In the Age of Coronavirus, Will Cars Become a Bigger or Smaller Part of Upper West Side Life?


Photo by John Gillespie.

One of the most important urban movements of the past decade has been the livable streets movement — focused on making city streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and less car-focused.

That movement is not without its controversies. In fact, fights over bike lanes and parking rules have arguably been the most contentious in the neighborhood. Hundreds of parking spots have been removed from the neighborhood in the past few years to make room for bike lanes or delivery and taxi pick-up spots.

Now, the coronavirus is adding new complexity to the debate. On the one hand, there are almost no cars in the street because of the lockdown and City Council members are pushing for those streets to be opened up for other uses — most importantly for pedestrians to have room to walk around outside while staying six feet away from each other. Cars seem like an impediment to that.


Broadway at rush hour on a recent day. Photo by Jack.

On the other hand, some people who have resisted getting cars now say they want one. Others who have advocated for reducing the number of cars say they see their utility more now. (The implicit concern here is that the coronavirus spreads easily on public transit, a contention that hasn’t been proven but has clearly raised worries among some people.)

“Cars challenge the city because they spread people out. COVID-19 threatens the city because it cloisters us in,” Upper West Side real estate broker, activist and philanthropist Jason Haber wrote in a recent Daily News op-ed. “The car brings with it freedom. COVID-19 is our jailer. Cars allow exploration. COVID-19 requires social distancing.”

Haber writes that he is a proponent for making cars “more compatible with city life” by adding bike lanes and congestion pricing tolls to streets. He has long been a critic of Robert Moses, whose changes to the city often prioritized cars at the expense of other modes of transit.

New York Times reporter Emma Fitzsimmons wrote on Twitter that she was reluctantly getting a car now that she has two kids and is concerned about Covid-19.

Streetsblog initially criticized her for contributing to a “less livable city”, before softening the criticism to a criticism of bad public policy: “The issue is the mayor and other elected officials whose decisions today — and those made over the 10 decades of the Automobile Age — have made cars the easy choice for so many American families (even those in New York City).”

Groups that are trying to deemphasize cars in the neighborhood, such as Streetopia UWS, are particularly focused now on making it easier for people to have space to walk and bike during the pandemic. That could include temporary bike lanes, a policy the local community board has voted for.

In the long-term, cars are almost certainly incompatible with a city poised to be hurt by climate change in the coming decades — and one where too many people still die because they were hit by cars. In the shorter-term, the question of whether it makes sense to own a car in the city seems more complicated.

NEWS | 105 comments | permalink
    1. UWSHebrew says:

      I am not going on a subway or bus until there is a vaccine or the virus completely disappears. 86 MTA workers are dead. Looks like only ubers for me, which is going to cost a fortune. So actually, I doubt I’ll be going anywhere unless it’s a must.

      • Yossarian says:

        Curious, how do you see Ubers as safer than public transit? Other riders and the driver could just as well be sick like anyone you see on the subway. It’s a game of odds at that point, but I don’t think I’d want to be sitting in the backseat not knowing what the last rider’s deal is.

        Lesser of two evils seems the only way to justify Ubers, but with the increased cost you mention I’m not too sure anything other than a bike would be a safe alternative to walking.

        • Paul says:

          The city is paying for school buses, why they’re not being used now is beyond me. Use the small ones, limit occupancy to four or five.

        • UWS Neighbor says:

          Many people cannot bike. Walking also more dangerous these days for a myriad of reasons.

          Get a grip and some compassion. Cars are the only safe option for a large group of your neighbors.

          • Boris says:

            How is walking more dangerous these days?

            • Former Pedestrian says:

              There’s anarchy out there. Bikes all over the sidewalks, going both ways. Half the people walking not social distancing and wearing masks. Motorcycle gangs bombing through the empty streets, ignoring red lights at crazy high speeds, trucks careening around corners without looking. Just to name a few.

            • HelenD says:

              Former pedestrian, may I ask exactly where this is happening? Are you serious about the motorcycle gangs? I’m a senior and I’ve been inside since March and I need to walk quite a long distance to pick up something that I should have picked over a month ago. Is it really that chaotic outside?

            • Jay says:

              The isolation is making people delusional.

            • Sarah says:

              HelenD, please don’t be alarmed by that comment – it’s not terribly chaotic for pedestrians. However, I’d be more than happy to make the collection for you so that you don’t have to go out if you feel uncomfortable (I have a dog so I’m outside walking every day). Perhaps the editors here could connect us if so, as they have our email addresses. Take care 🙂

            • pam says:

              Because the bicycles think they own the streets and sidewalks.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              I am an “essential worker” so am on the subway close to 2 hours a day plus walking back and forth to my home and to work from the stations.

              the description by “Former Pedestrian” of chaos on the streets is lurid fantasy. In fact, i marvel at how quiet it is, and how much i like that.

              It is very easy to maintain social distancing on the trains, with a few exceptions. A mask and gloves limits the risk.

          • Rob Foran says:

            More dangerous? I count three pedestrians killed by cyclists in the last four years, and only one accused of doing so recklessly. People who claim cyclists are such a danger are apparently unaware of the weekly carnage drivers commit. Here in Staten Island, with our almost empty roads, we had a young mother killed by a wrong way, hit and run driver. And she was not a pedestrian, she was in a car herself.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          of course uber is a risk, but much less than the subway or bus. it’s just the enclosed airspace you’re breathing multiplied by the amount of people. i’ll demand to have the window open as well, which should lower the risk even more.

      • rs says:

        I’ve been on buses and the subway a few times since the lockdown. Both have been nearly empty every time. I’m as cautious as they come and I felt as safe as I could be. Everyone’s wearing a mask and trying just as hard as you are to stay six feet apart. For the reasons stated by someone else I feel safer on public transit than I would in the back seat of a random car.

        • Danielle Remp says:

          About two week ago, I was on a “C” train. Never again.
          There were released prisoners sprawled down on at least 4 seats.
          Terrifying.

          • Jack says:

            And you know they were release prisoners how? Were they wearing bright orange jumpsuits? 🙄

            • John says:

              They all must of had the Tear drop tattoos and a gun in their belt

            • Danielle Remp says:

              Recognized by those who lived close to them and take the subway for service jobs here.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              Danielle took a poll of their neighbors? right on the train? “this ones a released prisoner, that ones a released prisoner…”

      • Amy Cook says:

        Uber isn’t going to be a ton safer.

    2. Safe Car says:

      We spent the afternoon in our parked car getting sunshine through the open roof. It was the only safe place to be out today since most bikers, runners, pedestrians were crowding the very empty street and sidewalks, many without masks. We saw several others doing the same in their parked cars.

      We also plan to take the car to get our for day trips without being amongst people. Such a blessing to have it now!

    3. Katherine says:

      I don’t understand why we don’t have paid overnight parking, on a sliding scale based on income of the car owner, proximity to the street where the car is parked and other factors. Our workers need parking spaces too. Many of them come from far out of the city to take care of our apartment buildings and shops and other needs.
      And let’s get rid of those ridiculous “Unloading Zones.” The trucks continue to double park wherever they wish. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a truck parked in an unloading zone.

      • Boris says:

        I don’t even know where to start. This is the most half-baked suggestion I’ve ever read in the WSR and there have been some real unique ones.

      • Peter says:

        Sounds nice, but it completely unfeasible. Parking fees related to income – which income exactly? Who makes more and is more deserving of a lower parking fee – the 69-year-old empty-nester doorman and a union pension, or someone in finance in their forties, who may make more today but faces higher risk and has decades of school expenses ahead of them, etc.? Declaring our income to the DMV? Giving the half-competent State government another highly complex scheme to manage? Come on.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          who makes more? a 69 year old doorman or some 42-year-old Wall Street guy who has to send his kids to a $60K per year private school in the future?

          hmm, the 69- year old doorman probably makes 50K, and the Wall Street guy, based on averages, might make 400K. i guess it’s hard to figure out who makes more.

          Are a lot of Wall Street guys voluntarily leaving their jobs to become doormen? and btw, which one is the “essential worker”?

      • Practical says:

        suggest Resident permits – easy to qualify for in existing DMV data – with (paid) permit for local workers

    4. Mia's Dad says:

      Several comments:

      1. Does coronavirus spreading on mass transit need to be ‘proven?’ That proof would just affirm what common sense tells us – the surfaces in mass transit and the narrowness of stairwells, subway cars, platforms and bus aisles is a perfect breeding ground for the virus. These are claustrophobic spaces where social distancing is virtually impossible. But let’s flock to mass transit anyway until a commissioned “study” proves what we already know.

      2. Only an advocate for ridding the city of cars would claim that it is one of the most important “movements” of the past decade. Here’s a shock – we are not ridding the city of cars. Any Mayor or City Council that attempts to do so will be promptly voted out of office. Here’s a few reasons why. First, bike lanes and “delivery spots” DO NOT ease congestion, they create congestion because their use is not enforced. Trucks double and triple park, regardless of how many “delivery spots” are created, because a) there’s no economic downside to doing it and b) their goal is to deliver at the store, not a block or two away where the delivery spots exist. Second, Bikes do not use bike lanes. Period. Cyclists enjoy sparring with cars, taxis, trucks and buses on city streets. They do not use bike lanes. Third, the city is not designed as a ‘no-car’ city. Residents’ cars use parking spaces and seldom add to congestion on the streets because (except for the ritual of alt side parking) they remain parked. Car congestion is caused by taxis, Uber/Lyfts and the aforementioned trucks. Why do people use taxis, Ubers and Lyfts? Because New York’s mass transit system is aging and unreliable. Before you rid the city of cars, you have to make mass transit a reliable and attractive alternative. But mass transit infra-structure is deplorable. Ask the new residents of Brooklyn who got stuck with the “L” train disaster. You want folks to give up their cars? Give us world-class mass transit.

      3. The problem with closing streets for pedestrians during the pandemic is simple and obvious – there are thousands of elderly and infirm residents of the city that will get stranded if they have to walk blocks to get a car service or mass transit. How about this, if you close off streets to vehicles (I assume bikes and scooters included) how will deliveries get made, not just UPS, FedEx and USPS (who will simply congest nearby streets and avenues) but food delivery as well. Is that what we want during stay-at-home? Certain residents not able to get deliveries? Of course not.

      4. Finally, what do the ‘no cars’ folks think will happen to all the cars? Will they simply disappear? Will they be abandoned for scrap? Of course not. Upper West Siders will be forced to find other parking for their vehicles, either through exorbitant garages or, worse, by inundating neighborhoods to the north with their cars. How arrogant of Upper West Siders to not consider what will happen to Harlem and Washington Heights if cars are squeezed out of the UWS.

      • Matt H says:

        “3. The problem with closing streets for pedestrians during the pandemic is simple and obvious – there are thousands of elderly and infirm residents of the city that will get stranded if they have to walk blocks to get a car service or mass transit.”

        Oh, make like a tree and get out of here. The idea is to limit driving on these blocks.to low-speed, local-dropoffs-and-pickups-only traffic, not to rule out any sort of driving entirely.

        Sorry, there’s a ton of “OK Boomer” to be found in this comment section in general, but that one’s particularly off-base.

        • mia's dad says:

          That’s funny. ” limit driving on these blocks.to low-speed, local-dropoffs-and-pickups-only traffic” How? The city street speed limit is 25 mph. How many cars go 25 mph? None? Why? Because it’s impossible to enforce. Bikes? Most delivery people are now using motorized bikes and they’re adept at weaving in and out of pedestrians at high speeds. The fact is that unless you block off streets from ALL traffic (like in Central Park), there is no way to enforce “low-speed” traffic. To suggest otherwise is naive.

          • Matt H says:

            Working fine on 74 miles of streets in Oakland. You put up sawhorses, signs that say “shared street, 10mph speed limit”; nothing tricky here, boomerino.

            • pam says:

              Too many people in NY do not obey traffic laws. Totally un-doable.

            • Deb says:

              So move to Oakland if it’s so wonderful there. Manhattan, and especially our UWS, will never be Oakland.

            • Boris says:

              There’s no reason that NY cannot be like Oakland. It’s weak sauce to tell people to move elsewhere when you have nothing significant to say to support your position.

          • Deb says:

            Boris and Matt are parroting the bicycle people who want Manhattan to be like Amsterdam. Maybe you’re not old enough to remember the tv commentator who said, in response to those who were protesting the Vietnam War, “if you don’t like it here, move to Russia”.

      • Stu says:

        Soem hyperbole here, no?

        “Why do people use taxis, Ubers and Lyfts? Because New York’s mass transit system is aging and unreliable.” Actually, most people use these services because its easier and more comfortable. You don’t have to walk anywhere. Or wait in an underground platform. Or sit next to that stranger with blaring headphones or who sits too close to you. The subways, even in their old state, are an incredible benefit to NYers. Take NJ Transit or LIRR and then come back to me.

      • Deb says:

        If we rid the city of cars (which I am against), can we also outlaw the motorcade that takes our mayor to his gym in Brooklyn?

        • UWSHebrew says:

          and the park in Brooklyn! I think DeBlasio is a dangerous combination of extreme arrogance, complete confidence in his lifelong beliefs, and quite dumb. Even for a politician, he takes “no shame” to new levels.

    5. Nevets K says:

      I basically agree with Katherine. I have no problem with a modest overnight fee for street parking. By the way, I’m a street parker who commutes daily (or used to) to teach high school in New Rochelle and who then drives 220 miles each way every other weekend to visit my special needs son at a school in Eastern Massachusetts. And, sorry, nutty “Transportation Alternativo” folks – talk about bourgeois privilege! – taking public transportation to my school in New Rochelle – a distance of twenty miles – would take me two and a half hours each way! (A subway, the shuttle, the Metro North…and then two buses. You try it, TA guys! Or maybe use your bikes from December through March!)
      So, yeah, a modest parking fee sounds fair, maybe two hundred dollars a month, if the money goes for the upkeep of the real transit transit system and not for more “electric bike lanes.”
      And, yes, remove those idiotic “loading zones” on West End. They are a farce in an already failing comedy.
      But I suppose the perks and dinners
      offered by the deep pockets of the TA guys are too much for Helen Rosenthall and the eminences on Community Board 7 to resist.
      (And how many of our local politicians and CB 7 eminences have second homes upstate, where they keep their cars in a garage? Wouldn’t it be fun to find that out!)

    6. Ed says:

      As of yesterday there were about 155,000 reported cases in NYC. That’s serious cases – which is what I’d be concerned about, not the thousands that we believe have not been reported where symptoms are very light or non-existent. So that’s about 2% of the city’s population, or 1 in 50. It will continue to drop before the challenge of riding subways and buses returns. I’m not sure those are bad odds. Based on that, I don’t think I’d have a problem riding in a non-packed subway car, especially if passengers wore masks.

    7. UWS-Scott says:

      Sick and tired of the transportation alternative groups conniving their way into the discourse. Until all members of CB7 Transportation Committee are unbiased, the UWS as a community will never have a voice as a whole. Once again, asking Mark Diller and, if she even bothers to listen to the community, Helen Rosenthal, to remove any member of the Transportation Committee who is also a member of these so called “grass roots” transportation alternatives groups! People need their cars to get to work whereby taking other modes of transportation or just not possible. Where’s the DOT study about traffic here on the UWS now that most trucks are double parked/triple parked on Amsterdam??? (Before the pandemic, obviously – but that problem will return once we return to some sense of normality.)

      • Upper West Side Driver says:

        People should know that, when a story quotes Streetsblog and Streetopia, as this one does, it’s like quoting Chevrolet and Buick.
        Basically they’re the same group, commonly owned, founded, funded and controlled.

        Along with Transportation Alternatives, it’s a conglomerate, largely funded by one very rich person, pretending to be separate groups of actors, classic “Astroturfing” like the Tea Party and the “movement” now to reopen the country.

        And it’s totally coopted the Community Board’s Transpiration Committeed.

        • AB says:

          Give it up. The oligarch has won. The big wigs must have “benefited” from his largesse. Big Money talks.

      • Kevin S says:

        I’m so alarmed and disturbed by comments like this. The only fringe conniving their way into the conversation is a tiny group called “Common Sense Streets”, who seems to have a hugely disproportionate representation on West Side Rag comments despite being a tiny extreme group. CB7 – Mark Diller and the rest- should be doing MORE to support the safety of all us. How dare you accuse people who live here on UWS who demand safe streets as conniving their way into the conversation. No one cares whether members of the CB are members of AAA, so why should they care if they’re members of groups like TA? I drive, I bike, and I walk on the UWS, and I demand our CB7 Trans committee do more to protect our safety on the streets. And guess what- the head of the city council and most other electeds support this agenda- I’m so sick of this fringe Common Sense Streets group pretending like they represent the UWS. I’m terrified of having to bike to work every day because I’m afraid to the take the subway in the corona era. The west side back path is going to be packed! We need lots of more ways for people to get to work safely, and that’s what I demand from our electeds and CB.

        • Nevets K says:

          I understand your concern about safety when you are biking.
          As for myself, I would never bike on any city street whether within a so-called protected bike lane — too many electric bikes speeding by! — or on a typical street – too many buses, trucks, cars, and electric bikes, each with their own speed and agenda!
          Especially if I had a family, I would never be on the streets of New York City on a bicycle! Too much risk of death — foolish! No matter how many so-called “protected bike lanes” are built, they will soon be filled with electric bikes ridden by people who are making their living while you are hoping (praying?) to get to work!
          New York is a crowded, congested, commercially-driven
          city. This fact is what makes bike riding so dangerous in this city. At any moment a truck may turn into you and you are dead. (The best comparison is to the risks taken daily by motorcycle riders.)
          It is not the street parkers on the Upper West Side who are the danger. The danger arises from an impossible mix of speeds and purposes: the most vulnerable – those on bikes – will die, sacrificial lambs to someone’s or some organization’s delusional dream.

    8. BJK says:

      “The implicit concern here is that the coronavirus spreads easily on public transit, a contention that hasn’t been proven . . .”

      Oh please. Have some common sense. Do you really need a double-blind peer-reviewed study to know that the virus spreads easily on subways and buses?

    9. AC says:

      I have not missed a day at work downtown. I’ve been riding the train five days a week back-and-forth from the upper West side down to Cortlandt Street. I practice social distancing throughout the subway, avoid crowds, practice good hygiene, and go for runs in the park every other day in order to keep my immune system healthy. Who is not to say that the MTA workers who tested positive got the virus elsewhere. While the media tends to inform people, at times it also just spreads unnecessary fear. Again, practice social distancing, get into the habit of practicing good hygiene (like avoid touching your face), and keep your immune system healthy – you’ll get through this, whether you ride the Subway, Uber, or just walk.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “Who is not to say that the MTA workers who tested positive got the virus elsewhere” — Who is not to say the MTA workers got the virus where they…work.

        Here is a lovely article about the subway from the NY Post

        https://nypost.com/2020/04/25/passed-out-passengers-trash-fill-subway-cars-amid-coronavirus-crisis/

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          I’m on the 7 train and 1/2/3 every single weekday. are there homeless people? sure. but nothing like what the right wing NY Post described in this article.

          Some groups and people seem to have a political interest in describing as lurid a situation as possible.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            The article shows photos of the E train, and there are numerous reports of homeless horrors on the C train. Looks like you’re on the luxury subway lines.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              … or maybe the Murdoch NY Post is cherry-picking incidents for the purpose of political agitation.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            I spoke too soon, looks like your 2 train has literally gone down the toilet, maybe the offender is a right-wing NY post plant?

            https://nypost.com/2020/04/27/subway-operator-confronted-by-defecating-straphanger-on-2-train/

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              i was on the 2 train this AM from 96th to Times Square, and watched as it came through the station to try and ocunt homeless. Maybe zero or one homeless people in the whole train.

              who am I going to believe, you and the NY Post, or my lying eyes?

              Sure, there are homeless people on the subway. As a percentage of people on the trains, they are much higher, since far fewer working people are on the trains. I also don’t doubt that one can find disgusting incidents, and publicize them.

              And it should be remembered that only essential workers should be taking the subway right now.

              But to try to scare people, especially seniors, with a false picture of mass chaos in our streets and on our trains is reprehensible, and clearly has a right wing political agenda. If people have important errands, they should put on masks and gloves, observe social distancing, and carry them out!

              In the neighborhoods I frequent, including the UWS, it is actually very quiet and pleasant right now.

            • Jay says:

              I’ve been on the 2 and 3 trains several times in the past couple of weeks and you are not correct about the number of homeless on the trains.

              I don’t think there are a lot more than there normally are, but to say only one or two is disingenuous.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              i did a count of the 2 train as it came through the station this AM. it was going fairly slowly and i was able to see through the window of every car.

              the number on that particular train was either zero or 1. One guy was lying on a bench, but since there were so few people on the train, he might not have been homeless. he looked decently dressed.

              “disingenuous” is another way to call me a liar. I would appreciate it if you apologized. i don’t know how you can dispute my claims as to who was on a particular train.

              you have been in the subway “once or twice” in the last few weeks. I am on it every day.

              are there homeless on the trains? sure. should more outreach take place? absolutely. have homeless taken over the subways? no way.

              to try to paint a picture of a city out of control is simply right wing fear mongering. With everything that has gone on, as a worker in the public hospital system, I’m just sick of this garbage. to put it bluntly.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Bruce…here is a disturbing subway homeless video…can a video be right wing?

            https://nypost.com/2020/04/28/video-shows-how-extensive-nyc-subway-homeless-problem-is/

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Bruce: here is Governor Cuomo attacking DeBlasio for “the disgusting homeless situation in the the subway”. Is Cuomo right wing?

            https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8266671/Cuomo-slams-disgusting-disrespectful-homeless-situation-NYC-subways.html

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              i read the article. Cuomo didn’t attack DeB, but his MTA puppet did.

              I hope you are aware that Cuomo runs and is responsible for the subway system, not DeBlasio. And thus Cuomo correctly noted that “I will do better.” But i guess you want to use any excuse to attack De Blasio.

              Apparently the problem is with trains that sit at the end of the line all night. Thus, I wouldn’t see them. This morning i took the 3 train and it went through the station too fast to look in every car, but in the cars at the end, there were no homeless people. Also i saw no homeless in my long ride on the 7 line this AM.

              Now someone will accuse me of lying!

              I do see more homeless, including on the 96th street platform, if i come home late at night. Last night there were 2 or 3 on the uptown platform at 96th.

              Is Cuomo a right winger? No, he is a centrist. But the NY Post is right wing, and the Post is always trying to stir up hatred towards liberals, De Blasio, the Black and Hispanic communities, and others. Since when does the NY Post care about the homeless, or about public workers (transit workers)?

              Cuomo is right that the situation needs to be corrected. You sir, are wrong that this is a situation throughout the transit system, or that the trains are filled with homeless. It’s a longstanding right wing tactic to take a situation out of context and blow it up, stoking fear. Given what we’re going through, it has grown more tiring than usual, at least for me.

              The city is not out of control. The homeless have not taken over the streets and trains. Murderers are not rampaging through our incredibly quiet streets.

              On the other hand, people could do a better job of maintaining social distancing and following mask regulations, including at public funerals and in parks.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Your excuse making and denial of facts reported because it interrupts your political beliefs is astonishing to read.

    10. Paul says:

      The writer says “in the long-term,” as if the long term can be predicted, and kind of assumes we’re going back to some pre-virus level of ‘normal’ That is no a safe assumption, not by a long shot.
      Now is not the time to consider long term policy.

      Also, it’s sad to see a reference to car deaths from someone who’s been covering these stories as West Sider has been.
      The carnage is caused by people who drive for money, truckers, bus drivers and cabbies (including Uber). People who drive for money speed and cut corners. Take away the private cars? They’ll just drive faster, which is exactly what we are seeing during this crisis.

    11. Christine says:

      Please — NO MORE cars! It’s been so quiet the last month+ in the city. Listen to the birds chirp, not the horns honk. And have you checked out the improved air quality lately, the world over?

      If you want more cars move to the ‘burbs. Go away, this is a city made for people on the street, not locked in their metal and glass tanks.

      • mia's dad says:

        By no more cars you mean taxis, Ubers, Lyfts and trucks, i.e. all commercial vehicles?

        You may not have kept up with the news, but the reason the streets are empty is that no one is leaving their apartment.

        • Christine says:

          Thanks for man-splaining, Mia’s dad! I hadn’t heard — is something happening right now? Do tell!

      • Nevets K says:

        Dear Christine,
        I apologize for living on the Upper West side, losing my job during the months after the World Center bombing, and then getting hired as a high school teacher by a school district in the suburbs, needing a car to get there – rather than commuting two and a half hours each way, every day, by public transportation: a subway, the shuttle, Metro North, and then two Bee-line buses.

        I also apologize for having a son who was struck by schizophrenia when he was 14 and who my wife and I visit every other weekend at his special needs school
        in eastern Massachusetts, a drive of 220 miles each way.
        I also apologize for our not taking public transportation to visit him on these weekends, which would take nine to ten hours each way.
        And of course, I apologize for not having foreseen all of this in advance and therefore for not having moved “to the ‘burbs,” where, according to your wishes, I could have a car.
        I also like bird songs – but your song not so much.

        • Jay says:

          If your lifestyle needs a car, then you should pay for its parking. We don’t need to subsidize your free parking.

          • AB says:

            Agree. Residential parking stickers paid for with monthly fees as they do so successfully in most other cities. Easy. Fair. What’s all the fuss about?

        • Boris says:

          Guilting people is shameful and does not make your case stronger. Everyone thinks they’re the only ones who have a special situation.

          I especially don’t understand the outsized attention given to providing free parking to building workers. Why should they get special treatment at the expense of others? If they’re so essential to someone’s building, then the owners should provide them with paid parking at their expense. Building workers are no different than anyone I need to bring to my building for my purposes and needs. They’re all workers and none should receive preferential treatment.

      • Love Birdsongs says:

        The reason the streets are so quiet now is that there are NO CONSTRUCTION/RENOVATION TRUCKS/GRINDERS/VANS!!!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Actually Christine, a city by definition is noise, especially the noise of transportation, including cars, buses and trucks. If you like to hear the birdies chirp, it is you who should take your own advice; move to the burbs or upstate New York. Lots of heavily wooded forested areas upstate, plenty of birdies chirping to hear. BRING ON THE NOISE!

      • Linda says:

        Christine- if you would like to listen to the birds chirp perhaps you should move to the burbs

        • Leon says:

          Agreed. Some people are so entitled.

          Also to note is that I know a number of doctors and nurses who live in the city who use cars to get them to the hospitals they work at – those overnight shifts don’t staff themselves and public transit is not optimal then. But of course, they are just totally selfish for inconveniencing Christine by trying to save lives…

    12. jem says:

      Prior to the COVID-19 catastrophe, mass transit – subways and buses – were suffering.
      This sadly is not new news.
      Bus service had been reduced significantly – bus routes and frequency.
      Since 2010 – impacting the West Side – there have been route and service cuts to the M5, M7, M10 and M104.

      The COVID impact on the MTA is unimaginable.

      Right now all transportation funding and policy should be focused on bus and subway mass transit!
      Not bicycles!

      As for the West Side right now, seems to me that CB7 and local officials should be concentrating on the surging rat population.

      • Jay says:

        There’s been no transportation funding focused on bicycles since this crisis started. In fact all funding for bike lanes has been pulled for the rest of the fiscal year. So, no idea what you are are talking about.

        • Paul says:

          With the massive reduction in traffic we can ride our bikes down the middle of streets and avenues.

          Accordingly, why should there be any concern about “transportation funding focused on bicycles since this crisis started?”
          As of now there is no money for any funding.

          Let’s see what “normal” becomes before expenditures on capital projects.

      • Boris says:

        Bicycle critics are a strange lot. They work backwards to establish some (faulty) reasoning having already decided they don’t like bikes because of their own inabilities to participate in such activity. I don’t know anyone who bikes even a miniscule amount that would come up with such redundant and insignificant complaints about cyclists’ behavior without taking into account their own pedestrian behavior that puts themselves at risk. I would bet that 99.9% of the complaints come from people who cannot participate for whatever reason and are bitter about that.

        I can point to numerous fraud, abuse, excess, & waste in citywide spending that far exceed what’s spent on bicycle infrastructure. How about attacking those instead? Bicycle infrastructure is generally not a recurring expense and delivers a big bang for the buck compared to other projects and programs that suck money from us. If the current trends continue, the population of regular cyclists will grow greatly in one generation. It will become a way of life just like in other countries that found ways to develop and manage the infrastructure.

    13. robert says:

      Closing B’way is ridicules
      There would need to be a number of NYPD on each block for safety. Before you say it think—-
      If not the NYPD who will enforce social distancing?? Who will make sure that cars parked on that block can be safely moved and or returned. With alt side off cxl parking down this ave is a none starter as there is no place to put them. NYPD need to also be there for security, you can call it unreal but a large open area of people could be a target of opportunity for someone to drive a car into.

      What about the deliveries to all the food markets, delis, bodegas etc Who/how would they be safely guided through these people

      And last but not least Broadway is a posted “intrastate truck route”, meaning that the NYS DOT would need to ok it before changes were made as the trucks would then have to be diverted. (Think how that will effect WEA) This would require series of public hearings and a public comment period etc. No, it could not be done with emergency powers as it is not a needed remedy. Trucking companies, the bodega assoc of the city etc have all quietly told the state they will seek injuctions if its tried. NYPD does not currently have the numbers for this type of detail. Besides their regular duties there has been a large spike in commercial burglaries on the UWS as well a large amount of package thefts. Before this C19 situation the numbers show that over 15% off packages in NYC where stolen, since then the number has greatly risen.
      The dept has moved things around and is working very hard but even with social distancing and a large number of the cities residents not going out or have left…..
      Citywide is up 4.63% this year, on the UWS the 20th (59th to 86th street) up 11.27% and the 24 (86th to 110th) up 11.86% By and large its driven by burglaries 27.1, -2.9 and 163.6 percent respectively.

      They need to be able to spend time fighting crime and protecting us, not acting as a babysitting service.

      • Deb says:

        Robert’s missive provides the best case to proofread in order to check for spelling and punctuation errors, as well as making sure your opinion makes sense when you re-read it, before hitting the “post comment” button.

        • Jay says:

          Holy run-on sentence, Deb.

          You know the old saying… Don’t throw stones in glass houses.

          • Deb says:

            Jay – It’s not a run-on sentence. Granted, it is a long sentence, but definitely not a run-on sentence

    14. Former Pedestrian says:

      HelenD: Yesterday on West 74th Street motorcycles screamed right down the car-empty street out to CPW through all the lights, almost took out a family walking in the street with masks on. The rest of it is all true as well. Sorry to tell you. Be very careful if you are walking. Much more so than before.

      • HelenD says:

        Thank you for the warning, I appreciate it. I heard something thunderous (maybe overly dramatic) coming from that area yesterday, and it seemed to go on for a while but I couldn’t make out what it was. I thought maybe trucks or jets. I’m really debating whether to go or not. I know there are car services advertising for riders right now but I think that may be even riskier than walking. : (

    15. I Also Love Birds says:

      How nice for you that you can afford to buy a car on a moment’s notice. I chose to live on the UWS because even though most of my paycheck goes to rent, I love the neighborhood feeling and the fact that a car is unnecessary.

      And let’s be real – if you have enough money to own a car in Manhattan, you’re probably less likely to be part of the groups facing the most serious health complications from this virus.

      • your_neighbor says:

        The groups that are facing the most serious health complications from this virus are the elderly, the obese and those with serious pre-existing respiratory conditions.
        What do any of those have to do with owning a car?

    16. JS says:

      I don’t mean to be snarky, but it is ironic and strange…..

      in my building, the fervent cyclists are the people who (even before COVID) are the biggest users of ecommerce delivery – and thus they are actual vehicle users….
      They daily deliveries – Amazon, meal kit services, Fresh Direct, bottled water and more…..

      • Boris says:

        Some people just can’t avoid taking a needless swipe at bicycles. The two activities don’t have to be mutually exclusive for there to be overall societal benefits. Any instance of someone not using a car for either transportation or deliveries is preferred to the person who uses cars for both. Your observation doesn’t provide any value unless you’re suggesting they switch to more fossil-fuel burning transportation just to be consistent.

        • JS says:

          Boris,
          The folks in my building could actually walk to a store instead of getting delivery daily.

          • Boris says:

            That’s an absurd attempt to alter the meaning and intent of what you said. Your comment makes it pretty clear that you were referring to practically anything they buy.

            “They daily deliveries – Amazon, meal kit services, Fresh Direct, bottled water and more…..”

            To say that they can just walk to a store doesn’t take into account items that cannot be purchased that way. Can you walk a few blocks to buy and carry home everything you need? Ultimately, those items have to be delivered by some means. There is an efficiency to having systems and methods that get the products people need directly to them rather than being handled by multiple intermediate transportation methods. You have some ridiculous fantasy that our vehicular congestion problem would disappear if people stopped getting deliveries. Do you think there was no traffic before the surge in online shopping?

            • UWS-Scott says:

              Boris,
              By your logic, if all cars were not fossil fuel burning machines, would it then be ok if the cars remained in the city?
              Furthermore, you mention deliveries and congestion. The congestion has only worsened because now with deliveries, the bike lanes are forcing traffic into two lanes instead of three when there used to be four.

    17. Marilyn says:

      Cars are the only answer for those who have compromised immune systems and are disabled, meaning walking and biking not an option. People die on bikes too. We need electric cars, NOT electric bikes, and better CAFE standards. Don’t pretend like a cab will ever be safe for an immune compromised person.

      • New technologies like small self driving vehicles will make cars more prevalent and usable for non drivers. Cabs will eventually all be self driving. We can have smaller buses in the van size category like jitneys. We have seen technology change how bicycles are being used in NYC. Electric bikes and scooters are more common. Disabled individuals are using their electric wheelchairs to get around. Citibike has made bikes accessible to non owners. Apps on cell phones are calling cabs. Tech will definitely establish how the streets are used.

    18. Kevin S says:

      I’m so excited for the city’s announcement that streets all over NYC will be opened for walkers. This is so major for making our city safer and more livable. I wish our CB7 Chair Mark Diller and the rest of the CB7 members/Transportation committee would be doing more to protect the lives of local residents from dangerous drivers, and to give the streets to a more shared experience where pedestrians aren’t crammed into tiny sidewalks where they can’t safely social distance.

      I’m a driver too, and am happy that people who need access to cars can do so. But I’m alarmed that a fringe group called “Common Sense Streets” is holding our neighborhood hostage to a radical minority viewpoint and misrepresenting the UWS. This group is so insane that they prioritize free parking over people’s lives. I’m proud to be in the majority who want safe streets and an end to the total dominance of cars- not an end to cars- just for a more sane balance! On the UWS, there is just not enough sidewalk space for all of us to get where we need to go, and opening the streets to walkers and others is so crucial to our lives!

      Look at how world class cities all over the world are opening up streets more for pedestrians – it’s beautiful. More of this now, and more of this post-Covid!

      • Upper West Side Driver says:

        I’m not sure why you had to post the same comment twice, but I’m happy to reply twice.

        28,000 households with 70,000 residents in this community own cars. That’s not a “fringe.” Census data shows that far more people here use these cars to reverse commute than the number who bike to work in normal times.

        And nobody knows how many non-car owners do or don’t agree with you, but my guess is most have no problem with an age-old practice that makes it easier for their friends and families visit them and would regret a set of rules that made visits harder. Your claim that opponents of the anti-car movement are a radical minority is pure nonsense.

        The Astroturfed anti-car movement had many millions of dollars and took at least 15 years to organize with zero opposition. It sprung a “get rid of cars” resolution on this Community last year.

        In response an actual grassroots movement has begun to form, with no funding, no rich angel, and no support.

        Can anyone here imagine a fan of a Koch Brothers financed group resenting the opposition as some ‘radical minority’?

        • Jay says:

          Only 6% of people on the UWS used a car to get to work in 2017. Hardly a lot more than bicycles and those commuting by bicycle is growing a lot more in popularity, which should be encouraged.

    19. Jason Haber says:

      Hey all – great comments in here. Really interesting. I gave a recent lecture on this and had some proposals:
      1. Change CPW into a northbound only street. Re-grade the bike lane so its on the level of the side walk and expand it so its a two-way bike lane. Separate the bike lane from the side walk by ringing it with Apple trees (that anyone can pick in season).
      2. Create neighborhood based street parking system, by Community Board. If you live in that CB zone, you can park for free. If you don’t, you will pay for street parking.
      3. Create a new network of highways – but just for bikes. This has been done successfully in Norway and China.

    20. We probably don’t need to close streets. At best a lane. The following video shows traffic and sidewalk activity at Amsterdam and 86th Street.

      https://youtu.be/LeTM2aDTOMM

    21. Ruth Bonnet says:

      If you want a car, that’s great. Move to New Rochelle.

      • Nevets K says:

        Ruth,
        Kindly take a few moments to read Nevets K comment from April 26 at 1:30 pm. It’s in response to Christine.
        Thanks and all the best.

    22. Marty G says:

      I’ve been in the neighborhood for a long time and over always liked jason Haber’s ideas, especially on transportation. I saw his Robert Moses lecture last year and it was inspiring (he, not Moses). Why isn’t he running for the city council or something like that?

    23. Al Fresco says:

      If you are going to close streets, use some of that space for al fresco dining so that restaurants can open, produce jobs, customers, income.

      Bikes? Not so much.