Important Manhattan Transportation Forum on Thursday

penalosa.jpgManhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is holding a day-long forum on Manhattan’s transportation future. Enrique Peñalosa, former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, will be the keynote speaker. This should be a great event. Peñalosa is the inspiring and visionary politician who transformed his city of 7 million into a model for sustainable urban transportation.

In recent months Peñalosa has held at least two private meetings with New York City Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and has become increasingly involved in the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign.

If you are interested in the issues that Streetsblog covers or have transportation and public space concerns in your own neighborhood, I’d urge you to attend — even if you don’t live in Manhattan. Here are the details: 

Manhattan on the Move: A Transportation Agenda for a Growing City
Thursday, October 12, 8 am to 3:30 pm.
Columbia University, Alfred Lerner Hall (115th Street and Broadway)
Find a more detailed agenda here.
RSVP here: conference@manhattanbp.org.

What is at stake and why are these issues so important right now?

Manhattan, indeed, all of New York City is at a very critical point. The City is in the midst of a major transformation and is trying to figure out how best to make room for a growing population, move people and goods around and through the city for that population while, at the same time, ensuring that the city remains a healthy, and functional place to live, work and visit. This forum is a great chance to listen to experts on these subjects, have your voice heard on issues you care about and help our local elected officials make informed judgments on the full range of ideas out there.

First, there are major mass transit capital projects like the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), extending the 7 train to the Javits Center, the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the New Jersey Transit Trans-Hudson tunnel that either planned, fully funded, or already under construction. These major projects will, in many ways, transform how New York City’s mass transit system operates in the next 20 years.

Second, there are many other major capital projects that are not moving ahead, but could provide valuable benefits such as the pedestrian plaza and lightrail proposal for 42nd Street, the Cross-Harbor freight tunnel, a more expansive BRT system, and a legitimate, citywide bicycle commuting network infrastructure.

Third, transformative new technological innovations are now available that could vastly improve the management of traffic and its impact on the environment. Flexible, new, automated tolling technologies allow roads to be priced at different rates depending on time of day, amount of traffic, or even ozone levels. London and Stockholm have shown that congestion pricing is technically and politically feasible and extraordinarily effective. Hybrid electric engine technology has been proven to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

Lastly, the Bloomberg administration is starting to it’s big push on long term planning and environmental sustainability. As a major consumer of fossil fuels, New York City’s transportation sector should be front and center as we look for ways to save on fuel, reduce carbon emissions and move our communities towards a healthy, sustainable future.

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