Winter 2002, p.2

Publisher's Letter: A New Age Now Begins

The Bloomberg regime has struck a good early tone on transportation. Mayor Mike has ridden the subway to work every day and is keeping the Car Pool Rule for Manhattan river crossings in place. Mike issued a very sensible, and extensive transportation platform as a candidate. He reappointed Iris Weinshall, a no-nonsense transportation commissioner who T.A.'s been able to work with. He's put the kibosh on crazy Giuliani stadium subsidies (which take money from transit, schools, streets, libraries and parks) and he's reduced City Hall's car fleet. His management style seems open and creative and he's stocked his administration with smart, competent people.

We'd like to help Mayor Mike keep up the momentum; in that spirit, we're offering an extensive menu in this magazine of practical and inexpensive things he should do for cyclists and pedestrians. Mike faces some tough budgetary times. The City has a $4 billion deficit (out of a $40 billion budget) and has maxed out its credit. Fortunately, the changes T.A. seeks are enormously cost effective - indeed some make money. We urge the Mayor not to retreat from budget shock, but to seize the chance to make powerful symbolic and real changes to everyday life in the city. In addition to the cycling and pedestrian improvements we suggest inside, we urge the Mayor to do the following:

  • Issue a declaration that Safety Comes First. Push the police to put an end to dangerous driving and require DOT to build streets for people - not just motor vehicles.
  • Get rid of the pedestrian barricades in Midtown. They send the message that cars come before pedestrians.
  • Create a real Bus Rapid Transit System on avenues and bridges.
  • Keep the Car Pool Rule and appoint a blue ribbon panel to investigate tolling East River Bridges.
  • Extend car-free hours in Central Park to include early morning and afternoon recreational times (10am - 4pm and 7pm - 8am).
  • Make May, June, July and August car-free in Prospect Park.
  • Create a new on-street parking system using congestion pricing for all parking on arterial streets and commercial zones.
  • Eliminate 50,000 of the 250,000 City parking permits. (This is the real problem, and the City car-fleet is small potatoes by comparison.)
  • Encourage a car-free Grand Concourse on Summer Sundays.

The reconstruction of Lower Manhattan has rightfully drawn enormous attention. Tens of civic and business groups and hundreds of architects, planners and engineers are busy putting forth their visions. T.A. is doing our part as a member of the Empire State Transportation Alliance. The rebuilding of the 1 train and the PATH train and surrounding streets and utilities will cost billions and is the center of high stakes jockeying for political influence and money. In contrast, what T.A. seeks is straightforward and inexpensive. Our plan would pass any businessman's cost/benefit analysis. Ideas, we've got them. Ideals, we've got them too. Mike, we're here to help. Let us.

John Kaehny
Executive Director

T.A.'s John Kaehny is Honored

We are proud to announce that the NYU Graduate School of Public Policy honored T.A. Executive Director John Kaehny with its Civic Leadership Award at the Annual Leadership in Transportation Awards. Also honored at the January 31 event were NYC DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, who received the Public Agency Award, and Francis Lombardi, Chief Engineer of the Port Authority, who was recognized with the Public Servant Award. The event was organized by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management and the Council on Transportation.