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Bruce Schaller

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

12:09 PM EST on January 26, 2007

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 proportion of driving to the central business districts and increase the proportion of walking, biking and the use of mass transit."

Mary Beth Kelly, widow of Dr. Carl Henry Nacht, who was killed by a truck when he was riding his bike on the West Side bike path, spoke strongly about the need for traffic policy that will address the intimidation of pedestrians and bicyclists by vehicles on the city's streets. She called for a goal of zero fatalities of cyclists struck by vehicles, the same goal that has been embraced by the city of Stockholm, Sweden. "Why should Stockholm lead?" asked Kelly. "We're New York, we can lead."

Meanwhile, after the council hearing on the legislation was over, Department of Transportation commissioner Iris Weinshall, who spoke against it as unnecessary, noted that DOT figures show a decrease in the number of vehicles entering Manhattan, from 978,487 in 2000 to 943,381 in 2005, and suggested that increased traffic chaos existed merely in the public imagination. "You have SUVs, you got these minivans. I think the cars are getting bigger and there is a perception there is more traffic," Weinshall was quoted as saying in Newsday. "We think it is still manageable."

But how can you manage what you don't know? Good management requires good data. As Bruce Schaller points out in his new study, Traffic Information in NYC (PDF) there is still a lot we don't know about how New York City's streets are being used, particularly when it comes to pedestrians, buses, bikes and other non-motorized activities.

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