New York Mayor's 'Gridlock Alerts' Go Unheeded

Mobility advocates say the city must do more to make transit and alternative transportation modes more convenient for drivers.

October 5, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Despite the city issuing "Gridlock Alerts," New Yorkers are driving into the city at similar rates as before, writes Julianne Cuba. According to mobility advocates, this is "a result of the mayor’s failure to create policies that get people out of cars and into mass transit on days when the city knows long in advance that roads and neighborhoods will be turned into pollution-, noise- and stress-filled parking lots." Local officials want the mayor to do more to cut traffic by implementing immediate measures such as emergency bus lanes. "We can not return to the status quo — it’s imperative that we seize this moment and create lasting change in the Central Business District," said Manhattan Council Member Keith Powers. 

Such measures aren't new to the Big Apple: the city has enacted pop-up bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle policies before, notably after 9/11 and during 2005's transit strike.

"Last summer, Riders Alliance was one of several advocacy groups to demand the mayor make room for 40 miles of 'emergency' dedicated bus lanes to help long-suffering transit riders — many of them low-income essential workers — as cars started flooding back onto roads. And the MTA even one-upped that, asking for 60 miles of bus lanes to speed up the city’s recovery." 

But the requests fell on deaf ears, as the city only installed roughly 16 miles of dedicated lanes by the end of 2020, even as the number of cars entering the city rises above pre-pandemic rates and the MTA is forced to suspend bus service due to heavy traffic. "Meanwhile, bus riders suffer and emergency response times spike. Whether it’s emergency bus lanes or busways, HOV restrictions, transit discounts, the city and state need to do more to ensure the delivery of essential services in public space," says Danny Pearlstein of Riders Alliance. As Doug Gordon of The War on Cars podcast puts it, "'Bus service is suspended because of heavy traffic' is one of those things that should provoke an all-hands-on-deck response from city government." So far, that isn't the case.

Thursday, September 23, 2021 in Streetsblog New York City

Walkable DC

Urban Villages: The Key to Sustainable Community Economic Development

Compact, walkable urban villages support sustainable economic development by reducing transportation costs, leaving residents with more money to spend on local goods, and by creating more efficient and attractive commercial districts.

January 25, 2022 - Todd Litman

New York City Politicians wears a mask at a New York subway station during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Leadership at New York Department of City Planning

With a new mayoral administration comes new planning leadership in the Big Apple.

January 20, 2022 - New York City


'15-Minute City' To Be Built in Utah

A community that focuses on reducing the need for car ownership and providing effective multimodal transportation and diverse land uses will be built from scratch on the site of the decommissioned Utah State Prison.

January 19, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

COVID-19 Test

COVID Zero: The High Price of Containment

Vision Zero: a strategy to eliminate road crashes, particularly those with fatal outcomes. COVID Zero: a strategy to end coronavirus transmission. Only one has worked—but at a steep price.

January 27 - The New York Times

New Zealand

Zoning Reform: Lessons From New Zealand

The island nation is mandating mid-density zoning requirements and transit-oriented development in an effort to increase housing affordability and encourage compact development.

January 27 - The Brookings Institution

Latino Neighborhood

Mapping the Growth of the U.S. Hispanic Population

Almost every county in the country has more Hispanics than in 2010, according to recent Census data now searchable by interactive map.

January 27 - Social Explorer

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.