This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful to Be in This Movement With You

tofurky roast
Happy ##http://thevword.net/2011/11/the-v-word-holiday-giveaway.html##Tofurky## Day, friends.

Can I be a little corny here?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Genocide of Native Americans aside (wow, that’s not something I ever thought I’d write) — I’m a fan of secular holidays, especially those that encourage us to give thanks for what we already have, rather than force us to go out and acquire lots of new stuff.

So I want to take a minute for gratitude.

First, I’m grateful for the Next Bus application that means I never wait outside for a bus for more than a few minutes. I’m grateful for the bike lane on 14th Street and the (seemingly few) drivers who don’t double park in it. I’m grateful that there’s a cycle track on 15th Street, just in case I happen to feel like riding in a place where cars don’t block the lane. I’m grateful to DDOT for repaving it nice and smooth. I’m grateful to the people who beam at my daughter on the back of my bike and say to themselves, “I’m totally going to ride bikes with my kid, too.” I’m grateful for the legroom on the Amtrak seat I’ll have next week when I go to New York for our staff meeting, and for the nap I’ll take or the novel I’ll read on that trip.

I’m also grateful to all of you, not just for reading Streetsblog, but for being in this movement. We’re really getting somewhere, and I’m thankful for that progress. People have been driving less and less every year since 2004. The dividends that pays in air quality, livability, and safety are priceless.

We still have a long way to go, though. Urban bicycling won’t become a mainstream mode of transportation until our streets offer a safe place to ride that’s separate from cars and outside the door zone. Transit won’t reach its potential until people all across the country have access to frequent, reliable, comfortable, and well-designed transit with routes that hit all the high notes for both healthy ridership numbers and equitable coverage. Our cities are becoming more walkable, but pedestrians are also over-represented in fatality statistics, with far too few national resources addressing this problem.

With so much left to do, I’m thankful to be in this movement with you. With all the passion, creativity, and sheer brilliance I’ve seen among livable streets advocates, I know we’ll get there. There’s no one I’d rather bank the future on.

Thank you for that.

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Ryan Russo is the New York City Department of Transportation’s Director for Street Management and Safety, a newly-created job that he started in July. Previously, Russo worked as DOT’s Downtown Brooklyn Transportation Coordinator where he was instrumental in designing and developing a number of improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and more livable streets (PDF file) over the last three years. Streetsblog caught up […]