New York City’s streets are a barely navigable mess. Vehicular and pedestrian fatalities rose over the past two years. People in droves abandoned buses, which moved ever slower despite dedicated lanes and multiple-door entry.
So what’s been the reaction to Department of Transportation Commissioner’s announcement this week that she is quitting? Mainly that it’s a blow to Mayor de Blasio’s crumbling administration — which is true enough but no great loss to the bully cycling lobby. Despite twisting other kinds of transport into pretzels to increase bike lanes to 120 miles, from 36, in her six years on the job, she didn’t do enough for cyclists.
“Transportation advocates have decried the quality of the city’s cycling infrastructure,” The New York Times reported regarding Trottenberg’s resignation. In the church of transit orthodoxy, bikes are the solution to everything, while cars are bound for history’s machine-age trash heap.
The entire non-biking constituency, more than 95 percent of commuters, was abandoned to tailor the fragile street network to the DOT’s cycling agenda. Most “transportation advocates” are take-no-prisoners cycling zealots or elitist wonks who come and go by limousine (to say nothing of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had the means to fly above it all in helicopters).
The “advocates” cited in the Times decidedly don’t include the mass of citizens who are excommunicated from acceptable public discourse. What’s most salient, and obvious, to most New Yorkers is impermissible to acknowledge: that Trottenberg’s reign, like that of Janette Sadik-Khan before her, was an unmitigated disaster for most of us.
Forget pronouncements from “experts.” I’ve lived in the city without interruption since 1972. I spend most of my time on foot. I get around mostly by subway. The car I sold two years ago had under 30,000 miles after 22 years.
Trottenberg’s DOT did precious little, if anything, to improve traffic flow or to make the streets more humane. It diminished the joy of walking, made life hell for motorists and ruined stores and restaurants where bike lanes and “plazas” blocked entrances.
Her rogue agency turned what was once the world’s most joyous urban walking experience into an obstacle-course steeplechase through bike lanes, view-blocking vehicles parked in the middle of streets to squeeze in the bike paths, incomprehensible left-turn lanes and “plazas” either overrun by tourists or devoid of life.
Although driving in the city, especially Manhattan, always struck me as wasteful and counter-intuitively inefficient, if not outright insane, it’s a reasonable alternative or a necessity for those without other transit choices.
Many parts of town are remote from subway lines. They’re impractical for visitors and workers from Long Island and New Jersey. The filthy and poorly maintained subway scared off innumerable people even before its recent horrific crime increase.
Too bad for those who must use cars, everything above the surface now moves more slowly than it did. City Hall blames Uber. But anybody who takes to the streets, on foot or behind the wheel, knows better. How can traffic not slow to a crawl where driving lanes are reduced to make room for bike lanes, and when motorists must drive a half-dozen long crosstown blocks to go uptown or downtown thanks to suburban-style no-turn rules?
Meanwhile, Trottenberg’s pursuit of Hizzoner’s absurd “Vision Zero” goal — to reduce traffic deaths to none in a city of 8.3 million souls — crashed and burned after several years of improvement. The city had 218 total fatalities in 2019, a 9 percent jump over the previous year. The total included 28 cyclists, the most-intended beneficiaries of the “humane” policy, or 200 percent more than in 2018.
The COVID-19 crisis gave Trottenberg and the power-mad DOT an opening that not even Sadik-Khan enjoyed: control of the pandemic-driven outdoor-dining explosion. With so many pointless, ever-changing rules as to what restaurateurs could do with alfresco seating, it’s remarkable she didn’t rewrite their menus, too.
At least not yet: She remains on the job until next month. Enjoy your meals now.
Steve Cuozzo [NYPost.com]
Steven D. Cuozzo (born January 17, 1950) is an American writer and newspaper editor who writes as a restaurant critic, real estate columnist, and op-ed contributor at the New York Post, a daily newspaper primarily distributed in New York City and its surrounding area. A lifetime resident of New York, Cuozzo spent his career at the Post, working his way up from his entry-level copy boy position in 1972, through positions including copy editor in the newsroom, entertainment editor, assistant managing editor in charge of features, and executive editor. In 1996, he summarized his experiences at the Post in his book, It’s Alive! How America’s Oldest Newspaper Cheated Death and Why It Matters. As of 2013, Cuozzo writes as a restaurant critic, real estate columnist, and op-ed contributor at the New York Post and lives with his wife Jane on the Upper East Side.