No matter how much locals complain, tourists are an important source of revenue to the city of New York. Their dollars have kept our economy afloat in spite of the current economic downturn (which the Times has already labeled ‘the great recession’), and it is thanks to them that our unemployment levels have not reached greater heights than they already have.
Having said that, I also believe that a few rotten apples in the city’s tourism industry have been overstepping its boundaries when it comes to coexisting with residents of non-commercial (albeit historical areas like Greenwich Village, The Brooklyn Fulton Landing, Chelsea and the Lower East Side, where niche destinations (The Sex And The City Tour! The Jewish Historical Tour! The Seinfeld Tour!) have been bothering locals with their loud double-decker buses that struggle in order to negotiate narrow corridors like Bleecker and Crosby, whose widths have been reduced by bike lanes and other recent City Hall-ordered modifications.
Now a grassroots movement started by Greenwich Village Resident is trying to change that. Since last summer, she has been collecting signatures to force City Council’s hand into regulating not only the amount of buses that go through those streets, but also how much noise they are allowed to make. Her initiative is not intended to curb the influx of buses in areas like Fifth Avenue, Central Park or other larger thoroughfares, but instead she intends to protect residents of the area from the nuisance (and the risk to the likes of bikers who – like myself – routinely ride there) that they have become.
She does not want to ban the buses, just limit the amount that go through residential areas, and also to create laws that force companies to include earphones on board said buses instead of the ever-present loudspeakers.
Ms. Backer – who was recently featured on a local paper’s pages http://www.amny.com/urbanite-1.812039/an-influx-of-tour-buses-has-driven-residents-batty-1.1581191 – has so far succeeded in promoting a hearing at City Council on the matter. I was invited to attend, but was unable due to my professional obligations. However, I do support her initiative, and have signed her petition, which has been circulating for a few months now.
“We have collected over 800 signatures on petitions from citizens all over the city who want something done about the buses,” Ms. Backer told me over a recent email. CB2 also has given its unanimous support.” I sure hope we can find a solution soon.