MetroCard Mike Rolls
In Mayor Bloomberg's two computer monitors are screen savers showing him riding the subway to work. Bloomberg does more than talk the talk, he takes the train. He also vociferously backs the Carpool Rule, East River Bridge tolls and cuts in parking permits for government employees. Unlike the last mayor, Bloomberg clearly understands that New York City is a transit and walking city. Go Mike! We're behind you all the way. Now the challenge is to make sure your agencies are working for sensible transportation just as forcefully.
On the Mayor's two highest profile transportation issues-tolls and the Carpool Rule-the Department of Transportation is lagging. The agency has not yet released a consultant's study intended to demonstrate the benefits of requiring carpooling from 6 to 10 am on the bridges and tunnels entering Manhattan south of 60th Street. The study would have been a key tool for advocates of the Carpool Rule during heated public debates in March. Instead, T.A. and the Straphangers Campaign (not exactly monied interests) were forced to commission our own analysis to demolish the error-filled "study" released by the parking garage industry.
Similarly, city agencies-DOT, EDC, DCP-must begin the lengthy process of retaining a consultant to study the complicated specifics of how to put tolls on the East River Bridges. Without the strong support of these agencies it is more difficult for the mayor to decisively rebut bogus assertions that the tolls will produce traffic congestion or impose undue hardship on the motoring poor. (Incidentally, we've always wondered who these masses of mysterious poor people are who can afford the $5,000 a year cost of car-ownership and who have parking spots in the Central Business District.)
Additionally, the permanent bureaucracy in the Department of Transportation seems to labor under the misconception that this mayor believes the car is king. A quick visit to Times Square shows painted sidewalk extensions on which concrete protective planters are placed behind the pedestrian waiting area. People familiar with the project say DOT engineers are concerned that cars crashing into the planters might be damaged. (Yes, this is true.) Similarly, DOT continues to hold speed humps and other traffic calming improvements to a higher standard of political approval than traffic signals. It refuses to employ proven pedestrian safety tools like mini-traffic circles, roundabouts and raised crosswalks which meet international traffic standards. For pedestrians, it's the same crowding and motorized menace, but a new mayor.
How long will it take for the Mayor's progressive transportation vision to seep down into the bowels of the DOT? Does this hands-off mayor know that many of his minions are dragging their feet instead of charging behind him? We wonder.
Good Night Bright Star
"To know Susie was to
know a bright and wonderful star. She was a beautiful, talented and dedicated
professional advocate. Her loss will be felt throughout Washington and across
Bicycle and pedestrian advocacy and advocates across the country lost a dear friend when Susie Stephens was killed by a bus on March 21. Susie was one of the founders of the Thunderhead Alliance of State and Local Bicycle Advocacies. Immensely charismatic and likeable, Susie's fabulous singing voice and wonderful tales of bicycling around the world sent spirits soaring.