Congestion Relief?
July 10th, 2006

Following the outcry over recent bicycle deaths (extensively commented on in The Wonkster), Transportation Commission Iris Weinshall is coming under attack.

Streetsblog features a message from the director of the transportation departments Bicycle Program, who left the job Friday. Andrew Vesselenovitch criticizes the department for hindering programs to encourage bicycling. He cites slow progress on increasing bike lanes in the city and says the department ignored warnings about hazardous joint covers on the Williamsburg Bridge, which resulted in many injuries to and lawsuits by cyclists before they were removed. Vesselenovitch concludes, I waited for a long time for the direction from the commissioner’s office to change, or for the commissioner to be changed. I hope that you won’t have to wait much longer.

And last week Streetsblog reported on Weinshalls trip to an international transportation conference in Stockholm where congestion pricing to reduce traffic was a key topic. Weinshall evidenced little interest in the topic, not bothering to look at how the policy of charging cars to travel in downtown districts was working in the Swedish capital. New Yorkers tend to view traffic congestion as something akin to the weather. It’s good, it’s bad, there is nothing much you can do about it, the blog writes, but other world cities are proving that it is entirely possible to do something to reduce urban traffic congestion. If Commissioner Weinshall sat in on some of the presentations of her European colleagues on Thursday, she knows.

Meanwhile, a report by the advocacy group Environmental Defense concludes, A staggering amount of global warming pollution comes from U.S. cars.

By on July 10, 2006, 12:10 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Transportation | 7 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

7 Responses to “Congestion Relief?”

  1. Glenn Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    “The tragic loss of two bicyclists this week has shocked all of us and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and friends. Unfortunately, New York City’s crowded streets often cause conflict between cars and bicyclists as they attempt to share limited space.”
    — NYC DOT statement, June 29, 2006.

    It is a sad day when the agency in charge of the city streets (DOT) basically throws up their hands and says that nothing can be done to prevent further loss of life. Shame on them for not taking up this challenge to improve public health and safety.

    It would be like the police saying that nothing can be done to prevent crime or terrorism.

  2. Daniel Millstone Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    I think it’s a mistake to focus on Commissioner Weinshall. Transportation policy is made by Mayor Bloomberg. It’s he who rejects congestion pricing, for example. It’s he who sets the goals for the DOT.

    Commissioner Weinshall is, in some ways an easy target, but, from sun-up to sun-up, it’s City Hall calling the tune. Transport for walkers, bikers, skaters will become a priority only if and when the Mayor decides it should be.

  3. Larry Littlefield Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    (I think its a mistake to focus on Commissioner Weinshall. Transportation policy is made by Mayor Bloomberg. Its he who rejects congestion pricing, for example. Its he who sets the goals for the DOT.)

    I think you have to look even farther. I believe the Mayor was/is in favor of the concept, but figured out it was a political loser. Not because the majority are opposed, but because a minority who matter are opposed — the city’s political class.

    Look who reacted in outrage when Bloomberg proposed tolls on the East River: my Assemblyman and Boro President in Brooklyn, among others. Look at all those Transportation Alternative reports on all those politcos driving into Manhattan. The CEOs drive too, but they would accept the cost in exchange for less congestion.

    Anything like this would have to be approved by the state. Bloomberg decided not to tilt at windmills. So much for the Democratic Party’s love of equity for those riding the subways and for the environment. You need a Mayor, Council, and state legislative delegation pushing it to make something like this happen. You have a chance with the first and the second. Not with the third.

  4. Scott Webber Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    One must not forget that Manhattan south of 59th street already has a form of so called congestion pricing in a certain sense. It exists in the form of high costs for parking in Manhattan, which of course is partially due to the substantial parking tax imposed on parkers at private garages. In addition, should there be congestion pricing, the only true way to make it work would be to impose the cost on taxis, uniformed civil servants who have free parking permits and all vehicles equally to truly deter traffic through the Manhattan business districts. As a staunch supporter of mass transit, when possible, I would support using funds collected from congestion pricing to fund mass transit – a smart solution if you ask me.

  5. David Says:
    July 12th, 2006 at 9:08 am

    High costs for parking?! Are you kidding? What about the block after block after block of free on-street parking and cheap metered parking? The City doesn’t charge nearly enough for on-street parking. They’re practically giving it away, which only encourages people to drive. If the City charged market rate for parking (See the inimitable Don Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking), at the very least you could guarantee turnover, which is necessary for commerce AND would eliminate double parking and “cruising” for a spot. I think it’s crazy that we turn over large parcels of the most expensive real estate in the entire world so someone can store two-thousand pounds of their personal property on what would otherwise be public space.

  6. StreetsBlog » Today’s Headlines Says:
    August 13th, 2006 at 6:33 pm

    […] City Bike Boss Rips Brass and Pedals Off (Daily News) […]

  7. Gotham Gazette - The Wonkster » Blog Archive » New Transportation Chief Says:
    April 29th, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    […] After months of speculation well in transportation circles, at leastMayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the appointment of Janette Sadik-Khan as his new transportation commissioner, winning even more praise from alternative transportation advocates already cheering his congestion pricing plan. She will replace Iris Weinshall, who has been increasingly under attack for being too focused on accommodating cars in the city, at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. […]

Gotham Gazette the Place for Politics and Policy

Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

RSS Feed