November/December 1995, p.22


"If people need to drive into NYC, they should be expected to pay for the burden that they are putting on this tightly packed city."
Jeff McMahon, in a letter to AAA.

Dear T.A.:
Just received the Sept. / Oct. issue of Transportation Alternative, and while I was delighted to see the "Watch Their Language" article and the excellent feature on pedestrian protection I was greatly disappointed at the lack of material on the transit option or on any solutions to automobile traffic except those involving bikes.
I am a bicyclist, and I thoroughly applaud your efforts for a car- free Central Park and for better pedestrian protection and an aggressive Stance against high speed vehicles and more traffic lanes. But transit users are also important!
I don't see this emphasis anymore in T. A.! What has happened?

Corbin S. Kidder
Saint Paul, MN

Don't fret. T. A. has been working closely with allies like the Straphangers Campaign. See pages 2 and 6 for more about what we 're doing.

TA member Jeff McMahon sent this letter to Car and Travel, a Magazine published by the American Automobile Association.

Dear AAA:
Your article "Fed Up with MTA's Tolls" makes me ashamed to be a member of the AAA. Your shortsighted views on transportation are of special disservice to those of your members who live in New York City and rely on public transportation. Some of us may own cars, but we also use bicycles, public transportation, and our feet. I am a member of AAA for your services, but I am also a member of Transportation Alternatives an organization that fights against the narrow-minded transportation policies that AAA unfortunately advocates.
Everyone pays, big, for such car-friendly policies. We pay in increased air and noise pollution, congestion, and the sacrifice of more and mo republic space to the automobile. To equate money spent on public transportation with that charged for tolls is irresponsible. Public transportation seeks to provide equal access to all in an energy-efficient fashion. Every full bus or train means fewer cats on the road belching out pollution and destroying the ozone layer.
How much better it would be if organizations like AAA and Transportation Alternatives could sit down with the MTA and design an ecologically intelligent policy that acknowledges the needs and capacities of this city. If people need to drive into NYC, they should be expected to pay for the burden that they are putting on this tightly packed city. I try to minimize my own driving, but there are times when I need my car. So I pay the tolls and hope that the money is going improve public transit.
I look forward to a more enlightened public policy by AAA, one that does not treat drivers as a special interest group but realizes that we all need to work together to make is more sustainable environment. Otherwise, you should stick to maps and road service.

Jeff McMahon
New York, NY

Dear T.A.:
You are one of my favorite, most admired organizations in the world, but I gotta say that the design quality of the new mag so far has been a big disappointment.
It's a common mistake, and ecologically unsound of course, to use two colors where one will do. And it often results, as here in weaker design since the one color limitation makes the designer think real hard and usually come up with a strongest result.
Get rid of the red, it's an ugly shade anyway, it's really unsuitable for an organization that seeks to promote environmental responsibility to use two colors when one works better anyway. The one color CC looks lean and mean, the two-color T.A. looks Suburban Tacky, I'm afraid.

Sam Abrams
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY

Dear T.A.:
I can't say enough good things about the NYC Century ride. It was wonderful. Of course you can't take credit for the two best things - New York City and the weather. But your efforts made it possible for the rest of us to enjoy those two things on our bikes while you took care of the de tails such as route and food and rest rooms. And you did a great job taking care of those de tails too! Thanks to all of you folks at T.A. and to all the volunteers who helped along the way.
Your century was the only one I planned to do this year. It was definitely a good choice.
Was I dreaming or had a couple of those bridges been resurfaced since last year? If so, congratulations. I'm sure your advocacy efforts had a lot to do with it. Keep up the good work.

Kathleen Hacker
Member,Wash. Area Bicyclists Assn.
Auto Free DC

Dear T.A.:
I regret to report that that Chicago is a far less bike friendly town than New York, in spite of the presence of "ribbons" for locking your bike spread liberally around. So far, I have been "menaced" both by vehicles and kids reaching out of passing cars; have had my bike vandalized (smashed fenders, contorted front gear, and cut spokes) and dodged way more potholes and shards of glass than even in New York. All this in a little over a month.

Fred Lonberg-Holm
Chicago, IL

The following letter was sent to NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern.

Dear Mr. Stern:
It's a genuine pleasure and an important reprieve from the stress of city life to take a walk in Central Park, and your efforts at maintaining and revitalizing the Park through clean-up and projects such as tree-planting are appreciated. You play a key role in affecting the quality of life of NYC residents like ourselves.
Thus we wish now to appeal to you to take measures to make Central Park car-free-cars bring a cacophony and a toxic miasma, plus a sheer physical intrusion, to a space which should be wholly free of this intrusion. The environmental and social toll of cars, which are allowed to penetrate into virtually every corner of this city, with little respite for pedestrians who are entitled to a little space and clean air, is intolerably high. Please make Central Park a perpetually safe haven from the blight of NYC's seemingly ubiquitous car culture.
Thank you for considering this appeal, Mr. Stern; we wish you the best of success in all your efforts to enhance Central Park.

David Vassar
Rego Park, NY

Sheelagh McNeill
New York, NY