Chart: There Is No "War On Cars" in New York City

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Chart: There Is No "War On Cars" in New York City Chart: There Is No "War On Cars" in New York City
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Chart: There Is No "War On Cars" in New York City

by Ben Jervey

March 2, 2011

"The city’s war on automobiles has just gone aerial," crowed the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post in January. "Some might say there is a 'war on cars' going on in New York City," whined the Rupert Murdoch-owned My Fox News New York last Fall.

The media—particularly the Rupert Murdoch-owned media—loves for there to be a "war on" something or other that embodies the conservative status quo. A few years ago it was the "war on Christmas." Now it's the "war on cars."

Fortunately, the fine folks at Streetsblog have produced this revealing chart that shows how much of New York City's street space has been turned over from automobile-dominated use in the past three or so years:


Credit Noah Kazis with crunching the numbers. Kazis explains:

While the DOT under Janette Sadik-Khan has made incredibly important steps to improve safety and mobility for New Yorkers, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of New York City’s streets remain about the same. We did some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate just how much street space has been reallocated from drivers to pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders in recent years. The answer: not a whole lot.

In fact, we estimate that less than one half of one percent of NYC’s street space has changed in the past three and a half years...And that’s with the generous assumption that on-street bike lanes and bus lanes aren’t constantly encroached upon by motor vehicles.

Click through for details about how they calculated the area devoted to bike lanes, new bus lanes, and new pedestrian space. The takeaway, to my mind, is that there is no "war on cars," except to the motor-mad Murdoch-owned media, and to the the wealthy minority of car owners in New York City. And it is a considerable minority: As of 2000, the last census data available, 54 percent of New York City households neither owned nor leased a vehicle, and looking at Manhattan alone, that number jumps to 78 percent.

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