Any references to prostitution in Thailand that appeared in the original version of this satirical opinion piece have been removed. Similarly, a reference to picking up herpes “in the back room of a Patpong dive bar” has been removed. A reference to wanting to transcend subsistence rice farming in Thailand (“Do you want to bend over in a rice paddy your entire life?”) has been removed. (For the record, nearly half of Thailand’s labor force continues to work in agriculture, with rice being the country’s most important crop.) Carl Rosenstein tends to write his op-ed pieces in what some might forgivingly call a “gonzo journalism” style, as one might well expect from a columnist whose moniker is The Angry Buddhist. The Villager sincerely apologizes to any readers who were offended by any of the above references and language. At the same time, The Villager also strives to uphold the sanctity of the First Amendment and free speech, in particular for opinion columnists, and to provide an open forum for a variety of views.
BY CARL ROSENSTEIN | Patamnak, Thailand: Bangkok and New York can serve as metaphors for the opposite natures of Eastern and Western mind. As are its klongs (canals), and famed go-go dancers, Bangkok’s streets are all sinews and curves that flow and return like all things, at 4 in the morning, anyway.
Otherwise the city is choked in interminable traffic, but the Thai, who have seen their GDP explode over the past 30 years, have the laissez-faire wisdom to know that affordable automobiles have helped lift millions out of subsistence-level poverty.
“Progress” is attended by other social ills, but that’s another matter. This screed is about traffic and the role of government.
Back in the antithetical West on 14th St., the Department of Transportation’s proposed street closure, dedicated bus lane and already emplaced and hated Village bike lanes are back like a bad case of herpes. The viral carrier in this case are Brooklyn’s Bicycle Bolsheviks, i.e. Transportation Alternatives.
TransAlt’s didactic manifesto induces its followers to “save the planet,” and that requires “reclaiming New York City’s streets for people” from the bad karma of the elitist motorist. “Vision Zero” will “save us” and possibly cure cancer. Like the small clique of apparatchiks who engineered all aspects of Soviet society, this fevered cell of Brooklyn Bolsheviks have been transforming Manhattan’s gritty grid into a cow pasture for dumb, grazing tourists and a thruway for the piggish, 36-speed lycra junta from Park Slope.
The social experiments promoted by TransAlt — dedicated bike and bus lanes and pedestrian plazas, forcing traffic-lane closures — first instituted by an aloof and above-it-all Michael Bloomberg and now by an aloof and beneath-it-all Bill de Blasio, have been catastrophically sclerotic, adding danger to pedestrians and stress to the lives of everyone who drives and is already on edge.
These changes have increased congestion, not relieved it. A D.O.T. 2017 study counted only 10,000 bike commuters from the outer boroughs daily over the East River bridges, and a maximum total of 27,000 when combined with Manhattan-only riders. Manhattan accommodates 1.6 million commuters daily. Outer-borough bike commuters constitute a microscopic 0.00625 percent.
Vehicles are lifeblood to the economy. Do you think anybody would drive in Manhattan if they didn’t have to? You don’t like traffic, stay in your outer borough and have your cinnamon latte there — or better, move to Great Neck or Berkeley.
The proposed closing of 14th St., a central artery, to automobiles and the entire “L-pocalypse” plan that was thrust upon the Village, Chelsea and adjacent communities is a nightmare. It was promoted by a TransAlt study by Brooklyn-based BRT Planning International, whose only projects apparently were in Kirkland, Washington, and sub-Saharan Africa. I guess they took AOC’s subway to Kenya.
De Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson recently backed away from the 14th St. “busway” plan. The mayor was using the plan as a social experiment for liberal causes — because it would look good on his résumé as he pathetically beats the bushes around the country before bored citizens in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Johnson, like Bloomberg and de Blasio, is a Bostonian. He never cheered for Reggie, Jeter, Doc, Clyde or L.T. He probably worships Tom Brady. Like de Blasio, he is vying for higher office.
The self-annointed transportation gurus want to shut down 14th St.: Do it for them, without a permit. It will make international news. Do the same in Nolita outside the Elizabeth St. Garden.
Some parting Buddhist words of wisdom to TransAlt from a great Thai abbot: “It’s not the city’s problems that overwhelm you, but your egotistical belief that you can be instrumental in solving them.”