July/August 1998, p.22-23

Letters: Taxis, Maps & a 2nd Ave Subway

Dear NY Taxi Workers Alliance:
I am against many of our mayor's nit-picking pet crusades. But I have to admit, he's on the mark when it comes to cracking down on motor vehicle infractions, especially those of our infamous cabbies.
A day without the menacing yellow demons made it clear they contribute to much of the anxiety, aggression, congestion and danger associated with driving, riding a bike or even crossing the street in New York City.
Instead of bemoaning the police enforcing the laws of the road, maybe your members (the cab drivers) shoulder consider, gee, I don't know ... following the laws? Whenever I take a cab the driver always gets a better tip if he or she drives sanely, keeps to a safe speed, uses turn signals, does not cut others off, etc. If the cabbies want to make breaking the law and endangering the public their modus operandi, then they should expect to be ticketed.
Thanks again, and please feel free to strike again soon!
Robert Weyersberg
New York, NY

Dear NYC Department of City Planning:
I am writing to congratulate all concerned for the New York Cycling Map which I picked up for free at my local bike shop this weekend. As an avid city cyclist in the New York metropolitan area (and, I might add, a map enthusiast), I have been waiting for this map with great anticipation. I must say that it surpasses all my expectations. All information necessary for intelligent, enjoyable and safe cycling in New York City is there in this map, presented in a clear, logical, useful format - quite elegant from a cartographic point of view.
Now we can only hope that the long-awaited publication of this map heralds and hastens the development of green areas, bike lanes, cycle paths, and a more bike-friendly environment generally in New York City!
William F. Lee
New York, NY
We too applaud the Department of City Planning's fine map. NYC now has the plan, the map and the money to do great things for cycling. It's up to us to provide the will. -Ed.

Dear T.A.:
I remember the 5-Borough Bike Ride a few weeks back, we were starting the ride, and there was Giuliani standing on a platform and waving at all the riders starting. Everybody was waving back. My friend said, "Let's give him the finger." I said no, we shouldn't. Now I wish we did!
Setting off to work on my morning bike commute (Park Slope to the Metropolitan Museum of Art), feeling pretty good because of the weather and the taxi strike I heard about on the radio... coming over the Brooklyn Bridge, I was stopped and given a ticket for running the red light after the bridge. The cop just said, "You, you, and you," gave three of us tickets, $100 each. I saw another traffic cop motion us through the light. There was no two-way traffic.
Like most safety-concerned riders, I don't just blow red lights. That's not me. I'm pleading not guilty - I can't afford $100. My membership ran out on May 1. This helped me to see I can get angry in a positive way. I'm renewing my membership and hope I can get involved. I have received calls in the past asking to help out, but I couldn't find that much time then. I hope that changes, and I am more willing to help out. I believe in the cause.
Christopher Wertz
Brooklyn, NY

Dear T.A.:
Reducing our dependence on the motor vehicle requires both political and personal efforts. As a T.A. member, I applaud, support and participate in your political efforts to promote non-vehicular transportation and the creation of auto-free havens.
As a member of the human species and of the most fossil-fuel-consumptive culture on the planet, I struggle daily to take personal responsibility for destructive aspects of my lifestyle - like driving a car. I share T.A.'s vision of an auto-free city/nation/world and I bring that vision into the many choices I make. Beware, Mr. Phil Vitale (letter in T.A.'s May/June issue): believing that you need a car is the foundation of your "despised kar kulture." C'mon, take responsibility for choosing to drive a car. T.A.'s image as anti-auto is a true breath of fresh air in this hazy city!
Christine Schmidt
Brooklyn, NY

Dear T.A.:
I just purchased a bicycle for commuting and was disturbed to find out that it is not policy for buildings in NYC that receive public funds to provide bicycle parking. I'm originally from out west (Oklahoma) and though I don't think anyone actually put it down on paper as a law, it seems almost every police station, library, courthouse, etc. provides bicycle parking.
Since the building I work at won't allow me to bring my bike into it, I'm kinda put out by the local officialdom's treatment of folks who are trying to reduce the traffic burden. Could it be that the city that likes to see itself as open-minded and foward-looking is actually more close-minded than small midwestern Republican strongholds?
David Froman
New York, NY

Dear T.A.:
I didn't ride my bike today because I had to go to a meeting in a building without bicycle parking. I took the crosstown bus from 9th Avenue and 23rd Street and transferred to an uptown bus at 6th Avenue, getting off at 42nd Street. The entire trip took 10 minutes (my second bus was an M5 Limited). Why? Because there was no gridlock on 23rd Street, in Herald Square, or anywhere along my route. Why? Because there were almost no cabs! What better illustration for NYC politicians of the results a sane transportation policy could bring?
John Shepard
New York, NY

Dear T.A.:
As you folks know so well, you can't get the cars off the street without giving people other ways to get to work, and here in New York that means buses and for even more people, the subway. So I'd like to encourage you to include the revival of the late, lamented Second Avenue in your lobbying efforts.
The East Side of Manhattan is particularly ill-served by mass transit, as a ride on the #6 can tell you, and - even worse, - as trying to get to work when the Lex is down can tell you even louder.
A Second Avenue subway would benefit all New Yorkers, including car users, who'd find the roads clearer. And yet I've heard nothing about it in years. As I'm sure you know, there've been two attempts to build it, and long tunnels are still in place.
The mayor seems to have $600 million to give to George Steinbrenner, but he's never mentioned real improvements on the train. There are budget surpluses in Albany and New York City, but no talk of real expansion of the subways. There is a massive bloated transit bill - i.e. highway bill - before congress, but no one, not even the New York delegation, is discussing the trains. I urge T.A. to put the Second Avenue Subway on your agenda.
Randy Cohen
New York, NY
T.A. strongly supports rail transit along 2nd Avenue. But we are not convinced that a $10 billion-plus subway that is at least 25 years away is a better idea than a light rail line on the surface, which could be built in 2-3 years at a cost of about $750 million. -Ed.