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Looking for Leadership On Noise, Pollution, Trash

59th Street Bridge Cacophony

Citizens for NYC has released a study concluding that Street Noise, Trash/Litter and Air Pollution are Manhattan’s most frequently cited Quality of Life Complaints from Residents. The Daily News and NY Post have articles on it and Streetsblog has some comparisons to what European cities like London have done to combat noise by measuring and tracking it.

It is almost impossible for us to think of solutions to Noise and Air Pollution without reducing the number of cars that enter Manhattan everyday. And it is impossible for us to think about solutions to street litter and smelly trash without reducing the enormous amounts of unnecessary waste generated by residents and businesses everyday.

We believe that it is time for the city to take these issues seriously by identifying the sources of these problems, tracking them over time and setting hard quantitative goals for each relevant city agency the same way that the police identify crime hot spots, set goals and track their progress in reducing crime.

For instance, the Department of Transportation could be tasked with reducing the number of personal automobiles that enter Manhattan because they are a major source of pollution and noise. This would accelerate DOT efforts to promote carpooling, walking, Bus Rapid Transit and biking options instead of their current efforts to simply improve the speed and flow of cars through the city. The NYPD would get more aggressive on unnecessary car horn honkers as a way to not only reduce noise, but also prevent people with road rage from escalating their anti-social behaviors. The Department of Sanitation could be tasked with reducing the amount of trash generated each day and the amount of time that trash sits on the curb. It could aggressively target businesses that frequently have large piles of trash that sit on the curb for days before pick-up.

As New York City has tackled problems of infectious disease, hunger, crime and most recently indoor smoking, we believe that New York City will solve these problems if it chooses to take them head on. Along the way, we believe that by addressing these issues there are potential gains in many other public health areas like reducing asthma rates, obesity/diabetes, car accidents, etc. We hope that local elected offiicials, Mayor Bloomberg and city agency commissioners will rise to the challenge and take on these issues to continue making New York City a better place to live.

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