I want to bring up for your consideration three items that I think are worthy of attention:
1) On Tuesday night I attended the monthly general meeting of Manhattan Community Board 12, which serves the area from West 155th Street up to the northern tip of the island. At the meeting, elected officials and local residents spoke of a dire need for more schools to be built in the area because overcrowding has become an epidemic in Washington Heights and Inwood. Despite this, the only school site up for discussion last night, 268-284 Dyckman Street, between Payson Avenue and Henshaw Street, was roundly opposed by residents of two buildings on upper Riverside Drive adjacent to the site. The residents said construction of the new school would cause rodents to enter their building, increase traffic, take away 400 parking spaces and undermine the foundation of the building, located apparently on landfill, which could lead to the building’s collapse!
2) Curbed today had an item on a group called stopoursupersizing.com, which is opposed to a new apartment building in Williamsburg. The group put out a flier that claims the building will: cause higher rents, higher taxes, more crowded subways, more traffic, less parking, and lacked affordable housing.
3) Naparstek.com, which is quickly becoming my favorite web site, carried an item back in July that recounted efforts to persuade business owners in Park Slope, Brooklyn, that a bike lane would be a good thing for Fifth Avenue there. They eventually won the bike lane, but the process caused Mr. Naparstek to comment: “In the end, the most amazing thing about the anti-bike neighborhood conservatives was that each and every one of them complained about too much traffic and lack of parking.” [Emphasis added.]
Notice a theme here? Most people love lots of parking but hate traffic. (Even motorists hate traffic, even though they help create it.) But these attitudes are all a result of people thinking about some small area in isolation. Nobody seems to grasp the parking/traffic connection. Overall, the way to decrease traffic is to decrease parking. Because gas is so cheap in the U.S., relative to other countries, the most effective way to discourage people from driving is to make parking a hassle or prohibitively expensive. The more parking spaces you have, the more traffic you will have. Period.