The Truth About Traffic

The Truth About Traffic

After decades of auto-centric traffic policies, we have lost sight of the role that cars should play in New York.

In a city where over half of all commuters walk or use transit, and only 6% of all shopping below 59th Street involves a car, why do we dedicate so much street space to vehicles?

An honest examination of how New Yorkers get around would allow us to shrug off outdated assumptions about traffic and set transportation policy that serves the New York of the 21st century.

Alternatives to Driving

New York City has the potential to be the most walkable city in the world. In fact, most trips are five miles or less — making them easily walkable or bike-able. In addition, the city boasts the largest public transportation network in North America.

Driving is a choice, not a necessity

  • 90% of auto commuters have an existing transit alternative.
  • 30-60% of cars entering Manhattan below 59th Street are going “through” the district and have no economic purpose.
  • 69% of all trips below 59th Street in Manhattan are on foot.

Cars Can Disappear

Requested street improvements are often rejected on the premise that they will increase traffic congestion. However, cities around the world have increased transportation throughput while simultaneously reducing the amount of road space allocated to cars.

Before its collapse in 1973, the double-decker West Side Highway carried 110,000 cars daily. After it was reconstructed, it carried only 50,000 cars with no major traffic jams.

Shoppers are Walkers

All too frequently we forget that cars don’t shop, people do. When shopping destinations work for pedestrians and connect well to public transportation, people linger longer and spend more shopping and dining.

How do shoppers get around?

  • 69% Walk
  • 24% Use Transit
  • 6% Drive
  • Only 6% of shopping below 59th Street in Manhattan involves a car.

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