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Now Even Kids’ Play Spaces are Controversial

April 20, 2011

There’s something fundamentally wrong with our media when even a plan to provide more safe play space for children on a dead-end street inspires the kind of lazy reporting and search for controversy on display in this article in the Brooklyn Paper.

Despite what reporter Natalie O’Neill seems to want to stir up in her piece in the BP’s “Mean Streets” series, the plan to close 4th Street from traffic during weekdays this fall is far from controversial.  It has the support of CB6 and Middle School 51.  It’s hard to even say that the plan includes closing 4th Street to traffic, as O’Neill writes, since it’s not a through-street and is already closed during the week – the new plan merely extends the car-free hours starting this fall.  A truer statement would be that the city and community have decided that 4th Street would work better as a place for hundreds of children to play safely, rather than as a place where only twenty people can store their private vehicles for free.

But, never mind.  O’Neill manages to inject a little controversy where there is none.  She interviews David Ma, “who rents apartments and space to businesses like the nearby Stone Park Café.”  Not surprisingly, he feels it’s bad for the neighborhood.  A journalist could ask Ma how many of his tenants drive or how many of the restaurant’s customers arrive by car, but that information is not found here.

No reporter can possibly write a story about eliminating even one parking space without making the most tenuous connection to bikes and bike lanes, and O’Neill doesn’t miss her chance:

The city’s plan for Fourth Street will likely be seen as another blow to motorists, who increasingly complain that roadway space is being taken for cyclists and park users.

Two weeks ago, Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D–Manhattan) called for a ban on cars in Prospect Park, saying, “New Yorkers should be able to go to the park without worrying about motor vehicle traffic.”

As Streetsblog has reported, the amount of road space “being taken for cyclists” is infinitesimally small.  And the idea that roadway space is also being taken for park users, and that it’s a “blow to motorists,” is laughable.  If anything, space has been taken from park users and given to motorists in spaces which were created before anyone could have imagined cars speeding through them at 40 miles per hour.

Reading O’Neill’s reporting, you can almost see the sign over her desk reminding her how many pro-car articles she has left to write before she earns a parking placard and a lunch with Steve Cuozzo.

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One Comment
  1. eveostay permalink
    April 20, 2011 2:41 pm

    I think this is the link you were looking for http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/03/01/there-is-no-war-on-cars/

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