Curbside Space Wars

Nov_2006_022_1.jpg
Private cars blocking service vehicles on W. 86th St. between Columbus and Amsterdam

There are many users of curbside space in New York City. Taxis, School Buses, Access-A-Ride and other private automobiles need curbside space to pick up and drop off people, often disabled, elderly or children. Trucks making deliveries to businesses and residents need curbside space to load and unload goods and packages. These are essential needs. Kids have to get to school. People with health issues need to see their doctors. Residents in taxis need access to their buildings.

But currently all of these needs are subservient to something far more frivolous -- free curbside parking for the owners of private automobiles. The owners of private cars have another option -- indoor parking garages. While this may not be affordable for everyone, that misses the point. We should be aiming to discourage people from parking on city streets that consume valuable curbside space as well as minimizing the number of cars driving around this city.

As you can see in the typical scene above, a phalanx of private automobiles blocks the right-of-way of a school bus, a UPS truck and a Fed Ex truck as well as several other vehicles trying to pick up and drop off people at the doctor's office further down the street. A six lane street is reduced to only one lane in each direction causing traffic to bottle up in every direction.

Why not accept that there are many legitimate reasons to access the curb and assign them each a place suited to their importance? Why not charge market rates for curbside parking? Why not stand up to the elite minority of New York City residents who benefit from free curbside parking to the detriment of the rest of us?