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10 Things to Be Thankful for on Gridlock Alert Days

Each year, New York City DOT and the MTA create a Holiday Traffic Mitigation Plan to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible throughout the busy holiday season. You can do your part by taking mass transit whenever possible, especially on gridlock alert days (when traffic is expected to he heavy enough to warrant announcements encouraging people not to drive). So far, there have been six such alerts this month.

On one of them, Streetfilms and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton went for a whirl around lower Manhattan to see how the alert kept traffic flowing. In this light-hearted video, he shares his top ten things to be thankful for on gridlock alert days.

Beware: The next gridlock alert is Wednesday, December 23.

[music]
Mark Gorton: [0:02] Gridlock is the time of the year where the plague of cars descends upon our lovely city. Top 10 things to be thankful for on Gridlock Alert Day. Here are some of mine to you in this season of joy. [0:20] Number one, the complete absence of traffic enforcement. I particularly love the way the police have actually completely just given the streets over to anarchy that any hope of enforcement or any thought that it might be worthwhile have been thrown to the wind. Why waste our precious energies making cross walks safer for our children to cross? That is a foolish use of police resources, and we all know it.

[0:44] Number two, Gridlock Alert Day is a day to appreciate how spaciously efficient cars are. What space hogs they are. Look how when a surgeon people completely freezes up. Oh, thank you dear car. You lovely space hog you who is taking up 80 times the same space as a pedestrian.

[1:06] Number three, the constant noise. Oh, yes, the honking. It warms my heart. The sound is like the first robin of spring. There's cry... Must be a baby one. Oh, hello.

[1:26] Number four, it is a chance to appreciate this stupidity of generations of traffic engineers, who design the system so poorly as to oppressed their very own people. This is all capacity that is unnecessary to move the traffic because we are constrained by the Holland Tunnel.

[1:46] Number five, the ever present danger of the complete disregard for safety. Yikes. Whoa!

[1:55] Number six, the fun of bicycling on Gridlock Alert Day through the crush of overcrowded automobiles. Number seven, the endless stress this season to push strollers between tiny gaps in 3,000 pound chunks of metal with 250 horsepower.

[2:15] Number eight, the crosswalks. How we all suffer, even those who don't drive on Gridlock Alert Day. On sidewalks, overcrowded as delivery guys walking in the street.

[2:27] Number nine, the pointless danger to distracted driving is one of my favorite things on Gridlock Alert Day.

[2:34] Number 10, we get to appreciate how many of our politicians don't think of pedestrians as an interest group. On Gridlock Alert Day, I can appreciate how the elected class grants themselves the privilege of parking and they drive this proportion that lead to everyone else. There is so many policy oriented solutions with just a tinge of physical implementation that can completely change the way our traffic network runs.

[3:01] Not every street, not all the time. But most of the streets most of the time, the plague of cars can be mitigated.

Speaker: [3:10] Happy Gridlock Alert Day. [music]

[3:13]



Elizabeth Press is a Filmmaker for Streetfilms. She joined Streetfilms in 2007 to focus her video work on advocating for better biking, walking and mass transit.

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  • Lars

    Number 11: Asthama Rates! Thankful for higher asthma rates. And we can't even go to Central Park to escape.

  • Ken

    Awesome, Mark. Thou puttest into words and images my innermost ravings.

    Number 12: Mountains of snow piled up at crosswalks so cars may pass unimpeded, leaving it to pedestrians to excavate their own pathetic little channels so they can cross a street without crampons, ice axes or high-water boots.

    Number 13: A mayor who holds a press conference on Sunday (Sunday!) to proudly announce that his armada of snowplows have done their job and all is now right with the world -- the streets are once again navigable by motorized vehicles!! (But not by any cyclist in his or her right mind, of course, but who cares about anything human powered? The politicos and their paymasters are all driving or being driven.)

  • Elsa Rael

    It's a miracle, isn't it, that
    we manage to survive a "city- of gridlock" and get around as
    quickly -- and ultimately as safely as we do? Note: The
    keyword is survive. I love, love, love New York -- and have done so for 82 years!

  • http://flickr.com/antiphonfotos Hart

    82 years, wow!

    NYC is a city of ingenuity. Time for a mayor who supports building AND maintaining bike lanes.

  • Eric Rabinowitz

    Thank you for that happy and humorous commentary. It made me chuckle a few times.

    - Eric in San Francisco.

  • http://web.me.com/christow saxman

    Haha, nice video. You should have looked at different cars to see how many people were inside. I bet most had only one!