Summer 2003, p.25

Volunteer Profile: Paul DiMaria

Paul's volunteer illustration has helped make T.A.'s advocacy more vivid.

Paul's volunteer illustration has helped make T.A.'s advocacy more vivid.

Age: I was born three months before James Dean died.

Occupation: Production editor, graphic designer

T.A. Member Since: Oops, I volunteered before joining.

Neighborhood: The Bronx, hometown of Colin Powell, Stanley Kubrick, Anne Bancroft and Don DeLillo. Specific neighborhood, at the moment: Williamsbridge.

What draws you to help Transportation Alternatives? I've been involved with transit advocacy groups, including Auto-Free New York and the Empire State Passengers Association.

When did you start working for T.A.? Well, I'm between jobs right now, so I offered some of my time in May. I've been at the office most days since then.

What exactly do you do for the organization? I did a map of the Brooklyn-end of the Manhattan Bridge bikeway. I also used Illustrator to create a rendering of the proposed Fort Lee bikeway in New Jersey.

What is the favorite thing you have worked on at T.A.? I liked going out in the field in Brooklyn and New Jersey to get a first hand look at what I would be drawing.
What is your philosophy on volunteering? As per Nietzsche: "Maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play."

What is your favorite thing about New York? I lived for many years in suburban New Jersey, where I had to get into a car just to buy a newspaper. Now that I'm back in the city, I appreciate being able to get around without having to drive

If you had infinite powers, what would you do to make New York a better place? May I rest on the seventh day? During the first six days I would:

1. Expand the subway system - if Ho Che Minh City can start one from scratch, we can afford to extend ours.
2. Give surface transit, including future light rail, priority on the streets over private cars.
3. Integrate the commuter railroads so that service flows through the city, not just into it. Lower rail fares within the city limits.
4. Plan new housing and businesses to fit in with transit; avoid traffic disasters like the Bay Plaza Shopping Center at Co-op City.
5. Reform the taxi industry. The present "leasing" system exploits the drivers and encourages insane driving. (I drove a taxi in 1978-79, so I have first hand experience with the business.)
6. Promote the existing bridge walkways/bikeways as tourist attractions and add new ones to bridges now lacking them. (The Whitestone Bridge was built with a walkway, but it was removed to add a car lane.)

What do you like about T.A.? The incredible furniture. It's quite different from those office parks with five-thousand identical gray and maroon cubicles.

What do you like about commuting to Manhattan from the Bronx? I have two subway lines available, so if one breaks down, I have an alternative.

Is there anything else you want to say about your experience at the T.A. office?
I may have been inspired to ride a bicycle again; the last one I owned was a 1972 Columbia 3-speed.

Read more volunteer profiles.