Rumors are flying that an Earth Day press conference will include announcement about a trial congestion pricing plan - basically, a toll for automobile access of midtown and downtown Manhattan.
This goes in line with the perspective, adopted by liveable streets advocates, that charging for things like parking spaces and automobile access to streets - letting the free market limit access to those resources - will both be the disincentive necessary to start a reduction of automobile use, as well as generate revenue needed to expand public transportation service to some of the outer neighborhoods in the boroughs from which lots of new york city drivers drive.
Several months ago, I watched a movie called "Contested Streets," which discussed the rise of congestion in New York City as well as the anti-congestion measures taken in London, Paris, and a couple other cities.
Traffic congestion can't really be dismissed as a niusance; I think of the possibilities that behavior is tangibly affected by the spaces provided for person to person interaction. Streets are bad, and pedestrian plazas are good. There's a reason why Road Rage is not only a common phenomenon, but a common term - we're all familiar with this effect! Furthermore, in the next decade or so, New York City's population is going to grow by an estimated one million people. Where they will go and how they will get around must be carefully considered and planned for - it must be built, now. And it must be built in a way that is going to be safe, healthy, sensible, and sustainable. Cities have an incredible potential for radical sustainability and low resource use - as long as decision-makers are willing to make dramatic changes.
Congestion procing is a good start.
I'll be clicking "Reload" a bunch this weekend.
As a parting image, this is what Park Avenue used to look like. A park. Actually a park - rolling greens and winding brick paths all the way down. How beautiful!