Skip to comments.Image of asthmatic girl is used to promote NYC traffic-fee plan
Posted on 07/05/2007 3:43:42 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
NEW YORK (AP) -- An image of a sad-looking little girl squeezing an asthma inhaler is being used to pressure state lawmakers into approving Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial plan to reduce traffic and pollution by charging motorists who drive into Manhattan. The tag line: ``She cannot hold her breath waiting for Albany to act.''
The flier is being mailed this week to 350,000 households throughout the city, urging residents to call lawmakers in Albany. The state legislature would have to come back for a special session to approve the plan before a July 16 application deadline for federal funding.
Bloomberg's plan calls for a three-year pilot program that would charge drivers a fee $8 for cars and $21 for trucks in the city's most heavily congested zone. His administration says it would force more people onto mass transit, thereby reducing traffic and improving air quality, particularly for children who suffer from asthma.
``Does anybody want to look a parent in the eye and say, 'Well, we can wait for your child, we'll do it down the road, just let your child continue to breathe worse air than we could have had if we had the courage to stand up?' I don't think anybody wants to make that call,'' Bloomberg said Thursday at a rally staged to show support for his proposal.
Medical studies, including one published in the Lancet earlier this year, have found links between air pollution and respiratory ailments. But it is unclear how much the traffic fee scheme would ultimately change the city's asthma problem.
The Bloomberg administration predicts that traffic would decrease by 6 percent inside the zone, which is the business district on the lower half of Manhattan, but the city's asthma rates are highest in poor neighborhoods that are outside that area.
Backers of the traffic proposal, who include environmentalists and a number of elected officials, say that those outer communities would also benefit from the reduction in traffic, since many of the thruways leading into Manhattan snake through those neighborhoods.
But the mayor's plan does not have hard numbers on how much traffic, or asthma rates, would decrease in those areas, although city officials did provide some numbers on Thursday. Projections are that traffic would decrease by 1.8 percent in the Bronx, 1.5 percent in Brooklyn and 1.2 percent in Queens. The decline may seem small, city officials said, but it is significant because much of the relief would be concentrated on major arteries such as Flatbush Avenue.
And some opponents of the plan believe traffic in outer areas would actually increase because many people would still drive from their homes to places outside the zone where they could then get on subways and buses into Manhattan.
In London, where drivers have been charged traffic fees since 2003, residents complain about the ``parking lots'' that have formed outside the zone. Within it, traffic thinned by 20 percent and carbon emissions similarly decreased, Mayor Ken Livingstone said at a May environmental summit of mayors in New York.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, an outspoken critic of New York City's congestion pricing plan, said using the asthmatic little girl to push the plan is more of a political tactic than anything based on substance.
``The mayor should be applauded for raising this important subject of asthma, but his response seems to be anyone who opposes him wants to poison kids,'' Weiner said. ``The mayor's car tax is not a cure for asthma what it is is a giant bureaucracy funded by a regressive tax.''
A spokesman for Knickerbocker SKD, the company that produced the image, could not provide the age or name of the child featured on the flier, which was described as a stock photo. The campaign was paid for by the Partnership for New York City, a business group that is a chief supporter of the mayor's scheme.
The city health department says the number of New Yorkers with asthma has increased in the past two decades, although hospitalizations have declined. Among children, the hospitalization rate was 43 percent lower in 2005 than in 1997, with fewer than 9,000 compared with nearly 15,000. While it declined, the child hospitalization rate is still three times higher than the national rate, the health department said.
Ken Livingstone would be proud.
The “fee” will simply be a tax on the commuters who drive a mile or less straight from a bridge/tunnel to a parking garage.
If they really want to make a difference, they should give electric taxicabs a tax break, and electrify their buses.
Study Finds Asthma In 25% of Children In Central Harlem - New York ...
|New York City is thought to have a higher rate than other major cities, ... Several asthma researchers say they know of no well-documented level above 20 ...
query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9F03E6DE153AF93AA25757C0A9659C8B63 - 23k -
New York's asthma rates reveal social disparities
Whoever wrote this piece owes me a new keyboard."Pilot program"? Anyone who believes that the "experiment" would be declared a failure surely believes in the Easter Bunny as well.
Is the objective to reduce congestion or to reduce pollution?
If the goal is just to reduce pollution, then electric cars should be exempt from the fee. If the objective is to reduce congestion, then the fee should apply to all vehicles.
What no one is talking about is that the congestion pricing plan, like the one in London, is a anti-terrorist system. It will probably increase the amount of surveillance cameras fivefold and include facial recognition software, like London’s.
Of course, as last week proves, the presence of more cameras does not provide a magic bullet against terrorism, but expect more of this in large cities.