Republican mayor Bloomberg of New York City is proposing to follow London’s lead in implementing congestion charging: fees required to bring cars into most of Manhattan. (The proposed fees are about half those of London’s.) It’s been proposed before, but this time let’s hope it sticks. Opponents are calling it a tax on the poor. I think said opponents should examine the more radical poverty of automobile dependency, enslavement to an expensive mode of transit that effectively curtails the right to walk or ride a bike in safety and ease. On bikes, Mr. Bloomberg has also favored softening the regulations on pedicabs within the city, though the motor taxi lobby is prevailing with the city council to keep practical transit options inhumanly heavy.
For nearly four years we worked in Manhattan, the US city with the highest population density. We then moved to San Francisco, the US city with the highest car density. We’re now in Portland, with among the highest bicycle commute rates in the US. I’m not sure what to make of the fact that I can’t imagine San Francisco or Portland following NYC seeking to curtail car use so directly any time very soon, helping restore their streets to the conviviality they lost to cars. Here’s Park Avenue as designed:
Yeah, it was a park. What did your streets look like before cars, or do you live in a place designed for cars and people who don’t question their need or their demands?