NEW YORK (VosIzNeias) Chaim Deutsch, a Councilman for Southern Brooklyn, has decided to give up his car and commute by subway in the wake of the accident in which a 10-year-old boy was killed waiting for a bus last month.
Deutsch originally suggested setting up bollards near bus stops in order to prevent out-of-control cars from hitting waiting pedestrians but the idea was nixed by transportation officials as being costly, unsightly and ineffective.
Now he’s become a crusader for car commuters to join him on the subway.
“I would encourage them [drivers] to use mass transit as much as they can — even once a week,” Deutsch told Streetsblog. “If I could do it, I think anyone can do it. I’ve been driving for quite a while. It is possible to use mass transit when you can. It not only take cars off the street, it also adds to revenue for the MTA.”
Deutsch proudly posted a picture of himself riding the subway this week, and said that his new congestion-free commute has caused him much less of a headache. His comments came days after Mayor de Blasio said he would not give up his car, even for just one day.
“I use my car when I need to use it,” he told Streetsblog on Monday. “[I’m] certainly looking for every opportunity if I don’t need to use it — sometimes the subway is a lot better, but I’ve got to decide case by case, given the nature of my job.”
Deutsch didn’t demand outright that Mayor DiBlasio trade in his SUV and get to work on a bus, a subway, or even a bike like most of his eight million constituents. But other safe-street advocates chimed in to say what Deutsch wouldn’t.
“Most New Yorkers don’t rely on a car for day-to-day travel,” said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “In Manhattan, where the mayor lives and works, only 10 percent of commuters use a car to get to work. We invite the mayor to pick a day and time, and we’ll gladly join him on a bus or bike ride from Gracie Mansion to City Hall, so he can experience what New Yorkers deal with every day.”
Deutsch says that he used to waste nearly an hour of his life in daily bumper-to-bumper traffic, but now he takes the train, which cuts 20 minutes off his commute and at the same time enables him to meet local heroes.
“The upside is that I’m not sitting in congestion, I’m getting to meet people on the train, it’s exciting,” he said.
Deutsch said that as a city councilman he still he has to use his car to attend evening meetings in his district, sometimes multiple events on the same night. But he insists that even if people use public transit just one day out of the week instead of driving, it makes a difference.
“I feel that it’s a change of lifestyle for people, but driving in certain areas, the streets are extremely congested,” he said.
Mayor DeBlasio declined to comment when asked whether he would consider biking to City Hall despite his avowed support for reducing fossil fuels.