Wednesday’s Headlines: ‘Survey Says!’ Edition
The big news yesterday was no news at all — thanks to some pollsters who don’t care about the most important issues in town.
Yesterday, NY1 and the polling firm Siena put out the results of one of the first big surveys of city residents’ attitudes about the Adams administration. The results had some predictable numbers — a majority (57 percent) feels Adams is doing a “fair” or “good” job during what remains the honeymoon period, and that majority was more or less the same in various subject topics such as crime or schools. And a majority of New Yorkers love the mayor’s “style.” (See the full survey by clicking here.)
But all of them more or less ignored the most depressing part of the survey: how few of the 43 questions addressed issues that are central to the very definition of quality of life, such as how we will rid New York City of the deleterious affects of car traffic, car noise and car carnage; the car domination of public space that deprives residents of basic joy; the chaos at the curb that causes traffic as it steals 12 Central Park’s worth of public space.
Instead, the poll only asked a few anodyne questions related to the movement for livable streets:
- Rate “the quality of public transportation”: 69 percent are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied.
- Rate “the ability to park a car”: 58 percent are “not very” or “not at all” satisfied (perhaps the question should have been phrased, “Do you think mayor has a responsibility to provide public, taxpayer-subsidized space for people to store their large purchases).
- Discuss how you’ll get into Manhattan if there’s a toll: 42 percent said they would drive less and 64 percent said they’d use transit more. (Hat tip to amNY for teasing out that angle.)
And amid the many questions about general violence, crime and feeling “safe,” there was none on road violence, vehicular crime or feeling safe when walking or biking. And that’s a big miss, because those questions are central to New Yorkers’ feeling of well-being. In fact, when we conducted our own survey last year with Data for Progress, we found huge support for major changes (see the slideshow):
Our friends at Open Plans noticed the absence, too:
A new @SienaResearch poll shows that 76% of NYers are satisfied with the quality of life in their neighborhood. That's great! But it's practically the only livability Q in there. Why aren't we asking NYers their thoughts on public space?!
— OpenPlans (@OpenPlans) June 7, 2022
So I wonder: why is road chaos — which disproportionately affects poor communities and communities of color — seen as such a fringe issue by a political establishment that is quick to tout its concern for those communities? And, if I may be so bold, why does the mainstream media reflexively recoil from deep investigations, like the soon-to-be-award-winning one conducted by our own Jesse Coburn, which highlighted the appalling danger of streets around city public schools are the very hours when kids are arriving and leaving?
A story like that should have caused parents to grab pitchforks and seek out Department of Education and Department of Transportation officials to run out of town for failing to keep children safe (25 have been killed in a decade). Yet we can’t even get our colleagues in the media to give us a signal boost — and we can’t even get the chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee to even issue a bland statement in support of kids over cars.
Now, of course, not everyone is ignoring Coburn’s vivid exposé: today at 3 p.m., the city Department of Transportation will announce 100 street improvement projects — and most are said to be around schools and especially targeted to the communities that are disproportionately affected by road violence, as Coburn reported. We call that “Streetsblog Gets Action.”
OK, off the soapbox for now. Here’s the roundup of yesterday’s news:
- Speaking of how safe people are in New York, Bloomberg proved that we’re pretty damn safe.
- Speaking of the safe streets movement, the Daily News followed our story about the Riders Alliance fight for better buses.
- Kevin Duggan of amNY had a nifty scoop: The MTA will end its weekly testing requirement for the 23 percent of workers who are unvaccinated, which likely will mean a lot more Covid in the transit system.
- Hat tip to the Daily News editorial board for decrying placard abuse. The opinionmeisters praised Council Member Lincoln Restler’s anti-placard bill, but also had a nifty suggestion we’ve pitched before: “Another useful fix would be if the IRS would classify the placards as a tangible benefit equal to taxable income. Free parking should remain only on the corner of the Monopoly board.”
- Tribeca residents are the latest to discover that Citi Bike is so popular that it’s not working properly anymore in some areas. (Tribeca Citizen)
- Wow, it really is impossible to afford an apartment in New York City right now. (NY Post)
- Democratic candidates for governor had a debate last night (NY Post, NY Times, Gothamist), and, apparently, Gov. Hochul pulled back from pushing congestion pricing:
— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) June 7, 2022
But the best moment came after, when Post reporter Nolan Hicks threw down a gauntlet right in front of our reporters! Have your seconds call my seconds, Hicks. And if my seconds aren’t there, have them go directly to my thirds. Needless to say, we’ll be calling Albany today to follow up on Hicks’s
taunt exhortation and to clarify Gov. Hochul’s position.
Hochul says the feds have put some "hurdles" on congestion pricing.
Transit reporters start your engines!
— City Nolan (get your ?!!!) (@ndhapple) June 7, 2022
- Meanwhile, in a GOP debate, Lee Zeldin complained about congestion pricing. (PoliticsNY)