Transit ‘master plan’ would bring 250 miles of new protected bike lanes
“This is a roadmap to breaking the car culture in a thoughtful, comprehensive way."
Nearing the end of a deadly month for city cyclists, a group of lawmakers Wednesday unveiled a “master plan” to help hold the city’s Department of Transportation accountable for street safety improvements.
The bill, spearheaded by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and co-sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, would require DOT to “issue and implement” a strategy for the use of streets, sidewalks and pedestrian spaces every five years.
Johnson’s bill would “prioritize” the safety of cyclists, as well as pedestrians, according to its summary, and require DOT to achieve specific “benchmarks” for street redesigns, protected bus and bike lanes, parking and more.
Among the first set of benchmarks — to be included in the DOT’s premiere “master plan,” due by Oct. 19 of this year — are the installation of at least 150 miles of protected bus lanes (to be implemented at a rate of at least 30 miles of such lanes per year of the plan) and at least 250 miles of protected bike lanes (at a rate of no less than 50 miles per year).
DOT would also have until the end of 2021 to double the city acreage covered by pedestrian plazas and implement at least a dozen shared streets.
Other initial benchmarks include upgrades to bus stops and an assessment and amendment to commercial loading zones, truck routes and parking policies to reduce traffic and better suit bikes and pedestrians.
Benchmarks for the second master plan, due no later than Oct. 1, 2024, include the completion of a connected bike network and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance at all intersections with a pedestrian signal, among others goals.
The legislation would also enforce transparency by requiring the agency to post yearly updates to the master plan as well as the status of each benchmark. A mandated public education campaign is also a part of the proposal.
“The way we plan our streets now makes no sense and New Yorkers pay the price every day, stuck on slow buses or risking their own safety cycling without protected bike lanes,” Johnson told the Brooklyn Eagle in a statement. “That’s why I said in my State of the City speech that I want to completely revolutionize how we share our street space, and that’s what this bill does.”
Johnson first touched on the five-year plan in March during his transit-centric address. In it, the pol called for a “shakeup” of the way New Yorkers get around the five boroughs.
The bill’s official introduction comes on the heels of an especially lethal month for Brooklyn cyclists. On May 16, the total number of cyclists deaths citywide to date rose to 10 — the same number the city saw in all of 2018.
Eight of the 10 deaths happened in Brooklyn. Five occurred in southern Brooklyn alone.
Reynoso has been critical of the city agency’s involvement of community boards in the planning process for measures like bike lanes.
Other co-sponsors include Councilmembers Carlina Rivera, Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine and Costa Constantinides.
“This is a roadmap to breaking the car culture in a thoughtful, comprehensive way, and I can’t wait to get this process started,” Johnson said.
The agency in question had seemingly kind words for the proposal.
“This bill reinforces DOT’s ongoing practice: ensuring that all safety enhancements are reviewed for any project,” said Seth Stein, a DOT spokesperson. “We thank the council for working with the administration on this bill.”
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