StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Intros 417, 501-A, and more

We testified yesterday at the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure oversight hearing on Bicycles, Micromobility, and Street Enforcement, in support of bills that would eliminate an unnecessary waiting period for bike lane projects, enable civilians to report illegal parking via a mobile app, and require the Department of Transportation to create a map of bike lane service status. Our full testimony follows below.

Intro 417: Support

StreetsPAC strongly supports Intro 417, which eliminates an unnecessary and burdensome waiting period for bike-lane installation that treats such projects differently from all other major street work, righting a “bikelash”-era wrong that was passed in 2011 to needlessly hamper implementation of cycling infrastructure shortly after the dismissal of the misguided lawsuit aimed at removing the Prospect Park West bike path. Ensuring that the Department of Transportation can move ahead quickly on bike projects will get safer designs in the ground faster, and help the city meet ambitious bike-lane mileage targets.

Intro 501-A: Support

We also strongly support Intro 501-A, which will allow civilian reporting of vehicular hazardous-obstruction violations, including blocking of bike lanes, bus lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and fire hydrants via a mobile app, with an attendant $175 fine returnable to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Illegal parking is epidemic in New York City, and unfortunately, current enforcement of such violations is negligible at best, frequently overly deferential to drivers, and police officers and other city employees are often the ones committing these offenses.

Empowering citizens to report these violations eliminates bureaucratic hurdles, and similar programs have worked to good effect in reporting illegal idling and violations by for-hire drivers. We do, however, urge the Council to eliminate the provision in the bill that requires that reportable vehicles be unoccupied. This carveout will reduce the program’s effectiveness, and we believe that concerns about potential conflict are overblown, given little evidence of altercations between drivers and users of the TLC or DEP reporting systems.

Intro 289: Support

We also believe the type of searchable map that Intro 289 would mandate is a good idea. Council Member Rivera’s Local Law 124, enacted in 2019, already requires the provision of temporary accommodations when street work impedes on existing bike lanes, though adherence to the law is far from universal. As we don’t think NYCDOT’s operational concerns are without merit, we’re hopeful that further discussions can lead to a workable and mutually agreeable outcome.

As for Intros 712, 926, and 927, while we believe they’re all well intended, we would prefer that the Council legislate action rather than additional study, especially in the areas around which these bills are oriented.

We know that unreadable license plates are a large and seemingly growing problem, which will surely become worse without definitive action and accountability. Increased enforcement and heavier fines to deter these dangerous and fraudulent practices should be the priority.

NYCDOT already reports on cycling activity in a variety of ways. While in many cases the data could be better, we join Bike New York in requesting that this bill focus on improved data collection, especially the addition of bike counters beyond the Manhattan-centric screenline measures.

Lastly, we know that there is a great need in the city for battery-charging stations for e-bikes used by delivery workers. The administration announced more than six months ago a commitment to creating Deliverista hubs, but none have opened to date, and a Manhattan Community Board, to their discredit, recently voted against locating such a hub in an unused newsstand kiosk at 72nd Street and Broadway. Any legislation in this regard should compel work on a hub network and eliminate needless hamstringing.

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