January 22, 2017

TAX WHAT YOU DON'T WANT:

For One Day of Protest, Every City Belonged to Its Pedestrians (Justin Davidson, 1/21/17, New York)

Within 24 hours of his swearing-in, President Donald Trump accomplished something magnificent: he turned much of midtown Manhattan into an immense pedestrian plaza. Shortly after noon on Day 2 of the Trump Era, I found myself standing at the intersection of Third Avenue and East 48th Street, waiting for the signal to start shuffling along a prescribed route with the rest of the Women's March. Eventually, we gave in and started moving westward down an unauthorized block, flowing around suddenly stranded cars. A cabbie abandoned his taxi midstream, leaving the OFF DUTY light on, just in case anyone decided to climb in. A little boy scrambled onto the roof of the family minivan and started leading protest chants. A woman pulled her SUV out of an underground garage, only to discover that she wouldn't be going anywhere for hours. At Lexington Avenue, drivers honked madly, and the crowd echoed the horns, turning a mechanical snarl of protest into a joyous song.

Across the world, marchers commandeered traffic arteries, bridges, highways, squares, and streets, offering a glimpse of what cities could be if they were permanently retrofitted for pedestrians. The Women's March was also a de-facto Metropolitan March, a global act of resistance to the new administration's profoundly anti-urban philosophy. Cities--not just on America's coasts, but in the Rust Belt, the South, and the heartland, and even in Finland, France, and Nigeria--came out in force because they are havens for the openness and hybridization that Trump detests. One of this political moment's innumerable ironies is that a dyed-in-the-wool New York kid should grow up to be so unsympathetic to urban culture.

Trying to get to a show in Boston but stuck in the march, The Daughter turned to The Wife and said : "We're accidental activists!"  All I know is road closures made the Essex, VT hockey team late for our Bantam game.

That said, getting car traffic out of cities does make them mildly more tolerable.  Replacing them with a freak show isn't helpful though.

Posted by at January 22, 2017 8:40 AM

  

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