Mayor de Blasio’s reelection proves what millions of pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users across New York have known for years -- that meaningful investment in street safety, sustainability, and equity isn’t just morally sound; it’s also good politics, and voters will overwhelmingly support public officials who prioritize streets for people.
According to a poll commissioned by Transportation Alternatives earlier this election year, more than 70% of New York voters want streets that prioritize people biking and walking -- even if it means losing some parking and driving space. As the Mayor now prepares for his second term, New Yorkers are counting on him to redouble his efforts to make Vision Zero a reality by 2024 and to fight for a city where traffic violence is a thing of the past.
Mayor de Blasio’s leadership on the Vision Zero campaign to eliminate traffic deaths citywide was laudable throughout his first term. Thanks to his investments in street redesigns and a lower speed limit, New York City has bucked the national trend of rising traffic fatalities. The Mayor must now seize the opportunity to build on this success and take Vision Zero much further. Everyone in New York has the right to walk, run, bike, and commute throughout the city safely -- anytime, anywhere, regardless of age, ethnicity, or income. We can achieve this -- quickly, sustainably, and equitably -- through bold infrastructure, law, and policy action by the Mayor.
Indeed, there are already common-sense proposals in front of the Mayor that enjoy broad support and will allow him to leave a transformative legacy on New York City streets. In just the next six months, he can work with the Governor to enact congestion pricing, a policy proven to reduce congestion and traffic crashes that would create much-needed funding for public transportation. He can ensure that, during the coming L-train shutdown, 14th and Grand Street PeopleWays are implemented to not only expand bus capacity during construction, but to forge a new model that can work on other streets to ease the majority of commutes and relieve congestion.
Largely because they were policies that did not require state approval, bike share, off-street parking reform, and safe street redesigns were all popular first-term successes for the Mayor. The expansion of these successful policies, all well within city control, is an obvious next step.
Though it requires the state legislature’s approval, the Mayor can choose to make the expansion of speed safety cameras around city schools a top priority. The current program, which is operational in 140 school zones and set to expire in August 2018, has already led to a more than 60% reduction in speeding during school hours. It is urgent that the Mayor and Governor work together in 2018 to ensure that politics does not get in the way of basic safety for New York City school children.
The last week has been a particularly difficult one for New Yorkers who walk and bike, and the attack on Halloween underscores the urgency of the work ahead for Mayor. New York is the greatest city in the world, and our ambitions must rise above simply being able to walk or bike without fear of death. The groundwork for a people-first New York -- where the streets, sidewalks, and public spaces suit the needs of everyone, not just motor vehicles -- must be laid now. We look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor to make New York a safe, sustainable, and equitable city, completely free from the threat of traffic violence.