There's a reason why New Yorkers typically avoid driving: it's f*cking terrible. The city's streets are more congested than ever, and the boom of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are only expected to make matters worse for years to come. Earlier this summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was on board for at least one solution to fix New York's traffic issues, telling the Times that he was open to the prospect of “congestion pricing,” which would install tolls to the gratis bridges over the East River and to southbound streets below 60th Street in Manhattan.
Over the weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a traffic-reducing plan of his own, which (to no one's surprise) directly conflicts with the one endorsed by Cuomo. Rather than directly taxing drivers in Manhattan, the mayor wants to restrict curbside deliveries in some of the city's most congested areas and crack down on some of the biggest nuisances to traffic in the city. In midtown, more than 110 additional Traffic Enforcement Management officers will be deployed to 11 key streets in an effort to reduce the amount of parking violations and off-route trucks in the area. On top of that, a pilot program will kick off in January that will ban curbside loading from 7-10am and 4-7pm in some of the busiest areas of midtown, Brooklyn and Queens.
But the primary focus of the mayor's plan is on drivers who “block the box,” or get stuck in an intersection after the light has changed. In an effort to reduce such occurrences, the city is installing special markings and signage at 50 key intersections across the city (30 in Manhattan, 20 in the outer boroughs), hiring an additional 50 NYPD officers to enforce the rules and launching a public awareness campaign.
Under the plan, the city will also work to convene “task forces” to work to reduce congestion on highways in town. If recent history tells us anything (see Cuomo's “Penn Station Task Force”), this initiative will likely result in little more than a few suggestions in writing.
“New Yorkers have been telling me loud and clear about the quality-of-life problems created by traffic where they live and work,” de Blasio said in a statement. “With a targeted effort to help clear travel lanes, delivery zones, intersections and highways, these initiatives will address these concerns head-on.”
Even with this plan, the idea of congestion pricing still sounds pretty damn good.