It is inexcusable for scientists to torture animals; let them make their experiments on journalists and politicians.
-- Henrik Ibsen (1828 - 1906)
When agencies like the D.O.B., which has ignored calls from the community, especially SoHo, to remove offensive billboards that are illegal; when D.O.T. allows special interests who are neither residents of our community, nor interested in the will of the people; – you have a prescription for widespread discontent and political retaliation.
This past weekend was the scene of a demonstration in front of the offices of D.O.T. at 40 Worth Street. Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Kahn, an avowed bike enthusiast, along with a Mayor who increasingly resembles a prudish Dictator (in with Disney and big developers, out with nightclubs and late night entertainment) -- together have allowed the D.O.T. to butcher the roadways in SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown and parts of Greenwich Village. The recent rat maze created out of Grand Street in SoHo is a perfect example. The adoption of Park Row as a security zone that resembles Checkpoint Charlie in Soviet era Berlin is another compromise.
Interestingly, Margaret Chin, the organizer who worked with Sean Sweeney of the SoHo Alliance, was joined by Pete Gleason and Alan Gerson – all of whom (except Sweeney) are running for the same City Council seat now held by Gerson. Gleason had made comments on the issue and Chin has been vociferous – while Gerson met with only John Fratta of Little Italy and ignored everyone else.
Clearly, all of the politicians realized that they may be subject to the whims of the Mayor (Gerson has pandered to Bloomberg on term limits), but to throw the voters of Chinatown, SoHo, Little Italy and Greenwich Village to the dogs for green stripes and mid-street parking horrors in order to pander to extreme bikers should not be worth the risk. The communities want protection for pedestrians before they start worrying about bikers having their own highway across town. A street where residents can park overnight or legally drop off their kids is a street where bikers can be welcome. A street where pedestrians are robbed of a crosswalk, is not a place where bikers need special treatment.
Everyone is clear about the fact that Houston Street was the proper location for cross-town bike traffic – and it is still the best option.