In terms of pedestrian safety,
2004 was a mixed bag. Though many of the city's 12,000 signalized intersections
remain dangerous for all but to most fleet-footed of walkers, the Department of
Transportation (DOT) has fixed several dangerous streets. In 2004, the DOT took
unprecedented action to extend crossing time and protect pedestrians from
speeding and turning traffic. As a result Queens Blvd. and many streets in
Midtown are now much safer for pedestrians.
The year saw some positive signs
but little real improvement on traffic issues. While Mayor Bloomberg has decreed
that commuters should leave their cars at home and the city — for the first time
in decades — saw a decline in the motor vehicle ownership rate, gushing traffic
continues to hurt the health and quality of life of New Yorkers.
Meanwhile, a plan to toll East
River bridges — the city’s best hope for a real traffic solution — was again
shouted down without public discussion of its many merits, including faster
emergency response times, more mass transit funding, and less pollution.
In other key areas, the
outcomes for the year wore more clear-cut. The city made Central Park — for the
first time since the dawn of me modem era — car-free for most of the day. And
thanks to more greenways, bike lanes, and bridge paths, more New Yorkers took to
bicycling as daily commuting and group rides hit record high numbers. The city
also unveiled its new citywide Safe Routes to Schools program.
Chalk up most of 2004’s
negatives to lost opportunities. As our leaders chased Olympian development
dreams on the West Side, existing destinations continued to suffer from traffic
overload and bad design.
plans for downtown Brooklyn and Times Square, for example, were watered down and
Millions in federal dollars for
bicycle and pedestrian improvements went unspent because the DOT didn’t have
enough staff to develop projects. Fewer than 12 of the DOT’s 4,500 employees are
dedicated to improving bicycling and walking.
But perhaps the worst of 2004
was the MTA's $15 billion budget crisis, which no fare hike, large or small, can
fix. Either the severity of this crisis is lost on Gov. Pataki or he simply does
not care enough to dedicate real revenue to our ailing subways and buses.
Submitted by forrest on February 7, 2008 - 12:27. categories [