This week George Pakenham came to visit our class. For the past few years, George has been a vigilante by going around and enforcing the Anti-Idling law for curbside vehicles in NYC. The law states that a vehicle cannot leave its engine running for more than 3 minutes. This is to help reduce pollution and to try and keep the air we breathe cleaner. George noticed that this law was not enforced and that there are many people who violate it on a daily bases, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and enforce it himself. His documentary, Idle Threat: Man on Emission, tells the whole story of his fight against this issue.
As George was speaking he made me think of an idea I had a while ago. Now, honestly, I think this idea is great, however very unlikely of ever happening, but I still wanted to share it. I got the idea one night as I was sitting on the stoop of my friend’s building on West 18th St. As we were sitting there, talking, three fire trucks tried to drive down the street, but couldn’t get through because of the line of cars waiting at the light. The cars and taxis tried to pull over to the side to let the fire trucks by, but there wasn’t enough room with all the cars parked on both sides of the street. I watched this little dance go on for probably 2 or 3 minutes before the light turned green and the fire trucks were able to pass. 2 or 3 minutes is not a lot of time for you and me, but when it comes emergencies like fires or car accidents, it can be the difference between life and death. This got me thinking.
If I were to ask the hospitals, fire and police departments how many lives they could have saved over the years if they would have had those extra 2 minutes, I’m sure the number would shock us all. Even if it isn’t a huge number, even just one life is a whole world on its own. So my idea is to make all New York City streets one-sided parking only. This way there would always be room for the emergency vehicles to zip by the traffic and reach their destination in half the time. Now of course this would make it IMPOSSIBLE to park in the city, which would lead to people selling their cars and for people thinking of buying cars to not do so. It would lead to the city getting rid of about half of the cars in it, meaning half of the air pollution. People would start taking public transportation much more, which too will lead to cleaner air. Those who decide to keep their cars would have to start using public parking lots, which the city could open more of and that way make more money too, which is always a good incentive for a governmental entity. Above all, it will save lives and property by allowing emergency vehicles to get around faster.
I know this is a crazy idea, that will probably never happen, but I’m sure George thought the same thing when he started off, but now he has gotten really far! If anyone has any input or ideas for this crazy idea of mine I would love to hear them!