DMI Blog

Elana Levin

Congestion Pricing - London’s example on May 18

Suggesting that New York City charge commuters money for driving in to Manhattan south of 86th street is one of the boldest and most debated moves Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made in his PlaNYC initiative. In the interest of furthering the public debate over congestion pricing and its impact on the city DMI and the Partnership for New York City are excited to cohost the latest event in DMI's Marketplace of Ideas series highlighting policymakers who successfully put progressive values into practice.

What can New York City learn from London About Congestion Pricing?

With an international problem like making our cities livable and sustainable we've found some international problem-solvers to show the way. The morning of May 18 8:30am to 10:30am join us for an exciting Marketplace of Ideas event featuring Nicky Gavron, London's Deputy Mayor.

Deputy Mayor Gavron is a leader in the efforts to combat global warming and is responsible for London's work in this area, including their congestion pricing plan. She will present on London’s experience, and we will have a panel of elected officials and advocates from around the city discussing congestion pricing's implications for the whole city.

While DMI intends to release a more specific statement about the many ways in which congestion pricing will benefit the current and aspiring middle class soon, here are some of the thoughts on our mind:

The Census tell us that less than half of New York City households has access to a motor vehicle. The Drum Major Institute's recent survey of 101 city leaders reveals that having a car is not considered a significant part of a middle-class standard of living in the five boroughs.

But while not every middle-class New Yorker has or needs a car, all possess a pair of lungs, a stake in seeing the world protected from global warming, and better things to do with their time than sit in gridlock traffic.

In a nutshell, that's why Mayor Bloomberg's plan for congestion pricing is good for the city's middle class.

In a city where nearly one in ten citizens suffer from asthma and where Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Brooklyn rank numbers one through four in U.S. counties with the longest average commute times, taking bold steps to reduce traffic congestion is imperative.

What's more, the swarm of commuters by car chokes the streets of middle-class neighborhoods in the outer boroughs. According to Bruce Schaller, visiting scholar at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, 43 percent of the traffic clogging the streets of Downtown Brooklyn at morning rush hour is headed for the East River bridges, and things just get worse at midday, with 45 percent of cars and trucks in the area Manhattan-bound. In Long Island City more than half the vehicles jamming the road during the morning rush are making for the Queensboro Bridge.

Congestion pricing can help middle-class pocketbooks, too, as the funds invested in improved access to mass transit in the outer boroughs enable more middle-class New Yorkers to take affordable public transit. But in general, congestion pricing goes beyond the pocketbook, to the air we breathe and the future of the planet.

As cities, often canaries in the coal-mine of America's environmental justice movement, look for ways to address longterm environmental sustainability policies like congestion pricing will be explored by more and more places. Can congestion pricing be a progressive solution that strengthen's public infrastructure and cleans the air? We're thinking yes, but let's get all the stakeholders engaged in a discussion May 18th and see.

The event will be held 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 18. Location and panelists will be announced shortly. If you want me to let you know when the details are set, email me at elevin (the "at" symbol)

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UPDATE! Panelists to include NYC City Councilman Eric Gioia and Executive Director of the New York Central Labor Council, Ed Ott. They will be introduced by Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

More TBA!

Elana Levin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 5:01 PM, May 02, 2007 in Cities | Environmental Justice | New York | Progressive Agenda
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