Poll: NYC Blames Bloomberg for Failure to Deal With Traffic

Broadway_Bloomberg_Gridlock.jpg
A Broken Street: Broadway north of Houston St. on an August Friday. New Yorkers want the Mayor to fix it.

The so-called "greatest city in the world" doesn’t even have decently-paved streets, let alone cutting edge transportation features like bus rapid transit, neighborhood traffic calming plans or bicycle-friendly avenues. It may be time to consider planning and transportation policy as Board of Education-type problems, where a top-to-bottom overhaul of city agencies is needed.

— Jon Orcutt, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

An important new survey says that New Yorkers believe that traffic congestion is a major problem plaguing New York City and that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is dong an inadequate job in addressing it.

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s telephone survey of 800 New Yorkers:

59% of New Yorkers say the mayor is doing only a "fair" to "poor" job of reducing traffic jams and delays on city streets, highways and bridges. On only one other issue, increasing the stock of affordable housing, does the Mayor receive a higher net negative rating (60%). Mayor Bloomberg receives the highest net positive marks for keeping parks clean and safe (63%) and reducing crime (57%).

These findings come from a random telephone survey of 800 New York City residents in the five boroughs conducted May 19 through June 4, 2006, by Michaels Opinion Research. "The daily grind of gridlock and its impact rarely makes headlines, but the survey results show that New Yorkers have strong opinions about the problem and expect more action from Mayor Bloomberg to solve it," said Maureen Michaels, president of Michaels Opinion Research.

Discontent with the Mayor’s performance on traffic congestion cuts across most segments of the city’s population, but residents of Staten Island appear especially angry about traffic jams and delays 82% give an overall negative rating to the mayor, despite his announcement of a new transportation plan for the borough this spring.

  • While 62% of motor vehicle owners give the Mayor a negative rating on reducing traffic jams and delays throughout the city, non-vehicle owners are not satisfied with his performance either (56% negative), nor are those who drive to work (70% negative).
  • Dissatisfaction with the Mayor’s performance on traffic issues also cuts across age and income groups, though a solid third of middle and upper income residents give intensely negative ratings (33%-36% rate the job he is doing on traffic issues as "poor").
  • And among the working population, 59% of those who work below 60th Street in Manhattan and 67% of those working outside Manhattan say the Mayor has done, at best, a fair-to-poor job reducing traffic on city streets, highways and bridges.

"Let’s face it, the Bloomberg administration has accomplished next to nothing on traffic problems since taking office. A few potentially promising initiatives, like speeding buses through traffic and enforcing truck routes, seem stuck as endless studies," said Kate Slevin, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, sponsor of the survey project.

Download the full report, here.

Video still by Clarence Eckerson

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  • Phil

    It’s time for Bloomberg to start congestion pricing in NYC.

  • For the record, I believe that the photo is not Broadway below Canal Street, rather Broadway between Prince and Spring Streets in SoHo.

    And as bad as the traffic is, those illegal street peddlers on Broadway also make it difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to navigate.

    A friend was struck by a car’s side mirror on Prince Street because he had to walk on the street due to abject sidewalk congestion from the street peddlers.

  • clarence

    Oh yes, SoHoSean is correct. I meant to say above Canal Street when I sent to Aaron, not below. It is somewhere between Canal and Houston and I will take his word it is Pince and Spring (although the whole street was like that between Canal and Houston, just couldn’t get it all on video from my perch.

  • I say, keep the vendors since they add to the area’s community and commercial life and get rid of the huge amount of space that is set aside for people to park their cars on Broadway, Prince and Spring. Let pedestrians have that parking space.

    In fact, why not try a car-free Prince Street some nice summer Sunday afternoon and see how that works out? Let the vendors line up in the middle of Prince and let pedestrians have the rest of that space.

  • The peddlers are illegal. The vast majority do not have permits and the few that do are not permitted on Prince Street sidewalk because it is too narrow and does not allow the required amout of ‘ 8-feet pedestrian clearance’ as required by law.

    To close off streets to accommodate illegal peddlers is not a good idea. In fact, the residents of SoHo would like a bit of peace and quiet, not more activities that promote our community becoming a bazaar or mid-East souk. And where would the cars that are banned from Prince go? To Spring Street and make that thoroughfare worse?
    Until we ban cars in NYC that is not a good idea.

    I can think of no other residential community that has to put up with the crowds that we have had to endure for the past ten years.

    It benefits the merchants (legal and illegal) and the tourists, but makes this neighborhood very unpleasant to reside.

    Who wants to fight through throngs on the street to go to a deli to buy a quart of milk on the weekend?

  • Well, forget the illegal peddlers then.

    I still think one of the best thing that could happen for the neighborhood’s livability is getting the traffic out of Soho. I used to live on Thompson bet Spring and Broome so I’m well familiar with the issues you describe. I don’t see SoHo returning to the cool, quiet artist’s colony it was in the early 80s.

    As for where would the traffic go — most likely it would simply disappear. We’d almost certainly find that many of the drivers traveling into SoHo on weekends could be using other modes of transport if encouraged.

    I say try a Car-Free Prince and Spring Street on a few nice Sundays in Spring and Summer. Give it a shot. See how it works for all parties….

  • Some people have expressed interest in that concept but I think many would not approve. It would be the first street in NYC with such a distinction, right? An experiment can’t hurt. I just fear that it would further devolve core SoHo into a shopping mall and further erode the residential character. After all, some 9,000 people live in SoHo.

    I think that car owners are so wed to their vehicles, they would still come downtown by car and just clog the surrounding blocks until a broader approach is adopted, not just closing Prince.

    We both agree, I am sure, that tolling the East River Bridges, funding mass transit more, and making public parking too difficult for visitors permanently would help the problem.

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  • Uptown T

    I really think that pedestrians are a serious contributor to traffic issues. It is nearly imposible to make a turn at busy intersections during the short time that a light is green because there are too many pedestrians. I have seen a few intersections now where they give the green arrow to turning cars however, pedestrians do not follow the dont walk sign and feel that if the traffic parallel to them has a green light then they have the right of way. I think that if more regulations and consequences were placed on pedestrians, you would see at least a minor improvement in traffic jams.

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