Safety First?

Is a parking space more important than a human life?

For you and me, the answer is obvious. But for our elected officials, who often spend their days being driven around the city and their nights hearing from car-owning constituents, it’s too often a tossup.

All around the five boroughs, even in districts where the vast majority of residents don’t own a car, safe street proposals are regularly denied or delayed because a local politician is more concerned about losing a few parking spaces than giving walkers and bikers life-saving refuge.

Somehow, I always imagined this wasn’t their real intention. Deep down in my core, I thought that a smart person’s willingness to pick parking over flesh and blood was some sort of trade-off; part of the unfortunate “sausage making” that keeps our democracy rolling along. Results from T.A.’s recent election year questionnaire have cured me of that naiveté.

Among the 80 City Council candidates who responded to our survey, most put traffic safety right at the top of their list of priorities. This is something to celebrate, and the direct result of your support of Transportation Alternatives. But when asked to rank which transportation issues they deem most important, five candidates actually put car parking ahead of street safety.

As shocking as these five candidates’ position is, it’s of course very useful to know that they’re out there and on the record. And it’s heartening to know that the vast majority of the candidates—and likely the lion’s share of the eventual winners—put safety first.

Next year, let’s work together to hold them to that.

But for now we have a more important job. We need to make sure that safety wins and human lives are valued over parking spots. After you’ve examined the candidates’ priorities at, go to to see what you can do to ensure that safety comes first on Primary Day (September 10th) and on Election Day (November 5th).

Paul Steely White
Executive Director