"Livable Streets" exhibit and breakfast 2/22

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Anonymous's picture

"If there's free food, I'll be there!

The exhibit runs through March 29, if you can't come Thursday.


What if Manhattan streets were redesigned to favor pedestrians? Would people still come to shop and work?

What types of street changes improve transportation performance and attract pedestrians?

Tomorrow morning, find out the answers to these questions and more:

WHEN: Thursday, February 23, 2006 8:30 10 am
WHERE: The Urban Center of the Municipal Art Society (457 Madison Ave at 51st Street)

Light breakfast provided.
Please RSVP to: [email protected]

This event, part of the Livable Streets: A New Vision for New York exhibit, is sponsored by the NYC Streets Renaissance Campaign of Transportation Alternatives, the Project for Public Spaces and The Open Planning Project.

The event features:

Bruce Schaller, Principal of Schaller Consulting presenting for the first time the findings of his groundbreaking new study ""Necessity or Choice? Why people drive in Manhattan"" which explores the role of the automobile in commuting and shopping, and its relevance to the local economy.

Todd Litman, founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, discussing the types of street and transportation improvements that are enabled by the study's findings.

For more information, visit www.nycstreets.org.


Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Here's one of the reports


To paraphrase the speaker, restricting vehicle access to Manhattan would improve economic activity by increasing ""accessibility."" The usual argument is that automobiles are the ""engine"" of economic growth. But the 60% of public space consecrated to them could be put to better social use.

The room was packed with eager press and policy types. Speaker Bruce Shaller writes on transportation for Gotham Gazette.

I didn't get to see the exhibit except from my seat. Photo panels of other cities that have successfully implemented traffic control measures.

Breakfast was good, too."

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
I see London, I see France

"Thank you Carol for the link. While the paper was convincing at explaining *why* vehicular traffic should be reduced in the city, it fell a little short on explaining *how* such should be done.

However, I did notice that the PDF document contained only 20 pages when the table of contents did indicate there was allot more content. Perhaps the ""how"" is contained later in the paper.

One shortcoming of the paper is that it did not explain why traffic reduction would be beneficial from the perspective of city drivers. For instance, how much of your day is wasted (unproductive) while sitting in cross town traffic. This is important as that overlooked cohort also influences policy makers, with votes and political contributions. It is the same folk to which this paper is directed at in part to influence.

""Since driving is a matter of choice and not necessity for most auto users, providing space for auto users should be viewed as a policy choice, not as an economic imperative.""

I think such statement is at best contentious and definitely flawed. Additionally, I argue that it is indeed an economic policy imperative.

London's *successful* solution to traffic congestion is an economically driven solution using an external pricing scheme. (The paper alludes to the lessons learned from London. Unfortunately, the PDF document is truncated and that section is missing.) Implementing an external pricing scheme, the drivers themselves, personally decide determine if driving in the city is really a necessity or not. Nothing speaks truer than when someone has to pay money out of their own pocket and in this case a toll to enter midtown New York. (The economic term for this is called: revealed preference).

The additional revenue collected could pay for more mass transit, laying down extra grass in the parks, or asthma treatments for the young and disadvantaged to name a few.

If one thinks that externality pricing is a uniquely British thing and will not work here, they should consider otherwise. One example of such a scheme that was successfully used not-so long ago was to reduce Sulfur Dioxide emissions in this country or what's more familiarly known as acid rain.

The paternalistic, big brother/big sister ""matter of choice and not necessity"" approach will simply not work, especially so in the commerce capital of the world (yes I'm NYC biased). I do hope they propose an externality pricing-market solution and demonstrate how such can work favorably for *all* parties involved (motorists included) much like which is happening now in London.

Anonymous's picture
ethan (not verified)
congestion based pricing

A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak with Robin Chase (founder of zipcar). She has left zipcar and is presently working on a new company focused on developing the technology and infrastructure to make pricing based solutions viable in the US. I think their plan is to offer a complete soltution that cities can implement without footing the R&D bill.

The thing I like about Robin is that she was very sucessful in making zipcar an economically viable AND attractive solution. I'm rather excited to see what she can do in the congestion pricing space. I'm also pretty sure she mentioned that NYC was one of her early target clients.

some of her ideas:


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