The Week in Review
Every Sunday, a network of streets throughout Bogotá, Colombia is closed to cars from 7am to 2pm for Ciclovía.Is it too late to begin planning a car-free Thanksgiving weekend on 34th Street?
IS THERE ANYTHING BEER CAN’T DO? It was a busy week for friends and foes of congestion pricing. Early on, the MTA released a report saying it would need $767 million in capital funds that are "not provided for" in order to handle the increase in ridership expected once the plan takes effect. Unfazed, Mayor Bloomberg spokesman John Gallagher responded, "The M.T.A.’s report shows that the transit improvements that would come with the mayor’s proposed congestion pricing pilot would expand options and improve service in virtually all parts of the city." (Oh, okay.) Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free issued a report suggesting measures it described as pricing alternatives, but which Transportation Alternatives promptly ripped as "part of a specific, continuing strategy by wealthy individuals and
their hired guns to confuse middle class New Yorkers about the
overwhelming, virtually cost-free benefits they will receive from
congestion pricing." All told, particularly in light of last night’s zero-sum Bronx forum, it appears the week’s most meaningful discourse on the topic might have taken place in a bar.
NYPD WHO? Bike commuters aren’t the only ones who love DOT’s beta version of the Ninth Avenue "cycle track." The nice, wide bike lane is also a hit with truck drivers in search of a loading zone. While it is far too early to make judgments about how the "Street of the Future" will function once outfitted with medians, landscaping, permanent markings and signals, Streetsblog wondered how far the livable streets movement can go in a city where traffic law enforcement is virtually non-existent. For his part, commenter Steven M. sees the glass as half-full: "Every time I’ve politely pointed out to a traffic agent that there is a
truck or car parked in the bike lane and asked them to write a ticket,
I’ve received a positive response. I’ve watched them write the tickets.
Let’s also thank the DOT commissioner for her completely restructuring
lower Ninth Avenue traffic, which only weeks ago was jam-packed with
trucks. The 14th Street intersection is now a great place to hang out, and only two months ago was a scene of chaos and
POOR SPORTS: Just hours after the Cleveland Indians handed the New York Yankees a ticket to the off-season, the NYC Industrial Agency forked over $225 million in tax-free bonds to build some 4,000 parking spaces at the new Yankee Stadium, at a cost to city and state taxpayers of approximately $8,000 per space. Was there outrage? You bet. City Council Member Hiram Monserrate, having driven from Queens to the Bronx for Sunday night’s playoff game, was incensed that parking operators were using variable pricing to determine stadium parking rates. That won’t happen at the Yankees’ new parking garages, if Monserrate has his way. And what with all those new parking spaces in the asthma-ridden South Bronx, this time next year the Yanks won’t be the only ones choking.
OTHER PRIORITIES: While politicians at the city and state level were busy issuing pledges to keep motorists from paying up — via congestion pricing, stadium parking fees, or bridge tolls — the MTA was working up its fare hike proposal relatively free from lawmaker scrutiny. Never mind that eco-friendly, space-conserving, infrastructure-investing transit users are about to get slapped with a new fee system so complex you need an online calculator to decipher it — or, for that matter, that neighborhood groups and a community board are begging them to take action to keep pedestrians from losing their lives on city streets — our electeds have chosen to champion the city’s driving population (including these poor schlumps). Maybe this will change once the MTA’s scheduled hearings roll around, assuming they ever see (and can read) the notices.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: From Steven Waters, via StreetFilms: "I live in Raleigh, NC and am working hard to promote walkability and the urban living revolution here. I want you to know that this video has provided a lot of inspiration for folks here. I tell people I would pay $100 to see it if it wasn’t free. Thank you for your generosity in making it available at no cost. P.S.: Raleigh and Cary had an election yesterday that replaced several anti-downtown mayors and council members with civic leaders who support growth management. That was the defining issue in the elections here, and I am working hard to point out that walkability is the answer to the myriad problems concomitant with urban sprawl."
Photo: Aaron Naparstek