The Lhota Platform: No Walking, No Biking, No Details on Street Safety

It looks like Joe Lhota didn’t listen to Nicole Gelinas or Transportation Alternatives. Yesterday, Lhota released what his campaign billed as a “comprehensive policy book” [PDF], but New Yorkers interested in safer streets or better bicycling and walking are still awaiting much of any policy from the Republican candidate.

After platitudes about how “an effective transportation system is a key part of New York City’s economy and quality of life,” we get to the meat of Lhota’s plan: A bullet-point list of what he promises to do as mayor.

If you never walk in NYC, you'll love Joe Lhota's transpo platform. Image: ##http://joelhotaformayor.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Lhota17-13MR.pdf##Joe Lhota for Mayor##
  • Take control of the MTA’s bridges and tunnels to reduce costs to commuters
  • Fight for funding for the MTA’s 5-year capital program
  • Create a feasibility study to expand the New York City subway system
  • Re-establish the Mayor’s Office of Transportation to communicate the city’s transportation needs and priorities to other agencies
  • Ensure the building of four new Metro-North stops in the Bronx with access to Penn Station
  • Encourage park and ride stations at the end of suitable subway lines
  • Ensure that New York City roads are in a good state of repair
  • Synchronize traffic lights to mitigate traffic and enhance mobility
  • Examine the use of “smart” traffic lights
  • Consider the expansion of right on red in certain parts of the city
  • Expand Select Bus Service
  • Support expanded Staten Island Ferry service
  • Make the Rockaway Ferry permanent
  • Support a West Shore Rail Line on Staten Island
  • Ensure the completion of the 2nd Avenue Subway

Of the 15 bullet points, three are just about traffic lights — that’s 20 percent of his platform. In the policy book’s environment section, Lhota repeats his desire to install park-and-ride lots at the end of subway lines and promises Upper East Siders that he will not open 91st Street waste transfer station, which is part of a plan to move some of the city’s trash disposal burden, including truck traffic, from poorer neighborhoods.

He doesn’t have any bullet points for biking, walking, or traffic crashes, which incidentally, are the top injury-related killer of NYC children. The only mention of safety comes as boilerplate: “New York City must have the safest possible systems of transportation,” the platform says. “Policies must be enacted with the understanding that roads are to be shared fairly by cars, trucks, emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Lhota’s official transportation platform is actually a downgrade from his remarks on the John Gambling Show last month, where he said pedestrian safety would be one of his DOT’s top three priorities. (The others were syncing traffic lights and keeping the roads in a state of good repair.)

In a September interview with the New York Daily News, conducted on Citi Bikes, Lhota had this to say about how the streets should be shared: “The roads are for everybody. They’re not just for cars. They’re for buses, and they’re for pedestrians, and they’re for trucks, and they’re for bicyclists. In no particular order, either.”

Update: Lhota held a press conference today with Assembly Member Joe Borelli calling on the Parks Department to allow through traffic on roads within Freshkills Park “to help alleviate traffic congestion” on Staten Island. The press release for today’s announcement includes quotes from Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis and Council Member James Oddo urging that the park’s roads be used as a traffic shortcut.

  • Anonymous

    Policies must be enacted with the understanding that roads are to be
    shared fairly by cars, trucks, emergency vehicles, pedestrians and
    cyclists.

    “Shared fairly”? Roads are like the toy box in preschool?

  • “Consider the expansion of right on red in certain parts of the city.”

    We really do not need to do this at all.

  • Bronxite

    He’s not going to win.

  • Joe R.

    What exactly does he mean by “smart” traffic lights? If he means finally having pedestrian and vehicle sensors to ensure lights only go red when something is actually crossing then I’m all for it.

  • anon

    When I leave the city I realize how great no right on red is. Cars plow through the crosswalk when they can make a right on red, even though their view of who is in the crosswalk is obstructed by the cars and trucks already stopped at the light. At times they enter the crosswalk and their head is turned the other way, to see if cars are coming so they know if they have to stop at all, with no care at all for pedestrians and cyclists who are crossing the street. Given this, unless at the very least some enforcement mechanism is present to ensure that cars come to a full stop, and then yield to any pedestrians in the crosswalk or about to enter it, right on red should only be allowed at a location with zero pedestrian traffic. It is an entirely uneccesary danger to subject pedestrians to.

  • Anonymous

    was he going to tear down Nathan’s to make a parking lot at Stillwell Avenue? This means war!

  • Anonymous

    @disqus_dlP91vGbzC:disqus: Leticia Remauro, chair of Staten Island CB 1, has been interested in “smart traffic lights,” which automatically adjust signal timing in real-time to respond to traffic volumes. CB 1 has requested DOT look into them for Clove Road, which we’ve covered here: http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/09/23/si-board-begs-for-bike-lanes-while-harlem-cbs-dither-on-pedestrian-refuges/ Remauro is also a Republican consultant.

  • Guest

    And just how is he going to fund these transit expansions after giving away the MTA’s toll revenue to drivers who don’t want to bother riding with us lowly plebes?

  • Alex Knight

    My favorite part of that press release is Joe Borelli saying, “We need a mayor who will get past the elitist Manhattan misconception that Islanders want nothing more than to go kayaking and bird watching in Fresh Kills.” So he’s basically saying that thinking people want to use a park as a park and not a highway is “elitist”.

    And Joe Lhota seems to think he can attract enough Staten Island drivers to vote for him by associating with dimwits like Borelli to make up for that 50 point lag in the polls. Good plan, Joe. Let me know how that works out for you come November.

  • Joe R.

    That’s what I thought it probably was. Thanks for confirming. I can’t say this would be helpful to anyone except motorists.

    I wish DOT would study and implement some sort of sensor-based traffic light system as I described. We certainly have the technology now to allow lights to only go red when something is crossing. More importantly, they can go red only as long as they need to. A car crossing an intersection might only need three or four seconds of green, while an elderly pedestrian might need 45 seconds. We could have the best of both worlds-minimal delays to motorists and cyclists, but adequate time for pedestrians to cross when they need to.

  • Joe R.

    That’s what I thought it probably was. Thanks for confirming. I can’t say this would be helpful to anyone except motorists.

    I wish DOT would study and implement some sort of sensor-based traffic light system as I described. We certainly have the technology now to allow lights to only go red when something is crossing. More importantly, they can go red only as long as they need to. A car crossing an intersection might only need three or four seconds of green, while an elderly pedestrian might need 45 seconds. We could have the best of both worlds-minimal delays to motorists and cyclists, but adequate time for pedestrians to cross when they need to.

  • Joe R.

    That’s what I thought it probably was. Thanks for confirming. I can’t say this would be helpful to anyone except motorists.

    I wish DOT would study and implement some sort of sensor-based traffic light system as I described. We certainly have the technology now to allow lights to only go red when something is crossing. More importantly, they can go red only as long as they need to. A car crossing an intersection might only need three or four seconds of green, while an elderly pedestrian might need 45 seconds. We could have the best of both worlds-minimal delays to motorists and cyclists, but adequate time for pedestrians to cross when they need to.

  • Joe R.

    That’s what I thought it probably was. Thanks for confirming. I can’t say this would be helpful to anyone except motorists.

    I wish DOT would study and implement some sort of sensor-based traffic light system as I described. We certainly have the technology now to allow lights to only go red when something is crossing. More importantly, they can go red only as long as they need to. A car crossing an intersection might only need three or four seconds of green, while an elderly pedestrian might need 45 seconds. We could have the best of both worlds-minimal delays to motorists and cyclists, but adequate time for pedestrians to cross when they need to.

  • Joe R.

    We should have right-on-red for bikes, with the caveat that they must yield to crossing pedestrians. As for allowing motor vehicles to do the same, we should only allow this in areas with very little pedestrian traffic. As things stand now often the only time one can safely cross the street without worrying about turning cars is on the red cycle. Right-on-red would eliminate even that narrow window.

  • Anonymous

    Park and rides at subway stations only make sense if no one wants to live near a subway station. Which, uh..is no the case.

  • TomG

    Cars, cars, cars. That’s all we are hearing from Joe? It sounds like he’s running a campaign for a 1970s suburb. The whole 91st Street waste transfer station routing the waste away from poor people is absolute bs, though. There’s a project one block away and there are tons of projects in a 5-7 block radius. Streetsblog should know that. If that’s what they really wanted, they’d put it in the 70s. They slap the label Upper East on it but it’s the poorest part of the UES and barely UES at that. It’s also right next to the only green space the area has in an area that one of the most underserved in the city for green spaces. It’s a joke.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Take control of the MTA’s bridges and tunnels to reduce costs to commuters. Fight for funding for the MTA’s 5-year capital program. Create a feasibility study to expand the New York City subway system.”

    Put in less and get more out. It would be a joke except Lhota’s generation has succeeded in doing it for 30 years. What miracle workers they are!

    By the way, how is that economy doing? And how will it do for the next 30 years?

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/09/debt-crisis

    Big picture: I’d rather have the government default on its debts and the economy collapse than have another deal in DC to allow the generations that caused the problems to be held harmless while those coming after bear all the sacrifices because they have “time to adjust.”

    Do people deserve it, because they vote for those who promise something (for them now) for nothing (except for everyone later)? I don’t deserve it.

  • Alex Knight

    I would love to sit down with Joe Lhota and open up Google Maps satellite view. I’d ask him look around the ends of NYC subway lines and tell me where he thinks the parking garages would fit. That’d be fun.

  • Mark Walker

    Just to play devil’s advocate, 9 of the 15 bullet points are about transit. Or 8 if you exclude park and ride, still a majority. And it’s not every day you hear a NY mayoral candidate say he’ll “fight for funding for the MTA’s 5-year capital program” in lieu of the usual demonization of MTA.

  • Anonymous

    What about traffic lights that adjust to the volume of pedestrians at penn station and bus terminal?

  • Anonymous

    I walk and bike. Right on red is wonderful for cyclists but horrible for pedestrians…let’s be honest, cyclists do it all the time, so why is it needed?

  • Ermek

    Article is a liberal bullshit!

    Think and vote for De Blazio! Then you won’t even need bike roads, cause they don’t exist in Detroit!

  • SteveF

    Larry,
    We have to put the transit system’s capital maintenance on a pay-as-you-go basis and save the bond issues for the new start system expansions. If Lhota is willing to raise some taxes now for State Of Good Repair capital maintenance, then everybody’s taxes will be lower in the future and the trains will stay on the tracks.

    The MTA is mostly a State agency, but the NYC mayor can return the city to paying it’s share of annual costs, when due, instead of deferring via maxing out the long term credit card/bonds, and press the state to pay it’s annual share too.

    Will Lhota do this? Will deBlasio? Damned if I know, but Bloomberg and Giuliani certainly screwed up the transit finances.

  • SteveF

    Lhota won’t focus on traffic safety, on protecting bikes and pedestrians from motor vehicle violence. Lhota won’t replace Ray Kelly, guaranteeing that the NYPD traffic safety policies will remain exactly the same – useless at best, and outright dangerous to non-motorized traffic at worst.
    That’s a deal breaker for me, no matter how positive Lhota otherwise is on transit.
    If we can’t be safe walking and cycling to and from transit, where are we?

  • SteveF

    We have to destroy the village in order to save it.

    Demolish stores and houses to build parking lots?

    Are we talking about the Bronx or Vietnam?

  • SteveF

    Agree. It’s a tough call, but just because there used to be a garbage transfer station on the site years ago doesn’t mean there should be one today. There were meat rendering plants and metal foundries on the site of the UN that raised a far bigger stink than comes out of the General Assembly. Should they go back on the waterfront?
    NYC can’t be all living, dining and bedrooms. There has to be kitchens, broom closets, garbage disposals and boiler rooms to support our living spaces. We need a good way to remove garbage, but somehow, I don’t find 91st St the right solution.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The MTA is mostly a State agency…Bloomberg and Giuliani certainly screwed up the transit finances.”

    Don’t forget Pataki, Silver, Bruno, and though it was too late by then, Spitzer. And though they have less of an impact on transit than the city’s schools (because the retirement age didn’t change), don’t forget the pension deals.

    I was absolutely outraged about this when it was happening. It and related policies are what led to my out of the office report writing, internet posting, and Don Quixote campaign against the state legislature.

    Yet if you look at what people did in their own lives, a significant majority sold their own futures, and failed to put their children first. So what do you expect the politicians to do? They try to appeal to Generation Greed. And boy, when you try to point out to people the link between what they have taken and what others are losing now, they don’t want to hear it.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The Bronx perhaps? It’s the only solution left in Manhattan.

  • KillMoto

    Detroit was ruined roads too wide and ample free parking everywhere.

  • KillMoto

    The only smart traffic light system I’ve ever heard of are the ones that time lights for a “green wave”, facilitating cycling at a human pace (~12mph?) such that the cyclist never gets a red.

  • Andrew

    Looks like he’s running for mayor of Staten Island. (I know, that’s not entirely fair – not every Staten Islander is this stupid.)

  • Detroit: a cautionary tale of a city bankrupted by its liberal, anti-auto policies.

    Want to hear more about these bike roads tho. I have always wanted to visit the countryside, but getting there is hell.

  • It is every day you hear a city politician say they will fight for the state to pay more for something, as if the state cared about their so-called fighting. And state politicians saying the same about the federal government – so bold and principled when the cost is as distributed as it is unlikely to be incurred. The whole system seems geared to deflect responsibility.

  • To prevent selective (or just random) enforcement.

  • Joe R.

    I’m actually fine with this idea if all subway lines are extended to city limits first, we put the garages right outside city limits, and most importantly we levy a heavy congestion tax on any motor vehicles entering the city. Let the suburban auto commuters park in the huge garages and take the subway the rest of the way. My guess is the traffic on local streets will decrease by upwards of 75%.

  • Joe R.

    That’s actually just a timed traffic light system, not a smart system. We’ve been able to do that since at least the 1960s. I agree we should time traffic lights slower, both to decrease the number of red lights cyclists hit, and to slow motor traffic, but 12 mph is ridiculously slow even for some cyclists, never mind for motor vehicles. I’d aim for 17 to 20 mph, depending upon the road conditions. The idea here is to get a speed which drivers can hold, and also not to unduly penalize cyclists. Faster cyclists would never get a red light. Slower ones would only get one or two red lights every mile. This makes sense because chances are slower cyclists aren’t going that far anyway. They may not even be on the street for enough blocks to encounter a red light. Faster cyclists often have a long trip. Anything which helps them to stay in motion makes their life easier.

  • Joe R.

    For the same reason NYC should allow cyclists to treat red lights as yields when there’s no cross traffic-namely to prevent the NYPD for giving tickets for behavior which is both safe, and makes sense from a cyclist’s standpoint. I’ll even be happy if we legalize this behavior for pedestrians at the same time. The NYPD at least has enough sense to not ticket jaywalking pedestrians but under present law they could. I’d rather remove that ability (and the ability to ticket cyclists) by changing the law than to continue to depend upon the NYPD to selectively enforce laws. As we’ve seen in the bike crackdowns, they’re not very good at applying common sense.

  • Joe R.

    Yet if you look at what people did in their own lives, a significant majority sold their own futures, and failed to put their children first.

    Yep. The cottage industry of reverse mortgages (and also borrowing every dime in equity from your home) is the best example of this. The family home used to be the primary way of passing wealth from one generation to the next. People were thrilled when the original mortgage was finally paid off and they owned it free and clear. Nowadays people are being encouraged to spend any equity before they die. This might not be a horrible thing if it was only done as a last resort, say to pay essential medical bills or living expenses. However, it’s really disgusting when you read these reverse mortgage or home equity loan ads. They’re encouraging the elderly to squander a lifetime of assets on pointless consumer spending like cars, vacations, or junk which ultimately ends up as either clutter or landfill. Yeah, let’s keep the economy going with planned obsolescence and buying things which serve no purpose other than to make a profit for the companies selling them! That’s the new way because we forgot how to run a viable economy by making items which last and serve a real purpose, encouraging frugality, and making sure the next generation does at least as well as the last one. It’s bad enough a lot of the younger generation won’t even have steady full-time employment. Now the one potential way they might make it, namely inheriting some money from their parents, is being pulled out from under them as well.

  • Charles Jonathan

    As a Bronx native, I don’t care for bike lanes. There are more important things to worry about like upgrading our subway stations and more police in our stations.

  • Bronxite

    Well, by creating bicycle lanes you have an opportunity to promote and enhance safety which encourages alternative transportation. That can reduce the number of people traveling by mass transportation or automobiles.

    You should care.

    It’s important to improve mass transportation and increase police presence when necessary but you must allocate your money in a way in which it will diversely effect positive change.

  • Bronxite

    I agree, bicyclists should be legally authorized to yield at red lights and stop signs. At the same time, NYPD should focus on enforcement of real dangers (in regards to bicycling) such as riding at night without lights or riding against the direction of traffic. However, most enforcement should focus on the greatest threat to public safety which are violations by drivers such as speeding and reckless driving.

  • Guest

    I don’t think he can make up the numbers, but the strategy might not be as bad as it appears. For most of the city’s voters, transportation isn’t the issue that will sway their vote. But for Staten Island, it’s a prime concern (albeit one created largely by their own poor decisions…).

    What that means is that Lhota can try to capture their vote with there regressive positions without putting himself at much risk elsewhere.

  • Guest

    Given the congestion we already have on the subways, I have very little interest in making it easier for people to drive from the suburbs to get the best seat on the train.

  • Joe R.

    That’s a good point, although given a choice between more subway congestion, or more road congestion/air pollution, I’ll choose the former. Once CBTC is installed systemwide, we’ll be able to increase the number of trains to cope with any increase in passengers.

  • Bolwerk

    It’s probably better to just charge them without building the garages. Let them take LIRR and MNRR if they want park ‘n ride. A fair number of these people are just too rich to care, or the costs of driving don’t amount to even an hour of their salaried time.

    The main point should be pricing away congestion.

  • Steve O’Neill

    Further to what Bronxite says, bike lanes have been shown to reduce injuries for pedestrians and drivers, as well as cyclists. Fewer cops attending to these injured street users means more cops for other jobs (like policing subway stations, if that’s what the mayor we vote for [and his police commissioner] decides).

  • Anonymous

    Which is exactly why people should be supporting more biking infrastructure. Those who can bike will bike, making room for those using the trains. I agree with several of Lhota’s ideas, but leaving out this element leaves out a meaningful mechanism for increasing overall capacity and flexibility in NYC’s transportation system. If Gronigen can do 50% bicycle mode share, why can’t we do 10% – a 7% increase over current, thereby relieving congestion on mass transit and even the roads.

  • Anonymous

    Timing traffic lights is actually a pretty good idea, on the Brooklyn avenues in a car or on a bike you go from red light to red light for no good reason.

  • someone

    what

  • someone

    what the duck is this

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