StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on FY2024 Transportation Budget

We testified yesterday at the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure preliminary hearing on the city's Fiscal Year 2024 transportation budget. With the budget covering such a wide scope, we chose to focus on a few areas of pressing need. Our full testimony follows below.

New York City’s failure last year to meet the benchmarks for the creation of physically separated bus lanes and bike lanes required by the city’s Streets Plan was deeply concerning, and that failure raises significant red flags for fiscal 2024, since both of those benchmarks increase this year, from 20 miles of protected bus lanes to an average of 30 per year over five years, and from 30 miles of protected bike lanes to an average of 50 per year through 2026.

While the Department of Transportation has testified in these chambers that their funding is sufficient, the missed targets in 2022 belie the reality. DOT, like many city agencies, faces significant staffing shortages, and filling unstaffed positions while also funding future staffing growth will be essential to meeting the Streets Plan benchmarks.

And the need for increased funding goes well beyond personnel issues. More money is required to procure materials, many in short supply, that are essential to street safety projects, such as jersey barriers for the hardening of bike lanes. Bringing more capacity in-house at DOT would help speed critical aspects of road work, like restriping following milling and repaving projects, which can take weeks, if not months, when left to contractors.

More robust funding will also help address the significant equity gaps that exist in our streets and public spaces. The Streets Plan rightly focuses on addressing those equity issues, prioritizing investment in those areas of the city whose residents are predominantly people of color, where incomes are lowest, and where investment in infrastructure has lagged the most. Ensuring that DOT has the capability to implement projects quickly in Tier 1 Priority Investment Areas should be a budget priority, as well.

Now that Mayor Adams has appointed the city’s first-ever Chief Public Realm Officer, it’s critical that her work is supported by funding for important public-realm improvements like Open Restaurants and Open Streets. The Open Restaurants program brought outdoor dining to some parts of the city that had never had it, and Open Streets have been a literal lifesaver for communities lacking green spaces. We need to ensure that we can create the equivalent of Paseo Park in neighborhoods across the five boroughs.

Lastly, we want to shine a spotlight on the need for vastly increased funding in two specific areas that will engender continued expansion in cycling, which has seen robust growth but has much more room to run if properly supported. As we have many times before, we again call for public funding of the city’s bike-share system to facilitate its expansion into all corners of the city. Notably, the Chairs of the Transportation and Infrastructure and Finance Committees have both expressed a desire to see bike share expanded to their respective districts. Bike share is the only mode of public transport that receives no corresponding public subsidy in New York City, and it’s time for the city to make that investment, as well as to invest in the safe, protected cycling network to support it.

We also urge the city to not spare expense in creating safe, secure bike parking infrastructure. Following a successful demonstration project last spring with Oonee, a company that continues to rapidly innovate secure bike-parking facilities, it’s time for DOT to go big. We know that the ready availability of secure storage is a critical driver of increased cycling, and it’s also a partial solution to the dangers of substandard e-bike batteries. Let’s commit to making a substantial investment in secure bike parking.

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published this page in News 2023-03-10 15:09:23 -0500
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