Please allow me the opportunity to not accept your selection of the New York City Department of Transportation for the "Hall of Shame" (November/December 1994). Contrary to what is implied by your selection, we have protected the federal funds associated with our new projects, "Voluntary Entry by license Plate" and "Community-Based Projects." These projects, when fully implemented, will result in substantial improvements in how New Yorkers travel.
The Voluntary Entry project is to educate motorists about the problems created by commuting by auto, and to offer reasonable alternatives. Staff successfully adopted ten special programs for Earth Week '94, including the Lafayette Street bike lane. Since then, the staff members have been temporarily assigned to the Employee Commute Options (ECO) program to manage its customer service office.
The Community-Based Projects has only recently obtained the services of a project manager. This has been followed with an announcement of the start of the project The project seeks innovative small-scale proposals from community organizations, merchant associations, transportation and environmental advocacy groups, and others for reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.
We do regret that the City's fiscal difficulties have slowed completion of these projects, but we are making progress.
The NYC DoT's response to our Hall of Shame award is insubstantial. The ECO program is the ECO program. What it has to do with spending $1.8 million on a project which will use unspecified means to get NYC car commuters to not drive voluntarily is something we cannot figure out. What does it mean that the project adopted the Lafayette Street bike lane? We'd like to see real policies that create disincentives to driving on our choked streets (see Komanoff article p. 6). In the meantime, please put the $1.8 million into real improvements such as more bike racks and better sidewalks. As our article said, the Community Projects idea is wonderful, but it is appalling that it has been staffed for over a year and no money has been awarded to any community initiative.
In your November 1994
newsletter I found the ISTEA article by Scott Bernstein especially helpful.
Several other unions and our local have tried unsuccessfully to get the LIRR
to add another stop at our Hillside Maintenance Complex in Hollis, Queens for
our members living on the South Shore of Long Island and local residents who
presently must travel past the Complex to Jamaica Station before back-tracking
to get to work. This adds 40 minutes to daily commutes, discouraging use of
the train. We are continuing to pressure the LIRR to implement our proposal.
Some tension exists between
the skating and cycling community. Cyclists and skaters are fighting over a
small piece of turf. But we share a common enemy. At the office of
Transportation Alternatives, I was greeted with open arms. Everyone was
friendly, talkative and helpful. They informed me that Rollerbladers were
welcome in the organization. After joining I started poring through the
literature. The City Cyclist, Bicycle Blueprint, studies and info regarding
bike lanes, bike parking, bike shop directory, more federal money for walking
and cycling, plus a bicycle wheel on the stationary. The worst oversight was
located on the back cover of Auto-Free Press under the heading of
"Describe your travel habits." Four choices were given: Pedestrian,
Bicyclist, Straphanger and Motorist. In the long term there is strength in
numbers. Only by voting as one, by sharing a common goal, can we acquire more
space for living. Next time a skater gets in your way, curse the cars that
squeeze us together.
AFP replies: The omission of skaters from the membership form was an oversight, which has been corrected due to Mr. Roth's friendly reminder. Gary also became a valuable contributor to this issue of AFP.