Could Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer parlay his approach to adjusting street redesigns into a successful mayoral bid? In his State of the Borough speech last night — which was widely interpreted as a preview of his 2013 pitch — Stringer held up his work on Columbus Avenue as a prime example of the “new partnership” he wants to build between government and an engaged citizenry.
Stringer repeatedly used the word “collaborative” in his speech last night, a quality that he implied the Bloomberg administration lacks. “There is a troubling view taking hold that to set high standards and achieve good outcomes, we must rely on a closed, top-down model of government,” he said. If New York had allowed that attitude in the past, he said, “there would be a highway through SoHo.”
Instead, Stringer suggested, “leadership is about constantly widening your inquiry and circle of concern.” He offered his work surveying local business owners along the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane as his first example of this strategy in action. “This new partnership will show us the way to support bike lanes that respect drivers, pedestrians and business owners, just like my office did on Columbus Avenue with Gale Brewer,” he said.
Stringer’s decision to include his approach to bike lanes in the State of the Borough and to tie it to a broader campaign theme suggests that the implementation of his working group model for street redesigns will remain a top priority in coming years.
Turning to issues beyond the control of the mayor, Stringer also called for the creation of a national or regional infrastructure bank to fund transportation projects based on merit. New York needs to reclaim its heritage as “a place that tackles big projects on time and on budget,” he urged. To that end, he’s holding a conference with Congressman Steve Israel on the infrastructure bank idea next month.