Saturday, April 12, 2008

My thoughts on CP

Over a year ago an inside source from the Mayor's administration said they were going to propose Congestion Pricing and that he felt the main reason was to finally toll the East River Bridges. Considering all that has happened, I still feel the motivations from the Mayor's office were never really about actually getting congestion pricing passed for the betterment of New York City residents. It was about a Mayor who needs a big win to prepare himself for his next gig.

I firmly believe that congestion pricing was putting the cart before the horse. How could you be convinced that CP was in the best interest of residents, and thus in the best interest of those that represented them? While we do have a new DOT commish (and things seem to be moving along better), NYC still has a huge problem when it comes to progressive policies. CP was just that.

Not only is the city not ready for CP, but overall the city has done a poor job of getting residents ready for it. Where is the traffic calming, where are the urban design standards, where is the placard crackdown, where is the NYPD traffic rules enforcement, and where is the carrot? Yes, we need to take baby steps (BRT, more green/open space, dedicated bus lanes) before we can go down the road of congesting pricing. While many feel that this issue is far from dead, without the support of Albany, it is just a mere dream of transportation advocates.

Instead of CP, let's have DOT and DCP take the lead on design standards that make the city liveable for seniors, the disabled, and our children, If we do that we are creating an environment that will be better for everyone. Let's put pedestrians and bike riders on equal footing with automobiles and plan accordingly. Let's fully incorporate new development into the current streetscape as opposed to bending the existing to meet the standards of the new development.

While CP would be great, I think NYC is still a good 5-10 years away from implementation. We really need to make some fundamental changes to our built environment before we can wave the magic wand and charge cars users $8 to enter the city center. Next time let's fully think this through and build a strong coalition among advocacy groups and elected officials so when it makes its way to Albany, voting yes is a no brainer.

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