Biggest Reasons to Hope for a Better Future – Streetsblog New York City


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All week long, we’re rolling out our year-end rewards, the coveted Streetsies. Yesterday we took a look at the best projects of the year (and you can vote to break the tie until Thursday). All of our Streetsie Awards 2021 are archived here.

There are, as always, many reasons to be pessimistic about the future of transportation in New York City. An ongoing carpocalypse that everyone has warned the mayor about, the MTA’s continued swing on the brink of financial disaster, with community councils still blocking safety measures on the streets and owners of Major League Baseball instituting a lockout days after the Mets signed Max Scherzer. But it’s not that bad – and here are reminders that suggest maybe, just maybe, 2022 will bring transformative change.

Governor Hochul pulling the Airtrain brake

Even after all this time, no one knows exactly why then-Gov. Cuomo has pushed so hard for so long for his beloved overhead train to reverse to LaGuardia Airport (although the state’s corrupt industrial-entrepreneur complex is a top contender). The idea of ​​a monorail that only got you to Manhattan by first taking you to lovely Citi Field was clearly not the best thing we could get for $ 2 billion. Fortunately, after Cuomo stepped down amid multiple reports of sexual harassment, Governor Hochul asked the Port Authority to “thoroughly examine alternative transit solutions” to link to the airport. , possibly condemning the “bad sense” AirTrain.

Then, in November, the Palestinian Authority convened an “expert group” of transit thinkers to guide the search for these alternatives, including MTA officials and the former commissioner of the city’s transport ministry. , Janette Sadik-Khan. Is there a guarantee that the panel will come up with one of the workable ideas that have been suggested in the past, such as a bus track or an N train extension? We’re no prophets, but surely there is a more rational end game without the monorail monorail devotion coming out of the New York State Executive Mansion.

The rise of delivery men

As Joe Hill sang 108 years ago, there is power in a union. New York City was introduced for the first time in the organizing power of the city’s e-bike deliverers in the second half of 2020, when Los Deliveristas Unidos took to the streets to make themselves known.

In 2021, the group showed boldness by securing two legislative victories and focusing on the hazardous working conditions faced by users of delivery applications. In the New York State Legislature, app-based drivers and LDUs sunk a package of last-minute bills proposed in May that would have traded bargaining rights for the inability of local towns to adopt their own laws regulating the relationship between the application and the worker. The rejection of this proposal ensured that the package of invoices approved by the city council’s UDL governing journey times and minimum pay rates for deliveries would still have bite. when it passed in september.

LDU is also addressing the safety concerns delivery men face at work, addressing the NYPD’s shortcomings when the department allows key bike lanes to become dangerous theft points or when the NYPD’s dangerous driving kills delivery cyclists. And the union has played a key role in getting the NYPD to shift its enforcement strategy away from victims and onto those who victimize delivery people.

If the e-bike revolution is the future, workers who depend on bikes will need representation and support they can count on. The indoor-outdoor game of Los Deliveristas Unidos, organize immigrant workers and voice their concerns by the next class of elected officials in the city, is an exciting new dimension of safe streets activism in New York City. LDU is also going to be needed more than ever in the face of business ideas like 15-minute grocery delivery that rely on worker exploitation and unsafe cycling practices, a toxic stew that could spark yet another anti-e-bike backlash.

An election without a bikelash and a bicycle mayor

Elections can sometimes turn into counter-current referendums on issues that segments of the electoral population have been cooking up for years. Mayor de Blasio was not the perfect Vision Zero ship, but his administration installed many miles of protected cycle lanes and removed many parking lots during his eight-year tenure, making way for an opportunistic Democratic candidate for himself. present as opposing other improvements in street safety in order to succeed the mayor. (Think 2013 mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner saying he would destroy Bloomberg’s cycle lanes.)

This did not happen, however. Instead, Democratic candidates showed up at forums focused on cycling and public transportation and campaigned for open streets. Some of them went after the Streetsblog vote by submitting their transport plans for readers to review, some of them even went on bike rides with Streetsblog. At the time of the general election, Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa swear to destroy bike paths and removing speed cameras and red lights was a one-day story, drawing less heat than when the GOP candidate was hit by a taxi after his own ridiculously dangerous run in moving traffic.

In addition, the incoming mayor is a cyclist who invited the press to join him for a ride after his first victory. The fact that Eric Adams sometimes rides a bike does not guarantee that he will be the real mayor of the bike that SUV-driven de Blasio could never be, but we can surely hope that a mayor who understands what it’s like to cycle on Atlantic Avenue might show some interest in rethinking it.

A breakthrough in bicycle parking

Speaking of the mayor who rides a bike, Adams also rose to the challenge of solving an issue the city has been letting in for years: the need for secure bike parking at scale to match the bike boom. It’s not clear whether Mayor Adams, who has spoken a lot during the campaign to shake up the city’s bureaucracy, can create thousands of bicycle parking lots, but in a recent event hosted by the bicycle parking company Oonee, he embarked on a lengthy “end the culture of can’t” speech in New York City.

Bike parking in New York City has lagged behind true international cycling capitals, not only in building secure facilities in which to lock your bike, but even when it comes to just building structures to lock in. your bike. Suddenly, it looks like there is a real possibility that New York City will go from a city that took three years to explore and ditch a safe bicycle parking pilot program to a city that embraces the establishment of pods like those manufactured by Oonee on the currently seized street space. by car owners to store their much larger vehicles.

Everyone wants to fix Third Avenue

With its six lanes all devoted to the circulation and storage of motor vehicles, Third Avenue in Manhattan is the opposite of a full street: the speed of the buses is brutally low, the number of accidents and injuries is higher. than on the parallel stretch of First Avenue (which has a protected cycle lane), and the overall vibe is more “city highway” than “nice place to live and work”.

The way it sometimes happens is that activists have a good idea in mind, like saying, “Make Third Avenue more than just a traffic toilet.” But after the good idea comes the part where it must survive the buzz of community councils, elected officials and small business owners who are convinced that fewer cars on the road will mean the end of all life on Earth, let alone the end. from their store. On Third Avenue however, it turned out that in addition to idealistic activists and starchy magazine friends wanting to improve the road, Manhattan Community Board 6 also had some good ideas for reallocating the space on the street. Add in support from the Department of Transportation, outgoing Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and returning area city council representative Keith Powers, and maybe 2022 may be the start of a new formidable future that puts safety at the forefront.

And the Streetsie goes to …

The election without bikelash!

Boundless optimism has its limits, but it’s hard not to see the broader implications of a city-wide election where no one really tried to appease the drivers. Instead of having to defend the gains made under de Blasio, the candidates were able to spend the election promoting new ideas like Transport alternatives 25X25 plan and lock the open street of 34th Avenue into a linear park. In fact, using the elections as a place to launch sustainable ideas for the future means that these proposals have a good start for the new year, a situation which is already bearing fruit as the new Council member who replaced the opponent street safety Mathieu Eugene is already writing for Streetsblog, new Bronx and Queens lawmakers are saying a lot of good things, and one of the new Harlem city council members has strongly endorsed a plan for a central double-lane bus and a protected bike path on 125th Street.



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