StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Addressing Traffic Congestion

StreetsPAC presented the following testimony earlier this week to the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation, at its oversight hearing on addressing traffic congestion:

Today’s oversight hearing is critical in light of the failure of the Governor and State Legislature to take meaningful action on congestion in the budget process just concluded. While the surcharge on ride-hailing vehicles and taxis will generate a fair amount of revenue, such a limited first-stab at dealing with congestion will have minimal effect on actually solving the problem.

Albany is not alone in deserving criticism, however. Mayor de Blasio, who for months has repeated, without foundation, that a congestion charge is somehow “regressive,” has done much to provide opponents of a comprehensive congestion-reduction effort with political cover. While his Millionaire’s Tax isn’t a bad idea for helping to fund and fix the MTA, it does nothing to address the twin crisis of crippling traffic.

Additionally, while the Congestion Action Plan the Mayor announced in October includes some good and sensible ideas, it amounts to tinkering around the edges. Cracking down on blocking the box and keeping curbs and travel lanes clear during peak hours are useful steps, but the program’s reliance on human enforcement guarantees that it will have limited effect.

What we really need is bold action, on a large scale and with an unwavering commitment to fixing the problem. Here are a half-dozen steps the Council can take to break gridlock’s hold on New York City.

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New York State Budget Comes Up Well Short in Addressing Grave Transit and Congestion Crisis

StreetsPAC joined Transportation Alternatives, the Straphangers Campaign and the Riders Alliance in issuing the following statement regarding the budget passed by the New York State Legislature early this morning:

"Our transit system is on life support. Fixing our transit system should have been Albany's first priority this year; unfortunately, the final budget does not offer a credible plan to modernize the MTA, nor provide a sufficient revenue stream to make it possible. The crisis in our subways and on our streets will continue, and New Yorkers will continue to demand action from Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers.

"If the governor is serious about alleviating the crisis, he must ensure that the initial steps laid out in this budget -- for-hire vehicle surcharges, bus lane expansion and enforcement -- be the catalyst for meaningful reform.

"First, Governor Cuomo must use a portion of the new revenue to help implement comprehensive congestion pricing, by constructing cordon infrastructure and addressing needs in transit deserts around the city. Then, the governor must establish, and commit to, a timeline to make congestion pricing a reality in New York.

"New York's transit and traffic problems may seem intractable, but with bold leadership, reform is possible. New Yorkers deserve better than broken subways, unsafe streets, and crippling gridlock, and it's time for our representatives to deliver."

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New York City Launches LPI-for-Bikes Pilot Program; Albany Limps Toward Budget Deadline

New York City Launches LPI-for-Bikes Pilot Program

Yesterday morning, we joined City Council Member Carlos Menchaca and the New York City Department of Transportation at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street in Brooklyn for the launch of a pilot program that will allow people on bikes to get a head start at intersections with leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs), where the pedestrian walk signal turns green a few seconds before drivers get a green light.

The pilot, which will be in effect at a total of 50 intersections in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, will run for six months, after which NYCDOT and the NYPD will evaluate safety data. If successful, the effort could roll out citywide.

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The city began installing LPIs several years ago, and there are now more than 2,500 of them throughout the five boroughs. A study released by NYCDOT in 2016, Don't Cut Corners, found that crashes in which pedestrians and cyclists were killed or seriously injured declined by 56% at intersections with LPIs.

In addition, city data indicates that 65% of cyclist fatalities and almost 90% of serious injuries to cyclists occur at intersections, so the potential safety effect of the LPI-for-Bikes pilot is significant.

StreetsPAC worked closely with Council Member Menchaca on developing legislation that would permit people on bikes to adhere to pedestrian signals, which Menchaca introduced in 2016. The legislation hasn't advanced, primarily due to concerns on the part of the NYPD. However, with NYCDOT's support, Menchaca was able to gain the Police Department's support for the pilot effort.

We're confident that the data from the pilot study will show that following pedestrian signals will improve safety for cyclists, without any adverse effect on pedestrians or drivers, and will be adopted citywide, either through passage of Council Member Menchaca's bill or through an administrative change. Either way, we'll be there to advocate for its implementation.

Here's more coverage of the initiative from Streetsblog and amNewYork. In addition, StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure spoke with Fox 5 NY's Linda Schmidt about the safety benefits of the LPI-for-Bikes pilot (click the image below for video).

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March 22, 2 pm: Rally to Protect NYC Kids with Speed Safety Cameras

From our friends at Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives:

"Earlier this month, two children were killed by a reckless driver while crossing a New York City street. A few weeks before that, another child was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. That’s three young New Yorkers who have been killed in the first three months of 2018 by deadly driving, and 40 during the Vision Zero era.

"Each and every one of these tragedies could have been prevented. But we have been too slow to implement known remedies. TransAlt and Families for Safe Streets have been fighting for more speed safety cameras to protect school zones for years, and we’ve been frustrated with the progress in Albany year after year.

"This Thursday at 2 p.m., side-by-side with Mayor de Blasio, we will call for action. Please join us.

"Speed safety cameras are proven to dramatically reduce speeding and save lives. More of our schools should have them. And right now, there is a unique opportunity for us to ensure speed safety cameras are included in the state budget.

"Last week, one thousand New Yorkers, led by hundreds of kids, marched in Brooklyn to demand an end to traffic violence NOW. They’re not willing to wait any longer.

"Stand with us on Thursday and say you’re not willing to wait either."

We'll be with Families for Safe Streets and T.A. tomorrow at City Hall – please join us to demand that the legislature and the Governor include reauthorization and expansion of the city's speed safety camera program in this year's budget!

Rally to Protect NYC Kids with Speed Safety Cameras
Thursday, March 22
2:00 p.m. (please allow extra time for security screening)
City Hall
RSVP

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L Train Testimony; Congestion Pricing Petition; Get Marty Golden Off the Road!

StreetsPAC Weighs in on Plans for the L Train Shutdown

This past Thursday, the City Council's Committee on Transportation held an oversight hearing on the planned April 2019 shutdown of the L train, and StreetsPAC was at City Hall to testify.

The proposal for accommodating the 225,000 daily riders of the L who will be displaced by the 15-month project to repair the Canarsie Tubes mark a significant step forward by the MTA and New York City Department of Transportation, but in our opinion, the plans need to go farther. In particular, we believe that "peak hours" bus-only and HOV3+ restrictions proposed for 14th Street and the Williamsburg Bridge need to be significantly extended, if not to 24/7, at least to something much closer to that.

In addition, we have concerns about how passenger egress from the more than one bus per minute slated to carry erstwhile L train riders across the bridge will be facilitated, and we harbor doubts about an already-struggling subway system's ability to accommodate 160,000 additional daily passengers on the G, J, M and Z lines.

Of course, the burden on surface transportation would be greatly eased if a robust congestion-pricing plan were in effect by the time that the L is shut down, a point we highlighted in our testimony, which you can read in full here.

There's more about the hearing and the MTA/NYCDOT plans in The New York Times, on Streetsblog, and at Second Avenue Sagas.

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StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on the L Train Shutdown

StreetsPAC presented the following testimony yesterday to the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation, at its oversight hearing on the impending 2019 shutdown of the L train for repairs to the Canarsie tubes:

While the plan released yesterday by the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation is a significant step forward in addressing the transportation crisis that will be created by the 15-month shutdown of the Canarsie Tubes beginning in 2019, it needs to go farther.  Our hope is that this is merely an opening bid that will be revised and made stronger over the coming months.

For starters, we believe that buses running across the Williamsburg Bridge should have a dedicated, physically separated lane, discreet from trucks and turning cars. In order to move 70 buses with 3,800 passengers per hour across the bridge, they must be able to travel unencumbered by other vehicles.*

In addition, the bus approaches to the bridge must be dedicated and protected. While HOV3+ restrictions are absolutely necessary, we have deep concerns about enforceability of those restrictions, and would like to see a detailed enforcement plan.

Furthermore, we believe that occupancy restrictions on the bridge should be in place 24/7, as commuting patterns and timing will likely evolve during the shutdown.  The same is true for bus-only restrictions on the 14th Street “Core Busway,” which should be extended well beyond rush hours. We are certain to see major increases in for-hire vehicle traffic along the affected route, the effects of which will only be mitigated by dedicating space for much more efficient buses.

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StreetsPAC-Endorsed City Council Candidates Win Big!

Congratulations to the winners of last night's citywide elections, and especially to City Council Members-elect Carlina Rivera, Keith Powers and Justin Brannan (who all made us look smart for endorsing their candidacies early on), along with the 13 incumbent Council Members whom we endorsed for re-election. Congratulations, too, to Brian Cunningham, who ran a spirited third-party race for the 40th Council District seat after finishing a strong second in the September 12 primary. This isn't the last we'll hear from Brian.

Kudos as well to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Comptroller Scott Stringer, who all handily won re-election, and all the other victors in city races.

Overall, StreetsPAC-endorsed City Council candidates won 16 of 17 races last night, and 16 of 23 primary contests, and no StreetsPAC-backed candidate finished worse than second in any primary or general election contest. That speaks to broad popular support for street-safety and transit improvements, and would appear, we believe, to be confirmation that our questionnaire and interview process leads us to choose strong and viable candidates for public office.

Thank you, of course, for your support for our work. Without your generous financial support, we wouldn't be able to back candidates with significant monetary contributions, and without your volunteer help, we wouldn't be able to help get them over the finish line. Your retweets, likes and shares of our social media content all help too, more than you know, as we continue to build a political movement for safer streets and better transit.

One last time, here are the candidates whom we endorsed in yesterday's general election. Congratulations to all!

 StreetsPAC2017CouncilEndorseesGeneral.jpg

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StreetsPAC General Election Voter Guide

New York City's general election is today, Tuesday, November 7th! The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and anyone registered to vote in New York City may cast a ballot.

StreetsPAC has endorsed candidates in one-third of New York City's 51 Council Districts, 17 in all, in today's election. You can learn more below about each of the candidates whom we've endorsed, and the projects and issues they've committed to supporting as members of the City Council.

Turnout today will likely be among the lowest on record for a citywide election, which means that your vote for safe, complete and livable streets, and reliable, efficient and affordable mass transit, will undoubtedly make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your local City Council race – and in shaping the future of a city of which we can all be proud.

To check your voter-registration status, find your polling location, and to see a sample ballot, please visit voting.nyc. And most importantly, please make time to go to the polls today to vote for a StreetsPAC-endorsed candidate!

Meet the Candidates

StreetsPAC2017CouncilEndorseesGeneralDistricts.jpg (Numbers correspond with the Council District for which each candidate is running.)

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Remembering the Victims of the Hudson River Greenway Terror Attack

Yesterday's horrific vehicular attack on cyclists and pedestrians along the Hudson River Greenway, and on the occupants of a school bus at the intersection of Chambers and West Streets, was the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11. It was also a stark reminder of the damage that can be done to vulnerable street users, intentionally or not, by a driver of a motor vehicle.

We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families, and their friends. And we urge city and state officials to act without delay to improve the safety of the Hudson River Greenway, and all of New York City's bike paths, sidewalks, public plazas and streets. We must commit to substantially reducing the presence of cars and trucks in the city's densely populated areas, further reducing speed limits, and building the protective infrastructure necessary to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe. We must rapidly expand the use of automated, non-biased, enforcement cameras, and implement a congestion-pricing program.

Not next year, not next month. Now.

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ACTION ALERT: Urge Your Democratic Assembly Member to Support Move NY!

As you probably know, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced support for congestion pricing in August, saying that it "is an idea whose time has come." Earlier this month, he formed an advisory panel tasked with developing proposals that would both reduce traffic congestion on New York City streets and create a dedicated revenue stream for MTA funding.

While the Governor's coming around to the benefits of road pricing is certainly a welcome development, the fact is that a perfectly good plan for addressing both congestion and MTA funding already exists: the Move NY Fair Plan. Created by transportation expert Sam Schwartz (who's serving on the Governor's Fix NYC advisory panel) and economist Charles Komanoff, the Move NY plan has been on the table for several years, and was introduced as legislation by Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez more than a year and a half ago.

ActionAlert.pngHere's where the action comes in. Tomorrow, Assembly Democrats are gathering in Albany to discuss legislative priorities for the next session. We know that congestion pricing is on the agenda, so it's critical that you contact your Democratic Assembly Member TODAY to ask him or her to support Move NY. It's doubly or triply important if you live in the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn.

You can locate your Assembly Member, and his or her contact information, using your home address, hereBe sure to call or email today. Here's a sample script, but it will be even more effective if you put it into your own words:

"Hi, I’m a voter in your district and urge you to support the Move NY version of congestion pricing because the plan is the only one on the table that will fix our transit and road system, curb traffic, fill transit deserts and lower fares for low-income New Yorkers. [You can add a statement tailored to your own neighborhood, such as "traffic on Queens Boulevard" or "terrible subway conditions in Bay Ridge."] I'm counting on you to make sure that the Move NY plan is passed by the New York State Legislature. Thank you."

It's critical that Democratic Assembly Members hear from as many constituents as possible before they meet tomorrow. We're counting on you to contact yours.

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