Should Mayor Bloomberg Run, Bike or Chopper?

I recently received a call from a radio station in Manhattan, wanting me to comment about Mayor Michael Bloomberg using a chopper for the 12 minute hop to see U2 at The Meadowlands. How un-green of him!? What an assault on the environment!? After thinking about it for a moment, I decided to give a rare “no comment” and avoid piling on the Mayor for this egregious mistake.

After the dust settled, there were many detractors and supporters — and overall, I am in the latter category. It seems that Mayor Bloomberg, who is pals with U2 front man Bono, as they have worked together on charitable endeavors, had committed to attending the concert and visiting with Bono in person before the show. As he was busy meeting with the President of the Dominican Republic (maybe about importing some Little League prodigies to help the Mets?) he didn’t have time to limo the 12 miles to reach The Meadowlands, in New Jersey. Let’s face it, a 12 mile bridge and tunnel journey in New York rush hour can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. Thus the chopper, a guaranteed 10 minute ride.

The green critics called foul: hey, how dare the Mayor use a helicopter, which admittedly is a smoke-belching, air polluting machine, to attend a concert, not a matter of state or city but a personal entertainment event? To which I say, on some level, and sorry about this: all men are not created equal when it comes to personal transportation. Should President Obama not fly Air Force One since it emits more carbon on one cross country flight than thousands of automobiles do over a whole year? Let’s remember that Bloomberg works for no salary, and has contributed hugely to the green movement by tackling many environmental issues in New York.

Indeed, here are just a few of Mayor Bloomberg’s recent green milestones:  creating a law mandating a fully green taxi fleet by 2010 throughout New York;  designing a major water infrastructure  plan that will conserve New York’s water usage;  a program to reduce city carbon emissions a full 30 percent by 2030; an initiative to repopulate the city with fuel efficient, low emissions trash trucks; and the ill-fated Congestion Tax he proposed, one not unlike London’s, which would have charged citizens for driving into Manhattan.

Bloomberg is a proven leader in the green world and his time – let’s bear in mind that he is personally a billionaire – is very valuable.  If I were a Manhattan-based taxpayer, I’d want him working and not sitting in the back seat of a limo wasting over an hour of that precious time.  A helicopter makes sense for the Bloombergs of the world, especially for short hops around Manhattan and the immediate surrounding area.  Efficient, fast and relatively safe travel for a really, really important guy to whom every second counts.

This should not be a political issue.  Perhaps it’s about a Wall Street titan vs. the average man?  Wall Street titans are no longer in vogue.  Bloomberg himself quipped, maybe he should have biked and swum his way over to the Meadowlands?

We can all learn from this.  Whenever going on personal errands, to work, or to entertainment and recreational activities, we should try to travel as efficiently as possible.  Walk, ride a bike or take public transportation if we can.  And if circumstances make those choices a no-go, maybe we stay home instead?  However, if Bono is waiting, I’d say go ahead and drive, or even helicopter.  The good that Mayor Bloomberg has done for New York and the long term viability of our planet, and the additional green initiatives that he will launch, have earned him plenty of chits.  I for one say let’s applaud him for his commitment to stopping climate change and working for free in a job that is surely exciting but does infringe on one’s privacy.

Your comments, as always, are encouraged.  For as in most of the issues we raise in My Inner Green, there is no real right or wrong answer…
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  1. Erin October 14, 2009
  2. Jonny October 14, 2009
  3. Brad C. October 14, 2009
  4. Jamie Worst October 14, 2009
  5. Aaron October 16, 2009
  6. fay October 29, 2009

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