Streetfilms: Yesterday’s Traffic Relief Rally at City Hall

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Citywide Coalition for Traffic Relief Press Conference

A few quick scenes from yesterday’s event
Running time: 2:02

"As this city is booming, it’s not moving," lamented City Councilmember Gale Brewer outside City Hall yesterday. But with support from 125 civic groups in five boroughs, the Citywide Coalition for Traffic Relief assembled behind her and outlined an agenda that could change that condition. The coalition, which formed around a year ago, calls for a 15% reduction of traffic by 2009. The plan calls for a serious study of congestion pricing, strict enforcement of parking regulations, and more room on the sidewalks for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Upper West Side City Councilmember Gale Brewer announced that the council will hold hearings next year on Intro 199, legislation that she has introduced to compel DOT to put in place a more meaningful set of performance measures and specific targets for traffic reductions. She also said she would schedule hearings on a DOT study due in 2007 that will count vehicles, violations and pedestrians on Manhattan’s west side, from Central Park to the Hudson River and between 57th Street and 86th Street.

Gorman Reilly of Civitas Citizens called for "more improved bus service." Sandra Garcia, a member of the community-based organization Sustainable South Bronx urged reducing truck traffic and reconceiving the little-used Sheridan Expressway as a waterfront greenway. Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White told the crowd that 22 percent of all car trips in the city last less than a mile and that one in ten drivers in Manhattan’s core are cruising for parking space.

The coalition plans to work with elected officials and within its network to promote sensible reform. As Transportation Alternatives’ Matthew Roth told the crowd, "New York is a city of pedestrians." With 125 members, the coalition is pressing the city’s officials to bring the law into step with the facts.

  • Dan Icolari

    Maybe it was a slow news day. Perhaps that’s why the Advance, Staten Island’s daily newspaper gave the Coalition press conference such prominent coverage. It’s today’s lead story on the paper’s website (silive.com).

    Rather than dismissing the press conference as significant only for Manhattanites, the Advance story drew connections between the Coalition’s five-point proposal and the current traffic situation on Staten Island.

    The story even gave space to my principal complaint, which is that to get any attention from transportation planners, you have to have wheels attached. Even among more thoughtful observers and activists, pedestrians are seen principally as victims–as people who didn’t get out of the way of a bike, car, truck or bus fast enough.

    I think we need to promote walking as a transportation alternative as vigorously as we promote biking and mass transit. Acknowledge the health benefits, but elevate the discussion. Position walking not solely or mostly as a form of exercise but as personal transportation at its most practical, economical and energy efficient.

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