Chalking the High Line

I rushed to the Meatpacking District hoping to catch some of this Julia Mandle/High Line performance. The weather was gorgeous, and the kids looked like they were having fun (if starting to wane...I have the feeling walking in those shoes may be harder than it looks). Here's a set of images.


Chalking the High Line

The High Line is set to open sometime this spring. In anticipation, Julia Mandle Performance is chalking the High Line with NYC Lab School. A performance will be held on April 16 on the streets of the Meatpacking District from 12:30 to 1:30. Julia Mandle does amazing work with public spaces. I had the pleasure of helping participating in the Variable City: Fox Square project years ago.


How about emission pricing then?

I'm almost speechless about all that went down about congestion pricing. What I can manage to say is that I found this fascinating LA Times article about London converting its congestion pricing scheme to a carbon emissions pricing scheme. Vehicles with the highest emissions will be levied a high charge than hybrid vehicles, which have the lowest emissions (though I believe there is still a nominal charge for entering the congestion zone.) From the article:

Record producer Jonathan Shalit doesn't need his Mercedes 500 SL for the drive from his house in Kensington across town to his office in Soho. But he likes it, and he can afford it.

"Someone like me who has a big, fat, gas-guzzling Mercedes 500 probably deserves to be taxed to the hilt. I like big cars, and I'm wealthy enough," said Shalit, who is probably best known for discovering singer Charlotte Church.

On the other hand, Shalit already has picked up on London's ubiquitous green zeitgeist, and even before the new CO2 charge debuts, he's started riding his bicycle to work three days a week. Last month -- even he couldn't believe it -- he test drove a new Lexus hybrid.

"I'd have to say overall, I'm not convinced [the charge] is bad. If I'm really honest. Because we have to do something drastic in London," Shalit said. "I do know that London's too crowded. I do know there are fumes about. It's a fundamental challenge citizens have, how do we go forward and deal with the challenge in big cities?

"And when all the rhetoric's over, no one's got a better idea."

I just came back from ULI sustainable development conference, and I have to say after two full days of listening to bottom-line-driven developers tackling the issue of sustainability (what a different 12 months makes! this is so different than last year's conference), I think there could be something to this carbon emissions scheme. Local governments are racing to regulate and place limits on carbon emissions. Even if our federal government won't ratify the Kyoto Protocol, our cities and states will push on it.

Speaking of local politics, it will also be interesting to see if Ken Livingstone gets re-elected this May.


Inflatable street art

By Joshua Allen Harris, via Wooster Collective.

Ramblings about congestion pricing

It's not entirely won yet. I'm not trying to sound hard-hearted, but nearly every time I bring up congestion pricing with someone who is opposed to it, they talk about the "tremendous burden" it is going to give all the "poor" people who HAVE to drive. OK, then, let's talk (briefly) about this.

Source: Mayor's congestion pricing proposal; has anyone done a check on it?

Well, in fact, only a small fraction of people drive to the CBD to work from each borough. This small fraction is also much less than the percentage of low- and middle-income families in each borough. Is this small fraction mostly made up of low- and middle-income families? I'm not sure; it would be good to find out.

This is not taking into account people driving in from New Jersey or from New York State and Connecticut, of which there are also low- and middle-income families who can no longer live (or would rather not live due to cultural/societal/economic preferences) in New York City proper. Talk of using the congestion pricing funds to beef up the transit capacity, such as that of NJ Transit rail and bus rapid transit then devolves into a discussion about the general corruption of local government. Oh boy. There are some who just don't trust government. But without trusting the public sector (as much as is reasonable, given the latest hijinks), then who can you believe in to do this stuff? The private sector? Though the private sector can be a great ally, no thank you; don't forget, you have no say over who works in the private sector. (See somewhat related post about Jane Jacobs a couple days ago). This sounds more sarcastic than it's intended, though I do feel that people often forget that the "free market" has no responsibility for "poor" people at all.

Anyway, to get away from the useless circle talk of "government-is-out-to-get-poor-and-we can't-trust-our-government-anyway" I leave you with this poster made by the Town of Muenster, Germany, to drive the point of different modes of commuting home.

Car: Based on an average occupancy of 1.2 people per car, 60 cars are needed to transport 72 people, which takes 1,000 square meters (3281 SF).
Bus: 72 people can be transported on 1 bus, which only requires 30 square meters (90 SF) of space and no permanent parking space, since it can be parked elsewhere.
Bicycle: 72 people are transported on 72 bikes, which requires 90 square meters (295 SF).

P.S. Don't forget to call your State reps to encourage them to support congestion pricing before next Monday. You can find out who your State rep is here: www.lwvnyc.org/TRY_find.html.


5 Min in New Canaan