How to Fix New York’s Traffic Hell

How to Fix New York’s Traffic Hell
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How to Fix New York’s Traffic Hell

How to Fix New York’s Traffic Hell

If you’ve recently found yourself in a car in New York City—if you’ve had the experience of traveling along Flatbush Avenue on a Friday afternoon—you’ve probably spent some time inventing new, angry four-letter words. .

Traffic that was manageably terrible before the pandemic (before it momentarily disappeared in the initial lockdown phase) has become increasingly terrifying. You are not imagining it. There are more cars on the road than ever before, and fewer people are using public transport.

Between September 2020 and this previous August, over 122,000 cars were registered in the city, a 26 per cent increase over the previous year. At the end of September, the number of metro ridership had almost halved from the same period before Covid. Busy roads have brought more danger. As my colleague Winnie Hu pointed out, traffic deaths this year have reached their highest level in nearly a decade.

Although the New York State Legislature two years ago approved a crowdfunding-pricing plan for the city—a plan that would impose a toll on drivers entering Manhattan between 60th Street and Battery—the review process was expected to be expanded in 2023. are supposed to. In an effort to determine what else could be done—and with luck more quickly—I asked experts, and ordinary New Yorkers who spend a lot of time on the road, what the best solution might be.

Here are their responses (which have been edited):

Sam Schwartz, engineer, consultant, former New York City traffic commissioner, creator of the term “gridlock”

One thing we can do is to dispel the idea that it is unsafe to ride public transport. Studies have shown us that it is not a vector for COVID. In addition, something that has been tried since 1980 is occupancy restrictions. Basically, cars required two or more people to enter the central business district. This was done for more than two years at the Lower Manhattan crossing, during the transit strikes of 1980 and after September 11. Then it was followed by Superstorm Sandy. This is something that can be done very quickly.

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You can also automate the control of illegal parking. If you can get illegally parked cars immediately summoned – so is the technology. It could be camera technology; It could be the Easy Pass technology. Camera technology for illegal parking is actually being used by some buses when cars are blocking the bus lane.

Another issue is that the police don’t like to do parking enforcement. When you ask the police to do traffic enforcement, all they do is give you more tickets. They don’t understand traffic science. Instead of aiming for the number of cars pulled, let’s look at the percentage of lanes cleared. Decent traffic enforcement, and you’ll have someone who will identify what’s important versus just a load of tickets.

I’ll also be able to walk or bike from Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey to Manhattan. I have proposed bike and pedestrian bridges for the city – this is happening all over the world. Imagine if people could walk from Queensbridge House, the nation’s largest public housing complex, to Manhattan. Imagine if you could take a Citi Bike from New Jersey. A hundred years ago we were leaders in bridges in transportation, now we are not even followers.

Betsy Plum, Advocate, Executive Director Riders Alliance

Surely we don’t have a city where all of us can drive. We have a city that was built around public transportation. Buses go to all the places that are bleeding in this city.

Bus riders rescued us from this pandemic. Fifty percent of bus riders are immigrants; 75 percent are New Yorkers of color and about 35 percent are essential workers. We have 6,000 miles of road in New York City and the bus lanes are a little over 100 miles. So you see how low priority is given to buses.

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But there is hope. Let’s think about how we can make the most of the Roads Master Plan – a fairly large road improvement project that was implemented by the current mayor.

Bus routes still follow old streetcar lanes that have not been re-examined for decades. The cost of putting in a bus lane is basically the cost of industrial red paint. But there is a lot of pressure from drivers who are wealthier and have better resources. There is a lot of bravery needed along our roads – and this is the moment we get it done. If you see who is standing in the bus lane, most of the time it is the NYPD vehicle.

Val George, taxi driver since 1992

I think congestion pricing is a step in the right direction, but it has to start at 96th Street and go all the way to the tip of the island – not 60th Street. This was the plan originally; The Upper East Side and Upper West bourgeoisie may have raised their voice.

There is a HOV lane on the Queensboro Bridge in the morning. It’s a cool idea, but guess what? It has not been implemented. I would say that 50 percent of people driving in the HOV lane are driving themselves. Every bridge leading into Manhattan must have one HOV lane in each direction. This is not Texas. We are in a tight spot.

I will also say that there are a lot of black cars for rent from New Jersey and Pennsylvania in Brooklyn and Queens. The drivers are not following the rules. Every time I see one of these cars, I turn back, because the drivers are like kamikaze. This is anarchy. How is it not regulated?

Raj Mehta, Businessman, Commuter, Car owner

I go to Pennsylvania for work a few times a week. When I’m in town, I take the subway. What I see is that bikes and motorbikes are just unregulated. With e-bikes, you will see them going down the wrong path; You will see bikers run traffic lights. This slows down an already slow process.

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While the number of registered cars has increased, the number of cars outside the state has also increased. You’ll see these cars all over Brooklyn – I’ve seen plates from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and up to Idaho. There is no way these people are coming just because I see cars being driven from one side of the road to the other.

These cars should not be allowed to be parked on the road in residential areas. I park my car in the garage, but we may have a similar system in some suburbs and towns. It would be nice to have a sticker on parked cars that basically says: “I live in Cobble Hill. I live in Brooklyn Heights. I can park in this neighborhood.”

The cost of overcrowding will affect Manhattan, but downtown Brooklyn is a mess and a lot of Queens is a mess. You don’t want to make driving so expensive that it is taxed on the poor, but there should be some happy medium where driving is discouraged.

Charles Komanoff, former President transportation options

The city’s transit desert was flooded with subsidized electric-assist bicycle-share systems. It will enable hundreds of thousands of low-income residents to access subway and commuter-rail lines efficiently, getting them to and from jobs, schools and medical care more efficiently and cost-effectively than local buses or private or ride-hail vehicles. will add. Why Electric-Assist? So residents can cover distances, usually several miles, faster.

This will require some travel lanes and free curbside parking to be repurposed as protected bike lanes and bike-share docks. Don’t subject it to a community-board veto; Go ahead and do it. The health and accessibility benefits will far outweigh any inconvenience, especially when some car owners feel that e-bikes make their vehicle unnecessary.

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