Right now there are relatively few solid transit advocates in the City Council and even fewer in the State Legislature. We definitely need to work to make them more representative, but we can also work to increase the number of people in each district that get around without cars.
I realized that my earlier map of City Council districts by car ownership is not well-suited to this task. I divided it up by quintiles, so that there were roughly ten of every color. But no matter how many people in a district get rid of their cars, as long as that district remains in the same position relative to the other districts, its color will not change.
I wanted a system where we could see how a district is doing on an absolute scale. So here are the city council districts in terms of percentage of households without a car. I added the boroughs, townships and cities of Hudson County (which is like a fifth borough) for your edification:
You can see that the districts represented by Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez, Ydanis Rodriguez and Christine Quinn are the only ones with more than 80% of households car-free, and with the exception of Quinn, they have all fought hard for transit and livable streets.
The yellow districts cover the rest of Manhattan, the South Bronx and Brownstone Brooklyn. They have a range of representatives, from transit advocates like Letitia James to AWOL reps like Helen Foster, but none of them are anti-transit.
The orange districts cover Western Queens, the north Bronx and the denser parts of southern Brooklyn. Their Council representatives range from my own rep, Jimmy Van Bramer, who fights hard for transit, to the indifferent James Barron, to David "Kvetch" Greenfield who only cares about the car-driving half of his constituents. Union City, New Jersey is 40% carfree.
The red districts cover Southeast Queens, West New York, Guttenberg and Jersey City, Transportation Chair Jimmy Vacca's East Bronx district, Peter Koo's district in Flushing, Donna Rose's district on the North Shore of Staten Island, Elizabeth Crowley's Central Queens district, and Lew Fidler's southeast Brooklyn district. We have some big car kvetchers here.
The four purple districts are represented by two of the most anti-transit members of the Council: Dan Halloran and James Oddo. Mark Weprin is nowhere near as bad as his brother David, but he's not a big fighter for transit either.
This is why I want to get people in these districts to get rid of their cars. If the 36th District in Brooklyn were green (80% and up) it might be represented by a Quinn, but it's more likely to be represented by a Mark-Viverito. If the 44th in Brooklyn were yellow it might be represented by a James. It might also be represented by a Foster, but at least it would be less likely to elect Greenfield. If the 30th were orange it might still get a Greenfield, but it might also get a Van Bramer. If the 19th were red it might get a Gennaro or a Crowley.
So what would it take to move the 16th District from 71% to 80%? To move the 44th from 49% to 60%? To move the 30th from 319% to 40%? To move the 19th from 15% to 20%?