How Will the Mayoral Candidates Handle New York’s Streets?
Through the pandemic lockdown, New York Metropolis’s relentless visitors just about disappeared, leaving an enormous expanse of asphalt up for grabs in one of many world’s most crowded cities.
Neighborhood arteries as soon as jammed with vehicles teemed with folks keen to flee tiny residences. Packs of recent cyclists staked their declare. Sidewalk curbs had been repurposed with tables and chairs for outside eating.
However as New York recovers and visitors returns, there’s a growing tug of war over who will get to make use of this enormous stock of open house: the town’s 6,000 miles of streets. The way forward for such contested house has change into a key challenge within the race for the following mayor, who can be accountable for managing the streets.
“Individuals discuss streets within the context of the way forward for the town and what the town will appear to be,” stated George Arzt, a political advisor and former press secretary to Mayor Edward I. Koch. “They need extra parks and bike lanes. They need a greater high quality of life.”
Nonetheless, the problem turns into “an actual migraine for candidates,” Mr. Arzt added, as a result of the following mayor should strike a steadiness between the push for a extra livable metropolis and the each day calls for of companies, emergency companies and New Yorkers who rely on vehicles to get round, particularly in transit deserts exterior Manhattan.
Mayor Invoice de Blasio, underneath strain from transportation advocates and others, has expanded and made everlasting an Open Streets program, a pandemic initiative that quickly closed as much as 83 miles of streets to visitors to permit for extra strolling, biking and outside eating.
However one in all Mr. de Blasio’s signature transportation insurance policies, which goals to scale back visitors fatalities, has faltered partly as a result of some drivers have taken benefit of fewer vehicles on the street to speed and drag race.
There have been 99 traffic-related fatalities reported as of Might 31, the very best quantity in that five-month interval since 2013, in keeping with metropolis knowledge.
Eight main Democratic mayoral candidates, in response to written questions from The New York Instances, shared their plans for making metropolis streets safer, much less gridlocked and extra equitable, from creating extra protected bike lanes and open streets to utilizing congestion charges to discourage automotive use and scale back car emissions.
“We’re a metropolis of pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, drivers and mass transit riders,” stated Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president. “Using our streets should mirror all of these makes use of safely whereas encouraging types of motion that scale back congestion and greenhouse fuel emissions.”
Or as Kathryn Garcia, a former metropolis sanitation commissioner, put it: “Right now our streets and sidewalks are a dropping battle between competing makes use of.”
Right here’s what the candidates stated they’d do:
Push congestion pricing to get vehicles off the street.
All of the candidates again a state-approved congestion pricing plan that’s anticipated to scale back visitors by charging charges for driving into the busiest components of Manhattan, from sixtieth Avenue right down to The Battery.
New York would observe different cities all over the world, however could be the primary American metropolis to impose such a payment.
“We have now to lean into this nation-leading change and consider it as an opportunity to additional minimize down on automotive visitors,” stated Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate.
Shaun Donovan, a former federal housing secretary, and Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mr. de Blasio, stated they deliberate to work with state and federal officers to roll out congestion pricing, which requires federal approval and had stalled underneath the Trump administration, as quickly as doable.
Revenues from congestion charges will assist pay for transit enhancements. Raymond McGuire, a former Wall Avenue government, stated he would make sure that cash was not wasted, saying, “We want to verify the income is being invested in probably the most transit-starved neighborhoods.”
Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit government, stated that she would discover increasing congestion pricing to different areas and providing subsidies and tax breaks to individuals who take alternate options to vehicles.
Construct extra lanes for bikes.
Cycling took off within the pandemic as virus-wary folks prevented the subway and as an alternative hit the bike lanes.
All of the candidates stated they’d construct extra bike lanes, with a concentrate on creating an interconnected community of protected lanes linking the town.
“The rollout of recent bike lanes and pedestrian areas has been far too sluggish,” stated Mr. Yang, who has biked along with his kids to high school. “We want a break from the previous to begin making actual progress on bike and pedestrian security and infrastructure.”
Scott Stringer, the town comptroller, has referred to as for 350 miles of recent bike lanes in 5 years, together with 75 miles round colleges.
Mr. Adams would construct 300 miles of recent protected bike lanes in 4 years, together with “bicycle superhighways” utilizing street house underneath elevated highways and railways. Ms. Garcia needs not less than 250 miles of recent protected lanes.
Ms. Morales, who just lately purchased a motorcycle, stated she would construct 500 miles of recent protected bikes lanes, which is a part of NYC 25×25, a name by an influential advocacy group, Transportation Alternate options, to reimagine a car-centric streetscape by 2025.
“I’ve been capable of acquire a firsthand understanding of the problems for cyclists in New York Metropolis,” Ms. Morales stated.
To maintain bike lanes away from vehicles, Mr. Stringer and Mr. Yang stated they’d set up automated cameras to assist challenge tickets to drivers caught blocking bike lanes. Ms. Garcia stated she would additionally enhance enforcement of motorbike lane violations.
As well as, Mr. Yang and Mr. Adams stated they’d be sure that bike lanes had been cleared of snow as shortly as automotive lanes, a frequent criticism amongst bikers. Ms Garcia stated she would get tools to plow and clear trash from bike lanes extra successfully.
Improve New Yorkers’ entry to bikes.
4 candidates — Mr. Adams, Mr. Stringer, Ms. Wiley and Mr. McGuire — stated they’d increase the town’s fashionable bike share program, Citi Bike, to get extra New Yorkers on bikes, particularly in poor and minority communities.
Mr. McGuire added that he would develop a citywide grasp bike plan “quite than the piecemeal neighborhood board strategy that has dominated up to now.”
Ms. Morales referred to as for transferring towards a municipal-controlled bike share program, which might be free to metropolis residents and prioritize docking stations in transit deserts.
Mr. Adams additionally proposed a brand new citywide community of shared electrical bikes and scooters, particularly in transit deserts, whereas Mr. Stringer stated he would provide subsidies for bike share charges and e-bike purchases.
5 candidates — Mr. Adams, Mr. Stringer, Mr. Yang, Ms. Wiley and Ms. Garcia — stated they’d additionally enhance bike parking across the metropolis, together with close to bus stops and subway and prepare stations. Mr. Yang needs to transform automotive parking spots in entrance of faculties and public libraries into bike corrals.
Open extra streets for folks.
No less than three candidates — Mr. Stringer, Mr. Adams and Mr. Yang — would construct on the success of the Open Streets program by increasing it to extra low-income and minority neighborhoods with a dearth of open house.
Mr. Yang stated he would go even additional and observe the town of Barcelona’s lead in creating “superblocks,” by which contiguous blocks are largely closed to visitors and streets are changed into plazas, playgrounds and gardens.
“This system has been an enormous success in Barcelona,” Mr. Yang stated, “and it’ll even be a good way to attract vacationers again to the town and to help small companies.”
Ms. Wiley stated she would create an workplace of public house administration to work with communities “to completely and safely reallocate street house to biking infrastructure, protected bike lanes, strolling, neighborhood gatherings, and inexperienced city design tasks.”
Ms. Garcia, who needs to “prioritize the general public in our metropolis’s public areas,” and Mr. Adams stated they’d convert 25 p.c of the house presently used for vehicles to house for folks, which can also be a part of the decision for NYC 25×25.
Rethink deliveries and highways.
The pandemic despatched on-line purchasing surging, bringing extra deliveries to a metropolis already choked by vehicles and trucks.
Mr. Adams stated he would search to shift extra truck deliveries to off hours, and Ms Garcia stated she would discover methods to scale back truck congestion and enhance security for supply staff.
Mr. Donovan and Mr. Stringer stated they’d add extra cargo loading zones to chop down on double parking. “By reimagining how we allocate curb house, we are able to make our streets extra honest, much less congested, and way more environment friendly,” Mr. Donovan stated.
As well as, Mr. Stringer stated he needed to reduce the dimensions of getting older highways just like the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway which can be scheduled for renovation or alternative, and to restrict massive S.U.V.s by working with state officers to extend their registration charges.
“The following mayor should kick-start large reform of our transportation system that will get vehicles and vehicles off the street,” Mr. Stringer stated, “as a result of taking over local weather change and enhancing public well being have to be a central pillar in our restoration from Covid.”
Design safer streets and increase expertise.
Ms. Wiley stated she would fast-track efforts to revamp a number of the metropolis’s most harmful streets, together with Queens Boulevard.
Intersections, she stated, may very well be made safer by putting in extra islands for ready pedestrians and cyclists, and designating no-parking zones at curbs in entrance of crosswalks to make it simpler to see pedestrians.
Mr. McGuire stated he would add not less than 100 velocity bumps to decelerate drivers and add 25 million ft of roadway security markings citywide. Mr. Donovan stated that “envisioning new avenue design delivered in a more cost effective method can promote secure biking.”
A number of candidates stated additionally they deliberate to make use of expertise to enhance the streets. Mr. Adams stated he would accomplice with tech corporations to observe visitors patterns in actual time and search for methods to scale back congestion.
Ms. Garcia and Mr. Donovan stated they’d increase the usage of enforcement cameras, which assist challenge tickets for rushing and reckless driving.
“With extra strategic and constant automated enforcement,” Mr. Donovan stated, “we are able to make streets safer and cease visitors violence in New York Metropolis.”