Friday, July 29, 2005

Wal-Mart, Traffic and Developer Dishonesty

Mary Gallagher, a longtime opponent of box stores and proponent of neighborhood vitality, references our Wal-Mart traffic post on her website Big Cities, Big Boxes:

One of BCBB's chief reasons for urging the people of New York City to hold a serious debate on the conditions we want to impose on the big box stores is the fact that big boxes usually demand the use of automobiles. New York is a transit-oriented city, but the big boxes are suburban, automobile-dependent stores. The big boxes cause substantial increases in traffic. Traffic is objectionable in itself, of course, but more important, it will quickly affect our urban way of life. More traffic means demands for more parking. More parking means more sprawl. More sprawl means less urban density. Less urban density means a decline in walkable neighborhood shopping streets.
Gallagher also mentions the dishonesty of developer EIS reports vis-à-vis traffic, specifically citing the Ikea case in Redhook:

The New York City Planning Commission has allowed developers to submit Environmental Impact Statements that grossly misrepresent the traffic congestion these stores cause. In the Ikea application for a zoning change on the Red Hook waterfront, the City Planning Commission tolerated an EIS with obvious gaps in the disclosure of traffic impacts. The EIS didn't even nod to the increase in congestion that the largest Ikea store in the world, at 346,000 square feet, would cause on the already-jammed Gowanus Expressway, the only highway shoppers could use to get to the store.