Pls. note: the coalition of organizations signing on to this letter of ours (6, including ours - the New York City Pedicab Owners' Association) is an industry first: never before have these groups signed on to anything like this. This is the result of the hard work of our lobbyist here in NYC, Chad Marlow, and our hard work as well. If you have a moment to write each of the co-signers to thank them, please do so.

-pm

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Dear Members of the New York City Council:

Later this month, on Sunday, April 22nd, our City will join 175 nations throughout world in celebrating Earth Day. Only 37 years after a United States Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, organized the first Earth Day in response to the increasing destruction of our environment, Earth Day has been called “the largest secular holiday in the world.” In the United States, the spirit of Earth Day has frequently found its ways into the halls of government, where it has been a major force behind numerous landmark pieces of legislation, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Earth Day 2007, as it is every year, will be a special day in New York City. Virtually all of you will engage in some type of Earth Day celebration and voice your commitment to protecting our environment. This Earth Day will be even more special because, on that day, our Mayor will unveil the details of his long term plan for reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment in our city: PlaNYC 2030.

But the commitments all of us make on Earth Day do not expire at midnight. In fact, the day after Earth Day, April 23rd, millions of New Yorkers who care about our environment will turn their eyes upon the City Council to see how your words from the day before translate into action. This test of your commitment will come in the form of a vote to override the Mayor’s veto of a terrible piece of anti-environmental legislation: the pedicab industry regulation bill (Intro. 331A).

Pedicabs are a relatively new, zero-emission, traffic reducing, extremely safe form of alternative transportation. In a City wrought with environmental problems, pedicabs are a clear part of the solution. The pedicab bill you will be asked to support on the day after Earth Day, although it started out as a constructive pedicab-supported attempt to regulate their industry, sadly devolved into a special interest driven attempt to severely damage if not destroy our City’s pedicabs. If you are truly committed to protecting our environment and heading off environmental catastrophes such as those highlighted in the Academy Award winning film An Inconvenient Truth, you simply cannot vote in favor of legislation that is specifically designed to undermine evolving green industries.

Like each of you, all of the undersigned strongly support regulations that will bring the highest standards of quality and safety to the pedicab industry. To clarify a widespread misconception promulgated by those who oppose pedicabs, let us be clear: if the Mayor’s veto is upheld, a substitute pedicab bill that contains virtually the identical quality and safety standards contained in the current legislation will be swiftly introduced in the Council. As such, a vote against the override is not a vote against pedicab regulation. What the new bill will not do, however, is reduce the number of pedicabs on the streets by 40%, implement a de facto ban on pedicabs in the outer boroughs, and violate the City Charter by empowering the NYPD to unilaterally ban pedicabs from any midtown street for up to fourteen days and for the entire holiday season.

Talking about protecting and improving our environment is easy. But to save our planet, we need to do more. We need to seize every opportunity to follow our words with actions. For each of you, such an opportunity will come the day after Earth Day, and that action will be to vote against overriding the Mayor’s pedicab bill veto. As you know well, our organizations’ members also have regular opportunities to cast votes in favor of the environment – they come every Election Day – and you can always count on them to vote the right way. The question we have is, come April 23rd, can they count on you?

On behalf of the tens of thousands of members of our collective organizations, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to vote to uphold the Mayor’s veto of Intro. 331A.

Peter Meitzler, President
New York City Pedicab Owners Ass’n

Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney
NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group)

Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director
New York League of Conservation Voters

Timothy Logan, Chair
Sierra Club, New York City Group

Paul Steely White, Executive Director
Transportation Alternatives

Jonathan Orcutt, Executive Director
Tri-State Transportation Campaign