How can NYC Keep Moving with Ideas like This?

The anti-car and Big Bike media agenda fever pitch seems to have exploded like a volcano recently. As I have written before, there are many reasons why people need to drive in NYC and everywhere else. Not everyone will be able to use a bike or walk or take transit for many reasons. But the way Streetsblog NYC and Curbed post, you would think that they have all the answers—getting everyone out of their cars and turn the streets over to the people. Most drivers are hybrid street users because drivers are not a monolith and are people, too.

Credit: Andy C

On March 1, a coalition of 80 anti-car and Big Bike groups asked for city leaders (current and future) to imagine what it would take to install 500 more miles of bike lanes, 1,000 miles of open streets year-round, and a block of car-free streets in front of every public school. They call it NYC 25×25. The coalition is asking the next mayor, city council, and borough presidents to commit to converting 25 percent of all streets used by cars and trucks to other purposes in four years. They also ask for a 19.4 million square free of bike parking and designated taxi/rideshare drop-offs and delivery zones that don’t block streets or bike lanes.

The NYC 25×25 is an entirely political move by “AstroTurf advocacy” groups that mobilize their social media troops to pressure the politicians to push their selfish agenda.

Credit: Timothy Neesam

Look at the winners and losers in a car-free city…

The winners are the venture capitalists, looking to sell transportation as a service and app-based businesses; real estate developers and the very wealthy, who want to increase density but don’t want to pay for necessary infrastructure; and the personal injury lawyers, who benefit from turning public opinion against drivers while advocating chaos on the streets. They don’t truly care about safety, reducing traffic, people’s freedom of movement, small business, income disparity, expanding mass transit, or even pedestrians and cyclists, so long as it suits their agenda.

In a recent NY Times article, the plight of the app-based delivery person was showcased. There’s an increased theft of their e-delivery bikes. It mentions many of the delivery personnel are undocumented aliens on very limited incomes—a good day can be $60 delivering for Grub Hub or Door Dash. These are the same companies that are charging about 35 percent of the take-out food bill. Tell me how the big companies that advocate for bike lanes to promote a business that relies on these types of workers are doing ANYONE a service?

Credit: Jim Linwood

The coalition’s plan would take away their freedom of movement, and there is no plan to improve options for those who live in transportation deserts—only to take away options. Those who need to use cars or trucks for work, medical visits, family obligations, health reasons would be prejudiced in this scheme.

So, the city blocks off 25 percent of the streets, and then what?

How will all this be paid for—on the backs of motorists just like every other street redesign scheme? If you take away the cars and trucks, though, how will it be paid for then? The funds for the future congestion pricing scheme in Manhattan are already going towards helping fix the ailing NYC subway system. Where will the cash come from to reconfigure streets? Truckers are already taxed to the point of no return. Vehicle owners, too, already pay yearly vehicle registration fees, a gas tax, and various other tolls and fees that go towards whatever scheme officials want motorists to pay.

Take, for example, cashless tolling—a scheme that will fall most heavily on those with limited incomes. Cashless tolling costs more for those who cannot maintain an EZPass account and violations—up to $100 for late payments on cashless tolls with no payment plans. Those who need their vehicles for whatever reason will have to pay more to get to the areas they need. When they get there, especially if they’re in trucks, they will have difficulty delivering goods and services.

Credit: David Shankbone

You know that every second counts in an emergency. Response times are everything in an emergency and can literally mean the difference between life and death.

NYC EMTs were already in trouble before the pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis placed these first responders into a spiral. Closing down 25 percent of the streets will make EMTs’ jobs even more difficult. The response time of getting to an emergency and then going from the emergency to the hospital will likely demoralize and traumatize the lowest-paid emergency personnel and make them quit even more due to the stress and trauma of not successfully rescuing people. Same with firefighters and police. Closed streets, reduced lanes, and massive traffic congestion will lower response times and make every first responder’s job that much harder in a job that is already difficult enough.

Are New Yorkers willing to pay for more goods and services? If tradespeople cannot park readily to fix or service things, adding to the hours they already spend on the job, will New Yorkers be able to afford more to have their plumbing fixed or their heaters serviced? Will New Yorkers be willing to pay even more for food or willing to wait for food since truckers might have difficulty delivering goods due to gridlock and street closures? Cargo bikes won’t cut it for the long haul!  We all know that.

Credit: CityHarvestNY

Speaking of cargo bikes…

If more cargo bikes hit the streets, won’t that clog up the bike lanes and sidewalks to the point where regular bicyclists and pedestrians can’t even use them due to all the cargo bikes? Can you imagine that?

These groups fail to account for how much we rely on motor vehicles: from vans for the elderly and disabled to trucks that supply neighborhood restaurants, deliveries of the items ordered on-line, to the workers who service your building. Just imagine what it would be like if they could not come for a few days.

Big Bike and the anti-car folks now use transportation equity as an excuse, but where is the equity in making food and other essentials so expensive that the poor and middle class can no longer afford to live supposedly in the greatest city in the world?

Credit: Bruce Emmerling

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