Monday’s Headlines: Post Haste Edition

Funny, we don't see any bike lane getting in the way of this FDNY truck.
Funny, we don't see any bike lane getting in the way of this FDNY truck.

Despite criticism, we often link to New York Post articles in our daily headlines digest because on any given day, the paper transcends its toxic politics to provide good reporting on the city.

Not so over the weekend. In a classic example of putting know-nothing “gut feelings” over actual reporting, the Post published a scandalously thin story claiming that street-safety improvements have lowered the response times of emergency vehicles. The entire story was built on a single fact: “From January to mid-September, it took fire trucks an average of 5 minutes and 3 seconds to reach a fire — seven seconds longer than during the same period last year.” (Never mind that January to mid-September of 2021 still included part of the pandemic when there were fewer drivers on the road — that wasn’t pointed out in the Post piece).

Now, you could attribute the seven-second average increase in response times to many factors — not the least of which is that our post-pandemic “recovery” has been accompanied by a surge in driving and car ownership. Even as subways and bus use remains 30 to 40 percent lower than it was before the pandemic, driving is well above the pre-pandemic numbers, as MTA bridge counts show.

But the Post aimed its ire at “the Big Apple’s controversial street-closure and outdoor-dining programs.” The paper also allowed “critics” to blame the delays on “new bike lines, road barriers and other anti-car policies made under former Mayor de Blasio’s ‘Vision Zero’ initiative.”

No evidence was provided, save for a discredited video from Jackson Heights’s 34th Avenue open street that doesn’t even depict what the Post says it does (it’s not clear if the paper’s reporters even watched the video or simply quoted the people pushing it as “evidence” of a war on cars and on heroic EMTs).

One small measure of balance came from Queens Council Member Joann Ariola — who chairs the fire and emergency management committee. While condemning “open street programs, bike lanes and traffic islands” as a hindrance for emergency vehicles,” she also pointed out what the Post reporters didn’t even bother to consider: “Private and commercial vehicles are, often times, illegally parked in those areas,” creating situations that cause “the log jam.”

We would submit that a more accurate assessment of why fire vehicles are stuck in traffic would start with the cause of the traffic: driving. We’ll be following up this week.

In other news:

  • First, the light stuff: The marathon was awesome as always, if a little hot. (amNY)
  • The big news over the weekend was another fire apparently sparked by e-bike over-charging in a Manhattan high rise. (NYDN, NY Times)
  • Here’s a great get in Hell Gate: The Brooklyn director of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit was driving a Jeep with illegal license plate covers. Yes, the ghost car call was coming from inside the house. But then again, you already knew that people in power do whatever they want, as this tweet showed:

  • The Times got in on the coverage of those massive 5G cell towers that are stealing space from long-oppressed pedestrians. The story was solid, but we couldn’t help remembering that there’s a reason pedestrians get so angry when people give away their space for garbage or car storage. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but we can’t wait ’til the Times metro section hears about cars.
  • Truqit? Fuck it, says a Manhattan community board when briefed on a “truck share” system. (Upper East Site)
  • The Daily News covered last week’s launch of the annual Dusk and Darkness campaign to get drivers to pay attention when they’re behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound death machine.
  • A hit-and-run van driver killed a senior citizen in Brooklyn. (NYDN, NY Post)
  • Here’s a time-lapse video of the DOT and volunteers making a street safe:

  • A driver was seriously injured when another driver slammed his Jeep Cherokee into him, the Post reported. Oddly, though the Tabloid of Record had pictures, it left out basic reporting: The driver of the Jeep has gotten three camera-issued speeding tickets in just three weeks. We still don’t understand why coverage of car crashes don’t refer to the atrocious driving records on the cars involved.
  • In case you missed it, the Times had a story about subway crime that basically nullified itself in one sentence: “While the chance of falling victim to violent crime on the subway remains low, according to a Times analysis, the topic provides fodder for television advertisements and campaign debates.” In other words, it’s not as big an issue as demagogues would have you believe, but we’ll play along anyway.
  • And, finally, if all your co-workers are calling in sick today, it’s probably because Powerball fever is raging (NY Times), despite how terrible the lottery is for our nation (New Yorker).