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's Testimony to City Council on Exclusive Commercial Waste Zones

StreetsPAC earlier today gave the following testimony at the New York City Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management's hearing on a bill that would remake the way commercial waste is collected in the city, with significant implications for improved street safety:

As advocates for improving the safety of the city’s streets, we support the passage of Intro 1574, which would adopt exclusive Commercial Waste Zones in New York City.

As the analysis conducted for the Department of Sanitation’s Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement made clear, an exclusive waste zone program will lead to the largest possible reduction in vehicle miles traveled by commercial waste haulers, reducing overall VMT by approximately 60% versus the current non-zoned system. That equates to a reduction of nearly three million vehicle miles traveled annually.

This is critically important from the standpoint of safety, since drivers of commercial-waste vehicles have killed more than two-dozen people on New York City’s streets over just the past five years. The current system, in which different carting companies drive routes that can crisscross the entire city, leads to some of the most reckless driving behaviors one can imagine: blatant running of red lights, wrong-way operation, backing up through intersections, and hazardous speeding. Anyone who’s walked a street late at night in the city has witnessed this firsthand.

But private sanitation drivers don’t set out to be a menace. That type of driving behavior is fed by the current dysfunctional system, in which overworked crews zigzag across the city in a nightly race to complete their haphazard, disjointed routes, frequently working 12- or 14-hour shifts. An exclusive zone system will greatly rationalize this current, dangerous mess.

Moreover, the reduction in VMT will be even more pronounced in the densest parts of the city. An exclusive-zone plan would reduce VMT in Midtown Manhattan by more than half versus a non-exclusive, multi-hauler arrangement.

This further reduction in VMT from an exclusive-zone system will provide important benefits aside from improved safety. Reduced VMT will mean better air quality and lower greenhouse-gas emissions, and the more streamlined routing of trucks will lead to reduced noise levels. Crucially, worker safety will also be optimized under an exclusive-zone system.

Finally, exclusive zones will require fewer trucks and less fuel, leading to significant cost savings for the commercial haulers awarded exclusive-zone contracts, savings that can be passed along to customers, helping to offset concerns about increased costs due to reduced competition – which the city can and must manage through better regulation.

The long-term stability created by an exclusive-zone system will best enable private haulers to amortize investments in newer, cleaner, and safer trucks and technology, thanks to the stable customer base, predictable revenue stream, and long-term, enforceable contract with New York City that such a plan will create. While we’re here today because of what an exclusive-zone system will mean for life and limb, these other benefits are substantial and meaningful.

We urge the Committee on Sanitation, and the full Council, to pass Intro 1574.

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Today: Vote Tiffany Cabán for Queens District Attorney!

Good morning! Today is the Democratic Primary Election for Queens District Attorney.

TiffanyCaban385x385.pngWe urge you to cast your vote for Tiffany Cabán, a young public defender who has pledged to change the way the Queens DA's office handles crash investigations and prosecutions, putting victims first while working to ensure that dangerous drivers are held accountable.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can confirm your polling site at voting.nyc. And you can hear about Tiffany's candidacy in her own words here.

Our full endorsement statement is below.

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Tiffany Cabán for Queens District Attorney

Competitive elections for District Attorney in New York City's five boroughs are rare events. Absent term limits, DAs tend to get re-elected many times over. Robert Morgenthau served as Manhattan District Attorney for 35 years before retiring at the end of 2009. Richard Brown, who served as Queens District Attorney for nearly 28 years, announced in March that he would step down, and subsequently passed away last month while still in office.

The end of Mr. Brown's long tenure as District Attorney presents Queens voters with an opportunity to elect a reformer who can reshape the office for the first time in a generation – including the ways in which it handles vehicular crimes. And when those voters go to the polls this coming Tuesday, we urge them to vote for Tiffany Cabán.

TiffanyCaban385x385.pngMs. Cabán, a 31-year-old public defender, is committed to reducing incarceration and to eliminating inequality in prosecutions. But she also understands that black and brown and economically disadvantaged communities are disproportionately the victims of traffic violence. She believes that victims of crashes are too often not empowered, not helped by DA's offices, and not supported with necessary access to social services, and she's determined to change that. Importantly, she points out that the current system does nothing to prevent harm to victims from happening again.

As a strong believer in restorative justice, Ms. Cabán has pledged to pursue creation of a Queens version of Brooklyn's Driver Accountability Program, the successful pilot effort run by the Brooklyn DA's office in conjunction with the Red Hook Community Justice Center and the Center for Court Innovation, which has shown promise for reducing dangerous-driving recidivism.

Ms. Cabán is also committed to establishing a Vehicular Crimes Unit within the Queens DA's office, with a special emphasis on helping victims. She believes that too often, police and prosecutors fail to bring charges in cases of vehicular crime, defaulting to the "Rule of Two" or failing to rigorously pursue available evidence. While she will always seek non-punitive means of delivering justice, she acknowledges that there are times when dangerous drivers must be taken off the street in order to keep the public safe.

Ms. Cabán will also appoint a dedicated liaison to work with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, to ensure use of best practices and to try to prevent traffic violence from happening in the first place.

As a career public defender with strong progressive credentials, Tiffany Cabán has the potential to remake the Queens DA's office and to tackle vehicular crime in a new and more effective way. We urge Queens voters to give her that chance. Please vote for Tiffany Cabán in the Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney on June 25th.

One final note: we want to recognize and commend the candidacy of Jose Nieves, an experienced prosecutor who has worked in the office of the New York State Attorney General and the Kings County District Attorney. Mr. Nieves shares Ms. Cabán's interest in changing the way the Queens DA's office handles vehicular crimes, and her belief in restorative justice. If elected, Ms. Cabán would do well to consider Mr. Nieves as a candidate to lead her Vehicular Crimes Unit.

To check your voting status, please visit voterlookup.elections.ny.gov, and to locate your polling site and see a sample ballot, please visit nyc.pollsitelocator.com.

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StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on a Transportation Master Plan and LPIs for Bikes

StreetsPAC earlier today gave the following testimony at the New York City Council Committee on Transportation's hearing on bills that would create a Transportation Master Plan, and authorize LPIs for bikes:

StreetsPAC strongly supports Intro 1557, which would require the Department of Transportation to issue and implement a master plan for use of the city’s streets, sidewalks and pedestrian spaces.

As City Council Speaker Corey Johnson underscored in the comprehensive “Let’s Go” report his office issued in March, the city too often takes the path of least resistance in implementing bicycle or pedestrian or transit projects. This is not meant as a criticism of NYCDOT; Commissioner Trottenberg and her teams are deeply committed to the safety and mobility of all New Yorkers. Politics, however, too often get in the way of their work.

While the Department is of course concerned about being held to arbitrary targets, we’re confident that NYCDOT and the Council can arrive at mutually agreed benchmarks that are both aggressive andachievable. And the simple fact is that we needtargets. The city’s Bicycle Master Plan has not been updated since it was issued in 1997. While we have of course expanded greatly on that plan, we still are far from the kind of fully connected and safe bike network the Speaker’s report envisions, and that a truly bike-friendly city requires.

Creating a master plan will also help insulate our progress on transportation from the vagaries of changing administrations. We’re falling behind major world cities that have more quickly recognized the importance of reducing car dependency, including Paris, London, Oslo and Barcelona, to name just a few. The future of New York City surely is not one in which cars will dominate our streets, and a master plan will help us get to that future more quickly, directly, and efficiently.

A master plan will also help us better integrate the many facets of our transportation network. There’s no good reason New Yorkers shouldn’t be able to transfer freely from a bus to a ferry, or a shared bicycle to a subway. And the fact that our transit system is not accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of their mobility, is just not acceptable.

Additionally, a comprehensive plan will be critical to turning around our struggling bus system, which is in dire need of separated lanes, universal signal priority, streamlined routing, and all-door boarding. It will help us more quickly rationalize the way we treat the curbside, implement better parking and loading-zone policies, and accelerate the breaking of car culture. It will help improve the safety and mobility of all New Yorkers.

It is hugely important, however, that the City Council provide NYCDOT with the resources it will need to create, and adhere to, a transportation master plan. This is a mandate that cannot go unfunded. As the first line of the “Let’s Go” report states, transportation is the lifeblood of New York. We must ensure that we fund it as such.

StreetsPAC fully and unequivocally supports Intro 1457, which would permit a person riding a bicycle to proceed on a green leading pedestrian interval, or LPI signal, at an intersection. The 50-intersection pilot program for the LPI-for-bikes effort has been a complete success, and we urge quick passage and implementation of the bill. It will improve safety for people riding bikes, without compromising safety for anyone else. Let’s roll it out citywide as soon as possible.

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StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council BQX Task Force

StreetsPAC gave the following testimony today to the New York City Council's Task Force on the BQX, the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar line:

In general, enhancements to public transportation are things that we should embrace as a city. New transit lines that enhance connectivity and provide service to areas that have been underserved by existing systems have the potential to greatly improve people’s lives.

So we’d like to sit here today and welcome the proposed BQX with open arms, but there are a number of reasons for concern.

The cost of building the BQX will be significant, and it’s easy to argue that parallel bus service, which would offer equal or superior transit performance, could be implemented far more cheaply, and more quickly as well. Most new streetcar projects built across the country during the past decade, however, have been constructed primarily to enhance economic development, rather than as robust additions to local transit networks. The costs tend to be borne widely, while the benefits accrue much more narrowly.

It’s also easy to argue that investments in transit would have much greater return if directed toward improving the city’s struggling bus network, building protected bus lanes, speeding up the implementation of signal priority and off-board, all-door boarding, and the like.

Most importantly, there are two essential features critical to the BQX’s success, and without ironclad commitments to those features, the project should not proceed.

The first is fare integration with the existing New York City Transit system. If the BQX is to serve as a pathway to economic opportunity for those neighborhoods along the planned route, it must offer seamless and free transfers to and from intersecting subway and bus lines. Requiring people to pay a second fare to connect to other transit options will create a barrier that those most in need won’t be able to afford, and will render the BQX a streetcar line serving mostly affluent riders.

The second key element required for the BQX to succeed is 100% dedicated right-of-way along the entirety of the route. Where streetcars have failed, it has been principally due to incursion by drivers into the path of streetcars. We all know far too well New York drivers’ propensity to double-park with impunity; to think that somehow that won’t happen along a streetcar route is pure folly. Right-of-way cannot be enforced; it must be created and maintained structurally. And without completely dedicated right-of-way, the BQX will be doomed to failure.

We urge the task force to mandate fare integration and exclusive right-of-way if the BQX project is to move forward.

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Bike to City Hall with the City Council's Progressive Caucus this Wednesday!

This Wednesday, May 22nd, please join us to celebrate Bike Month as we team up with the New York City Council's Progressive Caucus, Transportation Alternatives, and other advocacy groups for our 6th Annual Bike to Work event.

BiketoWork2019.pngThere will be three main feeder rides, one convening at the corner of Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street in Queens at 7:30 a.m., another meeting up on the plaza behind Brooklyn Borough Hall at 8:00 a.m., and a third gathering on the 14th Street steps at Union Square in Manhattan at 8:30 a.m. The rides will converge at City Hall for a rally at 9:00 a.m.

Additionally, there are two organized "rides to the rides." On Manhattan's Upper East Side, join Council Member Ben Kallos at his district office, at 244 East 93rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, at 7:15 a.m., for a ride to Union Square.

In Brooklyn, you can join a group riding from Grand Army Plaza to Borough Hall. Meet up and be ready to go by 7:30 a.m.

Please join us, along with partner organizations Transportation Alternatives, Bike New York, Get Women Cycling, and Citi Bike, for this fun, casual ride, and the chance to bike with some of the City Council's leading voices for safer streets, including Antonio Reynoso, Brad Lander, Ben Kallos and Helen Rosenthal.

Please RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/BiketoWorkPC so we have a sense of how many riders to expect, and if you don't have your own wheels, you can request a Citi Bike with your RSVP.

As of right now, the weather forecast for Wednesday predicts bright, sunny skies and a high of 72° – in other words, perfect cycling weather. Be there!

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