Mayor de Blasio, Inequality, and Reforming NYC’s Streets

Bill de Blasio with Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams, two members of the City Council’s growing Progressive Caucus. Photo: NYC Public Advocate

One of the most insightful questions of the 2013 campaign season came two weeks ago, when WNYC’s Brian Lehrer asked Bill de Blasio if he considered transportation policy “one of his tools to fight inequality.”

De Blasio, who overwhelmed his opponents this election cycle by appealing to New Yorkers’ sense of economic fairness, gave this response:

Transportation determines opportunity, livability, business climate. For many people, the absence of affordable transportation, in outer-borough locations especially, constrains their opportunities.

Those two sentences are an excellent distillation of why de Blasio is viewed with a mixture of hope and trepidation by New Yorkers who care about livable streets.

You can tell the mayor-elect has a command of the issues. He gets that access to transit is linked to economic opportunity. Maybe he’s even taken a good long look at the Pratt Center’s maps showing the lengthy commutes that low-income New Yorkers grind through every workday.

And yet, he didn’t actually say “transit.” Intentionally or not, sticking to the neutral phrase “transportation” signaled an absence of commitment. In two sentences, de Blasio showed off his policy chops while managing to avoid the appearance of taking sides.

De Blasio’s policy book laid out ambitious goals for streets and transit, including pledges to adopt a zero tolerance stance toward traffic deaths and to allocate more street space to transit by implementing at least 20 BRT routes. By and large, though, these promises have stayed buried in campaign documents. While de Blasio stated his support for bike lanes and pedestrian plazas in interviews, it all seemed to carry less weight after the candidate said during a televised debate that “the jury’s out” on the major Midtown street reclamations.

Safe streets and quality transit never did make it into his stump speech. But once de Blasio begins governing the city, the management of New York’s streets will be one of the few areas in which he can make a noticeable mark on his signature issues — inequality and affordability.

The de Blasio campaign’s top policy proposal — raising income taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to fund universal pre-K — depends on Albany. If he pulls it off, the change could be profound, but it will take a generation for the effects to fully play out.

New York City’s streets, meanwhile, can be made more equitable while de Blasio is still mayor. Most households in New York (54 percent) don’t own cars, and households that do own cars earn more than twice as much, on average, as households that do not. Our streets, however, are designed to favor the privileged: A few well-off people in space-hogging SUVs can delay hundreds of less affluent people riding the bus. This is one thing that the mayor of New York has the power to change, if he wants to.

The inequality of NYC’s street system on full display at 125th Street. Photo: Benjamin Engle

It takes a lot of vision and willpower, not a lot of money, to turn traffic lanes into transitways. Protected bike lanes cost a pittance and can be built in a matter of days. Every step the mayor takes to make these modes of travel more viable not only helps less affluent New Yorkers who already don’t have cars, it lets more New Yorkers shed the tremendous cost of owning, fueling, insuring, and maintaining a motor vehicle.

Another powerful reform Mayor de Blasio could make on the affordability front would be to end the city’s minimum parking requirements. This misguided policy foists the costs of parking onto developers whether they want it or not, inhibiting the supply of housing and driving up the cost of living in NYC. Re-orienting NYC’s zoning code to prioritize the housing of people, not cars, is within the mayor’s control. It would be a tough fight that challenges car owners’ perception that plentiful off-street parking helps them land coveted, free curbside parking — the Bloomberg administration barely touched the issue in 12 years.

Some of the world’s great progressive mayors made their names by using transportation policy as a lever to reduce inequality. It was “Red” Ken Livingstone who enacted London’s congestion charge in 2003, creating immediate and lasting improvements to the city’s bus system. Bogota’s world-class BRT network and extensive bikeways arose from Mayor Enrique Penalosa’s conviction that the allocation of streets and public space is deeply enmeshed with issues of social equity. In his words, “A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen in a $30,000 car.”

Both faced intense skepticism and opposition to their ideas before they were vindicated by demonstrable success. And today that’s what has to be gnawing at New Yorkers who want to reform the status quo on our streets: Will Mayor de Blasio withstand the skeptics and opponents who’ll inevitably line up against the transportation proposals in his policy book? How will he react when merchants object to the loss of parking to make room for a busway? Will his emphasis on process yield real improvements to New York’s community board system, which is structured to favor stasis and the car-owning class, or will it become an excuse to shelve ambitious street redesigns that encounter resistance?

There’s more on the line than the streets of the nation’s largest city. Michael Bloomberg may not be known as a progressive, but his DOT, led by Janette Sadik-Khan, has sparked a wave of innovation in other American cities. More than any other public agency, NYC DOT is responsible for popularizing a multi-modal, complete streets approach to urban transportation — the same ideals espoused by the Obama administration. De Blasio’s dominant victory is being hailed as a sign of things to come, nationally, for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. But on transportation, it’s an open question whether New York will remain a beacon for progressive policy under de Blasio. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that he called Sadik-Khan a “radical.”

One cause for optimism is that de Blasio will be working with a City Council that seems increasingly aligned with the local livable streets movement. Veterans including Melissa Mark-Viverito and Brad Lander — who championed street redesigns in their districts — are de Blasio allies and may assume powerful leadership positions (Mark-Viverito is rumored to be de Blasio’s preferred speaker candidate), while newcomers like Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Vanessa Gibson, Ritchie Torres, and Mark Levine have shown more enthusiasm for overhauling their districts’ streets than the council members they replaced.

With an engaged advocacy community pressing for change, the pieces should be in place to keep making progress toward more humane and equitable streets. The candidate with the best livable streets platform won. New Yorkers can’t let Mayor de Blasio forget those promises.

  • Anonymous

    Not that you need me to tell you this but this piece is an excellent analysis of the present trajectory of transportation political-economy. Congratulations to you Ben.

  • J

    Very well said, Ben! Let’s just hope that de Blasio or a staffer reads this and takes it to heart. If Mayor de Blasio is serious about reducing inequality and creating more affordable housing, transportation policy is a fantastic place to start. The first item on the agenda of creating good transportation policy is selecting a knowledgeable, ambitious, and hard working transportation commissioner.

  • Anonymous

    Very well-written and -considered piece, Ben – nice work. I am fearful of where the Mayor-elect will take our city on these issues. Sadly, my “hope” or best case scenario is that he does not remove some what has been done, rather than that he will make positive future changes. I am somewhat upbeat about the Progressive Caucus – let’s hope they can push innovation.

  • Bolwerk

    Not one mention of the subway in this article? Transportation inequality isn’t being addressed if the backbone of the city’s transportation network isn’t grown. That’s like wanting to fix educational inequality and ignoring something foundational, like reading.

  • Morris Zapp

    I think the point of this post was quick and effective street-level fixes that the mayor can make on his own.

    Also transit was mentioned several times. Which, you know, includes the subways.

  • Bolwerk

    Quick fixes are very important for safety and livability, but they don’t do much address transportation inequality. People need mobility too, and subway access is necessary (if not sufficient) for mobility.

    When de Blasio talks about transit access, he doesn’t seem to be talking about subway access either.

  • Joe Enoch

    The Subway is indeed the backbone of the transit system, but as you may know, the mayor has basically zero control over the subway since the MTA is a state agency.

  • Joe Enoch

    Not going to lie: I’m seriously frightened de Blasio will reverse all the progress of the past 12 years. I think he’s a chronic panderer and will not fight back against outrageous “NY Post” headlines and vociferous status quo proponents. de Blasio made a strong appeal to bike advocates in the primary — when it really helped him stand out from the field of democrats. But then he went silent, even backtracking on the issues we care about. He’s not so popular that he’s immune to the loud criticisms against bike lanes and safer streets.

  • This post is about the new mayor, and the mayor controls the streets, not the subways. While the mayor can prevail upon the state-controlled MTA to take on his preferred subway expansion projects, doing so in an equitable manner is far beyond the mayor’s purview. Construction costs are out of control, and the MTA capital program is now funded entirely by debt, which means every expansion poses huge costs on straphangers. Meanwhile, even the city-financed 7 extension/Hudson Yards project is sucking more money than expected from the city budget.

    The assumption that surface street improvements can’t address inequality is fundamentally erroneous. In many cases, the most equitable path is to rearrange how the street functions. Done right, these are not small fixes, but major improvements addressing the transportation needs of low-income New Yorkers.

  • Bolwerk

    That’s not true. Bloomberg has even used city money to finance subway construction. The mayor should have more control, but the control he has is roughly on par with control he has over the bus system.

    Anyway, it’s not a lot to ask that de Blasio at least say something. It doesn’t cost anything to do that.

  • Dave Snyder

    This is a great article on the connection between active transportation and equity. Bravo!

  • Voter

    Even if it were true that the mayor could do more to improve and expand the subway, it would take years or even decades for new lines and stations to come online.

    The mayor could install five BRT lines in month if he had the political willpower.

  • J

    I think BRT, walking and biking, all are framed in the context of extending and improving the existing transit system, (based around the subway) by providing better access to that system. These surface modes are under the direct influence of the mayor and should be his primary focus.

    How else do you envision a mayor improving access the subway?

  • J

    I don’t see how walking, biking, and BRT do not provide mobility.

  • Voter

    And outer-borough taxis.

  • Bolwerk

    It goes without saying that some mayor is going to have to fight for more power and say over the city’s transportation network. In fact, a lot of changes to the power structure at every level are needed for every reform you care about – community boards come to mind as entities that will derail many of the reforms you mention. It’s not out of bounds to discuss these issues, and they need to be discussed together.

    I see surface conditions as a fundamental human rights issue. People shouldn’t die crossing the street, and have a right to recreational opportunities. However important that is to equality, it’s not sufficient. In our society, addressing inequality requires access to economic opportunities in faraway neighborhoods, whether they be jobs or better schools or social services.

  • Bolwerk

    Low-hanging rail fruit includes Rockaway and North Shore rail, and even new subsurface construction doesn’t need to be as expensive as the massive caverns being built in Manhattan.

    People seem to mean two different things when they talk about BRT: one is the private grade separated bus ROW, which is what Bogotá did. The other is the SBS NYC has been doing. The SBS uses existing infrastructure more efficiently and reduces costs, but if we’re going to build private bus ROWs we may as well just build subways or els.

    (Here’s a radical bus improvement: take over NYC’s noxious elevated highways and give them to buses as private ROWs.)

  • The appeal to societal equity and a progressive vision for enhancing our streets both gives the livable streets movement short shrift and is not entirely convincing to die-hard progressives.

    First, livable streets work better for everyone. They are cheaper for the city to maintain and they improve the mobility of people, not cars. This is only indirectly an equity issue. It is primarily an efficiency issue, which tends to appeal more to the business-minded data-centric folk like Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan. It is secondly a quality-of-life nonpartisan issue which will benefit most New Yorkers regardless of political ideology.

    Secondly, the areas that would benefit most from livable streets improvements are the densest areas of the city (even the Netherlands sees no need for bike lanes on low-traffic residential streets). Nowadays, these are also the most expensive areas of the city [streetsblog has covered plenty of times how outlying areas are the new enclaves of the poor]. A common complaint against bike-share is that it primarily serves the wealthy. People forget that bike share is privately run, and it simply isn’t profitable to serve low-density areas, rich or poor. Perhaps it is worthwhile to subsidize service to those areas in the name of social equity, but then you must give up on the system being self-sustaining.

    The same can be said for SBS on 125th street (a very expensive and increasingly white and rich area compared to, say, Bushwick or East New York). SBS works best in very dense neighborhoods, and in NYC an emphasis on cost-effectiveness will often be directly at odds with serving the poor first.

    Thus many progressives oppose livable streets on the grounds that it is spending money on “the rich,” even though such spending winds up saving the city money in the long-term. I am extremely skeptical of politicians approaching the livable streets movement primarily from a progressive social equity standpoint Such pols can easily be convinced to support making changes in the wrong places, which will subsequently fail and give the entire livable streets movement a bad name.

  • Bolwerk

    You can’t be saying this with a straight face. Did you miss the M60 debacle? The B44 took, what, 5 years? How needlessly dumbed down is Hylan Boulevard’s SBS?

    Buses are far from immune to political problems, and in a way may even be more susceptible to them.

  • Bolwerk

    You can’t be saying this with a straight face. Did you miss the M60 debacle? The B44 took, what, 5 years? How needlessly dumbed down is Hylan Boulevard’s SBS?

    Buses are far from immune to political problems, and in a way may even be more susceptible to them.

  • Bolwerk

    You can’t be saying this with a straight face. Did you miss the M60 debacle? The B44 took, what, 5 years? How needlessly dumbed down is Hylan Boulevard’s SBS?

    Buses are far from immune to political problems, and in a way may even be more susceptible to them.

  • Bolwerk

    You can’t be saying this with a straight face. Did you miss the M60 debacle? The B44 took, what, 5 years? How needlessly dumbed down is Hylan Boulevard’s SBS?

    Buses are far from immune to political problems, and in a way may even be more susceptible to them.

  • Anonymous

    He’s a politician so it goes without saying he is as slippery as a greased up eel. Sadly American elections are about choosing the slightly better alternative which he was by far. We shall have to wait and see.

  • Bolwerk

    NYC used to have proportional representation, but right-wingers (read: Democrats) didn’t like that it meant communists would occasionally eke out a seat or two.

    Obviously New York isn’t a Republikan city, but it would be nice if there were opportunities for other parties. And, under PR, gerrymandering can become a non-issue.

  • Voter

    What is lacking is political willpower, as I said. That means the willpower to change the community board process or at least ignore it when there’s a greater good at stake than free parking, lean on City Council members and even trade favors where need be. It’s obviously not as simple as snapping one’s fingers.

    If a mayor can use political willpower to seize apartments and hand land over to a private developer to build an arena…

  • There are huge tracts of dense, walkable NYC where the streets are dangerous and the surface transit gets bogged down in traffic. It absolutely makes sense to redesign these streets. We’re not talking about Little Neck here. And yes, these improvements will benefit the general welfare, but the people who stand to gain the most are on the lower end of the income ladder.

  • Bronxite

    I would like to add: New Yorkers often forget that lower density in NYC is inner city elseware.

    Even the borough fringes can support Bike Share, and require protected bicycle lanes along certain corridors.

  • Anonymous

    5 BRT lines in a month? I think even in Shanghai that would be impossible.

  • Good King Wenceslas

    Here’s hoping he addresses the liberal understanding gap when it comes to transportation policy.

  • Bolwerk

    All the stuff you mention requires legislative action and possibly community board consultation. Condemning (“seize”) property requires the courts too. Community boards are part of the city charter and can’t just be willed away with a wave of the mayor’s fasces.

    Then, there is the whole matter that de Blasio seems like the last person to actually try to force his will on anyone (for better or for worse).

  • Bolwerk

    I really want to know: what the hell does that even mean?

  • Joe R.

    Even the borough fringes can support Bike Share, and require protected bicycle lanes along certain corridors.

    I’ve been saying as much for a long time. In fact, I could make a good argument bike share and bike infrastructure should have been built from the fringes of the outer boroughs in, not from Manhattan out. My rationale is that streets here are often filled with fast, aggressive motor traffic, public transit is sparse, and what public transit does exist is mostly geared towards commuting into Manhattan, not getting around locally. Bike trips can replace a large number of car trips BUT you need safe routes and especially good bike parking. Bike share takes care of the bike parking issue but it’s not viable everywhere in the outer boroughs. That’s why we should encourage merchants to provide bike parking, just as many already provide car parking.

    As for bike infrastructure, many side streets don’t need it as you move out from Manhattan but at the same time these streets are often discontinuous. As a result, a lot of good cycling routes are along busy arterials like Queens Boulevard, Union Turnpike, Hillside Avenue, etc. Unfortunately, these roads really don’t have room for protected bike lanes. Most outer borough arterials have two lanes of traffic in each direction, and those two lanes are really needed for much of the day. Taking the parking lane for bikes would be problematic politically, and also practically because it would be interrupted frequently by bus stops. Nevertheless, I strongly feel the arterials need safe bike routes but the only place for them is above everything else. In some cases, as with the #7 viaduct on Queens Boulevard, you already have existing infrastructure to hang a bike lane on. In other cases, you need to build brand new. In all, it would be a massive, expensive undertaking compared to what was done in Manhattan but I feel it would at the same time be more useful. In Manhattan cycling just adds another transportation option to many. In the outer boroughs it’s often a choice of car or nothing. Good bike infrastructure would be a great equalizer in that it would allow the less affluent in the outer boroughs who can’t afford cars to have more mobility.

  • Joe R.

    Trust me, even Little Neck would benefit from bike infrastructure. Lest we forget, the “low density” fringes of the outer boroughs in NYC often approach or exceed the inner city densities seen in many smaller US cities. When I ride along NY 25 or 25B past city limits there are still plenty of stores, sidewalks, other places which are undoubtedly within easy cycling distance for the local residents. At the same time the roads accessing these amenities are often a potholed mess filled with fast motor traffic. The majority of cyclists I see (and there aren’t that many) are riding on the sidewalks, evidently because they don’t feel safe in the streets. I don’t know that these areas would support bike share, but certainly they’re in need of more bike and ped infrastructure.

  • Joe R.

    If we were to take over NYC’s elevated highways, I say just convert them to rail. Grade separated BRT costs less to start up but in the long haul costs more than conventional rail. I’m figuring here that building a new el in the outer boroughs would be a major political fight (because nobody would want it running above their neighborhood) but a highway which already exists doesn’t face those issues. Most of our grade separated highways are wide enough for a 4-track local-express line with room to spare for grade separated bike lanes (another thing sorely needed given travel distances in the outer boroughs). You could have access points to the bike lane at train stations. I’m guessing that would be the least expensive way to do it. Since you’ll already be needing stairs, it’s no big deal to squeeze in a few ramps for bikes. Or if not, I’m not seeing a big hardship if you have to carry your bike up stairs to access the bikeway. Or you could even repurpose some of the existing freeway entrance/exit ramps for bike access.

    I really think this idea could have traction because it’s a huge improvement over what exists. Gone would be the noisy, pollution-spewing drone of traffic. In it’s place would be a relatively quiet, pollution-free mass transit system for both riders and those wishing to travel under their own power. Oh, and roof the bikeways over. That’s another selling point if they’re usable rain or shine.

  • Joe R.

    In fact, a lot of changes to the power structure at every level are needed for every reform you care about – community boards come to mind as entities that will derail many of the reforms you mention. It’s not out of bounds to discuss these issues, and they need to be discussed together.

    You can add the City Council to that list as well. The City Council mirrors the community boards in that the vast majority of what they do is either next to useless (i.e. renaming streets), or acutely harmful (i.e. all the “preventative” laws which make NYC the place which bans the most stuff in the entire country, including useful things like e-bikes). As you’ve said elsewhere, the community boards have got to go, and in my opinion the City Council should join them. I seriously question if there’s really a need for a separate legislative body to add yet another layer of local laws to the already complex quilt of state and federal laws. Most of the really important stuff, like tolling bridges or controlling the MTA, seems to be beyond the jurisdiction of the City Council. About all they do from my viewpoint is make laws which make it a lot more burdensome to run a business here, or laws which criminalize mostly harmless activities.

  • You make a great case for expanding bike infrastructure in the far-flung communities, but bike share requires scale. Bike share just doesn’t work unless you have people constantly walking by ready to use a bike. The economics simply don’t work in the relatively low density communities you mention.

    Bike share is currently drawing many trips away from walking and transit in Manhattan and North Brooklyn. This is not a bad thing, as the sidewalks, buses and trains in Manhattan are extremely crowded and overburdened, and the new bikes are traveling along space previously devoted to cars. To draw people away from cars will take a lot more than just some infrastructure and bike share stations. Far more drastic action is necessary, such as eliminating free parking, closing off shortcut streets that allow motorists to evade tolls by taking local streets, bus and bike-only streets, more walkable retail and mixed-use buildings along transit corridors, and increasing density near rapid transit stations.

    All this will require a huge political shift that unfortunately I do not believe the people of NYC are ready for. Unless and until all these actions are taken in a coordinated fashion, bike share in the far reaches of the outer boroughs is a bad idea.

  • Thanks for responding, Ben. I largely agree with you. It makes sense to redesign streets in plenty of poor and dense areas. But if the goal is to benefit as many people as possible as quickly as possible, then the redesign should focus on which (bus/bike/ped) routes would actually get heavy use. In today’s NYC, that means the majority of improvements would naturally go to areas that are also quite wealthy, and while the benefits may accrue disproportionately to the least well-off residents of the neighborhood, they are still generally more well-off than the average NYC resident.

  • The elevated highways are far from ideal locations for a new rapid transit route. The highways generally skirt around the city along the waterfront, whereas a rapid transit line should ideally cut through the center. Without connections into the center of neighborhoods, such new rail routes would see very low ridership.

    The car is a fundamentally different technology from the train. The infrastructure built for one cannot easily be adapted for the other. It would be far more useful to convert street-level boulevards (e.g. Northern Blvd, 125th St, Kings Hwy, Linden Blvd) to light rail plus bike routes.

  • Bolwerk

    You only need an “ideal” location when you’re spending obscene Manhattan cavern levels of money for construction. Conversion costs for highways to rail probably should be eight but in NYC might be nine figures.

    In any case, at least the BQE does go to central points of numerous existing neighborhoods. Conversion of some highways to some kind of transit isn’t a totally insane idea, and if it weren’t for the (dumb) politics would even be a pretty practical one.

  • Conversion of NY’s main highways to rail is insane. Unless and until the entire rest of the country builds transit everywhere, New Yorkers will still occasionally need to drive when getting out of the city, or family and friends will need to drive to visit New Yorkers. To convert major arteries like the BQE would essentially cut off NYC from the rest of the country. It makes much more sense to convert streets that serve primarily as intra-borough thoroughfares.

  • carma

    so just because ny is not a republican city, we default to democrats, and because we have a 7 to 1 dem->rep ratio, we blindly pick any democrat. and in BdB’s case, an ultra communist?

    god help this city.

    granted lhota was no charm. do we even have a brain to vote anybody else. i swear if hitler was running on the democratic line, this city would vote for him.

  • Bolwerk

    Well, the construction of Bogotá-style grade-separated busway schemes people imagine for NYC is pure fantasy, and would be offensively wasteful if ever they were created from scratch because it would mean spending more money for inferior service. I find it rather unlikely that grade-separated busways would ever be cheaper in New York because they mean condemning more land than rail entails. And New York doesn’t get Bogotá’s third world labor costs to keep the long-term costs low. There is literally no advantage and no reason to consider it.

    However, at least the elevated highways that already exist could just have grade-separated BRT literally dropped in. It’s a perfectly reasonable way to test the viability of those routes for transit, even if the service proves so popular that it gets railstituted later.

    (You’re right, though: people bitch about els so much, but an elevated busway would just be more invasive and louder.)

  • Bolwerk

    You can add literally every institution in the city and state to that list: bureaucracies, courts, unions, community boards, legislatures, public authorities. They are all tilted toward maintaining the status quo of feeding themselves, unions, and (I hate the phrase, but there isn’t a better one) special interests. They have created a system where every single change for the better has to go through them, and every single one of them can usually halt changes they don’t like.

    As such, anyone who gets a paycheck to be an activist probably has a lifetime position. That’s the problem with activism: once the problem is solved, the impetus for activism surrounding that problem is gone. Meanwhile, the idealists who make up the volunteer armies think the system is basically good, and shouldn’t be questioned. The result: actually calling attention to the root problems that create the other problems makes almost everyone severely uncomfortable.

  • Bolwerk

    Not it wouldn’t. Highways here spend most of their days clogged, which in turn clog the streets with their entry points. They pretty much make it harder to leave. It would be much better to distribute that traffic across the street system rather than centralize it on a few clogged arteries.

    People survive perfectly well sans a BQE in the dead center of Manhattan, and they can survive perfectly well sans a BQE in Brooklyn.

  • Bolwerk

    Sure. I’m guessing you don’t know what a communist is, but In any election, any Democrat is almost certain to lead to a less bad outcome than any Republikan. That’s almost axiomatic.

    However, Democrats are still terrible. De Blasio is a status quo-coddling conservative, if anything. (But don’t tell the liberals we know!)

    We need third parties.

  • Joe R.

    I agree with all your major points, and know that bike share requires scale in order to turn a profit (although you could make an argument that it’s beneficial to subsidize it sometimes in areas where it won’t because it’s a defacto form of very inexpensive public transit).

    I think the turning point in the outer boroughs will be caused by one of four things, perhaps a confluence of all three. One, people may finally wake up, realize the number one cause of death in NYC is motor vehicles, and decide collectively to reduce motor vehicle use everywhere, especially in the outer boroughs. Two, continued salary erosion will make private cars unaffordable to a greater percentage of the population. At some point, there will be enough people begging for alternatives, and it will be good politics to provide them. Three, gas prices will continue their inexorable rise, making driving less affordable. Most people won’t be able to afford an electric replacement vehicle, so they will drive less, while asking for alternatives. Four, NYC might well mandate zero emissions vehicles, essentially forcing people to abandon their existing cars and buy new ones. Number four is probably the least likely to occur, but some studies on the negative effects of air pollution may well swing even auto-loving politicians into requiring ZEVs.

    Incidentally, I don’t understand why anyone would down vote your post.

  • Good King Wenceslas

    My goof, I meant to write “liberal blind spot.”

  • Cops in Bike Lanes

    You do realize that BDB will be NY’s first Democratic mayor in twenty years, right?

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