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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 24, 1922

Milton J. Meyer Proposes a System of Allocating Vehicular Movement.


Proposition to Limit the Number of Automobiles Opposed—Citizen Inspectors Suggested.

The solution of New York City's traffic problem by the "zoning" of streets, rather than the limitation of the number of automobiles, is advocated by Milton J. Meyer, head of the firm of Milton J. Meyer & Co., 66 Reade Street.

According to Mr. Meyer's plan, certain avenues would be designated "express" avenues and others "local." One avenue would be set aside for the exclusive use of vehicles—pleasure and commercial cars—bound from an uptown point, Ninety-sixth Street, for example, to a destination in the lower end of the island. A second avenue would be set aside for vehicles starting at approximately the same point uptown but not traveling so far down town, say to Fourteenth Street.

A third avenue would be for the use of cars from uptown bound for Thirty-fourth Street; another for vehicles whose destination is Forty-second Street, and so on. These routes would be determined by a committee of engineers and members of the Police Department. Mr. Meyer expressed the opinion that a study of two weeks by this committee would be sufficient for the allocation of routes.

Diversion of Traffic.

"We have plenty of streets," Mr. Meyer said, "but they are not used properly. Some of the traffic from the congested areas should naturally be diverted to less crowded thoroughfares. It is difficult for any one who does not drive an automobile to realize how much more serious the situation is becoming daily. The suggestion to limit the number of automobiles in the city seems almost unreasonable. Would it not be better to inconvenience, possibly, a few persons but promote the general good by zoning the streets, rather than to prevent any one's having a car who wants one?"

After the routes had been determined pamphlets of instructions would be sent to every automobile owner or driver, would be posted in garages and otherwise conspicuously displayed so that no citizen would have an excuse for not being acquainted with them.

Mr. Meyer expressed the opinion that traffic congestion might also be decreased by the division of the city into various districts, and the limitation of the number of taxicabs permitted to operate in each district. According to this scheme, a taxi driver might legitimately drive outside his district if a passenger, obtained in the district, desired to reach a destination outside the district, but it would not be legitimate for the taxi to take a passenger while returning to its own territory from such a trip outside. The color of the cab and a number painted on it would indicate its district.

2,000 Volunteer Inspectors.

Many of the present traffic violations and accidents might be prevented, Mr. Meyer said, by the appointment of 2,000 volunteer citizen inspectors, each under $5,000 bond and none receiving pay. On observing a traffic violation, one of these inspectors would have authority to turn in to the headquarters provided for this purpose a slip designating the name of the offender, the license number of the vehicle and the nature of the violation. At the same time the inspector would give the offender a copy of the slip.

If five of these slips were turned in against any one offender his driving license would be suspended for six months. If, afterward, any other violation were reported, the license would be permanently revoked. Under this scheme a driver would be much more careful than at present because he would never know when he was being watched by one of these ununiformed inspectors, Mr. Meyer pointed out. He also advocated the increased use of traffic lines painted on the streets at corners. "At all places where there is a trace of congestion," Mr. Meyer said, "these lines should be painted."

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