special elections to replace Assembly Members Charles Barron and Carmen de la Rosa, who are now in the City Council. (Gothamist)
  • In case you missed it, usually reasonable Times columnist Farhad Manjoo kinda went overboard in falling in love with a huge, $109,000 Cadillac Escalade that the company rented him (at a cheap rate, no doubt) for two weeks. “I have never been in a car that makes being stuck in a car as comfortable and effortless as this one,” he wrote. “If most cars become as comfortable, convenient and luxurious as this one — while growing ever larger — what hope is there that we might ever reduce our dependence on these monstrous machines? Also, should I plan to lease, or to buy?” Ugh.
  • Fortunately, there was a counterpoint, of sorts, to Manjoo and the Times’s advertorial for Cadillac: The latest episode of the War on Cars podcast features an interview with a Vice writer who reviewed the same massive Caddy — from the perspective of the pedestrians it will likely kill.
  • If you’re in Hamilton Heights, check out Montefiore Square, which the city just renovated into a much nicer plaza (thanks to turning a half-block into a pedestrian zone) (Patch). It’s the exact kind of project that Fort Greene residents want for Gates Avenue, because it will prevent crashes like the one that killed 3-month-old Apolline Mong-Guillemin there last year.