Statement of Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives:
Transportation Alternatives applauds Mayor de Blasio for his Executive Budget announcement that DOT will dedicate $1.5 billion in this Ten-Year Capital Strategy specifically to Vision Zero and “Great Streets” projects, including safety engineering improvements on roadways and at intersections.
The total funding allocated in the capital plan is $2.7 billion over ten years to reconstruct 673 lane miles, including $462 million for Vision Zero Great Streets projects on Atlantic Avenue and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Queens Boulevard, and the Grand Concourse, as well as $183.6 million for Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service. Compared to the preliminary budget, the City has committed an additional $300 million over ten years -- that’s more money for reconstruction of more lane miles, and that’s great news for the Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024.
We thank Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the importance of investment in life-saving street redesign, and we commend the Vision Zero heroes in the City Council leadership who have consistently pushed for more resources to fix our streets and protect New Yorkers.
To maximize the benefits of this increased funding commitment, the City must adopt a Vision Zero Design Standard to make sure projects are consistent across the five boroughs and contain all the safety improvements that have proven to save lives and prevent injuries -- including curb extensions and “daylighting” to improve visibility at crosswalks to protect pedestrians, and protected bike lanes to safeguard vulnerable cyclists. To date, twenty-four Council Members have signed on to Transportation Alternatives’ request for a Vision Zero Design Standard.
Another important budgetary step the City still needs to take is committing public funding for Citi Bike expansion, to create an equitable five-borough bike share network. Citi Bike is now a key part of New York City’s transportation system but remains the only program of its kind in the U.S. that receives no direct public investment. Since our roads and transportation system are public goods, we must take steps to take bike share beyond the wealthiest neighborhoods, to allow all New Yorkers to benefit from this healthy and fast transportation option.
Public funding would also strengthen our safe and tested Citi Bike system at a moment when a number of dockless bike share companies with questionable practices are attempting to set up in areas that currently have no service, which we are concerned could lead to a two-tier bike share network that is not in New Yorkers’ best interest.
The City’s inaction on bike share funding is a missed opportunity amid highly positive developments on street safety. We renew our call on the Mayor, the Council and Citi Bike operator Motivate to agree on the appropriate level of investment to guarantee safe access to high-quality bike share for every New Yorker.