The Traffic is the Mitigation

mitigate, verb
[Latin stem of mitigare, from mitis, mild, gentle]
1. Make milder in manner or attitude, make less hostile, mollify.
2. Give relief from pain. Lessen the suffering caused by an evil or difficulty.
3. Make less oppressive. Make more humane, more bearable.

nascar_centralparl.jpg

How Orwellian is this? The New York City Department of Transportation’s Holiday Traffic Mitigation Plan went in to effect on Friday and lasts until the day after New Year’s. In order to give New Yorkers relief from the crushing number of motor vehicles that pour into Manhattan during the holidays, DOT is reversing car-free hours in Central Park and allowing traffic to rule the Park’s Loop Drives from 7am to 7pm on weekdays. In other words: Accomodating more traffic is the mitigation for more traffic.

Rather than, say, reducing transit fares or only allowing pedestrians and buses to use 34th Street during Thanksgiving weekend so that the maximum number of shoppers could cram into Manhattan and empty their wallets into the city’s coffers, New York City transportation officials still believe, despite so much evidence to the contrary, that making the city more inviting to automobiles will somehow reduce congestion.

The plan is being framed as an initiative "designed to encourage mass transit use and facilitate vehicular travel in and around the City." Says DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall:

weinshall.jpgThere is nothing better than New York City during the holidays and each year we take steps to help make room for the many people that want to enjoy our City’s attractions. This plan is put into place to handle the additional traffic that the holiday season brings.

It is not all bad news. DOT is expanding pedestrian space at Times Square by eliminating the "crossover" at 45th Street, Prospect Park’s car-free hours remain intact, and some recently installed muni-meters are being packaged as part of the Holiday Traffic Plan as well. But the car-free Central Park rule reversal and the general lack of innovative thinking shows that the Iris Weinshall Rennaissance has a ways to go. The Commissioner still seems to be taking bad advice from her top traffic engineers.

Here’s to a happier, healthier Holiday Season — in 2007, perhaps.  

Related:

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

What if DOT Simply Forgot to Open the Parks to Traffic?

|
This holiday season, users of Central and Prospect Parks got an unexpected and welcome gift after years of finding coal (and exhaust) in their stockings. Interestingly, the sources of that exhaust didn’t seem to complain (or perhaps even notice) that things had changed. For years, cars have been barred from most of the Parks’ Loop […]

Streetfilms: “We’re New York, We Can Lead”

|
Traffic Information & Relief Bill Press Conference  Running time: 4 minutes 3 seconds Transportation Alternatives held press conference on the steps of City Hall yesterday in support of Intro 199, a bill introduced in the City Council by Councilmember Gale Brewer that calls for better information-gathering about the city’s traffic and aims to "reduce the […]

Old Gray Lady Gets on the Bandwagon

|
The New York Times came out advocating for progressive transportation policies in its Sunday City section editorial, saying that the departure of DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall presents "a great opportunity to take bold action on a vexing quality of life and health issue: traffic congestion." After giving Weinshall props for her actions on the Queens […]

Traffic Relief Press Conference

|
On October 12th, NYC DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall spoke at Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s transportation forum and shocked conference attendees with her promise to promote "aggressive pedestrianization" measures and to move as many people as possible out of cars and into more efficient modes of travel, like buses and bicycles. Two weeks later, the […]

Queensboro Bridge Area Safety Under Scrutiny

|
Among the three cyclist fatality clusters identified by the joint report by the City Departments of Health, Police, Parks and Transportation, the Queensboro Bridge is by far the worst. The entrance intersection at 60th and Second also claimed the award for the most unticketed incidents of block the box in the Borough President’s study of lax enforcement of […]

The Iris Weinshall Legacy: Queens Boulevard

|
"What became clear to me in this discussion was that the engineers were thinking from the motorists’ viewpoint."  — Iris Weinshall, New York Newsday, April 29, 2001   A long walk across Queens Blvd. at Grand Ave., Elmhurst, circa March 2001. Photo: Jeff Saltzman Departing Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall often cites the pedestrian […]