John Liu Says He Supports Congestion Pricing

Some actual news came out of this morning’s congestion pricing forum with London Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron, the one event that Streetsblog’s reporting team decided to skip this week. Queens City Council Member John Liu publicly stated that he supports congestion pricing. New York Times reporter Sewell Chan reports for the EmpireZone blog:

Mr. Liu, the chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said, "I generally support the idea of congestion pricing and that is – it is because of the economic as well as the environmental costs of not doing so." He said he has been persuaded by the partnership’s study showing that traffic congestion costs the city $13 billion a year in economic activity.

The councilman said that some mom-and-pop shops and small businesses might actually support congestion pricing – if the benefits were adequately explained to them. "Time is money for these small businesses," he said. "They could actually make more money if the streets were less congested; but they are so skeptical at this point that they’re not open-minded to hearing a lot of things. And we have to admit hey have largely been left out of the process and the entire conversation."

Queens Council Member Eric Gioia added:

"Knee-jerk opposition" to congestion pricing is counterproductive, but added, "This discussion has got to be about cleaning our air, strengthening our economy and improving our quality of life. Congestion pricing itself is not the goal; congestion pricing is a tool to get us to those other things."

Raising the issue way above the parochial complaining that has characterized New York City’s transportation policy discussion for so long, Gavron said:

We both [New York and London] know that our infrastructure and the accumulated wealth of centuries are at risk with a sea level rise of just a few meters. We are experiencing currently the effects of greenhouse gases from the 50s, when we consumed as much oil in a year as we now consume in 6 weeks. And we have to feel the effects of four and a half decades. There’s a time lag and currently we’re chucking, pushing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as if there were literally no tomorrow. So we have about, people say, 10 years maximum, maximum 10 years, to actually prevent runaway climate change. That’s on top of everything we have yet to experience.

38 thoughts on John Liu Says He Supports Congestion Pricing

  1. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but ever since Bloomberg made those threats against CP opponents – as reported in Newsday and discussed on another thread here – I’ve had the feeling we’re going to see politicians moving in this direction. Bloomberg has some very powerful interests on his side and I can’t imagine they aren’t working behind the scenes on this issue. And I don’t think the mayor would make threats he couldn’t back up.

  2. I think this is going to be repeated over and over. When presented with an unemotional schematic of the current situation and the problems therein, and how those problems might be solved, you arrive over and over at the concept of congestion pricing. Relating a cost – artifically, perhaps – to the consumption of a limited resource in order to incentivize conservation is done in many sectors, such as water in arid regions.

    The only problem is when you add in the American ideal of “freedom to drive wherever you want,” as we see is carefully spelled out in that lost section of the Bill Of Rights.

    Open-minded public officals will get over the emotion and see that currently we put the incentive on what is the wrong behavior for the greater good by making public transportation appear to be more expensive and less convenient than driving. It’s time to look at what we want and how to get there.

    PS. I flew back from London this morning. Three cheers for “Red” Ken!

  3. I agree with you, Ian, with one addition: the underlying class element in all this. Where it is at least as convenient to take transit, the people who drive do so because it tells them they’re better than the people on the subway.

    Similarly with the parents who have set up elaborate auto commuting routes so that they can bring their kids to private schools. Sometimes the public school is really bad, but sometimes it’s fine.

    A lot of the desire to drive comes down to not wanting to share the same bus, subway or school with people who are poor, Black or Latino. A lot of the rest of it is plain old status symbolism: driving a car is evidence that they’ve achieved the “American Dream.”

    What these people are really afraid of is that $8 a day will force them to chose between financial ruin and mingling with the people they thought they’d left behind.

    Race and class are dangerous things, and I don’t blame any politician who won’t point out the underlying racism and classism behind the opposition to congestion pricing.

  4. JF, I disagree. I think issues of not wanting to mix with other races and/or classes are minor issues for most people. This is New York City in 2007 after all.

    While racism certainly exists, I think the percieved convenience, speed, and comfort of driving are what convince most people to drive. A personal car is ready whenever you want to go, does not make any stops for other destinations than yours, and is a climate-controlled environment just for you and those you choose to let in.

    Of course this view ignores the unpredictable delays caused by traffic, and the difficulty and expense of parking the car at the destination, as well as all the associated costs of car ownership.

    If mass transit is faster and more predictable in terms of travel time than travel by car, I think most people will use transit. I dobut more than a small number would avoid transit because they fear being close to people of other races.

    Making mass transit run better costs money, and congestion charging should be a way to impose the cost of improving transit on those who use cars.

  5. I agree with your analysis overall, J:Lai, but it’s already done. Most people do take transit in NYC.

    The small number of people who avoid transit because they fear being close to people of other races make up a significant subset of the congestion pricing opponents, along with the ones who fear being close to people of “lower” classes, and those who fear losing a treasured status symbol.

    It’s not something that any politician would want to say on television, but it’s an important part of the dynamic. If someone could publicly separate this racism, classism and egotism from other concerns about congestion pricing, the opposition would be eveen smaller than it is now.

  6. JF- maybe those are factors for some drives (probably a small minority of drivers), but let’s be honest, though- It takes a long time to take the buses & subway from Bayside to Downtown or from the Rockaways or Bay Ridge to Midtown. Those that can afford to drive in those neighborhoods do so.

  7. That’s true, mfs; I was specifically talking about people who drive from neighborhoods like Park Slope or Astoria that have good transit connections. It’s similar for people on Long Island and in Westchester who have good commuter rail connections, and for those areas of eastern Queens (including parts of Bayside) that have LIRR stations.

    Many of the neighborhoods without good transit access, however, were popular in the sixties and seventies in part because it was hard for black and latino people to live there, and many of the ones that are majority black like Hollis are (and have been) popular because it’s hard for poor black people to live there. There’s also status associated with living in those neighborhoods and owning a suburban-style hous and car. We’ve been rewarding and subsidizing white flight, middle-class flight and status symbols for too long.

  8. The neighborhoods that are without transit access are the very ones who are being overdeveloped now with no improvements to the transportation infrastructure. So let’s punish those people by making it even more expensive for them to get where they need to go. Two members of my Queens-based family work in Hoboken and have to commute through midtown to get there. I suppose they should take a bus, 2 subway trains, then the PATH and then walk 10 blocks to get there.

  9. Gene, many of those people are the same ones who have blocked transit expansion to their neighborhoods. I have no problem punishing NIMBYism. And it was so thoughtful of your family to take jobs that require them to spew carbon monoxide outside my window every day!

    Mfs, also see that was linked from “Today’s Headlines” on this blog: only 17% of car commuters to the charging zone drive because transit is inaccessible. It doesn’t say what reasons the other 83% have for driving.

  10. I’m a Queens resident and commuter and I support Congestion Pricing too. We need to relieve traffic congestion, and it will raise money for mass transit. Our Air Quality will also get better. I hope its implemented as soon as possible.

  11. CM Garodnick’s office says he has no official position at present but is “leaning toward” support for congestion pricing. Also told me that that the CM’s office has NOT been receiving many (if any) calls from constituents complaining about the 86th Street cutoff and anticipated congestion in “spillover” neighborhoods adjacent to 86th Street (CM Garodnick’s district covers the East Side north and south of 86th Street).

    Also asked what the plan was for Central Park, but CM’s office had no info. There does nto esem to be anything in PlaNYC 2030 documents to explain how the 86th Street cutoff is implemented in the Central Park. It would be best to place the sensors at the entrances to the loop drive that are north of 86th Street–this would prevent the Park from becoming subject to spillover.

  12. I am a born New Yorker and I disagree with congestion pricing, because as a New Yorker I shouldn’t have to pay $8 dollars to go from one part of town to the next. Bloomberg is the same major who had old ladies shoveling ice to move their cars to avoid hundred dollar tickets. It is another way to “nickel and dime” new yorkers. Remember when the price of meters skyrocketed or when people had to leave in the middle of religous observance to feed the metor on Sundays? Congestion Pricing is another way to gain money for those that he speaks for. Congestion pricing is a contradiction! First of all if the $8 dollar fee will cut down on traffic, then how much money will be gained to help Transit? I also heard that the transit fees will be rising next year. Is it the responsibility of New Yorkers to pay for the improvements to transit?I guess traffic and luxury condos don’t go together. Manhattan will soon be only for the rich. It will cost you the price of a movie ticket just to go there. Bloomberg has already made this comparison.

  13. No, Omari, I don’t remember when the price of meters skyrocketed … because I don’t own a car! And us non-car-owners are the majority of New Yorkers. Is it the responsibility of New Yorkers to pay for free on-street parking? I’d rather not.

    And please, spare me again the “Manhattan for the rich” fallacy. The poor will be able to get there just as easily as they always have, by taking the train; it’s the rich who’ll have to pay a little more.

  14. JF No wonder you support this “scheme” or you just don’t understand the facts to make a judgement. As long as it doesn’t affect your everyday life you don’t care. That’s just how Bloomberg thinks. How can a Billionaire really understand the issues that regular New Yorkers face? For those that say that driving is a “class thing” is wrong. I am 42 years old, and I was born in NYC. I have commuted by train even through all my years of high school, and as an adult to work everyday, but I have also commuted by car, and I can tell you by experience that having a car changes your quality of life. Not only for commuting to work, but just in general. Taking a train drains you…What about those people who have an awful commmute, and driving is just a necessity? I needed a car once I had children. Nobody wants to park on the streets for free, but I realized the tremendous leap in meter fee since he became mayor, and the ticket fees that jumped from 55 dollars to 100 and more, and the over zealous illegal alien traffic people running around trying to force tickets. Face it Bloomberg doesn’t plan things out he just looks at the $$$ that he can steal from us NYers. Look at when we had inches of ice on the ground, and he was ticketing people to move their car for street cleaning. Like I said before old ladies were trying to shovel their car out, and all day you could hear tires screeching. He had to reverse this because this was ridiculous, and when he tried to enact meters on Sunday. He also had to reverse this plan.
    He doesn’t plan, because he doesn’t care. He is a flip flopper…first I’m a I’m a republican…no I’m an independent…If he really wanted to be remembered for something then he should be the first to push everyone to go electric.. Offer incentives for driving half off tolls, or half off on parking…Did you check the prices of an apartment in NYC lately..over a million dollars! so therefore it is fair to say that Manhattan will be for the Rich, and who will this “scheme” affect NYers from other boroughs who want to enter Manhattan. If you believe that most NYers don’t drive then the fee should be at the points that outsiders enter NYC.

  15. Omari, I’m not Bloomberg, and neither are the other people posting here in support of congestion pricing (as far as I know), so save your Bloomberg-bashing.

    I’m middle-aged too, born in NYC, parent, small business owner, homeowner in Queens. I’ve owned a car, and commuted to work in it. I’ve driven in New York City, and I don’t understand how anyone can stand it. I was so glad to get rid of my car and take the subway again.

    You think the train drains you? Driving drains me. The only way I could imagine not being drained by driving a car is if you forget that any slight lapse of attention or poor judgment could kill someone.

    I don’t buy the assertion that anyone in NYC “needs” a car once they have children. The city is full of families with multiple children that manage quite well using subways, buses and the occasional taxi.

    I would be happy if the boundaries of the congestion pricing zone were moved to the borders of NYC, but Manhattan makes sense because it has a limited number of points of access. Of course, Bloomberg’s “free FDR” plan neutralizes that benefit, so why not have it at the city limits? If that’s the case, though, people driving within the city should pay more than $4, though, because $4 isn’t much of a deterrent.

  16. Jf- I think every New Yorker would see it differently depending on what part of the city they live. Everyone has a different commute. One thing I want to tell you about driving get yourself a BMW (540, M3 or M5) or a Porsce and believe me it is really a different experience. It will add to your life. I must admit that in the last year or so the traffic has changed for the worse. Something must be done like restricting commercial traffic to certain routes.
    I am not “Bloomberg Bashing.” It is just obvious that there is an underlying motive, which is mainly taxing the public any “means necessary.” Just like when Bush says that “they hate us because of our freedom.” I sometime can’t believe how some people fall for this. I realize that some people have different degrees of literacy, and this is why the propaganda works on some. Also if you are a small business owner then you cannot speak for the 9 to 5er that has to commute everyday, and sometimes driving is a necessity.

  17. Also JF- I have two children, and a car helped tremendously. Dragging kids through the train is not recommended. Having a car is a sacrifice, because car note, insurance, gas, tickets, and repairs are really expensive. Some people cannot afford it, but when they get the opportunity they will get a car to make life easier, but the rich like Bloomberg are making it even more difficult to own a car. Do you really think that the Rich people living in Manhattan are taking the train! They just take cabs or the more wealthy have drivers. I wonder what you would say if Bloomberg comes up with a plan to raise real estate taxes or add taxes to heat your home to help New Yorkers who are homeless afford housing?

  18. Omari, I’ve “dragged kids through the train” for over four years now, and I don’t find it particularly onerous. My son loves trains, and he likes the view. Much more convenient than futzing with a car seat, worrying about killing him in a car crash, and then having to find parking at the end of it. If it’s a sacrifice to own a car, then don’t do it!

    I was a 9 to 5er for years, so I think I can speak quite well for that experience. Driving (particularly in NYC, but anywhere else) is such a horrible, stressful experience that I can’t imagine anyone preferring it. It’s not the make of the car, it’s the other drivers and the fact that you could kill other people at any minute, without trying.

    I’m not “falling for this,” and I’m not illiterate. I’m acting in my own self-interest and supporting the vast majority and the environment over the interests of a wealthy few, and I’m kind of insulted that you think I must be brainwashed. To be honest, sometimes I suspect that people on your side are being brainwashed too (particularly the ones who don’t drive), but I’m perfectly willing to believe that you’re acting out of selfishness and possibly racism and class prejudice.

    The fact of the matter is that driving is not a necessity, it’s a choice. A choice that puts lives in danger and destroys the environment, and that’s why we want drivers to pay for that choice.

    I wouldn’t oppose a plan to share some of my income to help the homeless afford housing. Why would you think I’d be that selfish?

  19. The point is that you don’t understand politics I mean “politricks.”
    You missed the analogy..the money will not go to the homeless or to fix transit, and this plan will not help the environment. The racism and classism is actually hidden by those that you support, because what is really the goal to make manhattan greener or New York greener? Why only Manhattan what about the other boroughs? Are you saying that other parts of New York City do not have congestion. Who will be affected by this fee? The rich or the poor? Do you believe that raising taxes fixes everything? Are the taxes that you pay as an American utilized properly by government. I guess giving tax breaks to the wealtiest Americans was the best for the economy also? On driving, I love to drive and the feeling that you will get from driving a BMW 540, M3, M5 or Porsce is spirited. As an American you should know that freedom is controlled by money. The more you have the more freedom you have. The less you have the more indentured, the more restricted. The more you have the more power, to the point that those that have money can affect the lives of the “have-nots” You are equating politics to right and wrong, instead of dollars and cents. That’s why your are misled.

  20. Omari, your politics are just as repulsive and elitist as Bloomberg’s. In this case, the interests of the limo-driving elite are more in line with what I want (making drivers pay for the congestion, pollution, fatalities and injuries they cause) than the interests of your second-rank BMW-driving elite.

    The outer-borough politicians like Weprin and Weiner have no interest in making Queens greener; they just want to turn it into Atlanta or Scottsdale where the car is king. They’re just as anti-poor as you claim Bloomberg is. Why should I support them?

  21. Ok JF:
    While you are at it lets charge people for the amount of garbage they throw out, and for everytime your dog takes a crap on the sidewalk, bike lanes for a fee, and to cut down on crowded streets let charge people a fee to walk down certain streets, also why not charge people for being on the streets past a certain hour. Then lets close down all the clubs and all the bars, and lets charge fees for people to smoke in certain areas, no lets wait for a politician to come up with another scheme to nickel and dime New Yorkers. Then blindly follow behind. After your sweaty commute from Queens on the dirty bus and subway don’t forget to wave at Bloomberg and his entourage as they drive pass you in their “non electric” limo. JF what you are still not getting is that those that you say that you are in line with, will never have to pay any of these fees. Only the resident who is facing rising gas prices, higher insurance costs, and a Billionaires need for a legacy at my expense. On another note remember when transit had a surplus, but lied and tried to raise the train fair? Do you really believe that the money will go to transit? When Bloomberg first announced this congestion scheme, transit was never mentioned, only later was this added. In reference to Silver I don’t know his politics, but I applaud him for standing in the way of this “poorly planned” scheme at the cost of New Yorkers. All and all no matter what you say no resident should have to pay a fee to go from one side of their city to the next. If you support this then you need to put on your “red coat” and head to London.

  22. Omari, it will still be free to go from one side of the city to another. The fee is for bringing your stinky, deadly BMW with you.

    I don’t know how you expect the city to repave the roads and maintain the bridges if you don’t want to pay any taxes or fees, but if you’re serious about not wanting fees to get across the city, you’ll do something concrete about eliminating subway and bus fares. Otherwise it’s just propaganda.

  23. I believe every resident has the right to travel by foot, bike, car, bus, train it is all by choice. You seem to be very anti-automobile. I believe that really “going green” can be easily achieved by the government. They can mandate already known technical advances, such as electric auto technology and alternative energy as the default rather than letting big business dictate the future of these developments; And also re-routing, restricting and scheduling commercial road use by looking at the impact on residential and health issues would be a step on the right direction. The reason Electric is slow to become the norm is, because of big business. Do you know that there is even technology that can drastically decrease the amount of auto accidents from occuring. Why is it not rolled out? Big Business. Chastising Americans for utilizing the current technology accesible, such as autos as we know it is wrong, and a step in the wrong direction. Buying a car {is taxed by the govt}, buying gas {is taxed by the govt} driving requires insurance {taxed by the govt} so why should the govt in turn penalize someone for driving? One thing I also want to point out to you is that all citizens pay taxes to the government, which in turn should result in services, but if you look at it some areas get better services than others. These areas are usually differentiated by class and race. The same public school system, which is supported by taxes have one school, which is poorly funded, and the other which is well funded Why? Some areas have better roads than others. Why? Some areas are cleaner due to the frequency of garbage collection Why? According to Bloomberg’s plan some areas should have less congestion than others Why? Go figure your own argument about class and race is contradicted! Isn’t it the Bronx that has the most Asthma in NYC due to congestion?

  24. I’m anti-automobile beause I’ve seen people killed by them, I’ve lost people I care about to them, and I’ve had friends and family members crippled for life by them. I’m anti-automobile because I can’t go anywhere without being bullied by people who feel it’s okay to break the law because they’re manipulating two or three tons of steel and plastic. I think anyone who actually opens their eyes and looks at the death and destruction necessary for this system to function would be anti-automobile too.

    The current technology is not automobiles, it’s trains. Trains aren’t perfect, but they can carry much more people in less space with less pollution and less danger than cars. As I’ve written above, in New York City there’s no excuse not to take the train, and the only people who avoid it on a daily basis are selfish, ignorant, elitist and probably racist too.

    The plan singles out Manhattan because Manhattan already has the highest level of congestion. There’s noplace in the outer boroughs that has that kind of gridlock. That said, I’d be happy to support a plan that includes the entire city – or the entire country.

  25. I must say I’m in agreement with JF.

    One additional point: Omari says “On driving, I love to drive and the feeling that you will get from driving a BMW 540, M3, M5 or Porsce [sic] is spirited.,”

    I’ve never had the occasion to drive cars like that but I have experienced a sense of exhilaration and freedom that driving even modest cars can give. I’m sure its a reason that many people prefer to drive, even in Manhattan where congestion often removes these positive aspects of the experience. What Omari doesn’t get is that many get a comparable, if very different, feeling of exhilaration and freedom from bicycling in NYC. The major factor ruining the experience for NYC bicyclists often is not so much congestion (as it is for motorists), as it is negligent, disrespectful, and downright hostile motorists.

    One typical theme in motorists’ attitude toward bicyclists is the view that bicyclists are recreationists who are not using the road for “real” transportation uses, so they have no right taking a lane of traffic and should be pushed to the margins of the roadway. This is a false, self-serving assumption; tens of thousands of New Yorkers use a bicycle as their primary form of transportation, and many more messengers, restaurant delivery people, and pedicab operators are in the road trying to earn a living.

    But even if all cyclists were recreationists, Omari’s candid descriptions of the joy of motoring demonstrate that the motorists themselves often drive just for the fun of it, not necessarily because driving is the only way to conduct some culturally or economically important activity.

    This is only to say that in the cost-benefit analysis of NYC private-vehicle motoring that Omari and JF have been hashing out, we should not consider only the terrible human, social and environmental costs, but also recognize that the benefits may in many cases limited to the psychological needs of the driver. Yet another reason why congestion pricing is good policy.

  26. First JF I would like to send you my condolences to the people that you have lost in automobile accidents, and those crippled. I think auto accidents are the number one form of death, even more than murder. I think the worst thing is that there is technology currently available that can drastically reduce accidents, but in a capitalist society those with $$$ have the power, like the automobile manufacturers, so until it is cost affective, life doesn’t matter. Just like Bloombergs plan he doesn’t care about who is affected as long as he can generate the $$$ for those that he speaks for, and he doesn’t speak for all NYers. Answer this question Steve and JF does Bloomberg speak for all NYers? Back to what I was talking about preventing accidents; The new Volvos use some of this technology. I was working on inventing a product involving
    this technology, but when I did the research there were already several patents on this technology, and then I saw that Volvo was utilizing this technology in a limited form.
    In the future I hope that this technology will be government sanctioned to car manufacturers.
    This technology will prevent accidents on a large scale.

    Jf I hit it right on the nose. You are anti-automobile, due to your experiences. Steve you are anti-automobile because of your experiences with drivers while cycling. This shows that JF and Steve both have underlying reasons for supporting Bloomberg’s Congestion pricing scheme, and both of these reasons are not associated with making NYC greener, or looking at this issue in a way that would respect the needs of fellow NYers. In both cases JF And Steve will not be affected by the driving tax, so they blindly support this “money grabbing scheme.” What about the NYers that will be affected; Those that need to drive to work, or take their kids to school before going on to work? Jf I guess you don’t care if they tax NYers to go from Queens to Brooklyn, or Bronx to Manhattan? Lets just create a tax from going from one borough to any other borough all under the banner of making NYC more greener? And Steve lets ban cars, so that when you ride your bike you can zig-zag, go through red lights, nearly run over pedestrians, and have the road all to your self( without registration fees, insurance fees, or gas. Maybe Bloomberg will decide next that there are too much bikes in Manhattan then you will have to pay a tax or take the train.

    Steve as a cyclist I am sure that their are different bikes that will give you a different expereince than others, right? For example A “specialized” vs a toys-r-us bike. Its the same with the autos that I have mentioned.
    Guys let me explain one thing the quality of life is different according to your profession, some people have stressfull jobs, and other real life responsibilities, like children, a spouse, shopping, elderly parent etc… An automobile can improve the quality of life for someone that has a lot going on. Some of us NYers require project management!! And Steve My love for the spirited feeling of driving a superb vehicle doesn’t mean that it is not a necessity.

  27. Omari, I have no idea what technology you’re talking about, but I think the only technology that can “prevent accidents” to any meaningful extent is technology that takes away control from the driver, because most crashes are caused by driver failure.

    I’m supposed to “respect the needs of my fellow New Yorkers” to “drive to work, or take their kids to school before going on to work?” Well, they didn’t respect my need to not be killed or to have my family killed when they picked their homes, jobs and schools. Why should I respect their needs?

    I happen to have a stressful job, children, a spouse, and shopping, and I had an elderly parent who died. I’m kind of insulted that you assume that just because I live without a car, I don’t have the same kinds of stresses as most New Yorkers. The difference is that I don’t find sitting in traffic and worrying about not killing people to ease my stress or improve my quality of life. I have no idea how it does that for anyone else.

    It just shows your short-sightedness if you think “green” is only about pollution or consumption. “Green” is also about livable streets, and that’s the whole point of this blog.

  28. Okay JF Is it fair to say that you would support a call for no automobiles completely inside residential areas or in the country?

    My disagreement lies solely in the fact that Bloomberg’s motive is not based on “livable streets” but on “political investments” and this plan is not well thought out to get results, and clearly a “scheme.” Most of those people who have came out to support it are expecting political favors. When a regular citizen joins the bandwagon of an obvious “scheme” It makes me wonder if the obvious is obvious? You know like “they hate us because of our freedom!”

  29. I believe cars should be safe, legal and rare. But that doesn’t mean that I think it can happen overnight. Hopefully my grandchildren will be able to play in the street without worrying about being run over.

    If we refused to support policies that were promoted by greedy, self-interested politicians then we wouldn’t be able to support any policies!

  30. Omari:

    1. Mayor Bloomberg “speaks for” all New Yorkers, because he was elected Mayor and that is his legal capacity, or (in the sense you are using the term) he “speaks for” only those New Yorkers who do not disavow what he says. I don’t see what this has to do with anything.

    2. All your assumptions about me based on the my bicycling are wrong. I am affected by traffic congestion in many ways. My son has been diagnosed with asthma, and we live on the second floor over a very busy and congested street. Also, I happen to believe that all the car exhaust is destroying the earth and I don’t want my kids to have to deal with that. Plus I often use mass transit which I have to pay for while motorists get to use the roads for free, which bugs me. Finally, in connection with work I sometimes travel by car and in those situations, I am usually delayed by all the people who thoughtlessly decide to drive out of habit, laziness or for the “freedom experience” they think driving gives them.

    3. Others, who currently drive to work or drive their kids to school, will benefit from congestion pricing, because it will enhance every transportation option–bicycling, mass transit, and private car use. All three of these modes will be more pleasant and efficient under congestion pricing. The only difference will be that the road users will pay more than they do now, but they will also get a faster ride, and a better “freedom experience.”

    4. Bicycling relieves stress. Especially urban bicycling. And particularly if you have stress at work, at home, etc. . . . daily exercise and the experience of total mental focus that urban bicycling imparts works wonders. It’s really much better than any urban driving experience (except perhaps a “closed track” or off road driving experience). When you are driving in the city, you max out at 30 MPH, about 1/4 of capacity (or you speed, creating risks for yourself and others). You can’t maneuver around obstacles like other cars that are driving or stopping thoughtlessly, jaywalking pedestrians, etc. . . . you just have to wait for them to move or honk at them. Sure, you can listen to your favorite tunes, talk on the phone, read the paper, run the air conditioner, but is doing 20 different things at once while some idiot is blocking you really all that fun or stress-reducing?

    On a bicycle, you can lawfully and safely maneuver around most of these obstacles without the unnecessary or dangerous “zigzagging” you fret over. And most of us can expereince the rush of moving at max speed, and even pushing that max, without exceeding the speed limit of 30 MPH. 30 MPH on a bike is way more exhilarating than 60 MPH inside the steel and glass cocoon of a car, trust me. For those with stressful lives who live within 15 miles of work, bike commuting offers mental and physical health benefits, along with a reliably efficient commute, all in about the same amount of time it would take to get to work by bus, train or car. The only thing that makes urban bicycling stressful is negligent and hostile motorists.

    5. If you are willing to look at this with an open mind, you may see that this is not just about bicyclists against motorists. This is about a collective choice to encourage low-impact, low-cost modes of transportation over commuting by single-occupant private cars. To the extent you feel that my bicycling or mass transit use imposes costs on you, I’m ready to hear you out but you’ll have to explain how it is that your single-occupant private motoring doesn’t impose a higher cost on me.

  31. JF It can be safe tomorrow if the car manufactures allow it. It will cost them extra to include this technology, so they resist. Government turns a blind eye, because “Capitalist America” is controlled by big business.” The interests of the American is not important only profits. Why do you think an illegal alien or a foreigner with a visa can come into America speaking no english and have a better life than an American. In trade agreements the government led by “Big Business” sell American jobs as part of the agreement. Steve and JF don’t you see if Bloomberg really wanted to do something he would target the areas in, which there would be an impact, and this can be done with regulation, without taxing the citizen. When gas prices went sky high did traffic decrease? NO
    Will adding a tax decrease traffic? obviously not. When train fares increased did ridership decrease? obviously not. When real estate taxes increased did homeowners move? obviously not? People will pay to live life as comfortable as possible! Bloomberg raised taxes
    early in his time as mayor, and I believe before he leaves NYC will be more and more difficult for those surviving. More and more people are living pay check to pay check and barely making two ends meet. As time goes on it will only get harder. There are families that go homeless, due to layoffs and the greed of capitalism. No longer is it only addicts who are homeless. A billionaire Mayor cannot understand. JF and Steve the Automobile has contributed a significant part to the development of America. Citizens have been driving since its arrival. You blame the driver instead of the industry and the government. To drive you have to have a license, registration, insurance, spend for gas, parking, dodge unfair ticketing, potholes, maintenance etc… I believe the majority of People drive because it is an asset. I believe smart regulations is the answer. Your reasoning is equivalent to “blaming the addict instead of the dealer.” Americans drive because it is legal and available. I am not anti-train all of our different forms of transportation are an asset, some are convenient some are not it is up to the individual. All of them cost the citizen, so it is up to them to choose what is best for their transportation. What’s good for you may not be good for another American. Steve I will try cycling one day.

  32. I still have no idea what this technology is that would make cars safe. I’m very skeptical that it would really be effective, but I’m willing to look into it if you give me some pointers.

  33. Hello JF
    The end goal of this technology is to automatically adjust speed and braking making it impossible for the car to come in contact with an object.

    At the moment it can warn the driver if at current speed will braking prevent contact of object.

    As a driver I can usually tell those that are not good at driving or a new driver, because they usually tailgate. Tailgating is really driving close behind another car at a speed, in which braking will not prevent contact. If we could eliminate tailgating most rear end collisions would be eliminated. Think about the drunk driver, or the person on the cell phone, or the distracted driver who goes to pick up the CD or cassette that dropped or the “talkative not keeping an eye at the road” driver this device will warn them if at the current speed braking will not prevent collision. Imagine you could drive towards a brick wall, and your car would stop automatically without colliding. This is possible, but then why would we need drivers insurance? Do you see what I mean by “big business”? Do you know how much insurance costs in NYC??? Do the math…

  34. I told you guys that Bloomberg’s scheme was obvious. I applaud Silver for not jumping on the “illogical bandwagon.” This scheme has been defeated!!!!!
    Congestion for New York City or for American can be alleviated with careful planning, bring in all of our experts and it can be done by restrictions.
    Bloomberg was using congestion as a reason to tax more money from city residents. Throughout his time as mayor real estate taxes went up, parking fees etc.. Believe me before he leaves he will find another reason to steal money.
    Learn to detect a sham!!!!!!!

  35. John Liu and the speaker should immediately call an emergency session to affirm the mayor’s plan.

    Another one should be called to include Silver centered on an investigation of his concerns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Bush Administration Advocates for Congestion Pricing

Here’s some more fodder for the debate that was prompted by today’s earlier post about charging more for parking on city streets. This story, too, comes from the Wall Street Journal, and is available online to subscribers only. But you might want to run out and buy today’s paper to read the whole thing, because […]

Queens Chamber Continues Campaign Against Congestion Pricing

Foes of congestion pricing marshalled by the Queens Chamber of Commerce held a press conference yesterday at which several politicians from the borough took a stand against the mayor’s plan. According to a press release provided by the chamber, City Council Finance Chair David Weprin called the proposal unnecessary: "I don’t think City Hall understands […]

Livingstone: Businesses Led on Congestion Charge

  Fearing that London’s ever-worsening traffic congestion would drive industry to other European cities, business leaders first broached the topic of congestion charging for the British capital, according to plan architect Mayor Ken Livingstone. At a C40 Climate Summit panel entitled "Beating Congestion & Surviving Your Next Election," Livingstone said Tuesday that the business group […]

Congestion Pricing: Still Good For Basically Everyone

Urbanists often find themselves falling into a pattern of thinking that boils down to the dictum that what’s good for drivers must be bad for walkability, and sustainability, and all the things that they prize about well-designed cities. Drivers seem to believe this too, which is interesting because it often isn’t true. What’s good for […]