Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Wait, what?

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It’s pretty simple: After delaying publication of the statistics, change the parameters of victory to meet reality and then declare victory. Bloomberg certainly took a page from Bush’s book in that one with the closing of Broadway through Herald and Times Squares. Southbound traffic slowed by 2% while northbound sped up by 17% – largely due to the fact that Sixth Avenue doesn’t cross Broadway any more – meanwhile, crosstown traffic is much worse than before, as it picked up all the slack.

The project, Mr. Paaswell [interim President of City College] said, “serves the public good, but it doesn’t necessarily reduce congestion.”

Which public? Bloomberg has an answer:

The Times Square Alliance, a business group, surveyed residents and office workers and found that about 75 percent were “satisfied with their experience” in the area, up from less than half in 2007. Although some property owners objected to the design of the plazas, asking that the furniture and pavement be replaced, the majority of businesses said the plazas should be continued.

“It’s shifted the paradigm for what a street and sidewalk experience is supposed to be like in New York City,” said Tim Tompkins, the president of the alliance.

Ah, the tourist public and their vendors. Why am I not surprised? It’s Bloomberg. We need more Disneyland Malls!

Now, I’m all for not building major thoroughfares through city parks, but not having major thoroughfares through major thoroughfares strikes me as rather odd. Then again, I had problems with Bloomberg’s other ambitiously major plan for city streets, which was arguably more successful, even if counterproductive at times.

But to me, this is a poor substitute to plans Bloomberg dropped the ball on that would have had the greatest possible effect on the traffic in Manhattan: Plans like Congestion Taxes, a la London, or simply banning private automobiles during the day, a la Beijing. There simply aren’t enough buses, trucks, taxis and liveries – in short, commercial traffic; the kind that drives business – to create the type of congestion the city’s streets see in Midtown. A lot of it comes to private cars, and so if it’s odd to make so many concessions to them when there’s plenty of other viable means to shuttle private individuals.

Such talk, however, might frighten Bloomberg’s yuppie electorate, and we can’t have that. In the meantime, I bike through Midtown without seeing a lick of difference – well, except for the fact that I’m forced to use Seventh Ave now.

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