Winter 2001, p.30


Central park revisited
Dear T.A.,
Thank you for telling L.W. to observe the directional rules in Central Park. This summer I was riding counter-clockwise, with cars on my right and runners on my left, when a cyclist came toward me in the bike lane. We crashed, and it took months for my sprained and bruised old body to recover, and many dollars to repair my bike. Observing directional rules makes just as much sense for cyclists as it does for motorists. We live in community, and must protect each other's safety. Thanks again.
Donna Orange,
East Harlem

Slim cars?
Dear T.A.,
One scheme to reduce travel time through congested traffic would be to favor the use of "slim cars," vehicles able to fit inside traffic lanes half the width of our present lanes. Such narrow lanes could be formed by dividing present lanes by a center line.
All lanes would accommodate both slim cars and cars of normal width. But where only a half-lane is available to pass another car, the slim cars could get through congested traffic faster.
Harvey Amster,

Two wrongs don't make a right
Dear AAA,
Your November cover story, "That's the Ticket-Here's How to Fight It," teaches motorists how to avoid responsibility for their own actions with such tricks of the trade as: adjournments in contemplation of ultimate dismissal; supporting depositions requested in support of "getting off," not getting the facts; and the "trip up" of cops with lots of questions - after all, he or she writes lots of tickets, works long hours, and can't possibly remember everything.
This four-page "not me" hug fest concluded with a token sentence or two about obeying traffic laws in the first place. It's a shame that the focus of the article was not in support of just that, obeying the law and making highways safer for everyone.
Lt. Matthew T. Byrne,
Middletown Police Dept.

E-ZPass. You Buggin'
Dear T.A.:
I take strong opposition against the proposed toll raise at the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, as well as your support of the raise. I am not only a bike rider, but also am fortunate enough to be a car owner. I live and work in Manhattan and commute to work by bicycle. I use my car on weekends to visit family, friends, go camping etc. Personally, an increase in these tolls will not be a hardship on me, but it does raise one very important issue.
They propose to make the toll less expensive for E-ZPass users. In doing this they are making it more attractive for people to sign up for and use the E-ZPass system. This not only puts people out of work (usually the least educated, lowest denominator of society), but it is a huge, huge breech in our right to freedom of movement in this country. The whereabouts of any single person can be monitored through E-ZPass. Did you know that they have even issued speeding tickets to people (via the mail) based on the amount of time it took drivers to get from one toll booth to another? This is highly unconstitutional and quite frankly, scary!
This is what you are supporting and you should be ashamed of yourselves. I will not be renewing my support for T.A. Please remove me from your mailing list. Thank you.
Dena Lenard
Editor: Sorry to lose you. Well we cannot say we are ashamed. We strongly disagree that higher tolls will put anyone out of work, or disproportionately affect "the least educated, lowest denominator of society". Only about one-quarter of peak-hour trips cannot be shifted. The goal of congestion pricing is to apply the same principles that have long governed phone and electric bills and airline tickets. When there is a fixed supply of something, (road space), then there will be shortages (i.e. traffic jams) unless prices rise. This is not revolutionary thinking.
Your second point about "the least educated, lowest denominator of society" being hurt is incorrect. The rich drive more than others and many people in the NYC-area do not have cars. Many people take public transit, walk, and bicycle. How does reducing traffic congestion and its' economic cost reduce employment?
Lastly, any infringement of the freedom of movement caused by E-ZPass should be considered in the context of a society in which the record of credit card purchases, automobile registration, website visits, and personal credit history are available to anyone who cares to purchase them. This is also true of health records and income tax returns. E-ZPass records are confidential and are only released with a judge's permission. E-ZPass is hardly the devil you make it out to be!

Worth quoting ...

It's a Rocky Road
"Our lust for pavement and our addiction to automobiles is taking money from our schools," said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, noting that gas taxes cover only 23 percent of road costs and the rest comes from sales and income taxes that could also be spent on education.
-The Salt Lake Tribune

War of the (Auto) Worlds
In a recent interview, science fiction writer Ray Bradbury was asked, "If you could eliminate one invention from the last 100 years, what would it be? The author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles replied: "The automobile. We've killed two million people now. It's been a major war, and we're not paying any attention to it"
-The New York Times Magazine