From the East River to the Hudson, New Yorkers are kicking their bicycles, stomping their cats and asking a burning question:
Is Janette Sadik-Khan, the psycho bike lady who helms the city's Department of Transportation, nuts?
Or maybe Khan, the hater of the internal-combustion engine, is just an incompetent, overpromoted, overzealous bureaucrat who wields power like a chain saw and fits her widely whispered nickname to a T -- Janette "Sadist"-Khan.
Either way, we're screwed.
At issue is a project bigger than the detested, dangerous bike lanes and despised pedestrian plazas that have sprouted up like a cancer, to applause from Mayor Bloomberg. The new plan is Sadik-Khan's crowning achievement. Her Taj Mahal. Her Coney Island fun house.
It's called the 34th Street Transitway. And as plans reveal, it's a doozy -- meant to surrender that main Midtown thoroughfare to buses while preventing passenger cars from traveling it from the Lincoln Tunnel to the Midtown Tunnel. The project is a budding Titanic -- a monstrous muddle of bus routes, bike lanes and pedestrian malls.
Two days after the DOT abandoned a plan to transform 34th Street into a crosstown mess, Mayor Bloomberg jumped to Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan's defense this morning, saying she "can't catch a break."
Sadik-Khan scrapped a controversial proposal on Wednesday aimed at speeding bus traffic along 34th St., including the construction of a pedestrian plaza between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
"This woman can't catch a break," Bloomberg said on his radio show this morning.
The mayor then took aim at a Post editorial criticizing the plan, saying "Don't let anyone beat you down."
Sadik-Khan has said the agency will explore other options, including expanding curb access for deliveries. She declined to be more specific.
Businesses and residents have complained that cars looking for alternate routes across Manhattan would increase traffic on side streets and that proposed bus lanes would block access to their buildings.
Over the past two years, the city has banned cars from parts of Times Square, Union Square and Herald Square in an effort to make it more pedestrian friendly.
On those who have criticized the 34th Street plan, Bloomberg said, "If we listened to the naysayers, Central Park would never have been built."
The problem is that these things are not mutually exclusive. The main point in things like congestion pricing is NOT to flat-out discourage driving or as a revenue source. It's to properly price driving according to market forces. With congestion pricing, outer-borough folks who REALLY needed to drive through mid-town manhattan would be able to do so more easily.
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