Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives moves into New York City government

At the NYT, J. David Goodman looks at the highly successful New York City advocacy group Transportation Alternatives:

FORTY years ago, the ragtag collection of environmental advocates and bicycle riders, dissident city planners and urban preservationists who would coalesce into Transportation Alternatives sat decidedly outside the mainstream.

“Ban autos from Manhattan!” urged a psychedelic poster for a demonstration at the General Motors building in 1968. Four years later, another poster demanded “free bicycles” and “millions for public transit.”[]

The group slowly built support and membership while staging protests. At the same time, it was making inroads with city government and growing its full-time staff thanks to a change in federal law in 1991 that resulted in some big grants. But it remained small until the past decade, when interest in cycling again took off nationally and an infusion of cash from Mark Gorton, a hedge-fund manager and the group’s largest single donor, helped it expand.

In its link to the article, Streetsblog wrote: Is Transportation Alternatives the Most Powerful Force in New York City Government?

Is Transportation Alternatives the powerful force, or is it the individuals involved — funders and former staff? The significant infusion of hedge-fund manager money is a solid reminder of the power of big finance in New York. Mark Gorton is to New York what Joel Solomon is to Vancouver.

A correction in the NYT story also showed some of organization’s most memorable activities were not officially sanctioned by the group. To some degree, TA served as a way to convene people with shared goals for many years, even if it wasn’t executing all the projects. Now, with new hedge fund money and 23 full-time staff, it’s clearly capable of taking on even more.

The NYT article shows that there is much other cites’ transportation and urban advocates can learn from Transportation Alternatives’ success.