Welcome to Car Wars, New Yorker – Streetsblog New York City

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The big news yesterday was The New Yorker’s Must-Have 6,000-Word Doorstop of a Story about the epic battle for safety on the streets.

Danyoung Kim’s piece certainly hit all the right notes, giving a voice and a moral megaphone to our city’s small army of Families for Safe Streets volunteers. And we certainly enjoyed the rapier thrust of a quote from our founding editor Aaron Naparstek: “No one ever considers the car a weapon. The rule of thumb I’ve learned over the years is that if you ever want to murder someone in New York, do it with a car.

But allow us a quibble? In seeking to document the history of the safe streets movement, Kim has managed to decouple his reporting from one of the essential pillars of journalism: the news. Yes, the article was clearly aimed at normal people who need to be slowly weaned from a century of car-based Stockholm Syndrome, but people who spend their days and nights in the actual trenches won’t learn not much of the story. In fact, it may be better to look forward than to the past – there are many battles going on right now in the state legislature and in the boardrooms of automakers, battles that will determine whether our planet will win or lose the war on cars.

Our glass is half empty on this issue sometimes. Indeed, if our state leaders cannot even accept that insurance companies be notified when their customers receive repeated speeding tickets in school zones and our federal leaders themselves rush to green the electric cars, we won’t fare any better than the valiant campaigners who took on the automakers at the start of the automobile age. (Reminder: they lost.)

In other slow day news:

  • Speaking of state lawmakers, Deborah Glick tweeted Thursday night to say that she and Sen. Andrew Gounardes’ speed camera bill (the watered-down one discussed above) did indeed pass the Assembly. We’ll have a full recap of the Albany session on Monday.
  • Two council members made bold promises in Streetsblog on Thursday, with education committee chair Rita Joseph saying she was eager to explore car-free school streets, and transportation committee member Lincoln Restler, promising to crack down on the signs. (Meanwhile, daily news and the post office did a story on Restler’s bill.)
  • You can’t spell hellfire without “el”. (New York Post, amNY, gothamist)
  • The post office got a second day on “latte-gate”, thanks to the MTA’s insistence that the newspaper pay for public records that should be free in a FOIL request.
  • Queens Council member Bob Holden wants car dealerships and rental companies to stop stealing everyone’s free parking. (New York Post)
  • Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani want to use cameras to steer cars away from bike lanes. (New York Post)
  • Do you remember the shortage of personnel at the MTA? It’s in progress. (The city)
  • The MTA has released its preliminary hours for the opening of the new “Grand Central Madison” LIRR terminal. We will have a full analysis on Monday, but amNY took the first step what officials say will be the biggest increase in service in the railroad’s history.
  • And, finally, Jessie Singer had a delightful summary of Governor Hochul’s self-aggrandizing tweet about the gas tax exemption:

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