03 November 2012

Deja Vu, All Over Again

As Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again."

I could have said the same thing the other evening when I came to the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  Motorized traffic had all but come to a standstill, and I could feel (and hear) the mounting tensions.  The bicycle and pedestrian lanes were better, if only in comparison. 

I suppose that the near-jamming of two-wheeled and two-soled traffic is a good sign:  At least some people realize that cycling (and walking) can be viable options for them.  Plus, cyclists and pedestrians seem to have more patience than motorists.

In witnessing the throngs of cyclists and pedestrians, I had a flashback:

Some say that the eleven-day New York City Transit Strike of 1980 was the first time since the turn of the century when large numbers of people rode bikes or walked to work.  Speaking anecdotally, I can say that is probably true:  Up to that time, I couldn't recall seeing so many people getting to their jobs or going to shop, or even to the movies or theatre, under their own power.  I was in my final semester at Rutgers and came into the city three times during that strike.  The second time, I brought my bike on the train into the city and the third time, I took the 25-mile ride in.

The strike is also said to have initiated the practice of wearing sneakers on the way to work and changing into heels or other dress shoes upon arriving.  I don't detect any sartorial statements emerging from the disruptions of mass transit caused by Hurricane Sandy.  However, I think--or, at least, hope--that some people who've begun riding or walking to work will continue to do so after full service is restored on the subways and buses.  It seems that many people who pedaled or hoofed it to work during the 1980 strike abandoned those habits once the trains and buses started to roll again.

I hope not to have deja vu about that!


  1. By the title, I presumed you would mention 9/11, so I didn't know about this transit strike. Interesting...

  2. While I hope you are right about people not going back to their old habits, "Jewkes" in the story at http://www.cnbc.com/id/49646885 suggests otherwise. Sigh.

  3. Steve--There were a lot of Jewkeses in the 1980 transit strike, as well as the much briefer 2005 work stoppage. I hope there aren't many like her this time around.

    Annie--I was thinking of 9/11. But I didn't want to write about that because the media has been doing that comparison to death. Also, it's not really a comparison: 9/11 and Sandy were very different sorts of disasters that affected people very differently. However, they do have the common denominators of destruction, disruption, shock and grief.