StreetsPAC Testifies at City Council Transportation Budget Hearing
Yesterday, the City Council's Committee on Transportation held a hearing on Mayor de Blasio's preliminary fiscal year 2018 budget, and we were there to testify.
The Mayor announced two months ago that he was boosting his administration's spending commitment to Vision Zero by $400 million, to a total of $1.6 billion over five years, and a fair portion of those funds will kick in during the coming fiscal year. In our testimony, we praised increased spending on replacement and refurbishment of street markings like crosswalks and bike lanes, and other important improvements like more crossing guards, safer intersection design and better street lighting.
But it wasn't all praise. We urged the City Council to push the Mayor to allocate public funds to Citi Bike expansion, to creation of a Fair Fares program that would provide half-priced Metro Cards to New Yorkers living below the poverty line, and on improving the delivery time of safe-streets capital projects.
And of course, we urged complete reform of on-street parking in New York City, which would have the double benefit of reducing congestion and increasing revenue.
You can read our complete testimony here.
Sign Our Petition: NYC Needs a Comprehensive Snow-Removal Protocol!
If you haven't had a chance yet, please sign our petition asking the City Council to initiate work on a comprehensive plan for improving snow removal in New York City.
The snowstorm two weeks ago, while only amounting to a few inches rather the blizzard that many had feared, served as one more reminder that the city lacks a comprehensive plan for clearing snow that puts pedestrians (and cyclists) on the same footing as drivers.
While the Department of Sanitation made sure roads were clear as quickly as the snow hit the ground, far too much of that plowed snow ended up creating headaches for pedestrians – and for less able-bodied New Yorkers, dangerous and impassable obstacles.
More than one Council Member at yesterday's budget hearing noted the mounds of snow that blocked bus stops and crosswalks, and NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg acknowledged that many bus stops were cleared only to have plows come by and push the snow right back.
Please take 30 seconds to ask the City Council to make better snow removal in New York City a priority, one that puts the mobility of pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists on par with that of people in cars.
NYC DOT Plans to Create "Shared Space" on Broadway Near Flatiron
Streetsblog's Brad Aaron reports today that the New York City Department of Transportation plans to turn the one-block stretch of Manhattan's Broadway between 25th and 24th Streets into a woonerf-style shared space.
On Tuesday DOT presented the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee with a plan to establish Broadway between 25th and 24th streets as a 5 mph zone with mixed pedestrian, cyclist, and car traffic [PDF]. The idea is that people on foot would have free range, essentially creating a larger plaza space out of the block, while low volumes of cars would still be permitted and drivers would be expected to travel at walking speeds.
This one-block segment of Broadway, where DOT expanded the pedestrian area known as Flatiron Plaza in 2008, would be converted from southbound traffic flow to northbound, and the zone of travel for motor vehicles would be demarcated by neckdowns, signage, and big rocks to signal motorists to slow down.
The project is intended to make it safer and easier to walk in an area where there is more foot traffic than cars. Crashes decreased by 29 percent in the two years after DOT installed the plaza, according to DOT.
Manhattan CB5's Transportation Committee endorsed the project (along with a proposal to upgrade the Fifth Avenue bike lane from 23rd Street to 8th Street with parking protection), which will go to the full board in April for ratification.
This is an exciting new approach for NYC DOT, one that will, we hope, serve as a precursor for similar treatments throughout the city.
"Vision Zero Has Made Ocean Parkway Safer, but Some See Red"
New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer picked up yesterday on turncoat State Senator Simcha Felder's dangerous crusade to overturn the 25 mile per hour speed limit on Brooklyn's Ocean Parkway. Dwyer writes:
Ocean Parkway runs about five miles, from Prospect Park to Brighton Beach. With its six lanes and tree-lined medians, it is one of the great boulevards of the United States. It has also ranked among the city’s most dangerous — “one of the highest crash and fatality rates in Brooklyn,” Polly Trottenberg, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, said.
Along the very stretch of road where Betty Smith stood, someone had driven over the speed limit every six seconds during the week of March 5th to 11th, according to readings taken by city cameras. That’s about 91,000 drivers.
On average, though, fewer than 1.1 percent of speeders on the parkway receive tickets sent by the automated system, because of limitations that include the hours that the cameras can issue them (during the school day), a state law that permits fines only for those caught going 11 miles per hour or more over the limit (speeds of 26 to 35 are illegal but not enforced by the cameras) and, in some cases, technical difficulties in identifying the license plate.
But even that's too much for Felder, who has introduced a bill in the State Senate that would increase the speed limit to 30 mph (he'd really like it to be 35).
Please tell Senator Felder "no way" by signing this Transportation Alternatives petition opposing any increase in the speed limit on Ocean Parkway.
Image Credits: Joshua Bright/New York Times; NYC DOT