Citywide Transit Plan; Complete George; Freedom Ticket

NYC DOT Kicks off Citywide Transit Plan Workshops

Yesterday, the New York City Department of Transportation kicked off a series of public workshops aimed at developing a citywide transit plan.

The Brooklyn borough workshop took place last night at Brooklyn College, but NYC DOT will hold workshops in the other four boroughs over the next month (Queens even gets two). The goals of the Citywide Transit Plan, as it's being called, are to help guide the future of transit planning in New York City, and to understand where people want and need to go, how well they're being served currently, and where new transit options are needed.

The transit system's struggles have been well documented. While overall ridership is at an all-time high, the subways are bursting at the seams while entire lines face lengthy shutdowns for repairs, and bus ridership is actually falling, due, most likely, to the unreliability of the bus system. At the same time, there are many city residents who don't have easy access to transit. All while the city's population continues to grow.

Missing from the planning, of course, is the 800-pound gorilla: the MTA. But there's a fair amount that NYC DOT can accomplish on its own, especially when it comes to surface transit, by redesigning streets and promoting alternate modes of transportation, like Citi Bike.

You can let NYC DOT know about your vision for the future of transit in New York City by attending one of the upcoming borough workshops – more info at transitplannyc.org/events/ – or by taking the online survey today at transitplannyc.org.

Let's build a safe, convenient and reliable public transportation system that's accessible to all New Yorkers!

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Vision Zero Budget Boost; City Council Hearing; Kallos Fundraiser Thanks; StreetsPoll Results

Mayor de Blasio Ups the Ante for Vision Zero

Yesterday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would increase its financial commitment to Vision Zero by about one-third, adding more than $400 million to a five-year budget that will now dedicate some $1.6 billion to improving the safety of city streets. He announced the new spending just steps from the notorious Brooklyn intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, one of the city's deadliest – now slated for significant safety upgrades beginning this year.

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About 80% of the new spending will be dedicated to the most important work – major street safety reconstruction. According to the city's press release, these capital dollars will fund...

...major street construction projects that often include full reconstruction of the roadbed, sidewalks and underlying infrastructure. These projects can completely realign complex intersections or provide permanent safety improvements like raised medians, while enhancing the livability of communities. These dollars represent a major long-term commitment to building out safer corridors and intersections for years to come.

But there's much more. The city will commit more than $25 million over several years to hire 100 full-time crossing guard supervisors and 200 part-time crossing guards, ensuring that all school crossing posts citywide will be staffed – with enough replacement guards to cover absences.

Another $70 million over five years will be dedicated to the faster replacement and refurbishment of street markings and crosswalks, shortening the current replacement cycle by 25% and making high-visibility crosswalks the standard citywide. Faded crosswalks and bike lanes have been the bane of many a street-safety advocate, and these funds will enable the striping of 15 million linear feet per year.

In addition, the budget increase will fund intersection upgrades along the city's bike network, left-turn traffic-calming measures at hundreds of intersections, more enhanced pedestrian crossings, brighter lighting at some 1,000 dangerous intersections, and a 50% increase in speed-detection equipment for the NYPD.

We commend Mayor de Blasio for this major step up in the city's commitment to Vision Zero – and the Council Members and fellow advocates who've pushed for this increased spending. One can't put a price tag on saved lives, but it's safe to say that this new funding will be well worth the cost.

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StreetsPAC Commends Mayor de Blasio for Increased Vision Zero Funding, Urges Quick Deployment

StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure delivered the following testimony at today's City Council Committee on Transportation oversight hearing on Vision Zero progress and needs:

We were heartened by the news this week that Mayor de Blasio plans to budget an additional $400 million for Vision Zero.  The City Council’s call last year for more funding for Vision Zero no doubt played a role in the Mayor’s decision; thank you for your continued advocacy for increased investment in safe streets.

This additional funding is critical, because 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, but that those mistakes should not cost someone a limb, or worse, his or her life.  A margin for human error must be part of the equation, whether that error is on the part of people using our streets, or those whose job it is to enforce the laws governing them.

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Ben Kallos Fundraiser January 10; Buffalo Gets Smart About Parking; StreetsPoll Results

Join Us! January 10 Fundraiser for City Council Member Ben Kallos

Please join us this coming Tuesday, January 10, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., for a fundraiser for Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos.

Ben, who was first elected to the Council in 2013, has been a champion of improving safety for vulnerable street users, and played a critical role in bringing crosstown paired bike lanes to the Upper East Side. He can frequently be spotted riding his bicycle around his district.

All the details are below. We look forward to seeing you there! RSVP.
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Ben Kallos Fundraiser; Time to Reinvent Street Parking; StreetsPoll Results

Save the Date: January 10, 2017 StreetsPAC Fundraiser for City Council Member Ben Kallos!

Please plan to join us on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., for a fundraiser for City Council Member Ben Kallos.

Ben, who was first elected to the Council in 2013, has been a champion of pedestrian safety, and was instrumental in bringing crosstown paired bike lanes to the Upper East Side. He can often be spotted riding his bicycle around his district.

All the details are below. We look forward to seeing you there! RSVP.
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StreetsPAC Urges Wholesale Rethinking of New York City Parking Policy

StreetsPAC testified at today's New York City Council Committee on Transportation oversight hearing on city parking policies, which also included discussion of bills aimed at facilitating car-sharing. Here's what we had to say:

In regard to Intro 267, which would reserve a percentage of parking spaces in public parking facilities for shared vehicles, and Intro 873, which would dedicate some number of on-street parking spaces to shared vehicles, we believe that the promotion of shared-vehicle services in New York City is generally a good thing.  Providing New Yorkers with alternatives to private car ownership makes sense.

However, we need to be cognizant of how shared vehicles are used.  If they provide options for people who might otherwise choose to own or lease a vehicle, that’s good.  But if the use of a shared vehicle replaces a trip that might otherwise have been made by public transit or bike or on foot, that’s perhaps not so good.  If the presence of shared vehicles induces car trips, that’s not good at all.  So it’s important that the dedication of space to shared vehicles comes with comprehensive study of how shared vehicles are used.  Reducing trips made by cars is just as important as reducing the total number of cars.

Additionally, while Intro 873 mentions the possibility of collecting fees for use by car-share operators of metered parking spaces, it makes no such mention of charging for “free” on-street parking spaces.  The bill needs to be explicit in mandating payment for dedicated parking.  Private companies should compensate the city for use of public space, and it begs the larger question of how we use and allocate our curbsides.

We strongly urge this committee, the Council, and the Department of Transportation to initiate a wide-ranging examination of the allocation of curb space in New York City.  The dedication of vast portions of our public streets to free private-vehicle storage is a 1950s-era concept that is ripe for change.  While we have wisely moved on from many other ideas that seemed sensible in the Fifties, our misguided parking policies have gotten a free pass.

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It's Time to Expand Citi Bike with Public Dollars

The City Council's Committee on Transportation held an oversight hearing this past Monday on the present and future of Citi Bike, and StreetsPAC was there to testify in favor of allocating public funds to expand the bike-share system in New York.

When Citi Bike's Phase II rollout is completed in 2017, the system will have 12,000 bikes and more than 700 stations. Much of the city, however, will still lack access to bike share, and no concrete plans have been made public for a third phase of expansion.

At the hearing, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg estimated that it would take upwards of 70,000 Citi Bikes to fully cover the five boroughs. The 2009 Department of City Planning study that paved the way for Citi Bike's launch in 2013 envisioned a 49,000-bike system aimed at medium- and high-density neighborhoods (those with 32,000 or more people per square mile).

Either scenario – and the density-focused system makes far more sense than a buckshot attempt to cover the city's entire geography, some of which is not conducive to a successful bike-share program – would represent growth of several magnitudes from the current system, and would certainly require a substantial public investment. That said, the 2009 DCP study projects that a 49,000-bike system would require just $200 million in capital costs and $100 million in annual operating costs, the latter of which, the study predicts, could be fully offset by sponsorship and membership and user fees.

citibikewsrag.jpgFor comparison, the de Blasio administration projects that the capital cost for the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar would be $2.5 billion, for a system that would serve at most 60,000 riders a day – a daily figure that the current Citi Bike system has topped 23 times in 2016. Even if a significantly expanded bike-share system required an ongoing operational subsidy, it would be a fraction of the subsidies consumed by ferries, commuter rail, and, to be sure, private automobiles.

Paul Steely White, testifying on behalf of Transportation Alternatives on Monday, wisely pointed out that broad expansion of New York City's bike-share system will also require a significant investment in safe infrastructure. Many of the areas of the city that a 49,000-bike system would cover lack even rudimentary bike lanes, let alone the kind of protected paths that make cycling such an attractive and accessible option. Implementing these complete-street treatments is also critical to achieving Vision Zero, however, and should be a priority regardless of Citi Bike's expansion.

The time for planning that expansion, though, is now. We urge the administration and the City Council to begin laying the groundwork for an equitable, citywide (or close to it) bike-share system without delay.

Read our full testimony from Monday's Council hearing here.

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StreetsPAC Urges Public Funding for NYC Bike-Share System

We gave the following testimony to the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation at today's oversight hearing on the present and future of Citi Bike:

After a bumpy two years following its launch in 2013, there’s little dispute that New York City’s bike share system is now on a roll.  Through the second week of November, people have taken more than 12 and a half million rides on Citi Bikes in 2016 – a more than 25% increase from all of last year – and the system now boasts 120,000 annual members.

This past summer, Citi Bike continued its planned growth, expanding northward in Manhattan to 110th Street, and throughout Community Board 6 in Brooklyn, and thanks to that increased footprint and its additional bicycles, Citi Bike set a number of daily ridership records, hitting nearly 70,000 rides on several days last month.  Next spring, it will roll out further into Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn.

However, while Citi Bike’s present is bright, its future is a bit less clear.  No concrete public plans exist for further growth of the system once the Phase II expansion is complete in 2017.  Will Citi Bike top out at 12,000 bikes?  Or will it continue to grow to serve even more New Yorkers, delivering the convenience and efficiency of bike share to neighborhoods thirsting for reliable, low-cost transit options?

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Rough Road Ahead?; Arrest in von Ohlen Death; City Council Testimony; Kallos Fundraiser Postponed

Rough Road Ahead? Safer Streets and Better Transit in the Trump Years.

Whatever may come of a Trump presidency, there's little doubt that those of us who support safe-streets and pro-transit policies are in for a bit of a rough road.

That, though, is perhaps an inapt analogy. The roads might be the only things that aren't rough, given that the person appointed to lead Trump's "transportation and infrastructure" transition team is a lobbyist for the asphalt industry, as The New York Times reported, and on which Streetsblog USA elaborated, last week. In Trump's America, "transportation and infrastructure" seems to equate with roads and highways.

rough-road-ahead.jpgWhich is why, when the black veils come off (assuming you are mourning the results of the election), we're going to need you more than ever to help us move ahead.

As Ben Fried wrote most eloquently in his Monday morning Streetsblog post (if you haven't read it, we suggest you stop right now and click the link), infrastructure dollars for New York City and New York State may come with some completely untenable strings attached. And if that does become our reality, it will be more important than ever for us to elect city and state leaders who will have what it takes to make streets safer and transit better, faster and more reliable for all New Yorkers – without help from Washington.

When we launched StreetsPAC in 2013, we did so with the goal of electing representatives who would make New York City's streets and transit system safe and accessible to all people, regardless of age or ability or economic means or – and we didn't think this necessary to state at the time – ethnicity or gender or religion. All means all.

And we can do this, with or without a Trump administration's help. We can rally around our blocks and our neighborhoods and communities and our city, and continue to create and implement policies that make life better for the people who live and work and visit here. We've lowered our speed limit and built great bike lanes and pedestrianized Times Square and reduced traffic fatalities and made life better for everyone.

But we need to keep and put the right people in office to continue this progress, today more than ever. The citywide elections in 2017 now take on even greater import. And we need you with us.

We're not going to ask you for money today (though if you want to give, by all means please do!). But we will soon. And repeatedly. The post-election hangover is heavy, but before too long, we'll have to shake it off and get to the critical work that lies before us. We CAN do this, but we can only do it TOGETHER.

Thank you for your past, and future, support of StreetsPAC.

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StreetsPAC Urges City Council to Pass LPI-for-Bikes and Pedestrian-Safety Study Bills

We gave the following testimony to the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation at their November 15, 2016 hearing covering several pieces of legislation intended to make walking and biking safer and easier.

Int. No. 1072 – Bicyclists following pedestrian signals (Support)

We offer our strong support for Intro 1072, which would allow people on bikes to adhere to pedestrian signals at intersections.

This is a common-sense bill that would greatly improve the safety at intersections of people riding bicycles, by allowing them to proceed on green leading pedestrian intervals.  The measure should significantly reduce turning conflicts and “right-hook” collisions between motorists and people on bikes, while also allowing cyclists to safely establish themselves in drivers’ fields of vision when starting out from a signalized intersection.

This legislation would not require the installation of any type of special signal for cyclists, and would cost the city nothing, and it would normalize and codify a practice that is already common among people riding bikes, who frequently use LPIs as a head start for self-preservation.  Furthermore, it does not require any compromise in pedestrian safety, as a person crossing an intersection on foot would retain the right of way in relation to turning cyclists.

We urge you to advance Intro 1072 out of committee without delay.

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