Using barricades and police officers to create and enforce daytime "no walking zones" along 49th and 50th Streets (between Fifth and Lexington Avenues) is increasingly unpopular among residents of Manhattan. According to a recent Daily News/NY 1 poll, only 7% of those contacted by the pollsters favor using barricades-and-cops to calm the chaotic traffic conditions in midtown. The great majority of those contacted (70%) favor using the cops to enforce existing traffic regulations against grid-locking, double-parking and ignoring red lights. Quite obviously -- if we are going to endorse any short-term, shortsighted remedy to these very modern problems -- we will endorse the idea of cracking down on dangerous vehicular infractions, rather than on treating people like cattle.
But we will only endorse a long-term, long-sighted remedy to the problem of midtown overcongestion. The remedy we have in mind is not at all far-fetched: indeed, according to the Daily News/NY 1 poll, there is twice the support for our preferred remedy than there is for the barricades-and-cops "solution."
And our remedy is nothing short of the total ban of all private automobiles from the streets of Manhattan from 8 am to midnight during the work week. The only automobiles that should be allowed to operate during the day are taxi cabs, buses and police and emergency vehicles. Commercial trucks and tourist buses should only be allowed to operate between midnight and 6 am.
YES, we are anti-car! According to the Office of Safety Programs (NYC Department of Transportation), nearly 15,000 New York City pedestrians are struck and injured by automobiles every year. NYC leads the nation in pedestrian fatalities. Fully one half of the people killed by cars are pedestrians, and not other drivers. And who are these people who are killed? Are they fast-walking jaywalkers? No. Almost 40% are senior citizens.
In place of the automobile -- a continuous source of noxious air and noise pollution, and a mortal danger to pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters -- we propose the following:
1). the wholehearted improvement and modernization of all our mass transportation systems;
2). the use of tax breaks and subsidies to encourage the widespread use of bicycles and skates as forms of transportation;
3). the creation of pedestrian zones -- from which ALL automobiles except emergency vehicles are permanently banned -- throughout Manhattan, but especially in midtown, Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side and Lower Manhattan.
FOR A REAL IMPROVEMENT IN THE QUALITY OF LIFE
THE NEW YORK PSYCHOGEOGRAPHICAL ASSOCIATION