The Week in Review
The Copenhagen SUV finds its way stateside
CONGESTION OBSESSION: What is congestion pricing? That’s the questionable question at the crux of the debate between those who say New York must implement something like the Bloomberg plan in order to collect $354 million in federal funds, and those who don’t. It seems "those who don’t" would just as soon forfeit the federal windfall in favor of their version of parking reform, but pro-pricing advocates this week dissected recent parking suggestions put forth by the anti-pricing crowd and found them sorely lacking as a congestion cure-all. On the other hand, a pair of Lindsay Administration veterans who have been pushing for East River Bridge tolls for about as many years as Rohit Aggarwala has been alive argue that a time-consuming Environmental Impact Study should precede pricing implementation — which Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase says will be outdated anyway once politicians catch up with technology. Meanwhile, just in time for upcoming public hearings, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign released what should be a blockbuster report, (again) confirming that (a) relatively few New Yorkers drive into the proposed congestion pricing zone to work; and (b) those who do drive into the CBD tend to have more money than those who don’t have cars and rely on transit or other commuting methods. Someone should really pass this info on to Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. Look for him in the handicap zone.
WHICH PAPER? There was much discussion this week about the future of mobility in the city, congestion pricing aside. DOT received generally positive reviews for its new program to point pedestrians in the right direction, while opinions differed on whether cyclists should have to rely on signage — or traffic laws — to make their way. (This rhetorical quandry apparently also burdens at least one city cab driver.) Lawmakers finally devoted a couple of minutes to MTA’s pending fare hike, calling on the agency to wait for help from Albany instead. Straphangers, though, may have more than future fares to make them anxious; when quizzed about the issues facing the city’s transit provider, prospective MTA chief H. Dale Hemmerdinger was nonplussed, responding: "I only know what I read in the paper."
BROOKLYN’S SORROW: Brooklyn was devastated this week by two cyclist deaths in just over two hours on Thursday. One of the drivers, who police say was speeding, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, a rarity at a time when a sober motorist who doesn’t flee the scene can expect a pass for killing a cyclist or pedestrian. It would be nice to think prosecutors and police are starting to recognize motor vehicles as an urban public safety hazard, but when you can back over an infant in your Escalade without legal repercussion, it’s much too soon to make any judgments.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: In a week of heavy-duty Richard Brodsky analysis, Streetsblog commenter JF points readers to a passage in the Riverdale Press in which the Westchester Assembly member tells a Bronx crowd that he "did
not enter public life to enable essentially well meaning, very nice but
wealthy people to decide that there are some places people cannot go,"
within a city. "The hypocrisy of this statement boggles my mind," JF writes. "Has Brodsky ever tried
to get around Elmsford without a car? There are plenty of places in his
district that wealthy people (well-meaning or not) have decided are not
for pedestrians or cyclists. And the inconvenience is a lot greater
than for the ‘poor’ people that Brodsky is defending to pay $8 a day."