Tom Vanderbilt Dissects “The ‘E’ Word”
In the latest issue of TA’s Reclaim, "Traffic" author Tom Vanderbilt revisits the May New York Magazine profile of Janette Sadik-Khan, and its portrayal of projects like car-free Broadway as tributes to the city’s oft-mythologized non-driving "elite."
Vanderbilt’s piece, entitled "The ‘E’ Word," deconstructs what he considers one of the most "abused word[s] in contemporary political discourse."
A few facts — "stubborn things," as Reagan called them — are in order. The most obvious thing to note is that car drivers make up a very
small portion of the commuter population — 16.9 percent of travelers
into the proposed "congestion zone" of Manhattan, and that includes
trucks. And as the New York City Independent Budget Office has found,
those people who do drive into Manhattan have a median annual income
that exceeds other commuters by some 28.6 percent. And yet it’s the
cyclists who are elite.
Council Member Liu complained that Sadik-Khan’s job is not to be a
"visionary." Rather it’s to strike a "balance between all the entities
competing for street space." Well, let’s think about that "balance"
under the status quo so beloved by Liu. In regards to the Times Square
project, the space under consideration currently hosts nearly seven
times as many pedestrians as vehicles. And yet how much space was
devoted to those pedestrians? 11 percent.
Of course, what else but propaganda such as this would we expect from a publication produced by Transportation Alternatives — the group that, according to one anonymous New York Mag source, "is literally writing
transportation policy in the city of New York — unchecked."