14 October 2022


 Every time I drive back into the city from Long Island I manage to get a ticket, usually for “speeding;” except that in NYC speeding means driving say 34 mph on a main thoroughfare; not a side street but a multilane main road,  because the speed limit is 25 mph in the city. On residential side streets I drive even slower than that because you never know when a kid might dart out between parked cars. But on parkways, main streets, etc. the limit is ridiculous. The last one I got was for “speeding” at 37mph on an approach to a highway, where anyone would normally start accelerating to join the traffic, and where pedestrians are nowhere to be found.  

There have always been speed traps. When you cross the line between Nassau County and Queens on the Northern State Parkway the speed limit suddenly drops. As long as everyone else is exceeding the speed limit there is little they can do, but if you happen to accelerate to pass another car they will get you, and that one cost me nearly $1000 due to a creative “surcharge” the state adds to the already high ticket cost, not to mention increase insurance (which I had to take a course to undo). But now the entire city is a speed trap. There are cameras everywhere and “school zones” have been extended to places where no school is remotely visible. So this is really about revenue in this horribly managed city and state. 

Now Long Island has gotten in on the act. I have never passed a stopped school bus in my life. Nevertheless I got one driving all the way in the left lane to make a turn while the bus was actually parked two lanes over on the right and there were no flashing lights! But as I read the ticket it basically said in so many words there is no way you can fight or appeal this ticket so that cost me another $250.  These governments are hardly concerned about safety in realit, but do have an insatiable appetite for revenue. Thus in New York in addition to high property taxes, income taxes, and sales tax they have creatively increased all sorts of nuisance fees on things like permits for things that in a normal world would not require permits. Unfortunately it is only going to get worse because high taxes are driving people to move away while spending just keeps climbing.

New York has a visceral anti-car policy. But these rules are made by well-to-do people living in Manhattan and nearby high rises who believe that people don’t need cars and therefore should be punished for owning or driving one in the city, never mind that most of it still consists of low-rise residential neighborhoods.  It is almost impossible to find free parking on the street anymore. There are meters everywhere. Worse there are fewer and fewer lanes for traffic as they have expanded bike lanes all over the place, along with a weird arrangement on some streets where the metered parking is now somewhere near the middle of the street. Further space has been lost due to “temporary” pandemic-related outdoor restaurant facilities that aren’t going away any time soon. 

They are trying to make this Amsterdam where your life is in danger if you carelessly step into the street while bicycles are whizzing by, but at least there they have some order to it. In New York bike riding is chaotic, traffic rules are ignored, and you are in as much, if not more, danger of being hit by a bike whizzing by than cars, which are usually stuck in traffic moving at a glacial pace. So naturally, in typical “progressive” fashion, they then come up with a “solution” to a problem they created in the first place- congestion pricing. That means that if you drive into the central city you will have to pay an extra fee for the privilege. They haven’t been able to pull that one off yet but don’t be surprised when that kicks in. 

The bottom line is avoid driving a car if you’re visiting New York (although I don’t know why anyone would want to these days). But those of us stuck living here are out of luck. 

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