Monday’s Headlines: LeBron James Edition

The Streetsblog Photoshop Desk at work again.
The Streetsblog Photoshop Desk at work again.

Mayor Adams announced some seriously good news in Midtown on Sunday — that construction of two new plazas, shared blocks, and a two-way “bike boulevard” on Broadway between W. 25th and W. 32nd streets. Once this phase of the so-called Broadway Vision plan is completed, there will be car-free plazas or 5 mile-per-hour shared streets on all blocks of Broadway between 21st and 34th streets.

We’ve written a lot about the Broadway plan, which dates back long before the Adams administation, but the mayor said all the right things yesterday, even when a TV reporter accused him of throwing “a wrench” into Midtown because the changes will largely inconvenience car drivers. Wisely, the mayor reframed the question.

“There’s a culture shift that must take place in this city,” he said. “When you look at the number of drivers and pedestrians, the people who walk clearly outnumber the people who drive. And I am encouraging people to get out of their cars. … There will be some inconvenience for those who are used to being in a car all by themselves. We want you to get out of the car and enjoy the diversity of our city. This is a Mikey moment. Once you try it, you’ll like it.” (The Post threw shade on the mayor for saying … the exact right thing. Meanwhile, amNY and Gothamist played it straight.)

As good as the plan is, we’re not entirely sure that it was worth all the hyperbole thrown around at yesterday’s presser — where both the mayor and James Mettham, president, Flatiron NoMad Partnership, referred to City Hall’s new “chief public realm officer” Ya-Ting Liu as “the LeBron James of public space,”

As much as we respect and admire Liu, we’re not sure she’s the LeBron James of anything just yet — not the least of which because when Mayor Adams gave her the new job, his own press release said that Liu would continue in her full-time job as “chief strategy officer to Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi … concurrently with chief public realm officer.”

That would have been like if LeBron James had been such a good shooting guard as a rook that he also had to replace Zydrunas Ilgauskas at center. And then turned Superior Avenue into a pedestrianized strip.

Then again, it would take a true LeBron James of Public Space to do what really needs to be done on Broadway: pedestrianize some of the cross streets, too, like they do in Europe.

In other news:

  • Sunday’s anti-transit funding rally was supposed to feature a narrow range of elected officials who oppose congestion pricing, but it ended up really fizzling out (which its what happens when only Council Member Ari Kagen and Assembly Member David Weprin show up and are drowned out by far more pro-transit-funding advocates). Christopher Robbins rendered it all in a nice thread.

  • We are very sad about the death of Ricardo Antonio Sicajau, who was killed because a trucker left his rig in the Kent Avenue bike lane (an all-too-common occurrence). But the Daily News was wrong — he was not riding an e-bike, but a moped. And the distinction matters because the media and such leaders as FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh are constantly seeking to demonize “e-bikes” as dangerous, exotic and ungovernable (like when the Daily News speaks of “exploding e-bike batteries” instead of referring simply to the batteries, which power an increasing array of devices. Not all e-bike batteries explode. Indeed, Citi Bike’s fleet of 4,000 e-bikes have never had an incident. Reminder: it’s not the bike, it’s the battery — and how the battery is handled is the key.
  • Speaking of which, if you missed Charles Komanoff’s piece about how to solve the battery problem, you really need to review it here.
  • Check out the new subway cars — in the wild. (The City, NYDN)
  • It was a weekend of carnage (again) — and amNY rounded it all up.
  • An off-duty cop was arrested (for a second time) for drunk driving. (NY Post)
  • We have a new “March (Parking) Madness battle today — the 47th Precinct vs. the 49th Precinct in The Bronx, and polls remain open in our Friday battle for Midtown.
  • Hat tip to McSweeney’s for finally obtaining the list of all the vehicles allowed in a bike lane … ahead of cyclists.
  • There’s going to be a major storm starting tonight, but it looks like New York City will just get that slushy goo and lots of wind for the next 24 hours. (NYDN, NY Times and, of course, the Post)
  • And, finally, we only watch the Oscars to see what form of sustainable transportation Ed Begley Jr. will take to get to the ceremony. And we always turn off when Clarence Eckerson Jr. doesn’t win Best Short Film. (HuffPost)