Fall 2002, p.2

Letters

Prospect Park

Dear Borough President Markowitz,

You strike me as a progressive, intelligent guy. As such, I would hope that you'd have the foresight to support a Prospect Park free of automobiles. As an EMS worker I've had the misfortune to respond to several calls inside the park where cyclists or pedestrians tangled with autos. It's crazy! While a few hundred drivers may shave off two minutes from their commute, the risk is too great that people will be injured or killed in exchange for this convenience. It's just not worth it. I support a Car-Free Prospect Park! You should too!
Shane MacDougall

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Manhattan Bridge

Dear Commissioner Weinshall,

I was recently hit by a car coming off the Manhattan Bridge, on the Brooklyn side. The driver blindsided me, driving in the wrong lane to avoid traffic as I was crossing on my bike. The bike path exit off the Manhattan Bridge on the Brooklyn side has no crossing point, light or signs. And I know many, many bike riders find it extremely dangerous considering the high traffic volume of both riders and cars. If the City installed a flashing red or some path to cross safely like it did on the Manhattan side, many accidents, like mine, could be avoided.
Jee Kim

Dear Commissioner Weinshall,
As a bicycle commuter, I was thrilled when the Manhattan Bridge was opened to foot traffic. This is now my preferred route. I am concerned, though, about the entrance/exit on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. Have you seen it? It's pretty scary! Cars don't stop at all, and with the curved road they have a difficult time even seeing me until it's nearly too late to stop. I bike a lot in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and this is probably the most dangerous spot I've seen. Help!!!
John Hocevar

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Car-Free Central Park

Dear Central Park Conservancy,

You are probably tired of all the yammering about trying to eliminate automobile traffic in Central Park. At least, that is what I am assuming, what with the campaign to remove cars from the park having been a constant nattering presence ever since I moved to this great city almost twenty years ago. But your silence on the issue-or more precisely, your unwillingness to commit to the stance-plays a not-insignificant role in creating that annoying yammering. I can understand some interest groups, such as taxi fleet owners, taking a position in support of automobiles in Central Park. But why would you, who have the welfare and well-being of the park in mind, continue to endure, if not support, the presence of loud, dangerous, dirty and unnecessary traffic in this urban oasis? What benefits do you draw from not endorsing a Car-Free Central Park?
S. Michael Walsh

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Taxis

Dear T.A.,

I'm a New York City cab driver. Cab drivers earn so little, and the competition on the streets is so cut-throat, that it is almost impossible to drive the speed limit, not run red lights, and still be able to go home, look your wife in the eye and say, "Honey, here is my share of the rent." You basically earn $10 an hour, before taxes, even if you've been driving for 30 years.
Barry Bliss

ed: T.A. would like to see higher taxi fares and better paid, safer drivers.

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West Street

Transportation Alternatives is an excellent organization and I strongly support the majority of its transportation policy platform, but on the question of whether to bury West Street as part of the redevelopment of the WTC site I sharply differ. First, as a participant in the terrific "Listening to the City" meeting that they held earlier this year I can tell you that burying West Street to create a park leading down to Battery Park was nearly unanimously approved by the participants. Burying the road is absolutely essential to reunifying Battery Park City with the rest of Lower Manhattan. Furthermore, by completely separating car traffic from cyclists and pedestrians it is the most people-friendly of all the alternatives; frankly, I am quite surprised to hear TA falling on the side of cars in this matter, even given its stated reasons. As to the question of "diverting money from more important transportation priorities," it was explained to us that the money earmarked for redevelopment of the WTC site is for that site, not a lump sum that the city can, say, redistribute to repainting bike lanes in Queens or allocate to a 2nd Avenue subway. So scratching the plan for West Street will not suddenly free up $200 million for other "important transportation priorities." Rather, it will simply deprive the city of a once in a lifetime chance to reverse some of Robert Moses's destructive legacy.
Scott Powell

ed: T.A. Says Transit over Tunnel. Who wouldn't want a park where a highway had been? If West Street could be buried for a few hundred million, we'd work fanatically to help make it happen. But the most recent cost estimates for burying West Street are $3 billion to $5 billion. And, contrary to what was said at "Listening to the City," that money will come from the same pot of Federal funding from which the new subway/PATH transit center, new South Ferry station and other potential transit improvements come. It's T.A.'s position that "Reunifying" Battery Park City with Lower Manhattan is not as important to the future of the city as enormous transit improvements which would cut travel times for more than a million people a day. (Note that Battery Park was built on landfill west of the already existing W. Side Highway. So, the sought-after re-unification has never existed.)