disruptor

Street Fightin’ Disruptor

By Bob Fisch

Where I live in Manhattan, there’s a lot of Disruption going on.

I’ve responded by Disrupting back.

What’s happening is that people’s commutes to work are being Disrupted. Businesses are being Disrupted. Nearby streets are being Disrupted with detoured traffic.

That’s all because traffic is being Disrupted. And it’s not on just any street. It’s on one of the three busiest crosstown streets in Manhattan—14th Street between 3rd Avenue and 9th Avenue. (The other two are 34th Street and 42nd Street).

In a nutshell, the City of New York started an 18-month pilot program that bans cars from that one-mile stretch of street—used by 21,000 vehicles a day—between 6 am and 10 pm, seven days a week.

Only buses, trucks and emergency vehicles are permitted on 14th Street during those hours. The goal is to speed the time it takes public transportation (buses) to make the trip across town. I can understand that, but everything has its cost: what’s great for bus riders is adding time and frustration to other commutes.

I don’t drive a car in the city, so the ban doesn’t Disrupt me in the way it Disrupts motorists, but I am Disrupted any time I use a taxi or car service, which can’t pick us up in front of our building.

Takin’ It to the Street

Moreover, where we live is being flooded with vehicles that are detoured from 14th Street. The irony is that our street, on the northern edge of Greenwich Village, recently had been converted to make room for pedestrians and cyclists, reducing the portion of the road used by motor vehicles.

I’m not totally against what’s happening on 14th Street. Being Disruptive can be the road to progress. I not only get that; I practice it. It’s nothing new for me.

In fact, Chapter 6 of my book, Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer (ForbesBooks 2019), is titled The Disruptor.

The day before the new traffic regulations went into effect, I was walking in my neighborhood when I saw a cluster of activity nearby. It turned out to be the New York City commissioner of transportation, holding a press conference, right on 14th Street, facing TV cameras and microphones from local TV stations.

When people started asking questions, I did too, because I was concerned about the impact of the new rules. It didn’t even occur to me that only reporters were allowed to ask questions in this informal outside setting. Someone in the commissioner’s entourage tried to stop me from talking, but I went right ahead to make my point.

I simply said they should be diligent about closely tracking how effective the new hours proved to be, and perhaps adjust the hours along the way to let more vehicles use the road.

My “Disruptive behavior” caught the attention of TV reporters, and I ended up on the evening news! My suggestion ended up reaching a far greater number of people than I expected.

That’s what being a Disruptor means: you don’t accept the status quo. You challenge it.

In my Disruptor chapter, I label the other two types of people as Interruptor (the person who tried to stop me) and Bystander (everyone else idly observing the press briefing).

If you want to make things happen, is there any question which of the three you want to be?

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