May/June 1996, p.3

Publisher's Letter: The Golden Moment?

Read the latest news about this issue.

New York Knicks fans were tearing their hair out. It was the Knicks vs. Chicago in game 4 of the 1993 NBA Eastern Conference finals and Knicks forward Charles Smith missed four chances to lay the ball into the basket. His failure cost the Knicks the game and probably the championship. It was the golden moment, and he missed.

For New York's cyclists and pedestrians the golden moment is now- and we want to score. Since 1993 the city has had $40 million in Federal funds available for major bicycling and walking improvements. The Departments of Transportation, Parks, and City Planning have banked the money while they planned, experimented, and wrestled with red tape. Now they must produce. It is time for a building boom of bike lanes, better bridge access, bicycle parking, traffic-calmed streets, and pedestrian-friendly intersections.

This spring there is a glimpse of what we should see: new bike lanes in Northern Manhattan and on Hudson Street and the first 40 of 2,000 on-street bicycle racks. These are the first cycling improvements in NYC since 1992. Even more modest are the city's traffic calming and pedestrian improvements, which have amounted to an interesting but small handful of painted demonstration projects.

It is up to Transportation Commissioner Elliot Sander-whose department and job still exist, at least for now-to pull his team together and organize political support for its efforts. Sander must go to City Hall and enlist the support of receptive leaders like Deputy Mayor Fran Reiter-she needs to hear that cycling and walking projects are a bright spot in the budget-cutting gloom. The political mandate should be clear:
"Spend the money; bicycling and walking projects are a priority."

Sander must also crack some heads at his own agency. Enough baloney from the Bureau of Bridges on the Queensboro Bridge entrances. Get a bike friendly design done, and work with the DOT bicycle program and T.A to do it. Enough delays from the legal and safety departments. Enough excuses. Other big American cities are moving ahead with simple changes that New York finds impossible. The golden moment is now.

John Kaehny
Executive Director
P.S. Charles Smith was traded earlier this year.

The DOT's Future
In our March/April issue, we called on Mayor Giuliani to save the Department of Transportation (DOT) from imminent dissolution. Since then, hundreds of T.A members have sent postcards to the Mayor, and TA. has been joined by numerous civic groups and elected officials supporting DOT's survival. We need a strong city transportation agency to promote cycling and walking. For all its flaws, DOT is that agency.

Write: Mayor Giuliani, City Hall, NYC 10007