The 2009 Streetsie Awards, Part 3
This post wraps up the Aughts for Streetsblog. For more year-in-review flavor, Clarence has a real treat over at Streetfilms. Have a great New Year everyone. Best Legislator: Brooklyn's David Yassky capped off a very pro-livable streets tenure in City Council by carrying the banner for the Bicycle Access Bill. After a legislative win that difficult and that significant, there's no way we'd end the year without handing him a Streetsie.
Runner-up: State Assembly member Brian Kavanagh, who played the leading role in rallying 18 other local electeds to support physically separated bus and bike lanes on First and Second Avenues. Honorable Mention: Bronx City Council member Oliver Koppell, for sponsoring the Bicycle Access to Garages Bill. You've gotta like Koppell's response to a hostile lobbyist during a hearing on the bill in the council chamber: "Are you living in the 1950s?" NIMBYs of the Year: Can't argue with success. Sure, "Dr. Rick" and assorted West Village cranks managed to quash the idea of a protected bike lane on Carmine Street. And those faceless Grand Street merchants somehow inserted their windshield perspective into the New York City mayoral contest. But only one reactionary group actually got the city to take a step backward on street safety in 2009. That's why South Williamsburg's Hasidic leaders are both the people's choice and the editors' choice for NIMBYs of the Year.
Thanks to a pre-election deal between the Hasids and the mayor's political staff, 14 blocks of extremely useful bike lane are gone from Bedford Avenue. So, who benefited? Not the mayor. Hasidic turnout for Bloomberg was the weakest it's ever been, and the irresistible hipster-vs.-Hasid storyline has produced a lot of embarrassing press. The Hasids? For now, all they've got are more dangerous streets in their own backyard. But if this does turn into some kind of teachable moment within the Hasidic community, maybe something can be salvaged from the whole affair. Activist of the Year: As a member of Manhattan CB 8's transportation committee, Michael Auerbach was instrumental in securing a 38-1 vote requesting protected bike lanes for the East Side. The same night, CB 8 also passed a resolution in favor of converting parking meters to bike racks on Madison Avenue. These votes would have been nearly unthinkable in previous years. It's always tough to single out one of NYC's many hardworking local activists for this Streetsie. For his role in CB8's stunning turnaround, Michael gets the honor.
The Community Board Career Achievement Award: Teresa Toro is leaving Brooklyn CB 1 (on her own terms this time, not someone else's) after distinguished service as chair of the transportation committee, working for more livable North Brooklyn streets.
Most Encouraging Local Trend: Community boards voting in favor of bicycle projects. Manhattan CB 8 wasn't the only one to show newfound support for livable streets in 2009. Manhattan CB 7 and Brooklyn CB 6 also voted for protected bike lanes. And Brooklyn CB 9 let its bicycle flag fly, asking DOT to add bike lanes to a traffic-calming project on Empire Boulevard. Most Encouraging National Trend: Boston released an RFP that opened the door to America's first truly effective bike-share network. Several other cities seem poised to make the leap from thinking about bike-share as a demo project to making it a real component of the urban transportation network. Best Idea for Reforming National Transportation Policy: When Congress finally gets around to passing a new federal transportation bill, let's hope they absorbed the advice of John Norquist and the Congress for the New Urbanism. CNU's proposal to make it easier to spend federal funds on walkable, bikeable, VMT-reducing street networks instead of sprawl-inducing highways makes a whole lotta sense. Runner-up: Giving federal transportation funds directly to big cities. New York City has a bigger population than all but 11 states, but NYCDOT doesn't get a penny straight from the feds. Best Report: Media outlets all over the country picked up Dangerous by Design, which called much-needed attention to the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in America and the failure of our transportation policies to do much about it. Great job by the authors (including Michelle Ernst of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign) and advocates who helped get this information out there. Streetfilm of the Year: Copenhagen's Climate-Friendly, Bike-Friendly Streets, by Elizabeth Press, helped Streetfilms set a single-day record for visitors on Tuesday, December 15. Best Moment in Livable Streets Education: Students at the Community Roots Charter School and P.S. 67 paint the pavement on St. Edwards Street in Fort Greene in a terrific day of DOT-sanctioned traffic-calming and community-building. Most Inspiring Out-of-Town Streetfilm: High school students brave the mean streets of Orlando via bike bus. As the filmmakers say, "They want to ride to school, so they do." Fastest Rising Livable Streets Star: Hilarious, villainous Veronica Moss. Livable Streets Personality Most Ready for a TV Deal: Every time Clarence puts Hal Ruzal on camera, ratings go through the roof. "Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 3: The Final Warning" was the most watched Streetfilm of 2009, with nearly 20,000 views. Streetfilms' Biggest Fan: Bike Snob embedded no fewer than eight Streetfilms on his blog in 2009. Best Use of StreetsWiki: BicyclesOnly. If you haven't checked them out yet, you really should read his wiki entries on the Bicycle Access Law, the Bicycle Access to Garages Law, and how to get information on traffic violence out of NYPD by filing freedom of information requests. Best Lenswork: Jacob-uptown takes the prize for the second year in a row for his documentation of the anti-pedestrian atrocities committed by the builders of the Gateway Center Mall. Best Book: Pedaling Revolution by Jeff Mapes. Road Rager of the Year: Gus Gonzalez. Runner-up: The sociopath who nearly ran down Gerald Beekman. Out-of-town division: Charles Diez.
The Streetsblog Peace Prize: Baruch Herzfeld. What a mensch.