Friday, October 22, 2010

Hitting for the Cyclist

The NY Post's Steve Cuozzo picks up where we left off yesterday-and goes off against DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan for her unilateral imposition of bike lanes all over NYC: "Brooklyn residents yesterday rallied against an ugly, two-way bicycle lane on majestic Prospect Park West -- just the latest costly and increasingly destructive traffic-rerouting scheme imposed by city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Sadik-Khan's department dishonestly calls the bike lane "temporary" pending an analysis of its impact on traffic and safety, which won't be done until January. Does she really expect anyone to believe her?"

Where the hell is the oversight here-and in its absence we have an anti-democratic governance scheme being forced down our throats as a dictat by an unelected bike freak: "The Department of Transportation also promises to take into account Murray Hill residents' concern over a "proposal" to install useless, concrete-barricaded bus lanes river-to-river on 34th Street. Sure. Although DOT has for now backed off an absurd scheme for a $30 million pedestrian mall, if history is a guide, count on the bus lanes to go forward. DOT previously promised to heed local complaints about other disastrous, bike-centric schemes that it has imposed all over the five boroughs -- and its ruinous Times Square traffic rerouting and pedestrian "plazas." Just temporary, folks! You won't be stuck with it until we find out how it's working!"

It's all working well-if the definition of the term is how well its working all of us over-and where is the city council? These so-called experiments are always self graded as excellent even when the review data shows no such thing: "Every time, the DOT concluded that its brainstorms worked just fine -- even though it's failed to persuasively document any improvement in vehicular flow that was the nominal rationale. The latest horror is on Columbus Avenue north of West 77th Street. The DOT dangerously narrowed auto lanes from 12 feet to 10 and replaced an entire parking lane with a little-used bike lane. Cars must now park in the middle of the avenue."

And as we said yesterday about all of the hordes of phantom cyclists on Columbus: "But we do know a bit about the lanes that Sadik conned us with on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan-where truck deliveries now crowd out all but two lanes on the formerly four lane thoroughfare. And finding a cyclist on Columbus Ave is a little like the old Where's Waldo game."

Cuozzo captures the fact that this is all a slight-of-hand designed to backdoor congestion pricing: "To push an agenda superficially plausible -- urging people to leave their cars home for mass transit -- Mayor Bloomberg tapped into Sadik-Khan's zeal to put everyone on two wheels. But lots of people must drive through town, as mad as it strikes those of us who don't. Many corners of the five boroughs, even Manhattan, are far from subways. The MTA is slashing train and bus service. Could there be a worse time to make driving harder?"

The lack of any over all review of this mishogos is unconscionable: "Yet, in a city where the smallest actions are often subjected to withering public review, the DOT's wholesale remaking of the streetscape escapes meaningful oversight. The DOT's street redesigns -- like the closing of Broadway to vehicles in Times Square, shunting traffic and fumes onto overcrowded Ninth Avenue -- have far more impact on those who live and work in a neighborhood than incidental Building Code variances requiring approval by the City Council."

Calling CM Jimmy Vacca-the council's sagacious chair of the council's transportation committee. Can we get some oversight Jimmy? "The DOT's cityscape-altering decrees, on the other hand, are subject to no meaningful oversight. Community boards -- typically dominated by anti-auto activists out of touch with their own districts -- rarely raise a peep. Business leaders who hate the changes are mute. They fear retribution by myriad agencies -- not only the DOT but also Sanitation, Buildings, Health and even the NYPD. The views they share privately often are very different from their public statements.

All of which demonstrates that the sounds of silence are not indicative of underlying satisfaction-but simply a sign of cowed acquiescence to the man who has perfected the bully pulpit; using a combination of power and money to engineer an enforced lockjaw epidemic. All except to Brooklyn BP Markowitz-and we'll give him the last word: "Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is the rare elected official to call unambiguously for public oversight of the DOT's do-as-it-pleases ways. "The City Council should be involved," he says. "The council has not had an opportunity to vote on, or to let residents know whether they're for or against re-engineering our streetscape to the vision or lack of vision of the leadership of the DOT."