Friday’s Headlines: Popularity Contest Edition

Why is the road redesign and bus improvement processes a popularity contest? Graphic: Streetsblog Photoshop Team
Why is the road redesign and bus improvement processes a popularity contest? Graphic: Streetsblog Photoshop Team

Here’s what we really hate: a defeatist attitude that empowers drivers and maintains car culture.

Here’s what we mean: At a “Greenways Summit” on Thursday in Manhattan, Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez talked about how many more bike lanes and safe roadway redesigns he hoped to achieve in his time in office, specifically a protected bus lane on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx.

But here’s how he said it: “We’re not here to be popular, we’re here to do the right thing.”

Let’s unpack that for a second: Greenways, bike lanes, road redesigns, speed cameras, speed limit reductions, and ticketing reckless drivers all make New Yorkers safer. That’s not even arguable.

So why are such efforts “unpopular”? And, more important, why do elected or appointed officials feel the need to discuss them in the context of appeasing the minority of residents who oppose safety measures, for whatever personal reasons?

Is it out of some desire to look courageous? Or to appear heroic for doing their jobs against opposition? More likely it is simply to avoid making the fundamental change we all know we need to make so that they can later say, “Look, we did some of what we hoped to do, and would have done more, but, well, you know how unpopular these things are…”

It’s just a frustrating way to go about saving lives.

Meanwhile, new Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue continues to slow-walk the imperative to allow legal pedal-assist electric bikes on park greenways, as Dave Colon reported from the same summit, at which the Adams administration revealed it will build a few more miles of greenways. (amNY)

In other news:

  • Once again, the Daily News wrote about a crash — in this case, a killing of an NYU student by a drunk driver (which we covered, too) — and didn’t bother to run the plate on the Camaro whose driver killed Raife Milligan. We did: This reckless driver had four speeding tickets since Dec. 10, more than enough evidence that he should have been gotten off the roads.
  • Our friends at the new Hell Gate had another good story. Christopher Robbins asked the question we’ve all been wondering: Wasn’t Tish James supposed to investigate racist policing? The site also broke THE big story yesterday — about how kids these days just say “West Village” instead of “the West Village.” The kids these days…
  • A cyclist was killed by a garbage truck driver in Borough Park. (NYDN, Streetsblog, amNY, Gothamist)
  • An off-duty cop was seriously injured when he lost control of his electric bike, cops said. (NY Post)
  • Brooklyn Heights on a high — the Clark Street station has reopened after six months of elevator repairs. (NYDN)
  • Cops blowing their overtime budget? No way! (NY Post)
  • Queens Council Member Shekar Krishnan’s first bill passed on Thursday, one that requires the Parks Department to inspect parks and repair those that don’t make the grade. (Politics NY)
  • Who knew about the City Island monorail? (Gothamist)
  • Subway graffiti is back, baby. (The City)