By: Joel Epstein
#trumpvirus #coronavirus #covid19 #wfh #cities #flattenthecurve #bikeNYC #wearamask #stayathome #socialdistancing #voteblue #MTA #NYC #votebluenomatterwho #leadership #globalpandemic #traffic #asthma #mentalhealth #homelessness #carfreestreets #urban #LosAngeles #LA #SanFrancisco #Berkeley #Oakland #Michigan #GovernorCuomo #WhiteHouse #transit #subways #buses #science
Essential. Don’t forget you are. That’s one of the casualties of this dystopian time for those of us working from home and staying home because we’re not health care workers, pizza makers, taqueros, delivery workers, transit workers, bodega and supermarket stockers and cashiers. But don’t forget that we are doing our part. Most of us are flattening the curve, wearing a mask and social distancing when we must go out to shop or take a walk or bike ride for the preservation of our mental health. Most of us are following the science. Believing in science! Unlike those haters in Michigan who seem to have forgotten their own twisted mantra, Blue Lives Matter. WTF? May the voters remember the gun-toting bare-faced morons screaming at the Michigan State House Police in face masks on election day in November! Vote Blue!
There’s nothing good about the trump virus which the medical professionals call Covid-19. Just like there is nothing good about the virus’ namesake. Still, when this is done we must hold onto the lessons we are learning about what we must do to make New York City and other cities calmer, safer and healthier places now and in the future. Because there will come a day when it’s again time to ride safe, clean trains and buses and to celebrate the city that we love.
What’s essential other than the nine million of us here in New York and the billions around the world? Jobs. Food. Parks. And safe streets including dozens of car-free boulevards throughout the five boroughs. Tree-lined pedestrian and bike thoroughfares redesigned for our social distance-enabled physical and mental health. Health vectors to combat Covid-19 and asthma and everything else that plagues and hinders public health in New York. Corridors free of cars and trucks and noisy motorcycles; a required part of life in New York yes, but not in the excessive numbers that currently fly down our streets at unsafe at any speed velocities and double park in our bike lanes.
What else? I’m glad you asked. When the trump virus in the White House and around the world has been beat back by science, let’s have the courage that New York Governor Cuomo has shown to demand that the subways and buses never again become shelters for the homeless. That it is beneath the dignity of the sans abri as well as the rest of us that those without shelter and their belongings “live” on the trains. Even those less transit-obsessed than yours truly can’t honestly believe anyone is served by our critical transit infrastructure serving as rolling homeless shelters.
What will our children and their children say about a time when it had become acceptable for a wealthy city and country like ours to turn a blind eye to the most destitute and sometimes severely mentally ill among us as we have for too long now? And please, after the pandemic subsides, let the no homeless policy continue to apply to the subways and buses and public parks and sidewalks throughout the country’s cities, not just New York’s. Yes, Los Angeles and San Francisco and Oakland and Berkeley, I’m talking about you.
We are all essential. So let’s act like it by wearing a mask, staying at home and social distancing when we must go out. If you are not doing this, show some respect for the rest of us and start now.
Yours in transit,
Joel Epstein is a New Yorker and an advocate for public transit, livable cities and public space.