Senator Duane Takes a Swipe at DOT for 9th Ave. Bike Lane

Duane_07.jpgAbout 70 people showed up for a screening of the documentary film Contested Streets and a follow-up conversation on transportation issues last night. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Assembly member Deborah Glick were not among them, both claiming last minute conflicts. The event was hosted by Manhattan Community Board 2. 

State Senator Thomas Duane (right), Deputy Borough President of Manhattan Rose Pierre-Louis, and 12 representatives of CB2 joined Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White and Department of Transportation Senior Policy Advisor Jon Orcutt at NYU’s Casa Italiana.

Given her opposition to congestion pricing despite her district’s low rates of car ownership and often crushing traffic congestion, we were hoping to hear what Deborah Glick had to say on transportation and livable streets issues. Instead, we got a bit of insight into how Senator Duane views DOT’s innovative new Ninth Avenue bike lane project.

During his opening remarks Duane took "just the tiniest swipe at DOT" for beginning construction on the city’s first-ever, on-street, physically-separated bike lane without consulting his office. Even though the project was vetted and approved unanimously by Community Board 4’s transportation committee and requires no state funds or approval, the Senator complained that he woke up one morning earlier this month to find the bike lane built and "holding up traffic."

"I know it was an attempt to fix things," he said, "but it wasn’t good for it to come as a surprise." Duane hopes that the City will be more conscientious about taking input from "all sides" when it comes to a congestion pricing bill.

–April Greene

  • duh

    So there’s a lesson. Build consensus.

  • mike

    Ummm, Senator? Bikes are traffic. And if you actually read the DOT study, you’d find that 9th ave had excess capacity.

    Try harder next time.

  • momos

    Come on Duane, get over it.

    Re: post #1
    It’s true. Building conensus is important. But so is getting something done. When it comes to progressive transportation design in NYC, build it now and apologize later. Otherwise we’ll all be dead and gone at the rate it takes for things to happen in this city.

  • It’s not consent, but consultation and advance information he was looking for…

    Pretty basic…

  • Hilary

    Public outreach can be done efficiently. The city prefers not to, because they think it makes their life difficult. Look at the way the CP hearings have been organized for minimum notice and accessibility. And the PlaNYC hearings were presentations, not listening sessions. Elected officials represent constituents and should be engaged to help reach them. How difficult would it have been for DOT to send a letter to every elected official notifying them of the project in their district and inviting feedback on concerns, if any? Who knows? They might have learned something important they didn’t know. They might have made an ally on future (bigger) projects. And they would have strengthened our civic society.
    BTW, has anyone ever gotten an actual answer from a DOT community liason who promised to follow up? I’ve lived in 3 boroughs and find them consistently…underpowered?

  • Steve

    I’m all for an open process, but this guy works in the state legislature . . what’s his stake in this project to redesign a local NYC road? As a courtesy, yes, he should have been told. But I don’t think it is his job to get involved in this.

    This reminds me of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney’s loud posturing in opposition to bicycle delivery guys and the proposed East 91st Street bike route. She’s representing us to the federal government–what makes her opinion so important on these neighborhood matters? I guess its more fun (and less dangerous) to pander on issues for which you have no actual accountability.

  • Hilary

    State legislative offices often do superb constituent service. They often run interference for people with the appropriate agencies – people who have no idea whose jurisidiction or responsibility some problem falls under. Is transportation a state issue? Many times it is – and in many ways that it shouldn’t! The point is that when any agency is required to conduct public outreach, it is logical and efficient to use the offices of the elected representatives to reach constituents. If they don’t, it can only be because they really don’t want to reach the public.

  • Davis

    There is absolutely no reason for DOT to go out of its way to tell Tom Duane about a new bike lane. It’s not his jurisdiction and keeping him in the loop will only serve to slow down or kill such projects. These guys already have their hands wrapped tightly enough around the City’s neck when it comes to transportation policy. Now Duane wants to be looped in to minor — yes, minor — street design decisions? Run for City Council, Tom or become a Community Board member.

  • Spud Spudly

    Boo-hoo. Poor Tom just wants to be included.

    If they had given him the heads-up he probably would have scooped them and taken credit for the entire project in his office’s taxpayer funded newsletter/campaign flyer.

  • Hilary

    And that, Spudly, would have been the perfect outcome! Someone gave me great advice: it’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t need the credit.

  • Rhubarbpie

    Boy, I wouldn’t want to deal with the lot of you if I were in public office!

    I’m no fan of Tom Duane’s — he’s the reason we have a weak state senate minority leader — but it seems like a perfectly reasonable request for an official to ask to be informed about what is going on in his district.

    Since the state government (though not necessarily the senate minority, but that is likely to change soon) probably has more influence over much of what happens in the city than the council does, wouldn’t you want to make sure its members are up to date on projects in their districts? It doesn’t take much — another couple of envelopes stuffed and addressed, maybe, or an e-mail sent to one or two more people?

    Yes, Sen. Duane might have objected to the lane, but then you get his opinion and, assuming it isn’t enough to make you rethink the project, you move forward.

    I suspect that the DOT is trying to do better in reaching out to officials and the public. But obviously they have a ways to go.

    I’ll exempt duh and Glenn from my rant, of course.

  • Rhubarbpie

    And Hilary as well — your point is a good one.

  • 9th av

    Having attended the screening, I’m fairly certain Tom Duane’s “swipe” was over the poor implementation of the bike lane. Have any of you actually used it? It’s awful. DOT certainly could have stood to seek some input from the community and its elected officials.

    What a situation DOT has set up: Surprise people with one terrible bike lane… back them into getting upset about it… Just hope they don’t use this to point their finger and say “See? People don’t really want bike lanes after all.”

  • Dave H.

    I just used it yesterday and thought it was fine – except for the unmarked, black, barely-visible-at-night garbage dumpster that was blocking the entire bikeway around 20st that I almost collided with.

    What don’t you like about it?

  • myrtle guy

    Consensus, or majority agreement, doesn’t seem to be the appropriate term to describe what was lacking for Duane. He was surprised to now know anything about it. #4 is right on. DOT should have notified Duane.

    Nevertheless, isn’t a government efficient when it can maintain local agencies that implement policy without having to speak to every elected representative for each project?

  • gecko

    Can’t wait until there are cycle tracks all over the city, especially extending out to the outer reaches were people may be reasonably justified to use cars.

    They will make the transition to congestion pricing work so much easier.

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