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Vision Zero town hall gets cameo from Pleasentville provocateur

Tal Barzilai speaks! Serial commentator makes real-life appearance

The Brooklyn Paper
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A longtime fan of our website and chronic comment-section pot-stirrer showed his face in real life at a road-safety hearing last week and, true to form, what followed was controversial.

A man who shares a name the name with prolific BrooklynPaper.com commentator Tal Barzilai from PLeasantville, N.Y. made an in-the-flesh appearance at a Borough Hall meeting on Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic deaths to zilch. Dedicated readers took to Twitter to voice their excitement at apparently seeing Barzilai, known for his lengthy, combative posts about why pedestrians and cyclists should face ramped-up traffic enforcement from police, at the Downtown event, 39 miles from his supposed Westchester County home.

“OMG he’s real!” road-safety advocate David Dartley tweeted during the meeting. “The man, the legend, Tal Barzilai.”

The online Barzilai’s provocations on the subject of bike-rider and walker accountability, opponents to which he regularly equates with apologists for the Palestinian political party Hamas, often drive Reader Feedback threads below Brooklyn Paper articles to more than 50 comments. Nor is his prolific output limited to this illustrious news website.

A commentator named Tal Barzilai has also spewed opinions in the comment sections of the WNYC and New York Times websites, so much so that copycats have popped up, according to one Tal-watcher.

“You never know if it’s the real Tal or one of his many doppelgang­ers,” said Park Slope road-safety activist Eric McClure, who encountered the apparent actual Barzilai at last Monday’s forum.

At the hearing, where Brooklynites were invited to sound off on Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero push to reduce traffic deaths to zilch by 2024, Barzilai took to the mic to repeat his call for a crackdown on human-powered commuters.

“I feel like Vision Zero only punishes one group only, which is the motorists,” he said. “I have been on a number of city streets, and I’ve seen more cyclists and pedestrians flouting laws than any motorist ever have.”

The provocateur added that some who have been run over and killed in recent years were at fault.

“I do give my condolences to those that were hit, but when I read the full review, some actually got hit by not looking,” he said. “I’m not saying that they meant to, but if they had taken some alertness, some of the accidents could have actually been avoided.”

But Barzilai is no one-issue pundit.

“He was a real stalwart during the Atlantic Yards saga,” McClure said.

For all his flame-fanning, the suburb-dwelling serial-screed-writer has never explained why he cares so much about what happens in Kings County.

Someone shouted down the real-life Barzilai during a 2006 hearing on the Atlantic Yards mega-development, telling him to “go back up to Pleasantvi­lle,” McClure said.

Brooklynite or no, Barzilai made some good points on the hot-button mega-development at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, in McClure’s estimation.

“His epitaph will read, ‘Here lies Tal Barzilai — so right about Atlantic Yards, so wrong about bike lanes,’ ” he said.

Barzilai left the Borough Hall hearing before we could talk to him. An online phone directory lists a Tal Barzilai in Pleasantville, N.Y, but he could not be reached for additional comment.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Lead sentence changed.
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Reasonable discourse

Fuggedaboutit from Brooklyn says:
The Brooklyn Paper is almost becoming as worthless as its comments section already is.
April 7, 2014, 9:58 am
Tal Watcher from Unpleasantville, NY says:
If only ty had been there, too! The Vision Zero town hall might still be going on with just the two of them arguing back and forth for days.
April 7, 2014, 10:01 am
tali from bali says:
He left before you could talk to him? Why didn't you follow him outside? Or take a trip to his house and see if it's even him?
April 7, 2014, 10:43 am
ddartley from Manhattan says:
Ha ha if I were a journalist then perhaps it would have been best for me to confirm that the gentleman pictures was indeed *the* Mr. Barzilai before tweeting what I...twought... but after the meeting adjourned I approached the pictured gentleman outside the meeting room to say hello and tell him that he is indeed famous, and he did indeed mention Hamas, so he probably is the real deal.
April 7, 2014, 10:49 am
ddartley from Manhattan says:
*pictured
April 7, 2014, 10:50 am
Jay from Nyc says:
Ok this guy looks like what I pictured tal to look like, but Iam calling b.s. on thus story for a number of reasons, since when does a paper call people a troll and say they live under the tappan zee bridge? Does BP have evidence that Tal lives under the tappan zee instead of his moms basement?If no, then their standards and reviews deprtment would never let them use languge like that for fear of being sued. Second BP never talked to the guy so easly could be a copycat or even a plant. Finally Iam skeptical of this story as it seems bp is using tal to boost their readership. This could be dhd or ty for all I know. This story is about as relaible as reports that elvis and big e. small were spotted at burger king in idaho yesterday.
April 7, 2014, 12:32 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Perhaps Tal should sue the Brooklyn Paper. I must say that that is exactly what he should look like, even if he doesn't.
April 7, 2014, 1:44 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Since everyone wants to talk about how he looks, I'll add that I was surprised he seemed that young. I expected someone at least 55.
April 7, 2014, 2:06 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Disregarding the impersonations, I am not a person who is afraid to show myself in public. Had I known I was going to be interviewed after the Vision Zero hearing, I would have stayed more than half an hour later, but knowing that I had driven to the place, I had to get back to my car to use the Brooklyn Bridge before it would close at 11 PM on the Manhattan-bound side for the night, which is why I left around 10 PM that night. Also, I don't why the Brooklyn Paper waited until only last Friday to call me when that could have been done during the week rather than the lost possible minute to do so. Nevertheless, my fight for activism even predates the Atlantic Yards as it goes all the way back to the WTC site on calling for the Twin Towers to be rebuilt as early as around the end of 2001 when I went to a public hearing at Peter Stuyvesant HS over in BPC calling for that. If you even place my name in Google with quotations, one of the first results will be an essay I submitted on PBS's America Rebuilds back in 2002, which also calls for the Twin Towers to be rebuilt. Of course, I still keep that alive with even some recent letters not that long ago on the Daily News, NY Post, and Downtown Express, plus I even got two essays in a book titled, "Debacle: Failing to Rebuild the Twin Towers", which was written by Joe Wright a few years ago. For those asking about that image, that is what I actually look like, so they didn't get it wrong. As more my age, I am 30 years old with a birthday coming up in a month. Meanwhile, getting some negative reactions from others be it family members of either the 9/11 attacks or vehicle accidents or even supporters of road pricing or Atlantic yards, this isn't something new for me as I have been facing with such for the last decade. Overall, to quote Eminem in one of his most recent songs, "I'm not afraid to take a stand."
April 7, 2014, 2:57 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Glad I kept my mouth shut at that thing.
April 7, 2014, 3:20 pm
Max Jaeger from Brooklyn Paper says:
Tal,

Someone called me from a Pleasentville number you were listed under in the White Page. She left me a message with your cell phone number. I tried calling several times, but it goes straight to a not-yet-set-up voicemail box.

Give me a call at (718) 260-8303 or e-mail me with your phone number so we can chat.
April 7, 2014, 3:20 pm
NYPD from NY says:
So I was right about Tal's weight all along. And he also fits swampdonkey and cryhipster's decription of a hipster.
BWAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAAAAA!
April 7, 2014, 3:38 pm
XTC from BROOKLYN says:
I love Tal. I love his comments. I love that he annoys you idiots. Especially the one guy with the 13 aliases that verbally spars back and forth in the comments with himself all night and day. Can you say medication time? Can one of his identities suggest it to all the others? Seriously, get help.
Tal rules. Long live Tal.
April 7, 2014, 4:21 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Pardon me, but I wish to thank the above poster, located above (↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑).
Pardon the interruption.
It does often irritate me that sometimes these zealots impersonate me and launch personal attacks, but what can I do? Perhaps they are just jealous of my online fame. Of course this is strictly the opinion of your own Tal Barzilai.
Enjoy the day, if you don't mind.
April 7, 2014, 4:35 pm
ty from pps says:
I was right.
April 7, 2014, 4:46 pm
Matto says:
Can we talk about Vision Zero and how stupid it is for a minute?
April 7, 2014, 6:06 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For those who didn't go to that hearing, I was applauded for what I had to say about Vision Zero. Even a police officer complimented me on this as was someone sitting near me. The truth is that you can't have safe streets until every group is following the rules, not just one. Do you really think that if all motorists followed the rules tomorrow, it all stops? I would think not. BTW, it's possible for you to get hit even when my group does follow them especially when you aren't. This is why I support more enforcement on cyclists and pedestrians that refuse to follow the rules as well. I did agree with the person who said that reducing the speed limits will do no good if the current one isn't being enforced, plus you still have pedestrians and cyclists that continue to place themselves into harm's way by flouting the laws. At least going there shows that I don't hide behind an online message boards making attacks from behind my computer screen unlike many here that do. Overall, I do care about safety, but it's not like something that just comes off some bumper sticker, which really doesn't look for solutions, just talking points only.
April 7, 2014, 6:16 pm
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
For whatever reason, I though Tal Barzilai was a Brazilian name and that there was a serious ESL factor to his posts. Now I will recalibrate and read them through the lens of 'therapy'.
April 7, 2014, 7:38 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ned, my nationality is Israeli, not Brazilian, and my mention of Hamas should have given you a clue to that.
April 7, 2014, 9:02 pm
Bkdude64 says:
And why is the Bp So familiar with tal and his comments?

thats odd.
April 7, 2014, 10:45 pm
Brooklynite from Brooklyn says:
Tal was most assuredly not applauded for what he said. In fact, a chill was cast over the room when he essentially blamed victims of traffic violence for their own deaths. This, after people described loved ones who had been killed on sidewalks or in crosswalks.

There was no applause.
April 8, 2014, 9:34 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Brooklynite, were you even there that day? I didn't hear one of those families trying to gang up at me and slamming me for what I said that night. All I hear was an applause from the audience. Maybe they chose to keep it to themselves because they would make themselves look bad for doing such. The only reason why this article headlined me was mainly for the fact that I had to travel the furthest to get there hence bragging rights. Meanwhile, I can see that Streetsblog hasn't linked this article, though it could have been for not being worth it for them.
April 8, 2014, 2:40 pm
chessy says:
That's pure fantasy Brooklynite. There was a decidedly positive reception by many people in the room to his statements. I don't believe you were there one bit.
April 8, 2014, 2:41 pm
Joseph from Bay Ridge says:
Dude is the village idiot. From Pleasantville.
April 9, 2014, 11:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Joesph, at least I had the guts to go there and express how I felt about Vision Zero unlike, who hides and attacks others behind a computer screen like a coward.
April 10, 2014, 5:31 pm
Joseph from Bay Ridge says:
Your still an idiot. An outspoken idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

Speaking up with your own personal interest in mind with no obvious grasp of the issue at hand verifies that fact.
April 10, 2014, 10:17 pm

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