I wasn’t thinking I needed a new New York state license plate.
But now that the state has announced a license plate redesign, well, maybe I do.
After glancing at the five license plate options released by the state Division of Motor Vehicles on Monday, I got up, went outside and looked at the license plate that currently graces my car.
What struck me was how dated it is, how the color scheme — mustard yellow and dark blue — is straight out of the 1970s. My house came with mustard yellow cabinets. We repainted them.
I won’t miss my ugly and unfashionable license plate when it’s gone, but are the new designs actually an improvement?
After studying them, I’d say that, yes, they are — but also that they could be better.
There are five designs, which residents have until Sept. 2 to vote on.
Four of them depict the Statue of Liberty — one features her torch, one depicts her torso and head, one depicts the entire statue and one depicts a tiny Statue of Liberty next to a tiny picture of the New York City skyline.
As for the fifth license plate, it depicts the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
If I have any complaint about the selection of plates put forth by the state, it’s that it’s too New York City-centric.
Only one plate contains the barest hint that there’s more to New York state than Manhattan. It depicts Niagara Falls, along with the Statue of Liberty and New York City skyline. In doing so, it showcases both New York State and upstate New York.
To that end, I’d propose a license plate that depicts the Adirondacks, perhaps an image of Mount Marcy, the highest of the High Peaks, alongside the Statue of Liberty.
This design could replace the ill-conceived Mario M. Cuomo Bridge plate.
It’s easy to understand why the state’s other license plate designs feature the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty is an icon — a symbol and landmark that’s known worldwide.
The Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is the opposite of that.
It’s a shiny new structure that I suspect only a small subset of New Yorkers would recognize — or invest with any meaning or significance.
It doesn’t belong on a license plate, and the state should shelve the design or pick another one.
Quibbles aside, the decision to invite New Yorkers to help choose the design of the next license plate is a good one.
It’s a way to engage residents and open up a process that usually happens behind closed doors.
And while license plate design might seem like a minor and unimportant matter, the state’s contest is an opportunity for New Yorkers to have a say in how the state represents itself.
So vote while you have the chance — and perhaps one day, the state will invite residents to submit their own license plate designs and ideas.
If we’re going to ask the public for input on what the state’s new license plate should look like, why not go all the way and ask people to create the new plate, too?
That’s a contest I’d really like to see.
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]