Thursday, January 27, 2011

Decongesting Dissimulation

Now who are we going to believe? In this morning's WSJ the paper reports on the efforts to revive the mayor's old congestion pricing plan-but, at least according to Mike Bloomberg, all of this is occurring without any of his input: "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg still strongly supports the idea of charging motorists to enter the most congested parts of Manhattan. Just don’t expect him to re-launch another effort to get the controversial, revenue-generating proposal approved in Albany any time soon. “I happen to think it makes some sense, but I’m going to stay out of it,” Bloomberg said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve done
everything we can.”

Is that so? Now we turn to the aforementioned Daily News report that tells a somewhat different story: "While Gov. Cuomo has not taken sides on the idea, Bloomberg aides have been working on it behind the scenes for months. "The key is devising a proposal that would win broad support across the five boroughs, the entire region, and in Albany," said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson."

How would you resolve this discrepancy? In our view, it is important to discount whatever the mayor himself says publicly about the proposal-and we believe he's simply watching and waiting to see if his stealth efforts will gain any political traction. As the Journal points out, Bloomberg remains enraptured with the idea of keeping motorists out of his borough:

"Responding to questions about a Daily News story suggesting a renewed effort to pass some form of congestion pricing, Bloomberg on Wednesday joked sarcastically, “What a clever idea! My God, how did they think of that?”

“Just think about how much better off we would have been today if five years ago, or thereabouts, the Albany Legislature” moved forward with the proposal, Bloomberg added. “You want to dissuade people from driving because the streets are clogged. We are never going to have more streets. So, you have to have fewer cars,” he said. “You can only have fewer cars if you have better mass transit, so that people have alternatives that are cost effective and pleasurable and more efficient.”

Just what we need, a smart ass response to what we believe is a seriously flawed policy proposal-and if the mayor is so keen on keeping traffic flowing because, "We are never going to have more streets," than why the hell is he building intrusive bike paths all over the city. As our friend Warren Schrieber, President at Bay Terrace Community Alliance, Inc, writes on Facebook: "Bay Terrace - 212th St. between 18th Ave & Bell Blvd. is used by vehicles to & from P.S. 169, Bay Terrace Shopping Center, Ft. Totten & Cross Island Parkway. It's a bus route and contains 10 driveways serving 750 families. But, some bureaucratic rocket scientist has concluded it would be the perfect location for bike lanes."

The mayor, however, sees this simply as a public relations problem: "Some people love ‘em and some people hate them... It’s probably true that in many of these cases we could do a better job and we’re going to try to do that." It is much more than that-it is social engineering by woolly headed bureaucrats who believe that the yokels out in the neighborhoods don't know what's good for them.

All of this is posturing by the Naked Emperor because, as we have said ad infinitum, you can't be for reducing vehicular traffic at the same time you're building auto-dependent malls and fronting for Walmart. In the past nine years, that is the extent of the Bloomberg economic development policy-a policy that has devastated the neighborhood businesses that are the backbone, not only of the city' economy, but of any sustainability policy that has any real substance.

Hey Mike wise up! You don't dissuade people from driving by building box stores that are only truly accessible by automobiles. And you don't dissuade anyone from motoring when you become the cheerleader for the world's largest auto-dependent retailer. Not if you want to be taken seriously, you don't..

Here we get to the nub of what has been wrong about the city's flawed sustainability effort called, PlaNYC 2030. Nowhere in the voluminous document is there even a smidgen of awareness that neighborhood and the stores that support them need to be made-if not the linchpin-a central feature of any credible plan to reduce carbon emissions. As a result of the absence of this awareness-and the concomitant economic development policy that runs counterpoint to sustainability-we have increased car and truck traffic precipitously, while all the while Mike Bloomberg speaks out of the other side of his mouth about congestion.