Mayor Postpones March 24th Special Election for Queens Borough President

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that, in light of efforts to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, the March 24th special election for Queens Borough President will be postponed indefinitely.

We believe that this is the right decision, however difficult, given the danger of community spread of the virus. We do not take deferring elections lightly, but New York City is dealing with extraordinary circumstances.

We'll update you when we receive any new information about the future date and circumstances of the election. Until then, you can get a refresher as to why we've endorsed Costa Constantinides for Queens Borough President here.

And from all of us at StreetsPAC, please take care, minimize unnecessary social contacts, and help out your neighbors however you're safely able to do so.

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Costa Constantinides for Queens Borough President

While some misconstrue the offices of the five Borough Presidents as largely ceremonial, they in fact carry a good amount of influence. Borough Presidents play an important role in the city's land-use process, control relatively hefty discretionary and staff budgets, and have sway with city agencies and other elected officials. They can use the bully pulpit of the office to promote, or oppose, city policies and initiatives.

And perhaps most importantly, especially when it comes to street safety and transportation issues, Borough Presidents appoint the members of Community Boards.

For all those reasons, we believe that the upcoming March 24th special election for Queens Borough President is an important one – and it's why we are endorsing Costa Constantinides for Queens Borough President.

As the City Council Member representing Queens's 22nd District (Astoria and parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst) since 2014, and as Chair of the Council's Environmental Protection Committee, Constantinides has been a leader in the city's effort to combat climate change, and he clearly understands the transportation sector's outsized role in carbon emissions. It's why he believes it's so important to get people out of cars, and onto public transit and bikes.

That perspective underscores his strong support for building a real, connected network of protected bike lanes, along with their obvious safety benefits. It's why he pushed successfully to turn a municipal parking lot on Astoria's 31st Street into a 100%-affordable senior-housing facility, with zero parking spaces. And it's why he's been a qualified supporter of the MTA's redesign of the Queens bus network (though he thinks there's plenty of room for improvement on the draft plan), and a proponent of the proposed Triboro rail line.

If elected Queens Borough President, Constantinides pledges he will:

  • Reform, professionalize and diversify the Community Board appointment process
  • Develop a borough-wide transportation plan
  • Advocate for improved cycling infrastructure on the RFK/Triboro and Ed Koch/Queensboro Bridges, and a protected bike lane to connect them
  • Seek to transform additional city-owned municipal parking lots into housing

"We have made Queens' streets more livable over the last six years, but the hard work is still ahead," says Constantinides. "As Queens Borough President, I plan to create a holistic transportation plan that makes it safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike. I am so honored to have the support of StreetsPAC to improve our streets and create a better mass transit system."

We do want to recognize one of Constantinides's opponents, former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who impressed us with her commitment to better mass transit for Queens residents. She's been a strong proponent of reactivating the Long Island Railroad's abandoned Lower Montauk Branch as a new rail link serving multiple stops between Jamaica and Long Island City. Council Member Donovan Richards, another candidate for Queens BP, has also advocated for improved public transit and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, but he declined to participate in our endorsement process.

That said, we believe unequivocally that Costa Constantinides is the best choice for Queens voters concerned about safer streets and better public transportation. We are proud to endorse him for Queens Borough President, and urge you to vote for Costa in the special election on Tuesday, March 24th (early voting begins March 14th).

Please visit vote.nyc to check your registration status, confirm your polling site, and find early voting hours and locations. To contribute to Costa's campaign (the final filing deadline, and last chance for 8-to-1 matching funds, is at midnight tonight), please visit secure.actblue.com/donate/costa-2021.

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Monday: Meet & Greet with Carlina Rivera

Tomorrow – Monday, March 9th – please join us in the East Village for a special safe streets- and transportation-themed meet-and-greet event with Council Member Carlina Rivera, co-hosted by Brad Lander, Jessica Ramos, Jon Orcutt, Ya-Ting Liu and Tom DeVito.

It will be a great chance to talk bike lanes, busways, and transportation policy with one of the City Council's most dynamic young leaders, and to help Carlina jump-start her 2021 re-election effort. 

Carlina has been an outspoken advocate for safer streets and better public transit, authoring the legislation that now requires contractors to create and maintain temporary separated bike infrastructure when a protected lane is displaced by construction work. She's the prime sponsor of a bill that would create an Office of Active Transportation – NYC's very own "Bike Mayor" – and has been the de facto Bike Mayor of the 2nd Council District, which she gets around every day on her bicycle.

Carlina was also an early and vocal proponent of the 14th Street Busway, as well as one of the first Council Members to sign on to Speaker Corey Johnson's Streets Master Plan bill.

We enthusiastically endorsed Carlina's run for the CIty Council in 2017, and we're grateful for the commitment she's demonstrated to safer streets and better transit since taking office. Please join us Monday evening to hear from her directly, and to share your ideas about how we can work together to make New York CIty a world-class place for walking, biking and public transportation.

We'll have free hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar with happy-hour prices. Please let us know you're coming at rsvp@carlinarivera.com

Carlina Rivera Meet & Greet
Monday, March 9th
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Pinks
242 East 10th Street

Additional details below.

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Join us Monday for a Meet and Greet with Carlina Rivera!

This coming Monday, March 9th, we're teaming up with some of New York City's best advocates, and State Senator Jessica Ramos and City Council Member Brad Lander, to host a special safe streets- and transportation-themed meet-and-greet event with Council Member Carlina Rivera!

Carlina has been a champion for safer streets and better public transit since her first day in the City Council in 2018. She introduced legislation requiring that contractors create and maintain temporary separated bike infrastructure when a protected lane is displaced by construction work, which became law in 2019, and she's the prime sponsor of a bill that would create an Office of Active Transportation, known colloquially as a "Bike Mayor."

She was also an early and vocal proponent of the 14th Street Busway, which runs through a good portion of her East Side district, and one of the first Council Members to sign on as a supporter of Speaker Corey Johnson's Streets Master Plan.

We were proud to endorse Carlina's run for the CIty Council in 2017, and we're grateful for the commitment she's demonstrated day in and day out since her election. We hope you'll join us Monday evening to hear from her directly, and to share your ideas about how to continue making New York CIty a world-class place for walking, biking and public transit.

Additional details are below. Please let us know you're coming at rsvp@carlinarivera.com.

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StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Improving Street and Vehicle Safety

We were at City Hall today to testify at the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation oversight hearing on improving street and vehicle safety. Our testimony follows below.

Heavy vehicles accounted for a disproportionate share of pedestrian and cyclist deaths on New York City streets in 2019, and have been involved in a handful of deaths already this year, including the cement mixer whose driver struck and killed Judith Wieder on January 7th, and the DSNY truck whose driver ran over Shree Panthee and his mother earlier that day, killing the 10-year-old boy.

While Mayor de Blasio signed legislation in 2015 mandating the installation of side guards on all city vehicles exceeding five tons, with some exceptions, as well as requiring them on private carting trucks, that law granted nine years for implementation. Only a small fraction of private waste trucks have side guards today. The city has done better, but the need to accelerate implementation is clear. Lives hang in the balance.

Of course, side guards won’t save someone if they’re struck head on, which happens often. European and Asian cities are well ahead of New York in implementing life-saving technologies, including warning sensors that alert truck drivers to the presence of people on foot or on bikes, distraction and drowsiness monitors, and even intelligent speed assistance systems that limit engine power to ensure speed-limit compliance.

European and Asian trucks and buses are better designed, as well, with the cabs sitting over the engines to allow for much better visibility. We should be mandating such cab designs for city-owned and operated vehicles. We also need Albany and Washington to do their part to mandate better vehicle design and safety equipment, and we especially need the state legislature and the Governor to make licensing more rigorous, and to pass laws that hold reckless drivers accountable.

But heavy commercial vehicles are far from the only problem. More than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in crashes across the U.S. in 2018, the most since 1990.

The culprits, in many cases, were increasingly large and more powerful SUVs, equipped with big touchscreens and other distractions. NYCDOT has recognized that drivers of SUVs are responsible for an increasing share of deaths in New York, but we need more than awareness efforts and appeals to drivers’ better natures to deal with these deadly machines.

We’re at a point now that it’s time to begin regulating the types of vehicles that can be driven in densely populated areas of New York City. Manhattan is overrun with Suburbans, Yukons, and Expeditions, whose very names underscore their inappropriateness for urban streets. We must give serious thought to restricting the weight and size of the private vehicles that can be operated legally in the city, and we need to look to the EU’s requirement that all new vehicles sold beginning in two years have speed-limiting systems.

The technology exists to make city streets safer. We need the political will to require it. The future of Vision Zero lies in reducing the number and size of vehicles in New York City, and in interventions that will prevent drivers from speeding or operating those vehicles in dangerous and irresponsible ways.

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StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on School Bus Stop-Arm Cameras, Bike & Pedestrian Mayors

We were at City Hall yesterday to testify at the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation hearing on school bus stop-arm cameras, and bills that would create Offices of Active Transportation and Pedestrians. Here's what we had to say:

There are few transgressions a driver can commit behind the wheel of an automobile that are more egregious than passing a stopped school bus picking up or discharging children, and for that reason alone, we support Intro 1724, which would create a demonstration program to install stop-arm cameras on school buses. The danger of such driver action is underscored by the severity of the penalties for doing so: a $250 fine, five license points, and the possibility of 30 days in jail.

The act of passing a stopped school bus is born either from impatient, callous indifference to the dangers it imposes on others, or a degree of distraction so great that one fails to notice a big, bright yellow school bus deploying flashing lights and a large red stop sign. Neither is remotely acceptable, yet according to some reports, it occurs up to 50,000 times per day in the state of New York.

Fortunately, given the penalties, the rate of recidivism is low, as low as 2% to 6%, per statistics. But enforcement is also nearly non-existent; under current laws, a police officer must witness the infraction in order to issue a ticket. Stop-arm cameras have tremendous potential to improve enforcement, in the same way that school-zone speed cameras have begun holding dangerous drivers accountable.

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Tonight: Brooklyn Fundraiser for Andrew Gounardes

Tonight, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., please join us for an important re-election fundraiser for State Senator Andrew Gounardes.

Andrew won the State Senate seat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and other southern Brooklyn neighborhoods last November, defeating eight-term incumbent Marty Golden. It was a hard-fought, closely contested race, and his victory wasn’t certified until a couple weeks after the election. Andrew ran on a platform that prioritized pedestrian safety and better transit, among a number of important issues, and his victory was key in returning control of the State Senate to the Democratic Party. StreetsPAC invested heavily in Andrew's campaign, and our volunteers knocked on some 5,000 doors in a contest that Andrew won by roughly 1,000 votes.

In his first year in Albany, Andrew sponsored and passed a number of bills, but none was more important than the legislation that enabled New York City to vastly increase the number of life-saving speed cameras it deploys around city schools. Expansion of the speed camera program had been blocked by Marty Golden for years, despite the fact that being struck by a motor vehicle has been the leading cause of accidental death among children between the ages of 2 and 14 in New York City.

Regardless of all that he’s accomplished in his short time in office, Andrew may very well face an electoral challenge in 2020, quite possibly from Golden himself. So he needs to raise a considerable amount of money now in order to be prepared for a vigorously contested election.

Sending Andrew Gounardes back to Albany for another term, and ensuring that we’re able to maintain a committed safe-streets majority in the State Senate, is one of StreetsPAC's top priorities for 2020. We hope you'll join us on October 28th to meet and hear from Andrew, and to help make certain that he gets re-elected.

The invitation is below. Please visit https://secure.actblue.com/donate/streetspac to RSVP and/or donate.

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StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Vision Zero Oversight, Cycling Safety

StreetsPAC earlier today gave the following testimony at the New York City Council's join Committee on Transportation and Committee on Public Safety oversight hearing on Vision Zero and cycling safety:

2019 has been a very tough year for Vision Zero. We all knew, or should have known, that progress on Vision Zero would not be a straight line, but the increase in traffic deaths this year, especially among people on bikes, has been painful. It’s also important to remember that when we’re talking about Vision Zero, we’re talking about the lives of our fellow New Yorkers, so a tough year for Vision Zero is a tough year for New Yorkers, and one death among us is one too many.

We take a little bit of issue with the subject line of today’s oversight hearing – Vision Zero, Cyclist Safety, and Police Department Enforcement – because as we’ve testified at previous hearings, we believe that enforcement, especially by police officers, is the weakest, and frankly, least reliable aspect of Vision Zero.

As we’ve stated in past hearings, our ability to achieve Vision Zero lies first and foremost in redesigning our streets. Vision Zero is predicated on the fact that people make mistakes, and that those mistakes should not cost someone life or limb. Preventing those mistakes is best done through street design, and as we’ve seen, many of the more than two dozen people killed on bikes this year were struck in places that had little, if any, cycling infrastructure.

That is why we urge the speedy passage of Speaker Johnson’s Intro 1557, which would create a five-year Master Plan for the city’s streets, sidewalks and pedestrian spaces. Key to the master plan is accelerating the building of protected bike lanes, the single best way to keep cyclists safe. Intro 1557 should be brought to a vote ASAP.

The same goes for the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, Council Member Lander’s bill that would impound or boot vehicles that accrue a significant number of dangerous camera violations. Automated enforcement is the one means of enforcement that does make a real difference in Vision Zero. We saw a surge in speed-camera violations when expansion of the program began earlier this year, but violations quickly started to drop after each round of new camera deployments, as many drivers soon changed behavior. Getting the most dangerous drivers off the road will greatly reduce the dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians.

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This Coming Monday, Please Join Us for a StreetsPAC Fundraiser for Andrew Gounardes!

On Monday, October 28th, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., we're hosting an important re-election fundraiser for State Senator Andrew Gounardes.

Andrew won the State Senate seat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and other southern Brooklyn neighborhoods last November, defeating eight-term incumbent Marty Golden. It was a hard-fought, closely contested race, and his victory wasn’t certified until a couple weeks after the election. Andrew ran on a platform that prioritized pedestrian safety and better transit, among a number of important issues, and his victory was key in returning control of the State Senate to the Democratic Party. StreetsPAC invested heavily in Andrew's campaign, and our volunteers knocked on some 5,000 doors in a contest that Andrew won by roughly 1,000 votes.

In his first year in Albany, Andrew sponsored and passed a number of bills, but none was as important as the legislation that enabled New York City to vastly increase the number of life-saving speed cameras it deploys around city schools. Expansion of the speed camera program had been blocked by Marty Golden for years, despite the fact that being struck by a motor vehicle has been the leading cause of accidental death among children between the ages of 2 and 14 in New York City.

Regardless of all that he’s accomplished in his short time in office, Andrew may very well face an electoral challenge in 2020, quite possibly from Golden himself. So he needs to raise a considerable amount of money now in order to be prepared for a vigorously contested election.

Sending Andrew Gounardes back to Albany for another term, and ensuring that we’re able to maintain a committed safe-streets majority in the State Senate, is one of StreetsPAC's top priorities for 2020. We hope you'll join us on October 28th to meet and hear from Andrew, and to help make certain that he gets re-elected.

The invitation is below. Please visit https://secure.actblue.com/donate/streetspac to RSVP and/or donate.

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Join Us! StreetsPAC Fundraiser for Andrew Gounardes on October 28!

On Monday, October 28th, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., please join us for a fundraiser for State Senator Andrew Gounardes!

Andrew, who won his State Senate seat in 2018 on a platform focused on safer streets and better transit, led the effort in Albany that resulted this year in a major expansion of New York City's life-saving speed camera program. As the lead sponsor of the authorizing legislation in the Senate, he made speed cameras his top priority, and his success in passing the bill will have a profound effect on the safety of New Yorkers – and especially the children around whose schools the cameras are based.

But while Andrew had an amazing and productive first year in the State Senate, he may face a tough re-election fight. His district is more purple than most in New York City, and he won last fall by only about 1,000 votes. It's possible that Marty Golden, the long-time incumbent whom he defeated in 2018 (and who had repeatedly blocked the expansion of the speed camera program in Albany), may gear up for a rematch.

So we want to help Andrew raise the money he'll need to run an all-out re-election campaign in 2020. Helping him get an early start on fundraising now will mean that he'll be able to spend more time talking to voters and less time dialing potential donors next fall.

Sending Andrew Gounardes back to Albany for another term, and ensuring that we maintain a safe-streets majority in the State Senate, is one of StreetsPAC's top priorities. We hope you'll join us on October 28th to help make certain that we accomplish it.

See below for details, and click on the image to RSVP.

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StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.