First Post-Election Business for City Council: Making Traffic Worse

Looks like the City Council is ready to assert itself in the wake of Michael Bloomberg's underwhelming re-election to a third term. They've chosen to draw a line in the sand, apparently, by creating more congestion on New York City's streets.

council_members_rip.jpgTo signal their displeasure with law enforcement, Council members David Weprin, Simcha Felder, and Vincent Gentile ripped up parking tickets on the steps of City Hall. Photo: Daily Politics.
This morning, the transportation committee, still helmed by Comptroller-elect John Liu, considered bills to create a five-minute "grace period" for muni-meter and alternate-side parking, and to hand out more parking placards to members of the clergy. The Post and AM New York report that both bills will likely sail through the council with enough votes to override Bloomberg's expected veto.

According to Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr. the bills are "an attempt to legislate common sense and discretion." But really, what we have here is old-fashioned pandering combined with a failure to comprehend the consequences of giving away curb space.

The council calls it a "grace period," but what does it really mean to ban parking agents from issuing a ticket until five minutes after the allotted time expires? Well, if you drive somewhere and pay for 40 minutes of metered parking, now you get 45 minutes. The bill gives on-street parkers more bang for their buck -- a subsidy for the minority of New Yorkers who get around by private car.

With less turnover of metered spaces, drivers will double-park more and cruise around longer as they search for open spots. Whether you're walking, biking, riding a bus, or driving, you'll have to contend with more traffic clogging up the streets.

The expansion of parking placards for clergy will have the same effect -- more free curb space for an entitled class of drivers, with less to go around for everyone else. The bill flies in the face of placard-reduction policies that the Bloomberg administration began enacting in 2008 with an eye toward cutting congestion.

City Room reports that Bloomberg, predicting "chaos and enormous increases in contested tickets," is ready to veto the grace period bill. A council override would not augur well for the next four years of New York City transportation policy.