Manhattan, NY

Opinion: That Traffic You Hate?

Remington Write

It's YOU. Keep your cars out of Manhattan.
Just another evening on Eighth Avenue /Photo byTammy Remington

After months of bickering in court, in July 2019, the powers that be were finally able to decree no more cars on 14th Street, a major east/west corridor in Manhattan. No personal cars, no taxis, no Ubers, nada.

The big shock?

The world did not end. Not only that, the surrounding streets were not jammed with all the predicted traffic that couldn’t use 14th Street anymore. Know why? Because all it took was one or two days of complete madness for drivers to just not go there.

Walk around Soho or the Lower East Side or Greenwich Village or 125 Street up in Harlem any Saturday. Insider tip: be smart about it and walk because if you bring your car to any of these neighborhoods on a weekend you are not going anywhere. You’ll be stuck in traffic with all the other people who thought driving into the city on Saturday would be such a great idea.

And you’ll all be blowing your horns as if that’s going to help.

Over the past fifteen years or so there’s been a concerted effort to take the streets back from cars in Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg got things rolling by blocking off major sections of Broadway and turning them into pedestrian malls with little tables and chairs. Admittedly uncomfortable tinny little chairs but it’s been a start.

Oh, the screaming and anguish that has greeted the creation of each new area off-limits to cars.

And then when each predicted traffic-ggedon has not materialized, the city shrugged and went on about its business. Until the next time.

Recently the city has come to its senses regarding congestion pricing and eventually anyone wanting to drive into the most heavily-trafficked areas of Manhattan will have to pay extra to do that. Predictably everyone who wants to drive their car to work every day or drive to run errands in Manhattan is having conniptions.

There is a mindset that says Cars Get To Go Wherever They Want.

Pedestrians and people who like to breathe beg to differ.

Manhattan has less than 23 square miles (fun fact: this is about half the size of Disney World in Orlando, Florida). San Francisco has less than 50. People, use your heads. There’s only so much of this area that can be paved over and used for your cars. Both cities have decent enough public transportation options - although there's always room for improvement - that can only benefit from the continued removal of personal cars from our streets.

It’s criminal that so much of the world has become all but inaccessible except by personal automobile. People living in practically any other part of the United States are forced to figure out how to keep a money-guzzling car on the road. Currently, a monthly unlimited MetroCard in New York City will set you back $127. This will get the savvy rider anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City on buses and subways that run 24/7 (except on the weekends when maintenance is being done or when signals fail or in the case of other unsavory mishaps that we don't want to upset anyone by going into detail about here).

In case anyone needed one more reason to limit the number of cars in a densely populated space, 124 pedestrians were killed by cars and/or trucks in New York City in 2021.

So the next time you're forced to listen to someone complaining about the insane traffic in Manhattan, tell them to park their car in New Jersey or Staten Island or, hell, Connecticut, and take the train into the city.

There they can pretend they're real New Yorkers and swipe those Metro cards like a boss.

Or just tap their smartphones against the OMNY reader. Either way, they get to enjoy the full New York transit experience and can pat themselves on the back for not contributing to the traffic madness as well.

And roughly 500,000 of us who will want to walk and bicycle here say thank you.

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Covert dilettante with an omnivorous capacity for wonder. Writing because I can't not write. Always watching for the hidden patterns and connections. I don't know I cannot fly..........and so I do.

New York City, NY

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