Sunday, June 12, 2005

Keep your cars off our island, please.

So what’s the big idea? What should New York City ask of the rest of the country?

I walk to work every day. I walk almost everywhere. I take the subway about once a week, and taxis less often than that. I have had enough of being bullied by automobiles of every shape and size, from all corners of the country, as I cross the street.

It amazes me that out-of-towners have no respect for human life. Perhaps they’re unfamiliar with pedestrians. Or — not that it should make any difference when bearing down a two-ton colossus on a human being — they’re not used to American citizens on foot, just a scurrying underclass. In any case, I refuse to scurry, and I won’t be surprised if I’m run over for it some day.

Does any tourist need an automobile? Surely they don’t need cars more than the millions of New Yorkers who do without. I don’t think that it it’s a stretch to say that, if we arrange for ample and reasonably-priced parking at train stations on all corners of Manhattan, we’d be doing them a favor by requiring that they check their Durangos at the door.

Like everyone else, I’ve also been run down by taxis and drivers who, unfortunately, reside in the city limits. But on the whole, out of state cars have a corner on the Manhattanite terrorizing market. They’re plain ignorant on city driving, and disrespectful when they should be grateful for the privilege to drive here. (I know you don’t honk your horn in the South — I’m from there! — so what makes you think you can do it here? Shut the hell UP!)

Though taxis seem to be driven by speed-crazed maniacs, there’s a consistency (and therefore predictability) to their antics. They rarely intrude into crosswalks during red lights, and they know to look for hapless walkers when they make right and left turns. (Praise God!) I hate taxis, but given they choice, I’d take them over lost John Deere drivers any day.

So who, exactly, would I permit to drive a vehicle into Manhattan?

  1. Anyone whose drivers’ license address lies in New York City.
  2. Anyone driving a commercial vehicle registered for business in the city (taxis, shipping vehicles, etc.).

Everyone else can just suck it. The lives saved from the reduced traffic volume would be justification enough, compounded by the worst-of-the pack status of the driver’s we’d eliminate.

From a New Yorker’s perspective, you’d stand to benefit greatly whether you’re a driver or not. Drivers would know that their precious automobiles are safer from being “totaled” on the streets, and walkers would know that their precious bodies are safer from being “crushed” by the next Hummer from Hackettstown. The only New Yorkers who lose big are parking garage owners, whose current embarrassingly high prices would have to come down to attract more city folk to use their services, or their real estate freed up for some more useful enterprise.

Can we do this? I would expect immediate protest and bureaucratic road-blocks from state and national government. We need to fight for it, but we can win. This city has suffered the gravest terrorist attack in the history of the world for Christ’s sake: we have to look after our safety!

So long as we let any licensed driver from anywhere in the world drive a vehicle into Manhattan, we’re leaving a tempting hole open for the next attack. As our police force has informed us, a suicide bombing van in front of the mythical freedom towers (or the less mythical Chrysler and Empire State buildings) could bring them down. We can not count on every licensing authority in the country to flag terrorists; we can only hope that our own can.

Terrorism is not my greatest concern, to be completely honest. What can I say, I’m scared to death of glitzy, boat-sized vehicles driven by similarly overgrown and misplaced nihilists-on-wheels. These people must be stopped, for a host of reasons, and the sooner the better.