Winter 2004, p.23

Volunteer Profile
Mike Infranco

Mike Infranco Occupation: Software Engineer (currently unemployed)

Neighborhood: East Village

T.A. member since: February 2002

How did you first hear about T.A.? When I moved into my new apartment, which faces the street, I suddenly had to put up with a lot of traffic noise. And although Iíd always considered myself environmentally aware, it was only then that it really hit me how damaging auto dependence is. Additionally, the trauma and aftermath of September 11, 2001 inspired me to act locally to make the world better. So, I did a search online and discovered T.A.

What made you decide to volunteer? I wanted to be involved in the nitty-gritty of making things better. Thereís a satisfaction you get from hands on volunteer work that you just canít get by writing a check every year. I encourage every T.A. member to get out there and do something, even if it is just riding your bike! And itís so easy to volunteer.

What was the first volunteer project you worked on? I started out gathering petition signatures for the illustrious Car-Free Central Park Campaign.

What kinds of things have you done for T.A. since? Traffic counts, car alarm research, Operation Hazard ID, speed measurements with the radar gun, writing letters, loading, unloading and navigating the trucks for Transportation Alternativesí NYC Century Bike Tour, delivering City Cyclist magazines, putting up posters, valet bike parking, mailing parties Ö the list goes on. T.A. inspired me to do so many things I had never imagined doing, including testifying before the City Council!

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering for T.A.? Meeting all the different people who believe in this vision for a better city. Everybody is friendly and their energy is infectious.

You do so much for T.A., what has T.A. done for you? You mean, besides the free beer and cookies? Above all, being involved with T.A. has renewed my faith in the power of the individual to change things for the better. Itís allowed me to expand my horizons and to meet some really cool and fun people. Plus, after a 10-year hiatus, I got back into cycling, and I love it! Itís a great way to experience the city, and it keeps me sane and in shape.

What do you like about New York City and what would you like to change? I moved to New York from Northern Jersey to escape the isolation and numbness of suburban sprawl, so I was drawn the cityís energy and its sense of placeóthereís a ďhereĒ here. The overall thing I would like to change, which would have a ripple effect to so many areas, would be to make the city more humane and livable by reducing the number of cars. This should be the cityís overarching goal because so many other great things can come out of it. Weíve got a long way to go, but itís worth fighting for.

If you could do any two things to improve New York City, what would they be and why? There are so many things, how can I choose?! Well, I would make motorists pay to cross the East River bridges and to enter Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, like they do in London; Iíd use the money from this to expand and improve mass transit and bicycling conditions. Iíd also build more affordable housing.

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