De Blasio Lays Out Ambitious Goals for Street Safety, Better Buses, Bicycling

Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign released a wide-ranging policy book today, with a transportation platform that emphasizes the expansion of Select Bus Service, a “Vision Zero” approach to street safety, and the continued growth of the city’s bike lane and bike-share networks. De Blasio also pledges to target upzonings and new housing near transit and to build more permeable street surfaces to absorb stormwater.

Bill de Blasio.

The transportation platform is the most unequivocal expression of support for safer streets, better surface transit, and increased bicycling so far from de Blasio, who as public advocate has professed skepticism about street transformations like the proposed 34th Street busway, the pedestrianization of Times Square, and protected bike lanes. Some of the goals would require assistance from Albany and the feds, but for the most part they’re within the realm of what City Hall can influence: the allocation of street space and city funds.

A few highlights:

  • Tops on de Blasio’s list is the establishment of a “World-Class Bus Rapid Transit” network and a pledge to phase in more than 20 BRT lines. He refers to several BRT corridors proposed by the Pratt Center for Community Development and says he would commit city capital funds to implementation.
  • Taking a page from a 2011 Transportation Alternatives report, de Blasio endorses the “Vision Zero” ethic and says the city should strive to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. On his agenda are the expansion of 20 mph zones to more residential areas, taming wide, high-speed roads like Bruckner Boulevard and Queens Boulevard, and wresting control of speed camera deployment from Albany (obtaining home rule power over automated enforcement would first require state legislation).
  • De Blasio explicitly commits to growing the bike lane network and expanding bike-share farther from the downtown core, setting the goal of 6 percent bicycle mode share of all trips citywide by 2020 (currently, according to the Census, around 1 percent of NYC workers primarily commute by bicycle, though that doesn’t include the lion’s share of trips New Yorkers make). Like mayoral campaign rival Christine Quinn, de Blasio has sought to differentiate his bike policy from Mayor Bloomberg’s in terms of the process he would employ, and in the policy book he expands on that thought, saying that through “fliers and door-to-door outreach,” he will work to “address feedback before projects are installed.”

  • On land use, de Blasio says he’ll work to focus new housing and high-density development near transit hubs while “preserving lower density neighborhoods located further from mass transit.”
  • He supports the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan — designed to reduce truck traffic, especially in low-income neighborhoods — including the 91st Street Waste Transfer Station, which became a hot-button issue after running into resistance from Upper East Side residents and hasn’t always had his support.

The funding components of the platform are less impressive. De Blasio voted against congestion pricing as a City Council member but later came out in favor of East River bridge tolls pegged to the subway fare, and his platform doesn’t mention road pricing. To keep MTA fares from rising, he says he would try to get Congress to enact transportation legislation that prioritizes urban needs instead of sprawl — a fine goal but not something the mayor of New York can influence. Another shaky idea is a proposal to fund the Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel using city pension funds, which need to generate a higher return than more conventional borrowing options, like plain old bond issuance.

With the exception of Sal Albanese, other Democratic mayoral candidates have also been hesitant to touch the issue of road pricing and realistic sources of funding for the MTA capital program. It’s the allocation of street space where the leading contenders are competing, and in this platform de Blasio sets some ambitious targets on that front.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Deblasio still thinks PPW didn’t have enough community consultation and voted against congestion pricing. Not sure I believe him in the least on any of these admirable proposals.

  • Ian Dutton

    Too bad he didn’t feel strongly enough about these issues to be on the stage at today’s mayoral forum on transportation issues. Guess it’s important enough for a policy paper but not for two hours of time?

  • steely

    Hey cranky commenters, if you strike the same note all the time, people stop paying attention. Give some credit where it’s due. Sure, lots more to do but that a leading candidate is laying out a progressive safe streets platform is a pretty big deal.

  • steely

    Hey cranky commenters, if you strike the same note all the time, people stop paying attention. Give some credit where it’s due. Sure, lots more to do but that a leading candidate is laying out a progressive safe streets platform is a pretty big deal.

  • steely

    Hey cranky commenters, if you strike the same note all the time, people stop paying attention. Give some credit where it’s due. Sure, lots more to do but that a leading candidate is laying out a progressive safe streets platform is a pretty big deal.

  • steely

    Hey cranky commenters, if you strike the same note all the time, people stop paying attention. Give some credit where it’s due. Sure, lots more to do but that a leading candidate is laying out a progressive safe streets platform is a pretty big deal.

  • steely

    Hey cranky commenters, if you strike the same note all the time, people stop paying attention. Give some credit where it’s due. Sure, lots more to do but that a leading candidate is laying out a progressive safe streets platform is a pretty big deal.

  • Mark Walker

    I was about to wonder aloud if what he says into a mic under pressure will match what he says in his platform. But he didn’t show up to speak into the mic. I guess that answers my question. Next…

  • Mark Walker

    I was about to wonder aloud if what he says into a mic under pressure will match what he says in his platform. But he didn’t show up to speak into the mic. I guess that answers my question. Next…

  • Mark Walker

    I was about to wonder aloud if what he says into a mic under pressure will match what he says in his platform. But he didn’t show up to speak into the mic. I guess that answers my question. Next…

  • Mark Walker

    I was about to wonder aloud if what he says into a mic under pressure will match what he says in his platform. But he didn’t show up to speak into the mic. I guess that answers my question. Next…

  • Mark Walker

    I was about to wonder aloud if what he says into a mic under pressure will match what he says in his platform. But he didn’t show up to speak into the mic. I guess that answers my question. Next…

  • Morris Zapp

    De Blasio has had years to act on street safety. His current office gave him plenty of opportunity. He’s done nothing.

    If he starts a dialogue, fine. But there’s no reason to give credit for a bunch of empty promises. Talk is cheap.

  • Anyone have any insight as to what is driving this late-breaking change of heart on the issues so dear to the readers of this blog? Has citi bike really so changed the dynamics of NYC politics since his previous attempts to stall SBS, bike lanes and bridge tolls? Or, as Morris Zapp suggests, is this all just cheap talk?

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Agreed. The platform he lays out is great. The fact that I think he’ll hang the transit crowd out to dry if he were in office is not great though. He did little for safe streets when he was my city councilman and even less as the city’s public advocate. If the public advocate isn’t fighting strongly against the number one killer of kids… then why believe him when he promises to do it as mayor?

  • steely

    councilmember delbasio was actually pretty good (ask Aaron Naparstek). stood up for 9th street bike lane, car free parks, and some other street safety stuff.

    i don’t recall him running for public advocate on any kind of safe streets platform. as public advocate he has helped a bit on NYPD enforcement/investigation, and has recently helped bring us to where we are on speed cams.

    let’s keep moving all the candidates to higher ground. yes talk can be very cheap, particularly if nobody is holding them accountable. stay involved and that won’t happen! 🙂

  • Will G.

    Steely are you saying we vote for a candidate based on their words not their actions? Candidate DiBlasio just released a nice plan. Public Advocate DiBlasio has a four year track record of undermining DOT’s livable streets projects. How about we treat DiBlasio like he’s treating us: praise his plan with words, and act on his actions with our votes?

  • Miles Bader

    Hmmmm, a “world class” BRT network would be grade separated, and if you’ve got grade separation, you may as well build rail instead…

    But at least I suppose it shows that the guy has staffers that pay attention to the latest mayor fads…

  • steely

    hey what’s up will. i am not saying you should vote for anyone in particular. merely pointing out that as a movement we are more effective when acknowledging basic human psychology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reward_system

  • Bronxite

    Isn’t De Blasio anti-Congestion Pricing? I know that had just about killed his chances for my vote.

  • Terrible candidate.

  • J

    If de Blasio is elected on a platform of “world class BRT” then he must then implement a world-class BRT network or else face sharp criticism. This is a big win for liveable streets regardless of his previous track record, and I’d vote for him on this platform. None of the other candidates have promised much of anything, and if elected we have nothing to hold them to.

    Also, there are several world class BRT systems in the US, and none of them are in NYC (SBS doesn’t even meet the bare minimum to qualify as BRT). In terms of US cities with the best BRT systems, Cleveland is tops, followed by Pittsburgh, Eugene, OR, Las Vegas, and LA. Seriously, Cleveland is kicking our ass?
    http://www.itdp.org/microsites/the-brt-standard-2013/certification-process/

    De Blasio should keep in mind that world-class BRT has all of the following elements (and more):
    -Physically separated bus lanes
    -Median alignment (as opposed to running on the curb)
    -Level platforms
    -Turn restrictions across the busway at intersections
    -Off-board fare collection
    http://www.itdp.org/microsites/the-brt-standard-2013/brt-basics/

  • Gtdagenda

    If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  • Ian Turner

    This looks pretty good but doesn’t seem to match up with public statements or past actions. I don’t think I’ll be donating to his campaign without some more evidence of a change of heart.

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