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Kiss her asphalt, drivers!
September 9, 2011 3:54 AM   Subscribe

Assessing Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City's Transportation Commissioner.

Previously
posted by beisny (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seems like she is underappreciated for doing good work. That asphalt plant ought to be enough to prove her worth
posted by Renoroc at 4:50 AM on September 9, 2011


I liked this part:

From 393 pedestrians, cyclists and motorists killed in 2001, the number was 271 last year, up slightly from 258 the year before. That averages out to roughly a reduction by one-third. “No number of traffic fatalities is O.K., but it’s crazy these stats don’t get more play, especially given all the press the NYPD gets for keeping murders down,” one DOT official said...

Yet who has benefited most from these safety improvements? Bicycling and motorcycling fatalities have remained roughly constant at 19 and 35 annually for the past 10 years. Pedestrians have faired better, with 193 deaths in 2001, compared to 152 last year, a decline of 21 percent. Driving fatalities, meanwhile, have fallen from 146 to 61 the past two years...

posted by mediareport at 5:02 AM on September 9, 2011


so you value one class of road user over another?

just saw the DOT has started running ads reminding bicyclists that pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks.
posted by JPD at 5:26 AM on September 9, 2011


I'm a New York cyclist/pedestrian and I'm happy with her work overall. It's a pity that the next mayor will probably be some outer borough dumbass who will, as Anthony Wiener announced to Bloomberg, spend the first year of his administration cutting ribbons on bike lane removals to pander to his constituency of outer borough dumbasses.
posted by falameufilho at 5:32 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet who has benefited most from these safety improvements? Bicycling and motorcycling fatalities have remained roughly constant at 19 and 35 annually for the past 10 years. Pedestrians have faired better, with 193 deaths in 2001, compared to 152 last year, a decline of 21 percent. Driving fatalities, meanwhile, have fallen from 146 to 61 the past two years...

outer borough dumbasses.

I like JSK, but these two statements serve as a pretty good summation of why people don't like her.
posted by breakin' the law at 5:41 AM on September 9, 2011


The New York Post absolutely hates her for pushing for new bike lanes, leading to such fine balanced pieces of journalism such as this:
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.

They routinely refer to the person primarily responsible for reducing traffic deaths in NYC by a third as "sadist".
posted by Challahtronix at 5:43 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Best thing about the Bloomberg administration by a mile.
posted by RogerB at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Despised pedestrian plazas? Really?
posted by swift at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2011


This one is my favorite:

A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.
posted by falameufilho at 6:16 AM on September 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Meanwhile there was the brouhaha started by "Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes," who were only interested in removing bike lanes and were powered by the political capital of the former Commish of the DOT, Iris Weinshall, who's married to Senator Chuck Schumer.

Seriously, redesigning cities like this is the way of the future. Yes, cars are necessary for a lot of stuff, but come take a walk with me in New York City and you'll see that their overuse is choking the city.

It's part of a necessary spectrum of retrofits for a better, sustainable city - especially as NYC's population is expected to grow significantly in coming years.

And you know what?

All the pedestrian plazas are AWESOME.
posted by entropone at 6:27 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Post is own by Murdoch. If you aren't out there literally sticking your penis into a tree, owl or patch of dirt, he hates you.
posted by DU at 6:30 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a hell of a lot more cyclists in NYC than there were 10 years ago, so of course there's more fatalities.

Come to think of it, car safety improvements and graduated licensing are probably responsible for a good chunk of the reduction in car fatalities. But she definitely gets credit for pedestrian safety improvements in my book.
posted by miyabo at 6:42 AM on September 9, 2011


falameufilho: "A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist."

Where else would you put a Second Avenue bike lane? On 3rd?
posted by notsnot at 6:49 AM on September 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


The Post hates her because their core readership is said outerboroughs dumbasses
posted by JPD at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, sensible long-term planning has become a culture-war issue, with opposition to it being an identity-political badge of sticking it to the "liberal elites". Which is why we can't have nice things.
posted by acb at 7:00 AM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, sensible long-term planning has become a culture-war issue, with opposition to it being an identity-political badge of sticking it to the "liberal elites". Which is why we can't have nice things.

...

The Post hates her because their core readership is said outerboroughs dumbasses

Based on my experience, the Post has manufactured this division between hardworking, honest outerborough residents and shishi Manhattanites + the creative classes + hipsters + activists.

Is bullshit.
posted by entropone at 7:04 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Based on my experience, the Post has manufactured this division between hardworking, honest outerborough residents and shishi Manhattanites + the creative classes + hipsters + activists.

It's a tried and tested Murdoch formula. Australia's former right-wing government, who were (and, in opposition, are) heavily backed by News Corp., made hay out of beating up on the "inner city latte-sipping elites" for 11 years.

It undoubtedly predates both Murdoch and the contemporary idea of the hipster; populist leaders love to have a straw-man scapegoat to pummel to the public's applause.
posted by acb at 7:11 AM on September 9, 2011


Based on my experience, the Post right wing has manufactured this division between hardworking, honest outerborough "heartland" residents and shishi Manhattanites city dwellers + the creative classes + hipsters + activists.

Is bullshit
key to their success for the last 40 years.

Well, that and bullshit, too.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The New York Post absolutely hates her for pushing for new bike lanes, leading to such fine balanced pieces of journalism such as this:

You realize that this is an opinion columnist? They use hyperbolic language and they're pretty much not balanced by design. An actual Post news article about her is more restrained (by tabloid standards):
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."
Sadik-Kahn and the Bloomberg administration may have done great things for traffic safety, but they've also done lots of controversial things and tried to do lots of other things that were so much more controversial they had to walk them back (congestion pricing, the aforementioned 34th Street plan).

It doesn't have to be black and white good and evil, Sadik-Kahn can have done good things for the City and also overreached and made mistakes.
posted by Jahaza at 7:15 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on my experience, the Post has manufactured this division between hardworking, honest outerborough residents and shishi Manhattanites + the creative classes + hipsters + activists.

Is bullshit.


I know tons and tons and tons of white, catholic (read: Polish, Irish or Italian descent) working class folks from Queens. They vote democrat, but their concept of what a democrat is (takes care of their district, supports labor, supports education, indifferent on social issues, if not downright conservative) not so much what you would think of as "progressive". This group never read the Times. When the labor movement was stronger, and before Murdoch started shoveling money into the Post this was the Daily News' demo. The Daily News is also anti-bike lane, but not in the way the post is. Also don't forget that other than the group that commutes into the city via bus and subway, this cohort drives. Queens and non-brownstone brooklyn aren't set up from a transport perspective to support intra borough public transit ex-busses. And white middle-class folks don't take the bus around town. They will take it into Manhattan though.

I'm not making a value judgment (ok I am on some issues) but to pretend that the differences between middle-class outerboroughs residents and those of us who live in Manhattan and pseudo-Manhattan areas of Brooklyn are made up for the sake of selling newspapers or winning elections is just silly. Now is the Post playing this difference up? Yes, of course - that's part of their plan to sell papers

Also to Jahaza's point - its been the mostly democratic reps from these parts of the outerboroughs who killed off tolling on the east river crossings and congestion pricing. The also blew up same-sex marriage the first time around. Some of this is politics, but a lot of this is because of how the issues polled in their districts.
posted by JPD at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: just an incompetent, overpromoted, overzealous bureaucrat who wields power like a chain saw
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2011


Oh, I agree. There are some definite generalizations about how some of the people in the city are different than some of the other people in the city - you're right on. But superimposing that onto the "bike lane debate" (which is a bit of a misnomer - it's really about street safety, street redesign, transpo policy, and Complete Streets, not just catering to the bike activists) is heavily flawed. Complete streets aren't good for Manhattanites but bad for working-class outerborough people. Hell, the congestion pricing proposal, if passed, would have resulted in NYC being the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money to implement new express bus systems - which would offer the far-outer borough neighborhoods access to the transpo network that they previously lacked.

I'm not going to pretend that ongoing implementation of city redesign is going to affect everybody the same. Fewer people have to drive.

But the goal is an even shift from reducing or disincentivizing car use (via reducing or eliminating free parking, for example) to improving other, more efficient modes of transport. And that benefits everybody - not just the Manhattanites and their ilk.
posted by entropone at 7:40 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


city dwellers + the creative classes + hipsters + activists

Not to mention rootless cosmopolitanists, Cultural Marxists and the enemy within.
posted by acb at 7:42 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm generally pro-bike lane. But sometimes it leads to delivery trucks parking their truck in the middle of the avenue because they can't saddle into the bike lane because they'll get a $150 ticket. So, traffic gets backed up for 20 minutes just so bikers down have to go around the truck on the sidewalk.

Also, yay for bus lanes and yay for the signs that tell you how long you have to wait for the train. Yay for a more pedestrian friendly New York in recent years. I ALWAYS make sure to tell the car or truck that cuts me off on the cross walk "could you please politely go fuck yourself, I'm walkin' here." Just to keep people on their toes.

If you wanna drive around in the city, it should be expensive and it should be a luxury. I don't really give a fuck if a bunch of bridge and tunnelers have a bad experience when they come in on friday night to party in the village.
posted by gagglezoomer at 7:48 AM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I agree with you wrt to redesigning the streets. I think the problem has been Bloomberg's team has approached this from a manhattan/bstone brooklyn centric way of thinking about things - where it should be all about facilitating peds and bikers, and calming car traffic. It makes it much harder to sell that to the outerboroughs folks where the transport network demands car trips. If you want to sell that constituency you need to find a way to make transit better for them before you make it harder for them to use their cars.

Complete streets have to look different where peoples lives are different. To be honest the biggest barrier is the degree to which we have woefully underinvested in the MTA. The other problem is that the MTA is seen somehow as some massive cash suck of over paid union jobs - and The Post has a lot to do with it.

But sometimes it leads to delivery trucks parking their truck in the middle of the avenue because they can't saddle into the bike lane because they'll get a $150 ticket. So, traffic gets backed up for 20 minutes just so bikers down have to go around the truck on the sidewalk.


this is actually a feature not a flaw.
posted by JPD at 7:50 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you wanna drive around in the city, it should be expensive and it should be a luxury.

Absolutely, and should be true of every city. There are entirely too many cars in Chicago.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:04 AM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


You realize that this is an opinion columnist? They use hyperbolic language and they're pretty much not balanced by design.

I expect regular newspaper columnists to have their opinions rooted in facts; hers are not.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:04 AM on September 9, 2011


Is [the] key to their success for the last 40 years.

35 years. Please don't hang that shit on my grandmother.
posted by The Bellman at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I expect regular newspaper columnists to have their opinions rooted in facts; hers are not.

What are your factual objections to the piece then? You didn't post them above. The author is clearly not using "sadist" in a literal way.
posted by Jahaza at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2011


I like JSK, but these two statements serve as a pretty good summation of why people don't like her.

OK, wait. The second one, I get -- but the first one just says that driving fatalities have gone down more than 50%. How is that offensive or condescending?
posted by en forme de poire at 8:28 AM on September 9, 2011


As someone who lived in NYC for the past decade or so I can't say enough good things about Sadik-Khan. My big concern is that in order to get the new pedestrian plazas, bike lanes and and traffic flow changes she had to make these changes temporary pending a longterm study. It was probably the right thing to do, and most likely the only way these sweeping changes could be made, but it makes it too easy for the next mayor, who will almost certainly be an "outer borough dumbass," to rip them out. I hope she has time to make some of these changes permanent. This was also the specific reason I was happy to vote for Bloomberg in this third *ahem* term as mayor.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:32 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bike lanes, good.

Pedestrian plazas = awful. Especially Times Square. Awful.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:42 AM on September 9, 2011


Pedestrian plazas = awful. Especially Times Square. Awful.


as public spaces, yeah they need some work and some imagination, but they were really created to calm traffic. That's the real value of them. Hopefully during the next upcycle the city has the spare cash to make them worthwhile as public spaces as well.
posted by JPD at 8:50 AM on September 9, 2011


Based on my experience, the Post has manufactured this division between hardworking, honest outerborough residents and shishi Manhattanites + the creative classes + hipsters + activists.

I'm not sure how seriously I can take the thesis that the division is purely the result of the Murdoch press viciously stirring up the plebes when we have people in this very thread complaining about "outer borough dumbasses" and "bridge and tunnelers [...] in on friday night to party in the village"
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:08 AM on September 9, 2011


Aw man, this is almost the perfect MetaFilter storm thread. Urban planning, cars versus bikes, elite urban hipsters versus outerborough dumbasses/rednecks, Rupert Murdoch...all we need is some sexism, bigotry, and Lady Gaga...
posted by Xoebe at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2011


...and as a bridge and tunneler I couldn't give a fuck about about gagglezoomer's wants or needs so there you have it...the world in a nutshell.
posted by sfts2 at 9:51 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aw man, this is almost the perfect MetaFilter storm thread. Urban planning, cars versus bikes, elite urban hipsters versus outerborough dumbasses/rednecks, Rupert Murdoch...all we need is some sexism, bigotry, and Lady Gaga...

You forgot Poland circumcision.
posted by The Bellman at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2011


If you want to sell that constituency you need to find a way to make transit better for them before you make it harder for them to use their cars.

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. Those who did not want to do it enough to pay would be able to find some other way to get around. Win-win-win.

And also, it's not like the outer-borough folks never end up walking down 34th street, right? I'd bet that most of them avoid driving down 34th street like the plague, just like any other sane New Yorker. Hence, improving 34th street improves the city for everyone who uses it.
posted by yarly at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2011


Pedestrian plazas = awful. Especially Times Square. Awful.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:42 AM on September 9 [+] [!]


Really? What's so bad about them? Can it really be worse than the nightmare of trying to cross Times Square with all the freakin' tourists compounded by all the freakin' taxis?
posted by yarly at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2011


I have nothing to add to this discussion (besides my general support for Ms. Sadik-Kahn) except to say that she's married to my former Torts professors, Mark Geistfeld, who is a pretty great guy in his own right.
posted by saladin at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2011


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.
Only if the pricing were set to income levels. Otherwise whether or not someone "REALLY" needs to travel to downtown on whether or not they are rich, essentially arguing that the things rich people do are more important then what average people do. In European countries where this is popular, you don't have nearly as much wealth inequality.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2011


essentially arguing that the things rich people do are more important then what average people do.

In American we operate against a backdrop of income inequality no matter what we do, so your argument would apply to any kind of use of money to acheive a social end. And congestion pricing would mean that everyone (rich and poor) would be getting a better quality "product" when they do buy the right to drive -- not to mention that on balance, lower income people in Manhattan would be benefitted by less congestion, so I'm not sure this would fall disproportionately on the backs of the poor like a regressive sales tax.

In any event, I would like to see statistics supporting the claim that poor outer-borough people need to drive unfettered down 34th street in Manhattan to get to work or whatever, and that driving really saves them time/money over public transportation. I find that extremely hard to believe. To the extent it is true, the system could easily correct for that small slice of people through tax rebates or special licenses.
posted by yarly at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really? What's so bad about them? Can it really be worse than the nightmare of trying to cross Times Square with all the freakin' tourists compounded by all the freakin' taxis?

60000 times worse.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2011


Pedestrian plazas = awful. Especially Times Square. Awful.


I love the fact that I can now traverse those areas on foot without being forced onto the roadway by the sheer crush of the crowds.

If they're not worth dawdling in right now, well, that can be fixed later.
posted by ocschwar at 12:37 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I work in upper Harlem and live in Queens. Most of my co-workers live in Queens too and most of the bike every single day from places like Forest Hills. I think they are crazy, as the bike paths in Queens are pretty much...well, there aren't many, but I guess my point is that even Queens has a bicycle crowd.

My impression is that risk-adverse people don't bike. I biked when I lived in Sweden because the bike paths didn't expose me to traffic. I'm quite afraid of traffic and I have personally known someone in NYC who died while biking and many more who have been injured. I don't think it's rich vs. poor, I get the impression that bikers are young people without families. In Park Slope during the bike lane war, the people opposing it were almost all over 60.
posted by melissam at 2:08 PM on September 9, 2011


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