July/August 1998, p.4-5

Just 1.5% For Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Read the latest news about this issue.

A Challenge From T.A.
Transportation Alternatives challenges the City of New York and the New York State Department of Transportation to use the new Federal TEA 21 (Transportation Efficiency for the 21st Century. TEA 21 is the successor to ISTEA) funds to improve conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians. It is time to put the money to work where it matters most - on City streets. Change the equation to make our streets and neighborhoods nicer, safer places to walk and bicycle. Banish the danger, crowding, bullying and miserable conditions pedestrians and cyclists must endure and replace them with a humane and livable environment.

Too Many Have Been Killed By Cars
We have had enough death and misery. Our streets remain the domain of the car. The billions the City received in Federal transportation money during the 1990's have produced only the most meager results for the City's long-suffering foot and bicycle travelers. The annual toll of 250 pedestrians and cyclists killed by automobile and 17,500 struck is a major health crisis.

Now is the time to save lives and the environment. Over the next few years, the City, State, and MTA will be deciding how to spend $13.5 billion in transportation funds in NYC. About $6 billion will be for streets and highways and $7.5 billion for transit projects. T.A. calls on the Giuliani and Pataki administrations, particularly influential transportation aides like Seth Kaye at the Mayor's Office of Transportation, Richard Malchow and Luiz Aragao at City DOT; Floyd Lapp at the Planning Department; and Richard Maitino and Joe Boardman at the State DOT to do three things to ensure that a fair share of the money is used to sharply reduce pedestrian and cycling deaths and significantly improve non-motorized travel on city streets:

I. Dedicate $204 million over six years, a modest 1.5% of the total transportation funding, to bicycle and pedestrian issues. $204 million amounts to a 31% increase over past bike/ped funding - which is about the proportion of increased funds under TEA-21. Bicyclists and pedestrians are more than half of traffic fatilities in NYC, and almost all transit trips begin and end with walking trips.

II. Establish basic goals and ensure that projects are designed meet them. These goals should not confuse means and ends. For instance, cutting the pedestrian and cycling death rate in half in the next six years, and increasing the number of cyclists from the current 100,000 a day to 150,000 are "ends." Trying to build an arbitrary number of miles of bicycle lanes and paths is not the best means to these ends.
III. Direct TEA money towards improvements in the places where it will achieve the greatest results. At least 90% of pedestrian and cycling trips take place on city streets. Yet, nearly half of the ISTEA money budgeted for cyclists and pedestrians from 1992-1999 is for parks and multi-use paths (the majority of which serve recreational users only).

Shore Parkway Path segments like this one just south of the Verrazano, were funded by previous ISTEA funds.In line with these criteria, T.A. proposes a plan called "1.5% for Bikes and Pedestrians". The main thrust is to vastly expand the size of the bicycle and pedestrian network programs at the Departments of Transportation and City Planning. The expanded networks would allow the City maximum flexibility in meeting goals, reducing red tape, and further developing a core of skilled bicycle and pedestrian planners within the agencies. "1.5%" includes significant funding for the DOT's innovative School-Based Traffic Calming project. It also proposes a ten-fold increase in the size of the City programs to reclaim traffic islands as green space and pedestrian refuges and improve pedestrian conditions around subways. Lastly, per the anti-speeding recommendations in "Lessons from London" (T.A. Magazine Mar/Apr '98) "1.5%" calls for the number of red light cameras to be boosted from 18 to 200, and for the introduction of "speed-radar" cameras.

Achieving the biggest bang for the buck, saving the most lives, and improving the lot of New Yorkers in ways they will experience every day are ideas that make sense. T.A. will be working hard in the months ahead to ensure that cyclists and walkers get their fair share.

1.5% For Bicyclists and Pedestrians: 1998-2004

The heavily-used Manhattan approach to the Brooklyn Bridge could benefit from some improvement.T.A.'s Six-Year Plan to cut pedestrian and bicycling fatalities in half and dramatically improve conditions for non-motorized travelers in NYC using an estimated 1.5% of the $13.5 billion budgeted transportation funds.

[Key: + Equals New Project; amounts represent 6-yr. total in millions]

Network Expansion / Citywide Projects

Project: School Based Traffic Calming +
Amount: 36.0 
Description: 6 years of 10 year, $60 mil. program.

Project: Pedestrian Network/Traf. Calming
Amount: 40.0
Description: Improve high ped. crash locations and 1200 community requests.

Project: Bicycle Network Continuation
Amount: 3.0
Description: Implementation of Bicycle Master Plan.

Project: Pedestrian / Transit Interface
Amount: 20.0
Description: Improving pedestrian safety and access to subway and bus.

Project: Automated Traffic Enforcement +
Amount: 15.0
Description: Addition of 200 DOT red light and speed radar cameras.

Project: Green Streets / Traffic Island
Amount: 12.0
Description: Landscaping/curbing small traffic islands for peds./traf calm.

Total: 153.0

Individual Projects

Ped / Traffic Calming

Project: On going Cross-Walk upgrade
Amount: 6.0
Description: Ongoing upgrading of existing cross-walks with stop bars etc.

Project: E.L. Grant Highway: Ped/Calm
Amount: 3.3 
Description: Safety and streetscape Improvements on dangerous street.

Project: Grand Concourse Ped Safety 
Amount: 3.0 
Description: Additional ped safety improvements.

Project: Midtown Ped Improvements 
Amount: 2.0 
Description: Follow on to ped improvement study.

Project: Staten Island Sidewalks 
Amount: 2.0 
Description: Complete and renovate sidewalk network.

Project: Grand Army Plaza Ped / Traffic 
Amount: 2.0 
Description: Improve dangerous ped/ bike use.

Project: Lower Manhattan Ped. Continue 
Amount: 1.5 
Description: Follow on to ped improvement study.

Project: Lenox Ave. Streetscape 
Amount: 1.0 
Description: Follow on to ped improvement study.

Project: Francis Lewis Blvd. 
Amount: 1.0 
Description: Additional ped safety, traffic calming improvements.

Stop Speeding Campaign

Project: Anti-Speeding Awareness + 
Amount: 3.0 
Description: Print, TV, radio and other education and outreach.

On-Street Cycling

Project: Brooklyn Bridge Approaches+ 
Amount: 6.0 
Description: Improve bike/ped access to Manh. and Bklyn sides.

Project: Queensboro Bridge Approaches+ 
Amount: 4.0 
Description: Improve bike/ped access to bridge in Qns. and Manhattan.

Project: Williamsburg Bridge Approaches+ 
Amount: 4.0 
Description: Improve bike/ped acess to Manh. and Bklyn sides.

Project: Queens Blvd. Bikeway 
Amount: 0.75 
Description: On-street lane and off-street path.

Project: 4th Ave. Bikeway 
Amount: 0.4 
Description: Bike lane on heavily traveled arterial


Project: Hudson River Greenway Link + 
Amount: 8.0 
Description: Completion of 60th to 72nd St. section.

Project: Highbridge Aqueduct +
Amount: 2.0
Description: Structural improvements to restore bike/ped access.

Project: BQ Greenway
Amount: 0.575
Description: Study

Project: Shore Pkwy. (Bay Pkwy to Knapp)
Amount: 0.5
Description: On and off street addition to Shore Parkway

Project: Cross Bklyn Greenway
Amount: 0.1
Description: Study of potential rail trail.

Project: North Bklyn Greenway
Amount: 0.1
Description: Study

Total: 51.225

Grand Total: 204.225