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Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

Get Married, Ride Off...On a Bike? Bike Used to Sell Bridal Wear

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Spotted in Soho, New York City, the grandma of all artsy-trendy neighborhoods in the United States...a white bike used to hawk bridal wear.   I'm spotting this more and more, bikes popping up in movies and fashion-spreads to signify uber-chicness.  Seen this trend?  Post your photos.

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In Surprise Inspections, US DOT Finds 1 in 10 Coach Buses Unsafe

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This in from the US DOT:

U.S. DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and State Law Enforcement Agencies Conduct Thousands of Surprise Passenger Carrier Safety Inspections Nationwide;  Strike Force Inspections Remove 289 Unsafe Passenger Buses and Drivers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its state and local law enforcement partners across the nation recently conducted 2,782 surprise passenger carrier safety inspections over a nine-day period that resulted in 289 unsafe buses or drivers being removed from our roadways.

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SLIDE SHOW: The Willis Avenue Bridge's Final Journey

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(New York, NY -- Stephen Nessen, WNYC) The 109-year old Willis Avenue bridge drifted down the East River early Tuesday morning as it headed for Jersey City. It was replaced last July as part of a $612 million project. Full slide show here.

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On Central Park Traffic Lights, NY Cycling Club Begs To Differ

Friday, April 08, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) We reported yesterday that the NYC DOT is denying it's making special arrangements for cyclists in Central Park, who've been subject to a heavy blitz of traffic tickets lately for running red lights on the park loop, even when the park is closed to cars.

“The current light synchronization for 25 mph is not a new timing plan," the NYC DOT told us.  "DOT adjusted the timing for several signals on March 26 on Central Park’s drives after an inspection determined that some had fallen out of synch.”

Well, turns out the New York City Cycling Club has a different interpretation:   It issued this statement:

"NYCC and other members of the cycling community have been meeting with a number of concerned parties, including City Council members, Community Boards, staff from the DOT and others.  It's our understanding that this pilot program has been arranged to allow cyclists some time in Central Park to do the kind of training laps that we've been accustomed to doing.

"We are appreciative and understand our responsibility to be safe cyclists.  This pilot program will encompass the early morning hours from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday when there are few pedestrians in the Park, so we do not foresee any problems."

Keep us informed on how it's going.

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Cuomo Says He’ll Put a Stop to Parking Placard Abuse

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the practice of issuing parking placards to state employees and elected officials "is prone to abuse" and he is planning to overhaul the entire system.

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Full Text of Cuomo's Remarks on Parking Placard Abuse

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) When we reported last week that Governor Cuomo was continuing to issue thousands of parking placards a year, his office told us he was "reviewing" the matter.  That's a pretty standard brush-off that politicians give reporters -- they don't want to magnify a story by giving you a quote, and they hope by saying they're reviewing it the whole story will go away and they will never have to think about it again.

But that wasn't the script here.

To recap, we reported that the the state division of homeland security was continuing to issue some 3500 placards a year, despite Cuomo's election slogan of promising to "end business as usual."  The placards say the bearer is on "official police business," even though, in many cases, the placards go to elected officials and state staffers who have no law enforcement responsibilities.

With them, staffers can (and sometimes do) park anywhere, any time in New York City, where to say parking is at a premium is like saying water is valuable in the Sahara.

And having a placard means it's that much easier to drive to work, or on an errand, rather than use mass transit, at a time when many officials are encouraging people to reduce carbon emissions and relieve congestion by taking mass transit.

Despite repeated requests, we couldn't get the division of homeland security -- or anyone in the Cuomo administration -- to explain who got the placards, or why.

But it turns out, the matter really was under review. The state inspector General, Ellen Biben, has investigated several instances where placards were reported to be used in appropriately. Her conclusion: the whole system is flawed and needs to be redesigned. Cuomo agreed -- his remarks follow.

Here's the full text of Governor Cuomo's remarks on parking placard abuse, from a question-and-answer session with reporters in Albany today.

And here's the audio if you want to listen along.

"Police Placards are actually an abuse that goes back fifteen, twenty years I’ll bet when you look. Every nine months there’s a story on abuse of a police placard.  It’s one of those situations that the design of the system is prone to abuse.

"There are a number of specific case of alleged abuse of police placards.

"Police placards are issued to state employees, elected officials, to be used when they are on official business and they are put in the windshield of the car and the car is allowed to park in areas.  They are also used to gain admission to secure areas.

"A number of specific incidents were being investigated by the inspector general. The inspector general has reported that she believes the entire system is flawed and that unless you redesign the system you will have those incidents of abuse recurring.

"And that does make sense to me and we’re going to follow the recommendation of the inspector general and reform the system.  We will be announcing that shortly."

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BREAKING: Cuomo Says He'll Rein in Placard Abuse

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

When we reported on this last week, the Governor was, essentially, mum.  But now he says he'll act to contain abuse of parking placards by government officials.

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he expects to overhaul the use of placards that some politicians have used on their cars to avoid parking tickets in New York City.

Cuomo says he'll act on recommendations from his inspector general, who's expected to release her report soon. The placards placed on dashboards are issued by the state Homeland Security Department.

Cuomo says Wednesday he suspects the placards proclaiming the car is parked "for official police business" have been misused by some elected officials and state workers for 15 to 20 years. They are used to snag a good parking spot without fear of a ticket.

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California Applies for High Speed Rail Funds

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Here's the CA release:

CALIFORNIA SUBMITS APPLICATION FOR BILLIONS

IN RAIL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

State, Governor send strong signal that California is ready to put federal dollars to work

SACRAMENTO – The State of California submitted its application today for the federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program for billions in rail construction projects, including a request for funding to complete construction of the “backbone” of the planned statewide high-speed rail system.

The federal government recently announced that states can apply for Florida’s returned $2.43 billion in high-speed and intercity passenger rail funding. This funding includes $1.63 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and $800 million in Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Transportation funding. Applications were due today.

“California’s application seeks funding for projects that will be the building blocks for a statewide network of rail lines linking high-speed and intercity rail lines to regional rail lines,” wrote California Governor Edmund G. Brown in a letter introducing the state’s application. “The projects will provide the foundation for a transportation system that will improve mobility, help the environment, reduce energy dependency, and put Californians to work.”

The California High-Speed Rail Authority submitted its application for the entirety of the re-allocated funds, including a primary ask for funds to extend initial construction of its statewide system into downtown Merced and to downtown Bakersfield, including both stations and the complicated area of track known as the “Wye”, requesting $1.44 billion and offering a 20 percent state match from the Proposition 1A (2008) funding. This application seeks final design and construction funds for civil infrastructure, including track work, and two stations.

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US DOT: No Tarmac Delays Longer Than Three Hours in February, down from 60 in Feb 2010

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

This in from the US DOT:

The nation’s largest airlines reported no flights in February with tarmac delays of more than three hours, down from 60 flights in February 2010, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, showed there have been only 16 total tarmac delays of more than three hours reported from May 2010 through February 2011 by the airlines that file on-time performance data with DOT, compared to 664 reported from May 2009 through February 2010.  In February, the carriers also reported that .0400 percent of their scheduled flights had tarmac delays of two hours or more, down from the .0600 percent reported in January 2011

February was the 10th full month of data since the new aviation consumer rule went into effect on April 29, 2010.  The new rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.  The Department will investigate tarmac delays that exceed this limit.

During February, when large parts of the country experienced severe winter weather, the carriers canceled 4.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 5.4 percent in February 2010 and 3.9 percent in January 2011.

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NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Applying for High Speed Rail $$

Monday, April 04, 2011

And now, this in:

Albany, NY (April 4, 2011)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is seeking approximately $517 million in federal funding for eight projects that advance New York's high-speed rail plans.

"Days after my election as Governor, I began pushing for more federal money for high-speed rail because New York has projects across the state that are ready to go," Governor Cuomo said. "New York is embracing high-speed rail as a faster way to move people and products and drive our economy in the 21st century, and these federal resources would help us achieve these goals."

The projects cover an array of vital infrastructure upgrades across New York that will continue to lay the groundwork for wide-scale high-speed service in New York. The federal government has made $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding available after it was returned by the State of Florida.

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The projects include:

Northeast Corridor Congestion Relief: Harold Interlocking: The largest application is for $294.7 million for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Harold Interlocking plan.

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Hear That? Construction Season Begins

Monday, April 04, 2011

Construction Season Begins (Photo: Andrea Bernstein)

If it seems a bit messier and a bit noisier, it's because street construction season is beginning. (We're also getting lots of  reminders from US and local DOT's about watching out for those workers while driving).  Weather's warming, projects are getting going.  Yes, it's a seasonal industry, but in the Northeast, it sure was a looooong winter. -- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation

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Amtrak applies for High-Speed Rail Money

Monday, April 04, 2011

We're beginning to get word of applications for Florida's High Speed Rail money (the applications are due today.)

This in, from Amtrak..we'll post more as get 'em...and more analysis later.

AMTRAK SEEKS $1.3 BILLION FOR GATEWAY PROJECT AND NEXT-GENERATION HIGH-SPEED RAIL ON NEC

Portal Bridge, Hudson River Tunnels, NY Penn Station among projects

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is applying for nearly $1.3 billion in recently available high-speed and intercity passenger rail federal funding to move forward with a series of infrastructure improvements -- including the Gateway Project --as critical first steps to bring next-generation high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

“The Northeast Corridor is a premier region in the country to advance the nation’s high-speed rail program,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.  “The Gateway Project improvements to increase passenger rail capacity and access into the heart of Manhattan are absolutely essential to make next-generation high-speed rail a reality,” he added.

A recent decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to name the NEC a federally designated high-speed rail corridor allows Amtrak to apply directly for this funding.

Amtrak worked closely with its state partners to coordinate projects election in order to maximize the expected regional improvements.  Each of the coordinated projects submitted by Amtrak and individual states are vital for the reliability and capacity of the current NEC network, and are critical building blocks for expanded and higher speed intercity passenger rail service.

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Specifically, Amtrak is requesting funding for three Gateway projects including for a $720 million project to replace the more than 100-year-old movable Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey with a new, high-level fixed bridge.  The Amtrak request is for $570 million with a contribution from the State of New Jersey of up to $150 million.

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In Case You Missed It: Bike Lane Poll Shows Remarkable Stability in Opinion

Monday, April 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  In case you missed it over the weekend (what, on a beautiful Saturday you weren't plunked in front of a screen?), here's my analysis of the poll Jim Brennan released on Brooklyn's Prospect Park West bike lane.  (Never has a mile of roadway been so parsed.  But anyway.)

Essentially, its results are identical to the Brad Lander survey taken in December.  That shows a remarkable steadiness in public opinion, despite heated coverage in almost every form of media, and noisy and vehement arguing on both sides.

The bike lane remains the choice of the plurality of respondants...and if you add in those who want to keep it with (unspecified) changes, that turns into a big majority.

The analysis is here.

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Transportation and Transit Apps Slay in NYC App Contest

Monday, April 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The software developer Roadify won the grand prize in the NYC government-sponsored "Big App Compeitition." The app has allowed users of the B-67 bus to "give' or "receive" information about bus arrival times, thus allowing the wisdom of the crowd to give faster, more accurate, and more true-to-life bus arrival times than the signs posted on MTA placards at bus stops.

Dylan Goelz, one of the founders of Roadify (whose slogan has been, "Put the Community in Commuting")  says wining was "a complete shock."  Roadify just recently launched a subway for all New York City subway lines.

Its prize-winning software also dispenses crowd-sourced parking and traffic information.

Other winners include Wheeels, which allows users to find, and potentially share, nearby car-services to say,the airport.  and bestparking.com which allows users to find the nearest, best, or cheapest parking at any given time.

Brandon Kessler, who ran the competition, say transit and transportation apps mesh perfectly with the current "zeitgeist." He says: "milions of people are going too and from work . There's a a huge amount of lost efficiency, and frustration.' Kessler adds that billions of dollars can potentially be saved if straphangers can share real-time information about where a bus or subway is, versus where it's scheduled to be.

The NYC MTA is also pretty enthusiastic about the apps -- anything that can make the system easier to use redounds well to the cash-strapped transit system, which recently underwent huge service cuts and big fare hike.

"We need to improve real time information," MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.  We But don’t have resources to do everything, these apps will create things at no cost to us that really help our customers."

The MTA has already starting installing countdown clocks on some platforms and hopes to have 2000 by the end of 2011, and is experimenting with real-time bus information on its B-63 bus in Brookklyn, available through mobile phones.  All of Staten Island will get the service by the end of the year.

Information on all the winning apps is here.

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On PPW Bike Lane: They Like It. They Really Like It.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  The most interesting thing about Assemblymember's Jim Brennan's scientific poll of people living in neighborhoods around Prospect Park is how remarkably consistent opinion is on the two-way, protected bike lane.  It was installed last June, reducing automobile traffic from three lanes to two.  But there has been noisy discussion around it -- and a lawsuit to remove it -- ever since.

When Councilmember Brad Lander did a 3000-person survey back in December, 49 percent of respondents said they wanted to keep the bike lane as is, 22 percent said they wanted to keep it with changes, and 29 percent said they wanted to remove it.

When Brennan hired a national polling firm to do a statistically significant survey of how some park-bordering communities felt, 44 percent of respondents said keep it as is, 25 percent said it should be altered in some way,and 28 percent wanted to remove it.

Thus, in December of 2010, 71 percent of those surveyed wanted the bike lane to remain, 30 percent did not.  Today, 69  percent of respondents want the bike lane to remain (albeit some want changes) while 29 percent wanted it removed.  That difference is minuscule, and certainly well with the margin of error on Brennan's poll, 4.5 percentage points.

Given all the press that the lawsuit against the bike lane has gotten -- and all the opportunities for both sides to make their arguments, the sentiment has been remarkably consistent.  Nothing is moving these numbers.

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"This is only the most recent proof that bike lanes and this particular bike lane are and is popular,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told me in in a telephone interview. “Sixteen points is a pretty overwhelming margin. If you have a sixteen point electoral victory they call it a landslide.” (Wolfson, having been a top aide in Hillary Clinton's campaign for President, knows something about elections.)

But if this were an election campaign, it's almost impossible to think of numbers holding like this.   Some public officials have been loudly and vocally berating bike lanes -- the lanes have literally become a punch line.  The tabloids have run anti-NYC DOT headlines for days in a row.  Even the NY Times and NY Magazine have raised the question of whether bike lanes can turn New Yorkers against Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Apparently not.  The Lander survey -- not scientific, but sampling a broad range of opinions using an array of techniques, the Brennan poll, and a recent Quinnipiac poll showing overall, 54 percent of New Yorkers say bike lanes are "a good thing" vs. 38 percent who do not -- would seem to indicate that, actually, bike lanes are one of the more popular things Mayor Bloomberg has done.  (His education numbers by contrast, show only about a third of New Yorkers approve what he's doing in the schools.)

Now, this doesn't mean there isn't dissent.  The Brennan poll probed depths of feeling, and found that both sides felt strongly about their positions, but more of those who are opposed felt strongly in their position.  That's exactly the kind of feeling that gives rise to angry testimony at the city council, lobbying of elected representatives, and, even lawsuits.

But apparently, these strongly held beliefs are not persuading people on the other side.

Now, there were some interesting secondary questions in the poll.   More people than not said  the bike lane made traffic, presumably automobile traffic, worse.  But that's what the members of Community Board were aiming for -- cars were speeding, they wanted them to slow down, they thought trimming Prospect Park West to two automobile lanes from three would have that effect. In general, slower speeds are experienced as more traffic-- whether you like to drive,walk, or bike.

What would be really interesting to know, and traffic engineers have studied this in elsewhere ,is whether making Prospect Park West a less auto-friendly street has affected the overall volume of automobile traffic in Park Slope.

Gridlock Sam one related to me a tale of how, when the West Side Highway fell down, he and the other engineers at City DOT were convinced that surrounding streets would be inundated with traffic -- and they were, for a while. But as they studied the traffic patterns over time what they found was that traffic was dispersing through the grid, and that a full 1/3 of it simply disappeared altogether as people switched to other modes.

A highway, former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist once argued to me, draws traffic.In fact, because drivers will go out of their way to take a route they see as faster. But if you remove a highway (as he did) it doesn't mean 40,000 cars traveling on the highway will suddenly be plunked down into the surrounding streets.  Ultimately, what happened in Milwaukee is that traffic volume dropped as cars dispersed around the street grid.

Was Prospect Park West functioning in the same way, pre-bike lane,when it was faster to drive on?  Were drivers going out of their way to take PPW versus, say, Seventh Avenue, two blocks over, a notoriously slow commercial street?  (PPW is mostly residential.)

But back to the poll.  Jim Walden, the attorney for the group suing to remove the bike lane, was clear in his dismissal of this poll:  "Safety is not a popularity contest," he said.

But he couldn't resist parsing the numbers, anyway.

"Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows.  But DOT's own data tell the same story, and the numbers don't lie:  people feel less safe because they are less safe.  In the end, safety is not a popularity contest.”

The poll does not decisively show pedestrians feel less safe:  It shows most of the respondents -- a plurality -- feel neither safer nor less safe.  In fact , 44 percent either feel no impact  (38 percent) , or aren't sure (6 percent).  Thirty three percent feel less safe, and 22 percent feel safer.

The lawsuit argues that the DOT manipulated safety data to make it look as if the bike lane were making the street safer.

Some other interesting numbers -- two thirds of respondents said they owned a car that they used regularly, while only a third said they biked regularly.  Which means that drivers are for the bike lane in pretty big numbers.

Unfortunately, the poll didn't ask a follow up question to the 25 percent who said they were "in favor of altering the bike lane and traffic pattern to address driver and pedestrian concerns," so its impossible to know what those people meant -- putting in pedestrian signals, islands, and adding parking spaces, as Councilman Lander has advocated?  Make the bike lane one-way, instead of two way, as some bike lane opponents have articulated?

The battle now really does move to the courts, as the court of public opinion seems to have weighed in.  The first hearing is scheduled for May 18.

Except, somehow, I'm guessing we haven't heard the last word.  From anyone.

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Poll Finds Large Plurality Supports Brooklyn Bike Lane

Friday, April 01, 2011

A new poll finds a large plurality of people living near Prospect Park, Brooklyn, support keeping a two-way, protected bike lane as is along Prospect Park West.

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BREAKING Poll: Plurality Favors Keeping Prospect Park West Bike Lane As Is

Friday, April 01, 2011

Prospect Park Bike Lane

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Assemblymember Jim Brennan of Brooklyn is out with a poll showing 44 percent of residents favor keeping the two-way, protected bike lane on Prospect Park West in place, 28% favor removing it, and 25% favor altering it to respond to pedestrian and driver concerns.

Brennan said, “I did the poll because I thought it would be helpful to get an accurate read on public opinion about the bike lane from a professional pollster using standard statistical sampling techniques."

The poll in many ways reflects the finding of a survey earlier conducted by City Councilmember Brad Lander, which found three quarters in favor of keeping the bike lane..  We'll have more analysis on this, but here's a summary.  (Full poll at end of post)

 48% said it was a change for the better, and 32% said it was a changes for the worse. 20% had no opinion.

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 Results break along demographic lines: Younger residents under 50 definitely support the bike lane (59%), while residents over 50 tend to oppose it (44%) rather than support it (36%). Younger residents favor keeping the bike lane as is (57%), while older residents are in favor of changing it (25%) or getting rid of it (39%) instead of keeping it (30%).

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BREAKING: Deal to save LI Bus

Friday, April 01, 2011

This just in:

We'll have more in a bit.

MTA, NASSAU COUNTY, STATE SENATE ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT
TO SAVE LONG ISLAND BUS SERVICE

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Nassau County and State Senate Republicans, lead by Senator Charles Fuschillo (R, Merrick) and Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola), today announced an agreement to stave off proposed cuts to Long Island Bus that would have affected more than half of the bus routes in  Nassau County.

“We have heard from many of our constituents that depend on Long Island Bus services to get to work, school or go shopping,” Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “They are very concerned that if these cuts go through, they will have no other way to get around.  Fortunately, we were able to reach an agreement to avert the cuts and prevent any disruption in service. I want to thank Senator Fuschillo and Senator Martins for their leadership in responding to this issue.”

“A number of communities in Nassau County would have lost bus service entirely, leaving riders who live and work in those communities with no alternative way to get to their homes or jobs,” Senator Fuschillo, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said.  “Riders are tired of hearing about problems, they want to hear solutions and we were happy to finally achieve a solution.  I’m pleased that we were able to work together with the MTA and Nassau County to prevent the harmful service cuts as well as avoid layoffs.”

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The MTA proposed cutting 27 of the 48 Long Island Bus routes this summer due to a lack of funding.  The cuts would have impacted about 16,000 riders. The MTA was scheduled to vote on service cuts at its April board meeting.  Several hundred Long Island Bus riders attended a public hearing at Hofstra University last week to express their concerns over the service cuts.

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Make the Holland Tunnel a Bike Tunnel?

Friday, April 01, 2011

On April 1(!) Brian Lehrer asked listeners to weigh in on the proposal to transform the Holland Tunnel into a bike-only tunnel to be re-named the Charles Schumer Tunnel.  Political perspective from Andrea Bernstein

Segment here.

What do you think about this bike lane expansion project?

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NY Congressman Mocks Himself on Parking Ticket Debt

Thursday, March 31, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) NY Congressman Anthony Weiner is seen as "a contenda" in New York's next Mayoral election (okay, in 2013, but people need something to talk about while we're waiting for spring).

The youngish outer-borough congressmember got lots of airtime (and kudos from the kind of people who vote in Democratic primaries for Mayor)  for supporting a public option in health care reform.

But he has been in hot water in some communities for telling the New York Times that he said at a Mayoral dinner: "When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your (expletive) bike lanes.”  (He later tweeted that he was "joking.")

Then, Roll Call found he owed $2,180 in DC parking tickets -- an embarrassment since he's been particularly vocal about United Nations diplomats failing to pay their parking tickets.   He jokes about it in this video at the Congressional Correspondents Dinner.

Rehabilitating himself?

Via Azi, in the New York Observer Politicker

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