Lew Fidler’s “9 CARAT STONE” Traffic Plan Arrives

On Saturday we received the following mysterious e-mail in the Streetsblog tips box:

Subject: Plan to be Revealed to go up against Mayor’s Congestion Pricing

A major announcement will soon be made that will reveal a whole new plan for how NYC will handle traffic congestion, mass transit, air pollution and land re-development.  A plan so bold that it would not only give Mayor Bloomberg a run for his money, but change the pecking order of NYC’s "forgotten boroughs." This supposed nine-point plan is said to be making its debut as soon as next week and is already creating a buzz within City Hall.

Well, the "plan so bold" has arrived just in time for tonight’s Traffic Mitigation Commission hearing in Brooklyn and Daily Politics reports that it belongs to Council member Lewis Fidler. He is calling it the 9 CARAT STONE Plan, an acronym for, Clean Our Air, Reduce All Traffic, and Support Transportation Operations in New York’s Environs. Download it here.

Fidler’s ambitious plan hinges on the construction of three, massive, decades-long, multi-billion dollar transportation tunnels, "forcing the issue" of hydrogen fuel-cell miracle cars, a politically poisonous regional payroll tax hike, and a series of small-bore improvements in enforcement and street management policy. He also wants to compel all city agency employees to drive to work at far-flung offices outside the central and outer borough business districts.  

If nothing else, it’s great to see everyone engaged in discussion and debate about transportation policy and traffic mitigation. And the "9 CARAT STONE Plan" goes down as one of the all-time great acronyms in New York City bureaucratic history. Now, pardon me, I need to get crackin’ on the Trans-Narrow Tunnel. Here are Fidler’s nine points:

  1. Construct 3 Critical Tunnels: a. The Cross Harbor Tunnel. b. The Trans-Narrows Tunnel.  c. The Gowanus Expressway Tunnel.
  2. Force the Issue of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
  3. Paying for it: A .033% one-third of one percent Regional Payroll Tax
  4. Increase the number of metered parking spaces in the central business district and the cost of parking.
  5. Increase the number of taxi stands in the CBD.
  6. Getting Unloading Trucks off the Street: More loading zones and more off-street loading docks.
  7. Increase enforcement and fines for violators.
  8. No one way tolls for trucks.
  9. Move City agencies out of the CBD and not to downtown districts in the outer boroughs.
  • Larry Littlefield

    (And the measures that you seem to delight in threatening to support, smack of punitiveness.)

    They aren’t punative. They are an attempt to limit harm without trying to directly limit driving. You want to drive, drive. You want a free bridge, drive over a free bridge.

    But stop taking up so much space, because if more space is provided to the cars, and less to everything else, more people drive, and congestion is no better off than before.

    What is wrong with allowing people to park on Flatbush Avenue in the peak direction, and perhaps putting a barrier separated bus lane on the curb side of the parked cars as well so it can’t be blocked?

    Why not allow people on Ocean Avenue park in the peak direction? How about Atlantic Avenue? Wouldn’t the businesses there be better off if parking were not restricted in the peak direction?

    What’s wrong with providing traffic-free side streets in Midtown for pedestrians, like those Dowtown?

    What’s wrong with discouraging through traffic in residential neighborhoods? After all, the one-ways where near where I live — on the block where Councilman Cuite once lived (so I’m told) are designed so you can’t go around the block.

    What’s wrong with providing bike lanes that can be used for emergency access, so the fire truck or ambulance can arrive no matter how many people choose to drive and how bad congestion gets people can be safe?

    All these measures would be good for people in the area, however they got there, but bad for through traffic. But if you accept that the right to drive will be unfettered, and thus there is no limit on congestion but congestion itself, why not? Just limit the impact on pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and emergency access. And if zero emissions vehicles come along, people can sit in traffic as much as they want and it will be no problem for me.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Larry, it was not so much as the ocntent of your proposals—which I did not comment on—but the manner in which you oposedthem.

    Your anger at people who drive seems clear to me from your many posts. I do not think they desrve it any more than people who coomute in other forms. Most people are just doing what they have to do.


  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Eventually, Angus, technology will develop an alternative to cars that will sweep society. What that is, I haven’t a clue. Again, I suppose I expose myself as a Trekkie, believing in that kind of future.

    However, absent such tgechnology, and it is not that ridiculous contraption that moves single people Iforget what it is called, reducing our overall dependence on cars is not a likely occurrence. The kind of shifts on usage that the policy changes you describe will result in are negligible.

    Oh please! At least we agree on one thing: that “Personal Rapid Transit” is a joke and a dead end.

    I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned rail – subways, “light rail” or streetcars. In some ways rail is already sweeping society, and it would sweep a lot faster if there weren’t tremendous subsidies for personal auto ownership.

    I’d love to see rail extended to your district. I don’t know why that’s not in PlaNYC2030; it should be.

  • Lew did you check out the solar video from pbs?

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Joby, I have not had the chance. To busy trying to engage in fair commentary here and still do the rest of my job.

    I know I have things to learn. I have never said I have a monopoly on all wisdom. But I know a lot more now than I knew in June, and hope to continue to grow.

    I will do my best to catch up with that video.

  • Chris H


    I still do not understand why you view the congestion charge as unfair but not transit fares. Money is required to run any transportation system. For a road network, you not only need to construct and maintain the physical infrastructure, but also to operate it (i.e. traffic police, emergency services, etc.). Moreover, automobile ownership has a high barrier to entry that effectively keeps out those on the lowest end of the economic scale. Why subsidize a system that not everyone has access to?

    In regards to car deaths, I do not think its fair to compare it with people being killed by trains. By far, the vast majority of people who are killed by trains are either trespassing on the tracks (illegal) or driving around a closed gate at a grade crossing (also illegal). There are very few cases of the train leaving the right of way to hit a bystander anywhere in the world but numerous cases of cars doing so this very year just in NYC. When deaths occur on the rail road that are not caused by illegal activity on the part of the deceased, serious investigations result. For example, the 1996 crash in Secaucus which killed three people resulted in major changes in the design of the rail cars. Nothing similar of the sort results from deaths on the paved road, yet their numbers are exponentially higher.

  • gecko


    Component #2: Force the Issue of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

    If you have no understanding of scientific matters and no one competent to support the scientific and technical parts of your proposal they should be stricken from your proposal.

    1. Hydrogen as a fuel transport requires fossil fuels to produce and might even increase greenhouse gas emissions. (January 2004 study by the European Commission and European oil and car companies)

    2. Production of hydrogen fuel would produce four times as much carbon dioxide at ten times the cost than building renewable power plants.

    3. Hydrogen cars need three major breakthroughs – in fuel cells, storage, and renewable hydrogen – within the next decade or so, in a world where game-changing energy-technology breakthroughs hardly ever happen.

    4. $500 billion will be required to build the fueling infrastructure needed to make hydrogen available throughout the country

    5. Hydrogen-fuel-cell cars would be unlikely to achieve significant market success until year 2060 (2004 MIT study)

    Reference: Hell and High Water, Joseph Romm, pages 185-188

    Dr. Joseph Romm,
    An acclaimed author, scholar, and energy expert, Dr. Romm is the former Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. He has written and lectured widely on energy technology, environmental management, and competitiveness, and is the author of two books on the subject – Cool Companies: How the Best Businesses Boost Profits and Productivity By Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Lean and Clean Management. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Science, Atlantic Monthly, Business 2.0, Forbes, Technology Review and Foreign Affairs. Dr. Romm holds a Ph.D. in physics from M.I.T. and did his thesis work at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Your anger at people who drive seems clear to me from your many posts.)

    Unlike many here, I drive myself, and have no such anger.

    But anger is what drivers may face in the event that financial rationing of limited street space is voted down. Particuarly given the disasterous long-term financial situation of mass transit as a result of 15 years of lower fares, lower tax support, richer pensions and rising debts.

    Take the issue of cars in Prospect Park. Most here would support a ban. I have not. But if those who drive at rush hour to congested places insist on the right to do so in unlimited numbers for free, regardless of the consequences, that what is the benefit of “reducing congestion” by allowing people to drive through the park? None. So why not?

    We will ration by price, or we will ration by queue — people will drive until congestion is bad enough that enough drivers can’t stand it and do not drive also. If we are rationing by queue, then we’ll have the same amout of congestion no matter how much space is dedicated to motor vehicles. So why not cut it to the benefit of other things?

  • Larry Littlefield

    And speaking of anger, it is congestion pricing opponents who have made an issue of people from outlying areas parking near the subway.

    I, on the other hand, have no objection if someone from your district drives to my street, parks, and takes the train. Some people in my neighborhood drive during weekdays, and that frees up parking that would otherwise be wasted.

    The bottom line is, you car improves your quality of life by reduces mine, by increasing congestion, causing pollution, and competing for parking. My car improves my quality of life but reduces yours. I’m willing to put limits on both of our cars for all of our benefit.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Ok, so let me defend myself once again.

    As to why I see a differnce between subway fares and CP: When you impose a charge that is by design an attempt to restrict and discourage access, particlarly to a critical area of the City, I think that is wrong. CP is not a calculation of what it costs to maintain our streets,allocate percentages to its various types of users from pedestrians to bikers to mass transit to cars. It is simply an attempt to parse car access by economics. You may not agree, but I see it as morally wrong.

    Gecko, i did not say i know nothing about science, just taht I admit i am no expert. And btw, experts differ. And experts are frequently the product of the party that pays for their research. For example, I was an advocate of banning aluminum bats in competitive HS baseball in NYC. Enormous amounts of money are on the other side of this issue. All studies that were put forward (except for the guy who was sued into accepting a gag order) were paid for by the bat cartel. And amazingly, their studies all “confirmed” what my eyes told me clearly was not true about the performance of bats. Try as I could, I read all the physics papers on the subject. I understood them best I could. But I digress….the point is that there are different points of view on some of these issues, Gecko. And I may not understand crap about say stem cell research, doesn’t mean I can’t support it.

    Tehre are different points of view on Hydrogen fuel cell cars. The issue of storage, btw, is reasonably resolved already. Hydorgen is a far better response than ethanol, which competes with the need to feed people. (There goes my vote in Iowa.)

    If Hydrogen could be produced using solar energy, would that work? Never underestimate Yankee tinkerism. If we mandate an end to gasoline combustion engines, we will find a way to make the otehr options work.

    Finally, Larry, you are a lone voice in not caring if people pour into neighborhoods adjacent to the congestion zones and park their cars all day. Talk to the CM from say Washington heights and see how he fels about it. Almost EVERY elected from an adjacent neighborhodod insists on residential parking before they can support the CP plan. In Brooklyn, i heard Tish James say that.I know Yassky wants it.

    Residential parking—MARK THESE WORDS—, if they give it, will go ONLY to the tony, chic neighborhoods. Less affluent neighborhoods will not get them.

    I oppose residential parking even more strongly than I do CP. Why not gate nabes and ask for a community passport and a reason why you are coming there. Isnt there a frickin’ civil libertarian alive anymore?

    Residential parking, especially when it becomes applied as I predict, will do more to divide this City along racial and class lines than anything than anythning else I can think of.

    And of course, if you give it to one nabe, what about the next nabe along the train line, and the next one after that. When would it stop?

    I think that I have covered all of this morning’s darts and missiles.

    As you can see, I am and have never been someone who runs and hides and ducks. I know tht getting people on this blog site to agree with me is not likely, But by engaging in this dialogue I hope we can get a better understanding of each other’s positions.

    I will not, however, continue to indulge in the questions of whether cars kill as opposed to trains, planes etc. We are just on different planets on that one. Sorry folks.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • anon


    I wish you supported congestion pricing but I admire your defense of your own ideas. Sadly, we seem to agree on many of the same principles of equity and sustainability yet we have very different ideas how to get there.

    Keep on reading Streetsblog- give us a chance to convince you!

  • gecko


    So far you have admitted that this is just you talking about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and that you are not an expert on the subject.

    In post #57 a well established expert on the subject is quoted along with several very respectable independent references as saying that the cost for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be well in excess of one-half trillion dollars and most likely won’t happen until about 2060.

    If you know what peer review means please produce some experts on this subject that can produce valid information contradicting this.

    If you do not know what peer review means and your assistants cannot find out what peer review means, do you know what “trash talking” means?

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Almost EVERY elected from an adjacent neighborhodod insists on residential parking before they can support the CP plan.)

    I want it too, but only for overnight.

    If I take the subway to work, I’ve already got a spot when the park-and-riders arrive, so what do I care if they use a vacant one?

    If I drive somewhere for the day, what do I care if they use the space I vacated while I am gone, as long as they go elsewhere when I return?

    The objection to parking in one’s neighborhood comes from drivers. Which is what people don’t get — it is the drivers who have the hostility, because there are too many cars even for them, and not enough space to put them in. And aside from pollution, emergency access, and slow buses, DRIVERS suffer the most from congestion, which is to say FROM OTHER DRIVERS.

    Thus my answer to Mr. Fidler. You don’t want rationing by price? Fine. I don’t want to spend zillions more, and allocate more space, to accomodate the auto, because it won’t work, not only in NYC but even in Atlanta, road building capital of the universe. There will never be enough space as long as it is free.

    So why not just take some back to limit the impact on bikes, buses, peds, and emergency access? That’s the back-up plan in my opinion.

    And speaking of taking back road space, can we stop paying extra to do road construction on weekends, when I drive, rather than on weekdays, when CP opponents drive?

  • gecko


    The plan’s highest priority “Component #1: Construct 3 Critical Tunnels: a. The Cross Harbor Tunnel. b. The Trans-Narrows Tunnel. c. The Gowanus Expressway Tunnel.”

    (Please remember we are not talking about baseball bats.)

    a. How much do you think it will cost to build the Cross Harbor Tunnel?

    How long do you think it will take to raise the funds to build the Cross Harbor Tunnel?

    How long do you think it will take to build the Cross Harbor Tunnel?

    b. How much do you think it will cost to build the Trans-Narrows Tunnel?

    How long do you think it will take to raise the funds to build the Trans-Narrows Tunnel?

    How long do you think it will take to build the Trans-Narrows Tunnel?

    c. How much do you think it will cost to build the Gowanus Expressway Tunnel?

    How long do you think it will take to raise the funds to build the Gowanus Expressway Tunnel?

    How long do you think it will take to build the Gowanus Expressway Tunnel?

  • Chris H.


    With all due respect, I believe you are ducking a legitimate issue here in regards to car deaths vs. others, particularly trains. This is especially true because you were the person who initially made the comparision in this thread. If you don’t want to compare them, don’t bring it up. Once you do, you either need to defend your statement or disown them, not shut down debate about the issue.

    In regards to your cp argument, by giving free access to street space but not to transit, it gives a priviledge class i.e. car owners access that other do not have. Following your own logic, the current system implicitly discriminates against the transit dependent. Moreover, congestion pricing with the goal of limiting demand already exists in the world of transit. MNRR, LIRR and NJT all have different peak vs. non-peak fares. Is this discriminatory? Are you going to fight against this as well?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Larry, we live in different worlds. In your world, everyone is unfetterd by obligations and frailties, unencumbered by the vagaries of their work. DRIVING intothe CBD is not ALWAYS a simple choice of “hey, I’d prefer it”. When my standard 76 year old constituent can hop on a bicycle, or even cram herself onto my overcrowded, slow if ever running, semi-dilapidated express bus, the very thought of which frightens her to death, maybe she won’t need a ride into the CBD.

    The only people for whom this is a choice are the thoroughly wealthy. They can choose as they see fit, $8 or whatever charge will be needed for CP to turn a profit, being chump change to them.

    The eltiism behind this argument infuriates ME.

    I want to address this question of elitism. It’s something that you allude to all over the place: that this plan pits two groups of New Yorkers against each other: the rich Manhattanites who can afford to pay $8 a day and who take taxis and limousines against the “poor and middle class” who drive to work in Manhattan.

    The problem is that those two groups together make up less than a quarter of all New Yorkers. The rest take buses, subways and the LIRR. Even in your district, more than a quarter of households do not own a vehicle.

    I can tell how angry you are about the elitism you perceive. I’ve felt that anger before myself – in your district. I’ve been in southeast Brooklyn several times on foot, by bike, by bus, even on rollerskates. All the criticisms that you hurl at the congestion pricing proposal – that it limits access, that it treats people like second-class citizens, that it favors the better-off – are true of the way streets are designed in your district. Walking around in Southeast Brooklyn is inconvenient, dangerous and constantly humiliating – and that’s the way life is for more than a quarter of your constituents.

    Following Hanlon’s razor, I’m assuming that you’re genuinely angered by the elitism you perceive and not just using it as a tool to oppose congestion pricing. But if that’s the case, then you just don’t know what things are like for people who are trying to get around your district without a car. I would be happy to take a walk with you, say from Canarsie to Floyd Bennett Field, or from Brooklyn College to Kings Plaza, and point out the indignities and threats that pedestrians have to deal with, but motorists are spared.

    My point is that if you say there are “two New Yorks,” then I’ve got a third one for you, which is bigger than the other two combined, and gets treated much worse. Where is this third New York in your proposal? Are you planning to buy them all cars, and force them to drive even if they don’t want to?

    What will your plan do for the express bus riders in your district? As I’ve written before, I used to be a regular express bus rider in the Bronx. It was quiet and comfortable, and most of the other riders were older women who didn’t seem at all afraid. If this isn’t the case for the buses from your district, why isn’t there something in your plan to make the buses more accommodating for your “standard 76-year-old”?

  • Larry Littlefield

    You want anger about elitism, Mr, Fidler, wait until you face the budget this June, or if not this June in November (if there is a conspiracy to borrow money until the legislature is re-elected followed by the admission of disaster just after, as in 2002). You won’t be handing out goodies, that’s for sure.

    What infuriates me is not that people drive. It is that you have opposed congestion pricing by promising all kinds of massively costly investments, over and above those already in the pipeline that we will be very lucky to get. That is what, to me, makes it a red herring — even though you did propose a tax to pay for it.

    It’s why I’m also infuriated by people complaining about a fare increase to keep up with inflation, given that the fare is so much lower (given discounts) than it was, even without taking inflation into account. Transit riders don’t want to pay either. No one does.

    Years of pandering to something for nothing are leading us to disaster. Rather than promising lots of new vehicular and transit tunnels, we’d be better off talking about working at home, carpooling (adding people to the empty seats on existing car trips) and bikes. Why? Money!

  • “I will not, however, continue to indulge in the questions of whether cars kill as opposed to trains, planes etc. We are just on different planets on that one. Sorry folks.”

    Perhaps we need an analogy to understand how rates are important, one tailored for planet motorist? If rates do not matter, then surely you should drive everywhere at 1 m.p.h, because either way you are moving and will get there eventually. I will not indulge the idea that going 50 m.p.h. gets you to places that 1 m.p.h. can not!

    Seriously. I’m shocked that we’re still presented with this childish misreading. Mister: it’s a question of degree. Although I doubt there’s a measurable incidence of pedestrians accidently killing by walking, yes we’re all quite aware that trains, mass-transit autos, and even bicycles accidently kill. The difference is that we care *how often* that happens, while others are not willing to consider any quantity other than zero and not-zero. Such hand-waving to gloss over the untimely deaths of hundred of New Yorkers a year is itself immoral, in any form of humanism, and it rises far above whatever morality is imagined to preclude charging for the operation of automobiles within a zone. As if!

  • Chris H

    Another reason why car deaths should not be dismissed out of hand. According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were 42,642 automobile related fatalities in the United States(1) which is 2.5 times the number of murders (17,034) as reported by the FBI(2).

    Would you dismiss murder deaths the same way?



  • Chris H
  • Chris H

    To add on about railroads, here are some statistics that I was able to get from the Federal Railroad Administration safety data website.

    In 2006 there were 909 railroad related fatalities of which

    369 (40.5%) were at grade crossings.
    517 (56.9%) were trespassers
    16 (1.8%) were on duty employees
    2 (0.2%) were passengers


  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Thanks, Chris. Lew, do you need the figures for planes, buses and ferries, too?

    I should point out that planes tend to be a pretty wasteful form of transportation, and I’d like to see people shift as many trips as they can from planes to trains, buses and ferries.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    So much to reply to and I will try. BTW, I will be out of town for a few days likely without internet access. I am not “retreating” from this dialogue, but pls understand if I do not reply for a while. I will be back.

    Breifly, I know all too well that cars can be deadly. My father passed away shortly after a car accident from complications that it caused. I wsa in the car. No need to explain.

    Noonetheless, until we get Trekkian here, the automobile is an essential part of our transportation scheme. YOU choose train, plane, bus or bicycle, that’s great. Otehrs make otehr choices for very valid reasons. Trains DO have accidents. Planes do crash (I hate writing that knowing I will be on one tomorrow.) There is inherent risk in movement. We will not convince each otehr here. I understand what all of you are saying, I just do not agree with it.

    Regarding Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, (and I regret that I cannot upload the 50 pages or so of reports on the various aspects of my plan that are annexed to the original, so I will summarize):

    Vehicles that run on pure hydrogen have a 64% energy efficiency rating. Additionally, the engine efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells, requires less fuel than other alternative fuel vehicles.In Torrance CA, a company called Fuel Maker is operating a hydrogen refueling station that utilizes solar power electrolysis to produce hyddrogen. Solar or hydropower processing plants sharply increase the energy efficiency of fuel cell cars. My source for this data is http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/infratructure/hydr_resources.html.

    My report analyzed all type of alternative fuel vehicles. It is also clear btw, that these cars can be produced now were we willing to require it. And they are ZERO Emissions. What would THAT do for our asthma rates and to our smog?

    Now to the tunnel questions—again.

    The estimated cost of the Cross Harbbor Freight Tunnel is about 8 billion. The expectation is that this will largely be borne by the Federal government. The EIS is already in progress. (Oh yes, an EIS, What a novel thought pro-CP pricers.) It could be completed by 2016. In addition to taking a million smog spewing trucks off our roads every year, there are savings in road maintenance for sure. Additionally, the opportunities for economic development along the train right of way in places like the ENY Industrial Park and the Brooklyn Terminal Market, just to name two, are excellent. Surely, this will return some significant revenue to the City.

    The estimated cost of the Trans-Narrows Tunnel is $4 billion. Since that tunnel is shorter than the Cross Harbor Tunnel, I would hope that it could be completed in the same time frame. Since this tunnel would connect the fastest growing boro on our City to the subway system, I would think you would have the least problem with this one. I can’t tell you how many cars this would tke off our street, because up to now SI’ers have not had the option of taking the train to work. Isn’t that absolutely frickin’ ridiculous?

    Cost estimates for the Gowanus Tunnel vary. The higher estimate from State DOT which did not want to do the project, ignored the use of new tunneling technologies that are cheaper and more effective than cover and dig. The best estimate I can make is $6-8 billion.

    However, in addtion to ending the interminable repair and maintainence costs for this ill designed road, and by giving engineers the opportunity to end the worst congesteed roadway in America (saving energy and decreasing pollutants), the economic return to the City for this one would be huge. Opening Brooklyn’s magnificent waterfront, currently wasted to the core, to parkland, housing and economic development would return billions to the City. It would transform neighborhoods. It would create jobs. Honestly, I believe that the project would pay for itself over and over.

    But lets say that the price tag for my tunnels is a total of $18 billion ( a mere week in Iraq.) Someone who was merely trying to defeat CP without more would not have attemtped to pay for it.

    The Rergional one third of one percent Payroll Tax would raise (according to the NY City Council Finance Division and the Independent Budget Office) $13 billion dollars by the year 2016. If we assume taht the Feds do in fact give $6 billion towards the Cross Harbor Tunnel, we would be able to do far more than just pay the debt service. By the year, 2030, an additional $32 billion would be generated.

    How much more we could do with $45 billion for all regional transportation that we can with the pittance that CP will generate in comparison.

    An equitable tax. A regional Tax for a regional problem. Not a commuter tax but a tax FOR commuters. And a minimal tax. A business with a half million dollar payroll would pay $1,500 per year. (Pls check my math.) And EVERY business relies on commuting employees and/or commuting customers. Who the heck knows, maybe we could even save the transit fare.

    Residential Parking, Larry, is just wrong wrong wrong. And it is narrow minded of you to say you only want it in the evenings. In the neighborhood I represent, a significant number of people work at night. How many of my health care workers do that?

    BTW, I ahve seen facts thrown around about my district. I know my district pretty well. Fifty two percent of the people from my district who work commute to that job by CAR. If you take out those that work at home (7% i believe) you can do the math. That is in large part because of the fact taht the transporation alternatives in my world stink. And dspite promises, promises, they continnue to stink. And to expect my constituents to believe that if they jsut pay this $8 charge, things will significantly change—THAT is pie in the sky.

    I think I got em all answered now.

    If I said I would miss you all while I was out of town for the next few days, would I be lying?

    Aw, maybe a little bit.

    I shall return. Unless Aaron locks me out.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Dave H.


    I’m really glad to have someone engaging with some of us in a good-faith debate on these issues. As you might imagine, I disagree with a lot of the things you said but I will choose to pick away at two of them here:

    1) Although it is true there is risk of death resulting from any kind of transportation, the risk of death from automobiles is vastly higher. According to the National Safety Council, “in 2000, the passenger death rate in automobiles was 0.80 per 100 million passenger-miles. The rates for buses, trains, and airlines were 0.05, 0.03, and 0.02, respectively.” That’s a pretty impressive difference: buses killed 16 times fewer passengers than automobiles. (Drivers of private cars are counted as passengers for the statistics. These statistics do not include third-party injuries but I see no reason to suspect the ratio would be very different). My guess is that subway deaths are significantly lower than even bus deaths per passenger mile but I am unaware of any statistics on this (though it should be hard to calculate).

    2)You said that 52% of people in your district commute to work by car. I suggest the real question you should be looking at is how many people commute to work by car to the proposed congestion pricing zone. I imagine most of your car commuters are not going to the Central Business District and so would not have to pay any more.

  • Lew,

    Just as Dave H. mentioned (post #74) thanks, for the good-faith debate.

    Here’s a link to Joseph Fromm’s “The Hype About Hydrogen” excerpted from his book “Hell and High Water — Global Warming the Solution and the Politics and What We Should Do” (on NYSStreets new community).


    While this is really a high-level overview, it is provided as a start for serious discussion on hydrogen cars.

    In any case, even if everything about working hydrogen cars existed here-and-now with all outstanding issues resolved (a huge hypothetical), it is not clear how they would be a timely solution.

    Congestion pricing is well on its way and is the first real start in addressing NYC transportation’s part in mitigating climate change.

    What is needed is an inspired effort to move congestion pricing forward, make it work by solving all existing problems in the best possible way, achieve success, and move on to bigger and better transportation and other NYC green initiatives.

    The earth could care less what we do. Life on this planet is a different story.

  • Chris H


    As the previous two posters said, I also appreciate your willingness to engage in debate.

    I still would like you to deal with the issue of fairness to people who are transit dependent. They do not have the choice to drive and they are affected by peak period fare policies that are designed to manage demand. Is this wrong? If it is, would you fight against it? If it is not, then why would C.P. be morally reprehensible?

  • gecko


    Does this capture your estimates and projections for your plan’s tunnel projects?

    The plan’s highest priority “Component #1: Construct 3 Critical Tunnels: a. The Cross Harbor Tunnel. b. The Trans-Narrows Tunnel. c. The Gowanus Expressway Tunnel.”

    Total Estimated Funds Required:
    1. Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel $8 billion
    2. Trans-Narrow Tunnel $4 billion
    3. Gowanus Tunnle $6 billion

    Total Estimated Funds in hand: $0

    Total Time required to get funding: unknown

    Best Estimate for finishing all 3 tunnels if started today (Nov 8, 2007): 2016 (9 years duration)

    Please make any corrections as necessary.

  • gecko

    The Whitehouse has a long documented history of first denying global warming and later delaying mitigation by proposing futuristic technological solutions that will take far too long to be of practical use when needed most which is now.

    The hydrogen car proposed by the president (and you) has been described as one these impractical solutions wasting 20 percent of funding that could other-wise be used for technologies that actually hold the promise of helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the first half of this century.

    Please briefly describe what you believe to be the steps to develop a practical hydrogen car with the estimated time and costs required for each stage of development.

  • gecko


    This city and its people have emerged with flying colors after the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) cleaned up the catastrophic devastation of 9/11 many months ahead of schedule.

    Are you saying that we are not capable of implementing a congestion pricing strategy equal to if not better than the highly successful London initiative?

  • gecko

    Lew, my apologies.

    Post number 78 is also addressed to you.

  • gecko


    $19.49 billion is the dollar value of all accidents in New York State in one year and might be a quick way to secure funding for your tunnels if a way can be found to capture this saving during a state-wide car-free year which could also include savings on car insurance premiums perhaps worth as much as $8 billion (other normal modes of travel are not as dangerous and do not require insurance) and the $13 billion normally lost to New York City congestion.

    A benefit of lesser importance is that about 1,500 lives would be saved.

    A lot more than 1,500 lives can be saved with 40.49 billion dollars.

  • eLK

    Reminds me of Boston’s Big Dig, on steroids.

  • gecko


    History Channel’s science-based “Global Warning” paints a bleak picture — with more to follow — of the future of human life if we do not act now and where cars definitely do not fit.

    To defuse a common idea that this is may be catastrophe porn the History Show also has a show on prior cult tragedies and religious apocalyptic visions.

    As a responsible leader you may want to share this with your constituents.

  • Chris H


    Are you back from your trip yet? How did it go?


Lew Fidler’s 9 CARAT STONE Plan Lives!

  Move over, Ted Kheel. On the eve of the Congestion Mitigation Commission deadline to sign off on some form of congestion pricing, Lew Fidler tells the Observer he will introduce his own 9 CARAT STONE plan to his colleagues on the City Council tomorrow. The Fidler Tax’n’Tunnel proposal, for those who’ve somehow forgotten, would […]

Pricing Alternatives Fail the “Reality Test”

A side-by-side comparison of PlaNYC congestion pricing and alternatives offered by pricing opponents shows that the Bloomberg proposal is the only one that would have an immediate impact on auto traffic while improving transit. Further, the report concludes that plans put forth by Congressman Anthony Weiner, Council Member Lew Fidler, and Keep NYC Congestion Tax […]

The Week in Review

Attack of the Livable Streets Zombies: DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan practices her mind-control technique on StreetFilms’ Clarence Eckerson and Streetsblog’s Aaron Naparstek Tuesday evening. GEHL YEAH! The week’s top story in the livable streets universe was Jan Gehl’s appearance at Tuesday’s NYC Streets Renaissance event. The popular (and quite funny) Danish urbanist enthralled the crowd […]

Profiles in Discouragement: Pols Defend Traffic Status Quo

Council member Lew Fidler delivers his Tax & Tunnel plan to the Commission. Spencer Wilking reports: The city’s traveling road show of community advocates, local politicians and concerned residents, otherwise known as New York City’s Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, stopped in Brooklyn Thursday night as part of its whirlwind seven county tour. At the hearing […]

Today’s Headlines

New Yorkers Offer Their Own Traffic Reduction Plans (NYT) Lipsky Spins: Impossible to Evaluate Mayor’s Traffic Plan Vs. Fidler’s (Mom&Pop) For Lew: Don’t Plan on Driving a Hydrogen Car Any Time Soon (New Yorker) Paying an $8 Congestion Charge Is the Least This Little Sociopath Can Do (NYT) State Legislators to Float $660 Million Transit […]

City Council Fiddles While New York City Chokes on Traffic

Brooklyn Council member Lew Fidler (above) is circulating an anti-congestion pricing resolution urging Mayor Bloomberg to oppose any form of road pricing. Fidler’s resolution appears to be a shot across the bow in preparation for the mayor’s forthcoming Long-Term Planning and Sustainability speech. Last week, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff hinted that the speech would include […]