Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Livable Streets

Doctoroff: Congestion is a Major Problem. Time to Act.

1:44 PM EDT on September 8, 2006


Situated between Midtown and the West Side Highway with Lincoln Tunnel and Port Authority traffic running through it constantly, Hell's Kitchen may very well be the New York City neighborhood most antagonized by motor vehicles. It is no surprise that the area has spawned one of the most active and articulate community groups in the city on Livable Streets issues, the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition.

In May one of the organization's leaders, Christine Berthet, sent a letter to Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff urging him to get cracking on the creation of "a comprehensive transportation plan" that puts "pedestrians, mass transit commuters and cyclists first." Well, last week, Berthet got a reply from the Deputy Mayor. While we have known for some time that Doctoroff's team has been hard at work on a big, secret transportation and land use planning initiative, his letter to Berthet still contains some genuine, heard-it-hear-first information.

The first piece of news is Doctoroff's acknowledgement that congestion is a "major problem" that "will only get worse unless we act." The Bloomberg Administration has thusfar been slow to acknowledge that New York City has a problem when it comes to traffic congestion. In fact, DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall and Mayor Michael Bloomberg often brush off traffic complaints with the argument that congestion is the sign of a healthy urban economy. Doctoroff's letter seems to indicate an altogether new line of thinking on traffic and transportation at City Hall.

The second news item is Doctoroff's announcement that he is "looking carefully" at ways "to shift travel... away from the automobile and onto transit." Put more simply Doctoroff is, essentially, saying: New York City needs to reduce the number of private motor vehicles on city streets. This is virtually a reversal in policy. Under Commissioner Weinshall and Deputy Commissioner Michael Primeggia, DOT has seemingly operated under the assumption that its job is to "keep the traffic moving" and "increase capacity" no matter how many car and truck drivers wish to cram themselves into the city on a given day. A policy of mode-shifting would be a significant change that finally, at long last, puts New York City on the same traffic-reduction track as cities like London and Paris.  

The final nugget of news here is Doctoroff's announcement of pedestrian improvement projects already underway at specific locations throughout the city -- Times Square, Herald Square, Penn Station and Astor Place.

Here is the letter in full:


Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Tuesday’s Headlines: Don’t Look Up Edition

It's hard to believe that it's going to rain again today, plus other more important news.

September 26, 2023

Another Flip-Flop: City Hall Allegedly Pauses Almost-Done Underhill Ave. Bike Boulevard

City Hall is intervening in yet another street redesign project, and supporters fear it could be the start of dismantling other improvements.

September 26, 2023

Analysis: Everyone Agrees — Less Parking Means More Housing

Let's take a second-day look at Mayor Adams's "City of Yes" zoning proposal to do away with mandatory parking in new developments.

September 25, 2023

What is the Life of a Dead Pedestrian Worth?

A cop laughed that a normal person is only worth $11,000 — and that figure was partly due to his racism, but also how little we value the lives of people on foot.

September 25, 2023

Monday’s Headlines: ‘What is Up With All These Flip-Flops, Mayor?’ Edition

It's the same old story with this mayor and his chief adviser, Ingrid Lewis-Martin. Plus other news.

September 25, 2023
See all posts