Yesterday StreetsPAC endorsed Bill de Blasio for mayor in the Democratic primary, after narrowing their choice down to him and Christine Quinn. The decision was based on the candidates’ responses to a written questionnaire and sit-down interviews with the StreetsPAC board.
Below are the responses that de Blasio and Quinn gave to the “policies and priorities” section of the StreetsPAC questionnaire. Click on their names for PDFs of their full submissions. We’ve also uploaded responses from Bill Thompson and Sal Albanese. The other Democratic mayoral candidates did not return the questionnaire.
Questions and answers posted here have been formatted for WordPress, but have not been edited in any way.
StreetsPAC: Whom do you plan to appoint as Transportation Commissioner? If you don’t have a specific person in mind, please describe the skills and experience you are looking for in a potential appointee and the top priorities you would direct that person to pursue.
Bill de Blasio: I have not decided. I believe in choosing someone who views our streets in their totality and is committed to making our transportation network function for all modes of transportation — walking, bicycling, driving and public transit. They must have a commitment to working with all stakeholders to balance those needs fairly — with safety as their top priority. Given our aging population, I believe we also need a commissioner committed to improving the accessibility of our streets for seniors and people with disabilities.
Christine Quinn: The transportation commissioner in my administration will share my view that a reliable, safe, and clean transportation system is vital to our economy and to maintaining a good quality of life. He or she will be committed to expanding our existing infrastructure in order to decrease the time New Yorkers spend commuting. I will pursue an individual who is open-minded and forward-thinking with the skills to manage a large agency, works well with other agencies and stakeholders, and the vision to move the agency forward. As Mayor, my Transportation Commissioner and I will pursue the following agenda, working with the MTA and Albany where necessary:
- Ensure that no New Yorker has to spend more than one hour commuting in either direction by 2023.
- Reduce pedestrian, cyclist and driver fatalities 50 percent by 2021.
- Give New York City control of the MTA.
- Launch 10 new Select Bus Service routes in the next 4 years.
- Install Metrocard kiosks above ground at major bus stops and along select bus service routes.
- Expand five borough ferry service, to provide more transportation options and stimulate the local economy.
- Install countdown clocks outside of subway stations, so New Yorkers can see when the next train is coming before they enter.
- Save commuters valuable travel time from the Bronx and West Side of Manhattan.
- Provide additional bicycle parking options at transit hubs for New Yorkers who want to commute part of the way to work on a bicycle.
StreetsPAC: Whom do you plan to appoint as Police Commissioner? If you don’t have a specific person in mind, please describe the skills and experience you are looking for in a potential appointee and the top priorities you would direct that person to pursue with respect to traffic enforcement and crash investigations.
De Blasio: I have promised new leadership at the NYPD. We need someone who can institute reforms of the divisive overuse of stop-and-frisk and who is committed to bringing police and communities closer together. The commission must also be capable on building on the department’s antiterrorism efforts and further reducing crime. We also need to new enforcement priorities relating to traffic safety. Data — not revenue — should dictate the violations against which we enforce. The most dangerous violations — speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians — should be prioritized. And we need to dedicate adequate resources to ensuring that when crashes to occur, they are fully investigated to determine cause and hold individuals accountable. The current administration has begun an expansion of crash investigations. I will ensure those reforms are brought to fruition.
Quinn: I have said many times that whoever is the next Mayor would be lucky to have Ray Kelly as Police Commissioner. He has brought crime down to unforeseen levels and has brought new and inclusive strategies to areas like hate crimes, domestic violence, and sexual assault. However, I would charge my Police Commissioner, whether it was Ray Kelly or another candidate, to reduce unwarranted stop and frisks. The NYPD’s ability to keep our city safe depends in part on police having a relationship with the citizens they protect. Overuse of Stop and Frisk has jeopardized that relationship in many communities of color, but I believe with some reforms we can strengthen the practice and strengthen police community relations in a way that makes everyone safer. Through my advocacy on this issue we’ve already seen some progress. I worked with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to reach an agreement giving the CCRB power to prosecute its own cases. At my request, the NYPD has taken steps to improve training, monitoring, and protocols around SQF, and create an early warning system to identify officers who receive public complaints. Since then, we’ve seen the number of stops go down, but we clearly still have more work to do. That’s why I recently passed legislation creating an Inspector General that will increase accountability and oversight of police practices.
StreetsPAC: Some believe that the Department of Transportation has not adequately consulted with communities when expanding the city’s network of bike lanes. Do you agree that this is the case? Y / N
If you do agree, please give specific instances in which the Department of Transportation failed to adequately consult with a community when implementing a bike lane, and describe in detail the consultation process you believe would have been appropriate.
De Blasio: The Department of Transportation has consistently met its commitment to engage community boards. But I don’t believe it’s divisive to call for even greater outreach. For the overwhelming majority of residents and business owners on a given street, the first time they become aware of street changes are when paint and shovels are put to work. The original Kent Avenue bike lane is a good example of the need for outreach extending beyond the community board. The lane’s original configuration, approved by the community board, removed all parking along a corridor with a significant number of manufacturing businesses. The changes forced them to load and unload goods from as far as a block away — a significant inconvenience given the size of industrial shipments. Their needs were not factored into the original design, and the oversight led to months of unnecessary conflict in the community and divided the community board. Eventually, the City identified a better design — more conducive to the manufacturers’ needs and safer for cyclists — and it’s become one of the most successful and safest bike lanes in the entire city. It’s a very clear example of why broader input — extending past the community board — makes projects better.
It is becoming more common for the DOT to engage in broader door-to-door canvassing to determine parking needs and identify conflicts related to bike lane projects. Council Member Gale Brewer and Borough President Scott Stringer engaged in such an effort on Columbus Avenue immediately after the lane was installed. We should make this “gold standard” outreach common practice, and slate it before project installation. Canvassing business owners and reaching out to residents with flyers and on-street organizers will help us identify potential conflicts before we make any street changes. And that level of consultation will give potential critics a stake in projects.
Quinn: I support bike lanes, but in the past Department of Transportation has implemented them without the consultation of communities and community boards. That’s why I passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to consult with community boards before any future bike lanes are installed or removed. I believe that we can find a way to balance the needs of bike riders with the concerns of pedestrians and community members going forward. For example, in Chelsea, the Ninth Avenue bike lane south of 23rd Street was put in place without notification to my office. I think it is common sense to consult with a neighborhood’s representatives and people when proposing changes to that neighborhood’s infrastructure.
StreetsPAC: Do you believe the Article 78 lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Prospect Park West Bicycle Path and Traffic-Calming Project has merit? If so, why? If not, why? If elected mayor, and if the lawsuit remains extant, will you direct the Law Department to continue defending against it?
De Blasio: As I’ve said publicly, I believe the redesign of Prospect Park West is safer than the previous configuration and I have no intention of altering it. I do, of course, support ongoing discussions between the DOT and Community Board 6 to make adjustments, like the recent addition of concrete islands to better protect pedestrians.
Quinn: For this specific case, it is currently being litigated, and it will be up to the courts to decide. Overall, the expansion of bike lanes has been a positive thing, but too often the Department of Transportation has implemented them without the consultation of communities and community boards. That’s why I passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to consult with community boards before any future bike lanes are installed. I believe that since this legislation was enacted, the system of consultation has improved. I believe that we can find a way to balance the needs of bike riders with the concerns of pedestrians and community members going forward.
StreetsPAC: Will you direct the city agencies and the Economic Development Corporation to emphasize transit-oriented development instead of publicly subsidizing large parking lots?
De Blasio: Absolutely. And we need to fundamentally reevaluate the amount of parking included in new developments. That excess parking induces unnecessary driving, and it also adds costs to projects that make it more difficult to provide affordable housing in new construction.
Quinn: I have made efficient transportation a focus throughout my career, and I will continue to do so as Mayor. I believe that it is important to target individual neighborhoods for strategic economic development. I have a development plan which will capitalize on the different strengths, infrastructure, and potential of New York City’s individual neighborhoods. It’s a strategy that sees opportunity in every community by looking at existing industries with room for growth and identifying new industries that can build on neighborhood advantages. It is also extremely important to realize that neighborhoods that are cut off from transit are cut off from new development. If we want to remain the economic capital of the world, and continue to grow new jobs — if we want to keep New York a place for middle and working class families — then we need to build a transportation system that serves the needs of the 21st century city. We can turn our transit system into an even greater engine for economic growth. And most importantly, we can do it not in a few decades, but in just a few years.
StreetsPAC: Do you believe curbside parking rates in New York City are at, above or below market rates (i.e., rates high enough so that supply and demand are near equilibrium)? Do you believe curbside parking space should be made available at market rates, or at below-market, subsidized rates? What if any changes do you believe are needed in the city’s current curbside parking rates and policies?
De Blasio: We should continue experimenting with curbside policy — the status quo in unworkable in many parts of the city. However, I am wary of a strictly market-based approach to managing streets and parking. There are cautionary examples, like Chicago, that show the dangers of treating a public good as a simple asset to be sold.
Quinn: Other cities have been experimenting with new sensors, technologies, and demand-based pricing, and I am interested in seeing how these experiments turn out. I am open to exploring new parking pricing technologies for pilot programs when I am Mayor.