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A ‘night mayor’ for New York, Brooklyn’s oil spill, and the Grammys return

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Four things you need to know today

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

Bus vs. bike share: who wins?

Citi Bike launched just about four years ago in New York City, and in that time it’s built up a pretty devoted audience; in 2016, the service saw 14 million trips, the highest number since its launch. But has it had a tangible effect on the number of people using public transit? A new study says yes: according CityLab, which first reported on the study, “for every thousand Citi Bike docks added along Brooklyn and Manhattan bus routes, bus trips dropped by 2.42 percent.”

Citi Bike is becoming more popular with New York commuters.

Granted, there are some caveats to this research: It was based on bus ridership and Citi Bike trips taken between 2012 and 2014 (so, with just one year of Citi Bike ridership to look at), and because of Citi Bike’s limited area of coverage, there’s only data from Manhattan and Brooklyn to look at. But as Ben Kabak, who runs Second Avenue Sagas, tweeted, it’s “significantly faster” to bike in NYC, based on purely anecdotal evidence, so this isn’t exactly a surprise. (And previous studies have shown that New Yorkers are using the service as a way to shorten their commutes.)

For their part, the authors hope that their work will inspire transit officials to think more creatively about solving issues related to bus usage. “Overall, not just in New York but also in many other major cities, we are seeing decreases in bus ridership,” Candace Brakewood, an assistant professor at City College of New York and one of the study’s authors, told CityLab. “Bike share is one contributor of many.”

The Grammys head to New York

The last time the Grammys were held in New York City, way back in 2003, the big hit was “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones (who’s likely busy fixing up her Brooklyn townhouse these days), Simon & Garfunkel performed together for the first time in years, and there were still awards for polka and New Age music. Who’d’ve thought?

While it’s unlikely that most of those things will happen at the 2018 Grammys, at least one thing will be the same: the ceremony itself is moving back to New York, with Mayor de Blasio announcing this week that it’ll take place at (ugh) Madison Square Garden.

Spike Lee even made a video celebrating the news, with assists from megaproducer Nile Rodgers, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, and Cyndi Lauper, which you can watch below.

Oil spill’s aftereffects

An oil leak from a ConEd substation in Brooklyn continues to cause problems, three days after the spill occurred. According to a statement ConEd provided to Gothamist, the company will “continue to assess the volume of oil that migrated to the East River, and how much oil remains in the ground on our property” and is working with outside agencies—including the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Coast Guard—to keep tabs on issues arising from the spill.

Even though the clean-up is underway, the effects are still being felt by residents near the East River waterfront. Brownstoner reported a “heavy smell of petroleum” was in the air in Dumbo, and multiple people on Twitter and elsewhere noted that oil slicks were visible on the water. (Just in case it needs to be said, stay out of the water.)

The new citywide ferry is also being impacted: on the Coast Guard’s recommendation, vessels on the East River must travel slowly through the affected areas, leading to delays in service, per the NYC Ferry website. Its Twitter feed is also a good source of information.

The Night Mayor cometh?

For as long as New York has been a hotbed for nightlife, it’s also had foes who make it harder for clubs and DIY art spaces to thrive. (See: the Giuliani administration, which used the city’s cabaret law as a cudgel.) The city’s byzantine laws regulating these kinds of venues can make it hard for them to thrive.

And in recent years, the city’s aggressive real estate market has made its own mark, with DIY venues like Glasslands Gallery and Death by Audio shuttering in the face of rising real estate values.

But there’s some hope for those who bemoan these changes: City Council member Rafael Espinal, who represents Brooklyn’s 37th district (which covers neighborhoods like Cypress Hills, East New York, and Bushwick), has proposed a city-run Office of Nightlife, with a “night mayor”—similar to positions that have been created in Berlin and London—who would ensure the health and wealth of New York’s many clubs and music venues.

Espinal told Gothamist that “I want to make sure that we're not a city where artists' ability to express themselves is hindered by bureaucracy,” which is a noble effort indeed. Though a fleshed-out proposal isn’t quite there yet, Espinal hopes to have hearings on the proposal sometime this year. Fingers crossed!