The following is an open letter to Council Member Keith Powers in response to an e-blast from the council member updating District 4 residents on the passing of congestion pricing in the state legislature’s budget on April 1.
Dear Council Member Powers:
Thank you for the community update. I hope you decide to work toward a greater exemption from congestion pricing for residents in the zone who keep their vehicles garaged and who are not in the protected group of residents [Exemptions for residents making less than $60,000 who live inside the zone] who must use the streets to park and double park when streets are cleaned.
I offer the worst of all indignities: Garage parkers at Waterside Plaza, Peter Cooper Village who enter the FDR north or south who never enter into the grid of midtown streets are either hit with the scanners leaving home or coming home – a high price tax to live in those communities, alongside a highway, that never intersects the congested streets of mid-Manhattan. Does that make sense?
The 13th Precinct has said that they view bike violations seriously but with limited resources, they do targeted enforcement based on data.
While NYC Opendata for Vehicular Accidents shows that 6th Avenue from 14th to 29th is quite a problem, our area has its problems too. Pedestrians were injured in bike incidents in 2019 at 1st Avenue and 15th Street in 2018 at 2nd Ave and 22nd Street and in 2016 at 1st Avenue and 18th and at 1st Avenue and 27th Street.
With an aging population in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and so many bikers breaking laws on 1st and 2nd Avenues, our situation is likely to get worse. In addition to seeing red lights cut constantly from 15th Street to 22nd, from 21st to 23rd, we’ve seen motorized and non-motorized bikes, skateboards and scooters being ridden right on the sidewalks.
On April 6, I attended a rent law town hall hosted by Cooper Square Committee. Our Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, former Assemblyman (now Senator) Brian Kavanagh and other electeds were there. They described the rich possibilities to strengthen the rent laws this year, as the Democrats hold the biggest majority in the State Senate since 1912. It was a veritable love fest of pro-tenant legislative possibilities they put forth.
But the landlord lobby still looms, which Hoylman explained as the reason his Pied-a-Terre Tax was axed out of the budget. I think the Pied-a-Terre Tax is magnificent and have cheered Hoylman on for years. It would have raised almost double for the MTA what its substitute, the congestion pricing plan which did pass, is projected to raise.
That the landlord lobby killed it is potent: there is no single politician in NY today who has gotten more money from real estate interests than Andrew Cuomo. He is the landlord lobby’s #1 favorite politician to fund. I think Senator Hoylman is being charitable in blaming “the landlord lobby.” I say follow the money.
T&V has recently featured articles on residents complaining about cyclists’ behavior and the NYPD’s 13th Precinct enforcement activities towards cyclists. None of these articles point out that the real danger to pedestrians and cyclists are automobiles.
Motor vehicle crashes killed 200 people in NYC in 2018 including 114 pedestrians and 10 cyclists and left 60,000 injured. Between July 2012 and January 2019, 887 pedestrians were killed by automobiles. Generally, when the DOT installs protected bike lanes or other infrastructure to make cycling safer and easier, pedestrian safety also increases.
All too frequently whenever there is a serious crash involving a cyclist being hit a motor vehicle, they initiate ticketing activity against cyclists often at intersections and bike lanes in which little dangerous behavior is exhibited by cyclists rather drivers who block and drive in bike lanes, drivers who cut off cyclists at intersections or drivers that block the box causing cyclists to go out into traffic.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (pictured with Council Member Carlina Rivera and State Senator Brad Hoylman) held a town hall on congestion pricing last Thursday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Manhattan elected officials argued strongly in favor of congestion pricing at a public hearing last Thursday, but car-owning residents in attendance felt differently about the plan.
“This congestion was caused by the city allowing Uber and Lyft to put hundreds of cars on the streets that were already congested without charging any revenue for the city,” said attendee Sheila Williams. “If they had at least done that, they could have increased revenue and decreased the cars on the street, but now you want all of us to pay for this debacle and it’s already decimated the yellow cab industry.”
Manhattanites got the opportunity to offer their thoughts on the plan at a public hearing hosted by Borough President Gale Brewer at Cooper Union last Thursday evening. Many of the few hundred residents in attendance identified themselves as car-owners and suggested that residents who live in the area shouldn’t be forced to pay a fee just based on where they live.
“I do think that people living in the zone should be exempted from congestion pricing,” Stuy Town resident Lynn Janofsky said. “The only reason I have a car is to drive out of the city. I only go up or down the FDR and don’t drive in the city because I’m too worried about killing somebody, with the bikes, Ubers, pedestrians and phones. I have zero faith in the mayor to think things through before implementing something. For all of us who live in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and our six garages, we should be exempt.”
Apparently April Fool’s Day is Judgment Day for congestion fees here in New York City. It is the day, following Mr. de Blasio on WNYC, when wisdom will be brought to bear and traffic congestion will be made a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, while congestion fees may help the cash-strapped MTA, the practice will do nothing for congestion… and we all know it!
The reason: Traffic congestion was not caused by a cash shortage in the MTA. Congestion is an above-ground problem, and no amount of MTA money, and no amount of on-time public service will get at its causes. The first cause was the deliberate increase years ago in the number of yellow cabs. The second cause is the number and sizes of Uber and Lyft vehicles that found their way onto our streets — 100,000 if current figures are correct. And finally, though not causal, the introduction of bike lanes has squeezed cars, cabs, vans, trucks, limos and buses into an already crowded center-of-the-road.
“The main arteries are clogged. The blockages are serious. We must reduce the congestion. We are choking from volume.”
If you thought this was dialogue from the TV show “ER,” you could be excused.
Rather these are statements from reports about the traffic conditions especially in Manhattan’s core.
The latest remediation to our transportation and corresponding air quality woes has been proposed by Governor Cuomo and endorsed by Mayor de Blasio. It is being hotly debated in the State Legislature this month.
In a nutshell, the policy prescription is to try to discourage motorists from driving into midtown Manhattan by imposing a new toll on those who enter the designated “zone.” It’s called “Congestion Pricing.” Its purpose is to use that new revenue source to support our mass transit system and its buses, subways and infrastructure.
State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger attempted to tackle the city’s current transportation crisis with a panel of experts at CUNY’s Graduate Center last Thursday, discussing the need for improvements to bus service in the city, proposals for congestion pricing and holding the MTA accountable.
Nick Sifuentes, executive director for Tri-State Transportation Campaign and a member of the Bus Turnaround Coalition, advocated for improvements to bus service as a means of improving transit in the city.
“Bus improvements are faster and cheaper to implement than subway improvements,” he said, pointing to a plan known as Transit Signal Priority, which would signal traffic lights to stay green longer so buses can get through intersections and speed up their routes.
State Senator Brad Hoylman (pictured at right) spoke about the need for transit improvements at a recent meeting of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been an outspoken critic of the bus used by many of his constituents, the M23 a.k.a. the turtle, is now setting his sights on the MTA as a whole, saying he’s sick of seeing funds intended for mass transit get steered elsewhere.
Hoylman brought up the subject on Sunday, November 19 at a public meeting held by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association during a Q&A period.
The topic was first brought up by a woman who, during a Q&A period, said she didn’t like that a fleet of 200 diesel buses have been announced as a solution to the looming L-Pocalypse in 2019, rather than hybrid buses.
At this, Hoylman said he agreed and wanted to help “wean Albany off of Diesel,” despite the pollution-spewing option being cheaper.