Will New Yorkers Get Doored by de Blasio’s Taxi of Tomorrow Opposition?

As Mayor de Blasio weighs the potential $100 million cost of converting his opposition to the Taxi of Tomorrow into official city policy, New Yorkers on two wheels should remember one key feature of the Nissan NV200 selected as the city’s next taxi: It will all but eliminate the possibility of getting doored by an exiting taxi passenger.

The Taxi of Tomorrow would be a win for cyclists. Image: TLC
If it survives the courts and Bill de Blasio, the Taxi of Tomorrow would be a win for cyclists. Image: TLC

The vehicle has sliding doors for backseat passengers, reducing the need for Taxi TV public service announcements reminding passengers not to whip open their doors into the path of a passing cyclist — something that’s not just dangerous, but also against the law.

That improvement and others, including built-in GPS for drivers, rear-side lights to indicate when passengers are entering or exiting, a front-end design that reduces the severity of crashes with pedestrians, “lower-annoyance” horns, and rear cameras drivers can use while backing up, would be lost if the mayor decides to scrap the design.

On Tuesday, a state appeals court reversed a lower court ruling against the city’s Taxi of Tomorrow plan. The case could be appealed to the state’s highest court, and de Blasio said on Wednesday that, although the city’s law department continues to defend the project, he is opposed to it:

I think it is not right to have a single vehicle approved instead of a variety of vehicles that meet certain standards. I don’t like that we’ve lost an opportunity to create jobs here in New York City. I don’t like Nissan’s involvement in Iran. I don’t like a lot of things about this. I think it was a broken process on many levels.

Other criticisms of the Nissan vehicle are that it is not a hybrid and it is not wheelchair-accessible by default. London, which has also selected the NV200 as its new taxi, will have a fully-accessible fleet. A modified accessible version will be made available in New York.

Today, Capital New York reported that if the city ends up switching sides and backs out of the Taxi of Tomorrow plan, the city’s contract with Nissan stipulates that it could be on the hook for at least $100 million in costs the carmaker has incurred in designing and producing the vehicle.

De Blasio, who received significant campaign contributions from yellow taxi interests during his campaign, vigorously opposed both the Taxi of Tomorrow and the Boro Taxi program. Under his watch, TLC has continued to roll out the Boro Taxi plan, though on a slightly slower schedule.

“We are looking at what possible changes could be made to the program,” TLC chair Meera Joshi said in a statement about the Taxi of Tomorrow to Capital New York. “But at this stage, it is premature to assess those options until we have final clarity on the legal situation.”

  • qrt145

    Let’s grant for the sake of argument that, under those conditions, taxi rides are “useless”. Still, that doesn’t tell you anything about the rider’s motivation. Some might hate people, sure, but others might be merely lazy or might just find taxis physically more comfortable. Feel free to call them moral failings too if you want.

  • Andrew

    Bike share is an excellent option for this sort of trip – if bike share is available at both ends (it isn’t in this case), and if the traveler knows how to ride a bike and is comfortable doing so in city traffic, and if the traveler takes enough such trips to warrant an annual bike share pass (otherwise, the trip costs $10 per person), and if the traveler isn’t carrying more baggage than a bicycle can handle.

    We’re not discussing trips between boroughs, so I don’t know why you bring them up. Taxis are most competitive for relatively short trips, since the overhead in riding the subway (walking to the station, paying the fare, waiting for the train, possibly waiting for a second or third train, and walking from the station) is essentially the same for short and long trips. When traveling in a group, they can be both cheaper and faster than transit.
    If somebody wants to ride a taxi, they’re welcome to ride a taxi. You don’t get to decide whether they have a valid reason to do so.

  • lop

    Once you require that the traveler is comfortable riding in traffic (a necessity if you want it to be an excellent, or even good option) you lose most city residents. If you want biking (rented or owned bike) to be suitable for most people you have to make it comfortable, not just safe.

  • Joe R.

    I did put in the qualifier about needing to expand bike share to parts of the city not well served by transit. Obviously bike share can’t be an option if it doesn’t serve both the origin and destination. Even in Manhattan, far too many areas don’t yet have bike share.

    The second part about being comfortable riding in the city is directly related to taxi use. The fewer people who use taxis the fewer taxis there will be, and the more comfortable it will be for your average person to ride. The reverse is also true. More taxi and car use creates a hostile environment for cycling. That in turn often encourages even more car/taxi use because people won’t even consider biking as an option. This is exactly why we should aggressively discourage motor vehicle use. There are lots of other good reasons to do so besides making the streets safer for biking. It all boils down to what I wrote earlier. I don’t care how someone else wants to get around, at least up to the point where their choice affects my health, safety, or quality of life.

    Incidentally, while we’re talking about taxi use affecting others, about half the vehicles driving through Central Park are taxis. Basically, an overwhelming majority of park users must suffer so a relative handful can use taxis for whatever reason. That isn’t how a democracy should work.

  • qrt145

    I think Central Park should be car-free. But even with the current status quo, where the West Drive is restricted to HOVs with 2+ people, I find it wrong to see it full of taxis with one passenger. I think for taxis, from a transportation perspective, the driver should not count for the purposes of HOV requirements. In a sense, the driver is “part of the taxi”.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    or 10 mins by bike 🙂


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