The Streetsie Awards: Our Final End-of-Year Honors as We Say ‘Good Riddance’ to 2022
We’ve already looked at the best projects of the year, the worst disappointments of the year, the best Streetfilms, and even gave Mayor Adams a grade (it wasn’t a “solid B+). So now it’s time to close out this year’s Streetsie Awards with the remaining categories.
What better way to put a twist on the boring ol’ “year-in-review” filler that other websites churn out in the limbo between Christmas and New Year’s Day?
So let’s get to it:
Best ideas that should not have failed
The nominees are:
- State Sen. Brad Hoylman had a bill to abolish mandatory parking across the state. It never got out of committee
- State Sen. John Liu’s bill to lower the threshold for driving while intoxicated did not get out of committee either.
- Hoylman’s bill to require speed control systems on cars never got out of committee.
- State Sen. Andrew Gounardes’s bill that expanded speed cameras was unconscionably scaled back in ways that protected recidivist scofflaws.
- Gounardes’s bill requiring more driver’s ed also never got out of committee.
- And on the local front, Council Member Eric Bottcher’s bill that would require the city to do more about defaced plates also went nowhere.
And the winner is: Gounardes’s speed camera bill!
Worst ideas that thankfully failed
We could also call this the “Dodge the Bullet award,” because some of these bills and proposals had no business even being proposed. The nominees are:
- State Sen. Luis Sepulveda’s bill to “require the New York City Department of Transportation to provide electronic and written notification to the community board and local elected officials when there will be a new bicycle lane or rack constructed or removed” fortunately never made it out of committee.
- The city Department of Environmental Protection initially proposed giving polluters a bit of a break from idling tickets, but outrage from Streetsblog readers curtailed the plan.
- Council Member Bob Holden had hopped to reduce hours of bus lanes, but that proposal died quietly.
- For some reason, the Willoughby Avenue open street was removed (the mayor says he didn’t do it!), but fortunately, it was restored hours later.
And the winner is: Sepulveda’s boneheaded bill!
Biggest question marks for 2023
Obviously the year always ends with initiatives that just didn’t get over the finish line. But 2022 had a lot of them:
Open restaurants: The City Council had a hearing back in February about how it plans to codify and make permanent the life- and business-saving pandemic era outdoor dining program. Since then, we’ve heard very little — except for Speaker Adrienne Adams expressing her “personal opinion” that restaurant sheds should not be in the curbside lanes (even though that’s the only logical place for them). A bill is expected to pass next year, but all the behind-the-scenes negotiating is making everyone nervous.
DOT capacity: Earlier in the year, Mayor Adams pledged $904 billion so the Department of Transportation could carry out its mission of adding more bike and bus lanes. Yet by the end of the year, the agency admitted that it failed to reach Council-mandated benchmarks. So it’s fair to ask: Will things get better next year?
Free buses? After Washington, D.C. voted to make its buses free, more people in this far-bigger city start talking it up. We started writing about it in February, but by December, two state pols were not only echoing that talk, but devising a funding scheme to make it happen.
A grand Grand Army Plaza: At Streetsblog, we’ve been dreaming about getting cars out of Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn since our earliest blog posts made on Pagemaker. But in May, local politicians renewed the call, which the Department of Transportation actually took seriously. Whaddya know?
Will other agencies “get” it? We have looong bemoaned that the Health Department is absolutely absent on Vision Zero issues, but we are especially enervated by the Department of Parks and Recreation, which practically has cycling in its name, yet is consistently so hostile to cyclists (not providing detours during construction work on greenways is a dead tip-off). Maybe, just maybe, these so-called Vision Zero partners will get with the program?
Witch hunt? We are going to keep on eye on decreasingly progressive Community Board 7 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side because it spent much of 2022 claiming that board members who are also members of the Transportation Alternatives board had a conflict of interest. Reminder: board members are selected because of their expertise in certain areas. Just as an architect might make a good member of the landmarks committee, so might a cyclist be a perfectly well suited member of a transportation committee. Watch for fireworks next year — especially given new Chair Beverly Donohue’s white hot interview with the West Side Rag.
Head of the class? It’s unclear if Council leadership likes Council Member Lincoln Restler, but he has two bills that would make a huge difference for street safety. Will Speaker Adams or Transportation Committee Chair Selvena Brooks-Powers move Restler’s bills to end placards or his bill to allow for citizen enforcement against dangerously parked vehicles? We can only hope so.
Flat tire on Flatbush? One of the most ambitious proposals of the Adams administration is serious changes and bus-friendly redesign on Flatbush Avenue. But will it happen, or get bogged down in “community outreach”?
Induced demand (in a good way): We once asked a top state DOT official about giving one lane of the West Side Highway to cyclists so that the Hudson River Greenway could once again be functional instead of congested. He just laughed at us. But this year, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine got on board with the idea. Will it happen?
And the winner is: How should we know? This is the question mark category, after all.
Best campaigns we led
Criminal mischief: After lawyer Adam White was arrested and charged with “criminal mischief” for un-defacing a scofflaw’s covered plate, our editor Gersh Kuntzman went on a one-man criminal mischief spree to protest the arrest, but also to show up the lie of the mayor’s supposed crackdown on ghost cars. Kuntzman’s Twitter videos led to coverage in the Times, Gothamist and NY1 — and finally earned him more followers than his 21-year-old daughter.
No parking: No good government group worked harder than our parent company Open Plans to eliminate outdated city rules requiring a set number of off-street parking spaces in new developments. We covered the group’s efforts in January and March — and, sure enough, Mayor Adams included the possibility of reform in his City of Yes zoning proposal.
Lord of the realm: Speaking of Open Plans, the group’s other big initiative this year was to create some sort of office of public space management, which DOT initially opposed. Well, who woulda thunk it, but Mayor Adams got on board late in the year.
Safety first: We have been pointing out month after month that car-free streets are simply safer. Perhaps we deserve thanks for the city’s bold Paseo Park plan in Jackson Heights? We also reminded people that bike lanes are good for business, too!
Speed governors: Has any outlet spilled so many pixels to remind people that speed cameras work (which we reiterated here, too)? We did such a great job that Gov. Hochul referenced our coverage when she signed the speed camera expansion into law in Manhattan.
And the winner is: Streetsblog and Open Plans!
The annual ‘Wait, Wut?’ award
Here’s our annual head-scratching category, where we run down some of the craziest stuff we heard, witnessed, exposed or celebrated. And the nominees are:
- Mayor Adams claiming we have the best transit system, despite bus speeds that would make Bogota blush.
- Adams also said at one point this year that he wanted cops to ask straphangers, “How was your day?” Fortunately, that never happened.
- The governor’s gas tax holiday was just stupid (times two)
- Council Member Bob Holden blocked Citi Bike from expanding into his neighborhood because it would remove “parking” spaces (though how could a bike dock that provides parking for a dozen or so bikes be misconstrued as removing parking?)
- We don’t know if this is just dumb or pathological, but it’s definitely crazy: We caught Council members Joann Ariola, Inna Vernikov, Selvena Brooks-Powers and Joe Borelli (in France, no less) speeding. And even the top cop at Brooklyn’s 84th Precinct, Adeel Rana, and police union boss Pat Lynch have notorious lead feet.
- Now this was dumb: The MTA said it needs proof that cyclists want to use its bridges before it can make bike lanes for them. (Perhaps the agency will decide where to build new bridges based on where it sees people swimming across rivers?)
- They Might Be Giants guitarist John Flansburgh was injured after being hit by a drunk driver, yet called the crash an “accident.” No, that’s no accident, as anyone who read Jessie Singer’s hit book would know.
- Can you believe that the city blamed the parents of Baby Apolline for the 3-month-old girl’s death? That’s not just stupid — it’s outrageously insensitive.
And the winner is? Recklessly driving pols, of course.
Unsolved case of the year
Most vehicular crimes never get punished and almost no hit and runs get solved. But the case of the demolished war memorial in Park Slope remains the greatest mystery of all.
Remember the basics: In March, a driver racing down Prospect Park West lost control of his car at the traffic circle at 15th Street and slammed into a much loved war memorial. Initially, police said two passengers — a 23-year-old woman, who was taken to Lutheran Hospital in stable condition, and a man who declined medical attention — didn’t want to discuss what had happened. A third person — who police believe was the driver — fled as his BMW burned. Police could not initially connect the burnt wreckage to anyone — and still have not.
? “No one was arrested, cops said.”Looks like the two passengers referenced in the @StreetsblogNYC article got out of the car before police and fire arrived. Sharing this video with permission from a Park Slope neighbor who posted in a neighbor FB group. #BartelPritchardSquare https://t.co/ngpRwC4CWi pic.twitter.com/uYcyczVftX
— Kathy Park Price (@KathyParkPrice) March 6, 2022
We later learned that the car bore a fake Texas plate and had racked up 95 camera-issued speeding tickets, 25 camera-issued red-light tickets and 29 parking tickets in the prior 13 months — the ultimate “ghost car.”
Honorable mention: The identities of the Tyre Extinguishers.
Things we can’t stop remembering
Stuff that still sticks in our craw? The nominees are:
- That Harlem development that became a truck depot instead of much-needed housing.
- Met star Pete Alonso almost got killed in a car crash in Florida, but was back doing car ads before Max Scherzer’s first stint on the DL.
- Jesse Coburn did a deep dive investigation into why school streets are so unsafe for kids — and Department of Education officials were so keen on not talking about it, that they kicked him out of a press conference.
- Congestion pricing is taking agonizingly long, even though drivers should count their blessings that the toll isn’t being set at what it really should cost to drive into New York City: $80.
- Opponents of dense urban development want to use the state’s “green amendment” to block a high-rise project — even though the constitutional protection of air and water is supposed to stop sprawl and pollution, which dense urban development ameliorates.
- Our former Streetsblog board member Gabe Klein got a big job in the White House, but we still can’t get Joe Biden to take a bike ride with us!
And the winner is: Pete Alonso shilling for a culture that nearly killed him.