As traffic troubles return, is NYC facing 'carmageddon'?

Once empty, the streets of New York City are once again filled with cars as traffic gridlock returns. And some are saying that it’s actually worse than before the pandemic.

However, the data, from gas usage to tolls suggests that we are only 80 percent of the way back to pre-pandemic numbers. However, the sharp increase in car sales has experts saying that when we do return to “normal,” traffic will be even worse than it was before, leading Governor Andrew Cuomo to urge people to take mass transit instead of driving. 

“We’re not going to get back to normal,” Cuomo said. “If the new normal is everybody is driving their car into Manhattan. The traffic backup will be horrendous, it’s bad for the environment, it’s expensive, try public transportation.”

Transportation Alternatives, a non-profit organization that aims to change New York City’s transportation priorities says that the city is facing a “carmageddon,” where more cars are competing with more cyclists and pedestrians and that we’re headed into dangerous territory. Traffic deaths have increased this year, even in the midst of a pandemic. 

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“We need a plan from Mayor De Blasio that takes a look at our 6,000 miles of streets, our three million parking spots and start to reimagine them as busways, as bikeways, as places where retail, schools, restaurants can reopen,” said Dan Harris of Transportation Alternatives. “Our streets are critical to our pathway forward.”

New York City may have to come to grips with the possibility that it is out of capacity to accommodate any more cars, with nearly 2 million registered vehicles in the five boroughs alone.

Experts say the city is in dire need of a bold redesign of how it moves around.

“There has to be some grand overarching plan to deal with the congestion that we’re seeing so that it will accommodate pedestrians and cyclists and big trucks,” said AAA spokesperson Robert Sinclair.