Liars And Stupidity

Proof of a lie. Photo by Allan Rosen.

THE COMMUTE: I guess the two things that bother me most are stupidity and liars. An example of stupidity is proposing a cure worse than the disease. Liars are even more infuriating. They will take a position, deny having taken it, change their reasoning repeatedly or BS you to death.

Examples of stupidityAssemblyman Marcos Crespo from the Bronx proposed a law last week requiring subway trains to first pause then travel no faster than five miles per hour when entering a subway station to prevent people from getting hit by arriving subway trains. That would increase yourcommute from Southern Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan by 20 minutes when only 0.000006 percent of subway riders are struck by trains, as pointed out by Second Ave Sagas’ Ben Kabak.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in an effort to improve her popularity so she can run in the next mayoral race made two proposals last week. (1) Parking agents must prove parking tickets are legit by taking a picture of the violation (A similar proposal by Councilman Nelson several years ago requiring Sanitation agents to submit photographic proof of violations went nowhere). (2) Sanitation should reduce Alternate Side of the Street Parking (ASP) regulations from three hours, two days a week to 90 minutes, one day per week on each side of the street.

For the first bit, Quinn’s and Nelson’s ideas are good ones. Requiring photographic evidence would result in fewer bogus summonses.

As for the second part of her proposal, you might ask yourself if Quinn has been living under a rock.  Her proposal to reduce ASP to one day a week on each side of the street is already the norm in most neighborhoods and some community boards have requested to reduce it further to 60 minutes or eliminate it entirely. Many insist that streets without any ASP regulations are not noticeably dirtier than those with the regulations and that they are not needed at all on some streets.

And then comes the liars: Sanitation has rejected those proposals insisting that, where it exists, 90 minutes is the minimum time they require for street sweeping.  Last Friday I saw block after block on one street in Canarsie with ASP only on Wednesdays for only 30 minutes. (Pilot program, perhaps, or just Lie #1?)

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) claims its most important priority is safety. However, it takes years to replace broken lamppost lights on highways leading to dark stretches of road for a mile or more, and lanes are not re-striped for months after they are totally worn out (Lie #2). Several years ago when I complained about missing lane markings, DOT responded that they do not re-stripe in the winter.  Last week a small portion of the Belt Parkway was re-striped although much more work needs to be done (Lie #3).

When DOT first announced their plans to rebuild the Belt Parkway bridges, I asked the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), the state agency that doles out state funding for highway and transit projects, if the Belt Parkway bridges could be rebuilt with eight lanes instead of six to allow for future expansion of the highway between Knapp Street and Cross Bay Boulevard. NYMTC stated that would require the use of federal parkland for a highway which would not be permitted. So why is it permissible to use a city nature preserve to build a shopping mall?  (Lie #4?).

When I requested the Parks Department to open a second entrance to a playground because my elderly mother had difficulty walking a quarter-mile to the only open entrance, the reason I received was that the entrance was closed for security reasons. In case of a bomb threat, fire, or other emergency when it is necessary to evacuate people quickly, doesn’t having only one means of egress pose a security and fire hazard? (Lie #5)

Lies 6, 7, 8, etc. – The MTA is probably most notorious for making up phony excuses. When the bus stop closest to my home was eliminated, they first insisted the reason was so they can adhere to a three-block bus stop spacing guideline. Never mind the fact that all the other stops on the street remained at two block intervals with two stops that were only one block apart.

When that reason was successfully refuted, they insisted it was removed at the request of Assemblyman Cymbrowitz. When he denied it and requested the reason for its removal, he was told it was at the request of Councilman Nelson whose office also denied having requested it. The story then became DOT made the change and the MTA did not object to it because the buses would operate faster, saving the MTA money. When it was pointed out that the removal of a single stop would not save them any money, but just increased travel time for former users of that stop due to a high probability of missing a bus while walking to the next stop, the MTA finally admitted that no one benefited.  That admission, however, did not result in them changing their position.  One final attempt at reinstituting the stop resulted in the MTA claiming that the community board requested its removal, when in fact the community board requested the return of the bus stop.

When you catch government too often in its lies, they just start to ignore you. I guess that’s how the expression “Go fight City Hall” got started. How many times has someone in government lied to you?  I don’t even want to hear about stupidity.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

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