Volume 78 - Number 24 / NOVEMBER 12 - 18, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Editorial

Time to think even greener

 In his historic acceptance speech, Barack Obama referred to “the enormity of the task that lies ahead.” “The challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime,” he said, “two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.”

“A planet in peril.” Indeed. That our president elect is so clearly committed to tackling global warming and sustainability is enormously encouraging after eight years of Bush ignoring the evidence and the issues.

Obama has often repeated his goal of encouraging research and development of renewable energy, and that sort of forward thinking is just what our country — and our planet — need right now.

Mayor Bloomberg has also been on the mark in his “green” initiatives.

This week, it was announced the city will require new buildings to include indoor bicycle parking. That’s great news, since it will foster bicycle commuting — nonpolluting, healthy transportation that relieves congestion. The city should also explore ways of encouraging existing buildings to provide similar facilities.

In the same vein, the creation of bike lanes is another positive step by the mayor. One spot that sorely needs a bona fide, protected lane A.S.A.P. is Delancey St. near the Williamsburg Bridge — one of the city’s most heavily used, yet dangerous, bike routes.

The mayor’s idea to charge shoppers a minimal fee, 6 cents, for each plastic bag is also good green thinking. Using a reusable canvas tote bag is no great burden, and this plan could generate up to $16 million a year for the city.

Green roofs are another novel way to improve our environment. P.S. 41 is fundraising to install one on top of its W. 11th St. building. It certainly would help if the city and local elected officials chipped in.

Far and away, though, the one measure that would effect the most change would be tolling traffic. Although it failed once due to a discouraging lack of political will, the mayor should not give up on congestion pricing. Traffic tolling not only would immensely improve our community’s livability, it would spur use of mass transit, ferries and bicycle commuting, while providing a steady funding stream for mass transit.

Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it wants to toll the East River bridges to close a huge budget gap, this move would have the added benefit of decreasing Downtown Manhattan’s congestion and pollution. Subway riders pay to enter our borough; so should drivers. Bloomberg, the City Council, Governor Patterson and the Legislature must back bridge tolls.

The private sector is going green, too. Chelsea Piers, for one, recently announced the waterfront sports and entertainment complex will purchase 100 percent of its power as wind-generated electricity. Way to go!

There are many ways to make our city and world greener. With Obama and Bloomberg, we’re moving in the right direction. But we all need to be creative and involved, and push for environmentally sustainable initiatives at all levels.

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