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Bill de Blasio, Mayor
No one has greater influence over the safety and design of New York City’s streets than its mayor. During Mike Bloomberg’s tenure, and especially in the six years since he wisely appointed Janette Sadik-Khan to run the Department of Transportation, New York’s streets have undergone a transformation, making the city a safer and more pleasant place. But much work remains to be done.
After careful consideration of the candidates’ records, position papers and public statements, review of their responses to our detailed questionnaire, and in-person interviews, we are endorsing Bill de Blasio for mayor in the New York City Democratic primary election. Mr. de Blasio’s pledge to change leadership in the NYPD and crack down on dangerous driving, his embrace of the “Vision Zero” program to eliminate preventable traffic deaths, and his commitment to expand the city’s bike-lane network and bike-share system were among the key factors in our decision.
Letitia James, Public Advocate
In her 10 years in the City Council, Tish James has established a reputation as an outspoken crusader unafraid of seemingly lopsided battles. As Public Advocate, she pledges to use the powers of her office to ensure that the NYPD conducts full and complete crash investigations and holds dangerous drivers accountable for their actions, and will champion the expansion of complete-street projects, especially to disadvantaged neighborhoods that are all too often plagued by poor road design.
Manhattan (back to top)
In her 12 years in the City Council, Gale Brewer has consistently championed livable streets with characteristic patience, most notably by forging a consensus on the Upper West Side to eliminate cars in Central Park and to install and extend pedestrian-safety improvements and protected bike paths on Columbus Avenue. As Manhattan Borough President, Gale pledges to work to expand bike share to all of Manhattan. “Bike share is only months old, and it’s already a critical part of the mass transit system for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Brewer. “Just as we provide public support for ferries and student Metrocards, we should support the expansion of bike share throughout Manhattan and the city.” Brewer is also committed to finding a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to relieving the burden of truck traffic on Manhattan residents – the fatalities, injuries, noise, pollution and sheer oppressive presence of traffic. “As Borough President, I’ll bring all the responsible agencies and stakeholders together – police, transportation, consumer affairs and others – to reduce pass-through traffic to a minimum with fair tolling, encourage late-night deliveries, and improve regulation and enforcement so that truckers stick to truck routes, have the required safety equipment, and are held responsible for the harm they cause.”
Chin has been fighting for safe and livable streets in Lower Manhattan. She wants to work closely with Sam Schwartz to advance his Move NY equitable transportation formula, which would implement fair pricing throughout the city and support better transportation infrastructure. She submitted an application to implement a Neighborhood Slow Zone in Battery Park City, and will fight for similar improvements on the Lower East Side.
Council Member Rosie Mendez has been a steady voice for livable streets in the City Council, voting for congestion pricing, backing the implementation of Select Bus Service on 1st and 2nd avenues, and supporting bike share across her district. She’s called for better NYPD investigations of collisions that injure pedestrians, and provided funding to ensure the Baruch College pedestrian plaza had proper lighting. Mendez supports the redesign of Fifth Avenue to include bus, bicycle, and pedestrian amenities, and plans to explore new bicycle and pedestrian prioritization on University Place.
As the youngest Community Board chairperson in New York City, Corey Johnson has pushed to improve street safety throughout his district. He supports increased deployment of speed cameras, and is a strong advocate for better NYPD enforcement and stiffer penalties for dangerous drivers. Johnson has committed to address the intersection of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, the most dangerous in Manhattan for pedestrians. He wants dedicated bus lanes on Dyer Avenue to channel commuter buses away from pedestrians, and on 11th Avenue to allow for creation of a new MTA bus route. Johnson also supports the creation of a separated east-west connector between the 8th Avenue bike path and Amsterdam Avenue in the 50s, as well as construction of a second 7-line subway station on the far West side.
Dan Garodnick, Council District 4, Manhattan
Council Member Dan Garodnick helped bring complete streets to First and Second Avenues in Midtown, serves as point person in the New York City Council for the plan to fill the midtown gap in the East River Greenway, and is a staunch advocate for transportation upgrades as a necessary part of any Midtown East rezoning. In a third term on the Council, he will support an extension of the bike-share program to his own district and especially to areas with limited public transit access. He plans to evaluate Fifth and Sixth Avenues from a complete-streets perspective, to identify potential improvements in the pedestrian experience, transportation options and quality of life.
As Council Member for District 5, Ben Kallos will continue his efforts to expand bike share to El Barrio, Roosevelt Island, and the Upper East Side. He wants to bring East River Ferry service to Roosevelt Island, and introduce crosstown Select Bus Service for the Upper East and Upper West Sides. A regular cyclist, Kallos will work to calm traffic and improve safety around the Queensboro Bridge. He envisions a true complete-streets treatment for Second Avenue after subway construction ends, with loading zones, performance-based parking, and a protected bicycle path. Kallos launched the "Bring Back Our Booths" campaign to restore attendants to subway stations, which became a citywide initiative of Transit Forward.
A lifelong cyclist who looks forward to commuting to City Hall by bicycle, Helen Rosenthal will work to bring Citi Bike to the Upper West Side and, with the inclusion of Central Park in District 6, remove cars once and for all from the park loop. As chair of Community Board 7, she laid the groundwork for the Columbus Avenue bike path, and will work with the community for similar improvements on Amsterdam Avenue, as well as the connection of crosstown paths through Central Park to the Hudson River Greenway. Rosenthal welcomes the chance to explore crosstown Select Bus Service between the Upper West and Upper East Sides, and the eventual completion of an uninterrupted greenway around Manhattan.
Mark Levine strongly supports improving travel times for all 125th Street bus lines through implementation of Select Bus Service. He’ll champion the expansion of Citi Bike to all of northern Manhattan and work with community stakeholders to extend northwards the complete-streets package of pedestrian safety improvements, landscaping, protected bike paths and other amenities that have already taken root on Columbus Avenue.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council District 8, Manhattan/Bronx
Mark-Viverito, a two-term incumbent representing East Harlem and the South Bronx, has a formidable livable-streets resume. She’s been a staunch advocate for protected bike lanes on First and Second Avenues, Select Bus Service and congestion pricing. The Councilmember would like to see significant improvements to pedestrian access to her district’s East River Plaza shopping mall, and better bicycle and pedestrian access to the Willis Avenue Bridge.
Bronx (back to top)
“I’m a walker,” says Ritchie Torres. “The car should not be the center of urban life.” As a child in the Bronx, Torres grew up with asthma as a result of the pollution spewed by traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway. He will work to improve health in his district through the transformation of major thoroughfares, like the Grand Concourse and East Tremont Avenue, into complete streets with room for transit users, cyclists, and pedestrians. He will also aim to improve the walking experience around Arthur Avenue, a mecca for visitors.
Gibson was elected to the NY State Assembly in 2009, and was a fierce proponent of the successful effort in Albany this year to bring speed cameras to NYC. She also supports a host of district-wide safety measures, such as countdown clocks, speed bumps, and increased enforcement in both residential and commercial areas. She sees Slow Zones as a way to reduce speeding and believes new public plazas will enhance neighborhood connectivity. She'll also be working to make the new Webster Avenue Select Bus Service a success and is very excited about the re-opening of the High Bridge bike and pedestrian connection to Upper Manhattan.
Queens (back to top)
Constantinides, running to replace term-limited Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr., is a Democratic District Leader and experienced City Council aide with a strong record of community organizing, who believes that “safe streets are the lifelines of every thriving neighborhood." He’d like to see traffic-calming measures implemented on main thoroughfares such as Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street, and wants to see the city’s nascent bike-share system expanded soon to western Queens.
Weprin wants to see car-dependent Eastern Queens become much more accessible via transit. He wants the neighborhoods in his district to flourish with livable streets for all, and as a father, he seeks the peace of mind that his teenage son will be able to safely ride his bicycle to the subway or Long Island Railroad. To help achieve this vision, Weprin will champion legislation in the city council to ensure serious consequences for drivers who, through their own negligence, hop curbs and strike pedestrians on sidewalks. He’ll also call for the expansion of bike share, and seeks to bring 20 MPH Neighborhood Slow Zones to his Council district.
Early in his first City Council term, Daniel Dromm led a march to Queens Community Board 3 to call for the creation of a summer-long play street on 78th Street. He hasn’t stopped marching for safer streets – at least figuratively – ever since. He worked with city agencies and the local community to make 78th Street a permanent public place, and championed Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, which has been embraced by the community and has spurred local economic development. Dromm was instrumental in the innovative community-based Jackson Heights Transportation Study, which gave thousands of residents the opportunity to participate in reshaping public space and improving traffic flow, expanding bike lanes, and reducing congestion. Named Streetsblog’s Elected Official of the Year for 2013, Dromm has advocated for CitiBike expansion and the reestablishment of LIRR service to Elmhurst. He plans to focus on transforming Northern Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway into complete streets during his second term.
Jimmy Van Bramer has long been a champion for safe and complete streets. He has stood with victims' families when reckless drivers have taken their lives, and has tirelessly advocated for more effective traffic laws. A supporter of Vision Zero, he introduced speed-camera legislation in the City Council, initiated the first bicycling town hall in New York City, and has led the charge for Citi Bike expansion in Queens. He's a strong supporter of extending the bike-lane network, including dedicating a lane for cyclists on the Pulaski Bridge. Van Bramer has advocated for smarter parking policies and plans to work with constituents and the Department of Transportation to create several new pedestrian plazas in his district.
Brooklyn (back to top)
Levin has established a reputation as one of the City Council's staunchest advocates for safe and livable streets. He has introduced legislation to expand the size of the NYPD's Collision Investigation Squad, pushed for traffic calming on some of Brooklyn's most dangerous streets, and championed Brooklyn's first Neighborhood Slow Zone, in Boerum Hill. One of the Council’s first Citi Bike annual members, he recently launched a petition calling on the city to expand the bike-sharing system to Greenpoint. Levin is committed to leading the effort to transform Jay Street, a critical but dysfunctional pedestrian, transit and cycling corridor that runs through his district, into a model complete-street that safely serves the needs of all users.
Reynoso, who’s been Chief of Staff to Councilmember Diana Reyna for the past four years, sees truck-route calming and enforcement as well as expanding the bike lane network for Bushwick and Ridgewood as huge opportunities to improve life in his district. Keeping trucks on redesigned, designated routes will improve street safety for local residents, while an expanded bike lane network would link residents to transit and local jobs. Reynoso has commuted by bicycle since selling his car to campaign full-time, a change that has transformed the way he looks at and experiences city streets.
Menchaca, who spent several years working in the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, has most recently served as an aide to Council Speaker Christine Quinn. A regular bicycle commuter, Menchaca looks forward to working to extend the Brooklyn Greenway from Red Hook to Sunset Park, and to launching a community-led initiative to transform the space beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway along Brooklyn’s Third Avenue.
In his three-plus years in the Council, Brad Lander has led the way on a number of important transportation issues, and is widely heralded as a true champion of safe and complete streets. His second-term priorities include the development of a citywide master plan for Select Bus Service, and the rapid expansion of the bike-share system, which he views as an important new piece of transportation infrastructure deserving of public investment.
Staten Island (back to top)
John Mancuso, Council District 50, Staten Island
John Mancuso, a Captain in the Auxiliary Police from South Beach, plans to focus on improving Staten Island's transportation infrastructure. His most urgent priority is to transform dangerous thoroughfares like Hylan Boulevard into high-performance complete streets that safely accommodate more users. He'll champion construction of a pedestrian and cyclist path on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, in order to add transportation options, improve disaster preparedness, and boost tourism to Staten Island. He will also work to keep cars out of parks and reform New York City's dysfunctional bridge-tolling system to equalize fares across all of NYC's bridges.