This is the latest installment in our spotlight series on StreetsPAC endorsed candidates.
Councilmember 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.
StreetsPAC: What is the biggest transportation issue facing your district?
Rosie Mendez: A majority of my district is not close to subway stations. Despite this, the MTA has made service reductions in my district many times. I am excited to report that weekend service is being restored on the M8 crosstown bus, but we are still facing difficulties with the M9 and 14A buses not running frequently enough. This can be quite a challenge for my senior citizens and people with disabilities who live on Avenues A, B, C, and D, and who cannot walk to the L or SBS on 1st Ave or the 6 at Astor Place.
SP: How do you make the case to residents, community board members, and business owners that livable streets are good for the district?
RM: Livable streets save lives and create a safe atmosphere which is good for area residents and businesses. The intersections by Delancey Street and the Williamsburg Bridge are some of the most dangerous in Manhattan. By adding curb bump-outs, giving pedestrians more time to cross, and decreasing the number of lanes for cars, we can make these intersections much safer.
SP: What do you think New York City streets will look like four years from now? What about twenty years from now?
RM: I am proud that my district has led the way in creating the streets of the future, with Select Bus lanes and designated bike lanes on 1st and 2nd Avenues. In four years, I expect to see more designated and protected bike lanes and pedestrian plazas in my district. Twenty years from now, I think we will have fewer cars on city streets. Hopefully, congestion pricing will have passed, and we will see streets primarily occupied by buses, bicycles, pedestrians and children with playstreets.
SP: What are some of the best places to visit by bike in your neighborhood?
RM: Any of my public parks, but especially the East River. It's also nice to visit all the community gardens while biking.
SP: What street in your neighborhood/district do you think is a model for what you'd like to see elsewhere?
RM: I think that First and Second Avenue, which both have semi-protected bike lanes and Select Bus lanes, are model streets. I would like to see this implemented in other places, including Fifth Avenue.
SP: Everyone has a memorable story to tell about being on the subway. What's yours?
RM: I had taken the subway up to Yankee Stadium for a game on October 31, 2001. The game ended after midnight, when Derek Jeter hit a homerun. I went to swipe into the subway after the game, but my metrocard didn’t work, because it was November. A stranger lent me his card, and we all hugged and sang “New York, New York” on the platform.