18 Council Members Call for Bolder Street Redesigns From de Blasio and DOT

A template for two-way street design with pedestrian medians, protected bike lanes, transit lanes, and other elements from the "Vision Zero Design Standard." Image: Transportation Alternatives
A template for two-way street design with pedestrian medians, protected bike lanes, transit lanes, and other elements from TA's "Vision Zero Design Standard." Image: Transportation Alternatives

The de Blasio administration is missing opportunities to make progress on its Vision Zero street safety goals, say advocates, and so far 18 City Council members have signed on to their campaign for a bolder approach from City Hall and DOT.

While the mayor recently committed an additional $317 million for street reconstruction projects over six years, that money won’t go very far if it only results in minor design changes instead of major improvements for walking, biking, and transit. In December, Transportation Alternatives released the “Vision Zero Design Standard” to supply a template for more ambitious street overhauls.

Council Member Dan Garodnick meets with T.A. and Families for Safe Streets volunteers. Photo: David Meyer
Council Member Dan Garodnick (top left) meets with T.A. and Families for Safe Streets volunteers. Photo: David Meyer

In the last few weeks, TA and Families for Safe Streets have been asking council members to endorse the Vision Zero Design Standard. The sign-on letter has two requests: that top-to-bottom street reconstruction projects include as many design elements like protected bike lanes, pedestrian-priority crossings, and transit lanes as possible; and that routine street repaving projects incorporate fixes like curb extensions with low-cost materials like paint and flexible posts [PDF].

Two dozen volunteers yesterday met with nearly every council member and their staffs, asking them to sign on to the letter.

“To be honest, I thought it was already happening. It was slightly disconcerting to see that [the Vision Zero design standard] needed to have advocacy,” said Upper East Side Council Member Ben Kallos after his meeting with volunteers. “It’s common sense that if they are going to rebuild a street, that it should be rebuilt with safety improvements.”

“It’s very rare to have people who actually have a personal experience to come and talk about that experience, and obviously that always makes a significant difference,” said Council Member David Greenfield, who represents Midwood and Borough Park. “New Yorkers will never know the good work that they do because they because they’re preventing the kinds of things that have, unfortunately, happened, in many cases to their relatives.”

The 16 other council members who have signed on so far are: Dan Garodnick, Helen Rosenthal, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Stephen Levin, Ritchie Torres, James Vacca, Margaret Chin, Daniel Dromm, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Costa Constantinides, Peter Koo, Raphael Espinal, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, and transportation committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez.

  • J

    This is great work, and I’m glad to see TA moving forward with getting elected officials on board. Hopefully this leads to good action. The 10 principles are spot on, and I support them wholeheartedly.

    I do, however, wish that TA would stop pushing the bizarre street design shown at the top, as I think it sends the wrong message about the kind of street designs we want. Curb-aligned bus lanes and unprotected bike lanes have never been effective at keeping cars out of either (double parking galore!). In fact, the unprotected lane design goes against principle 3: protected bike lanes. Instead, let’s show center-running bus lanes and protected bike lanes, which have been shown over and over to be much more effective. NYC keeps proposing median bus lanes (34th St, Woodside, & Webster Ave) but has always backed away after the slightest local resistance. Mixing zones are not exactly visionary or best practice either. Protected intersections are much better and NYC still has no plans for them. While putting pressure on the city to do better designs, let’s show the types of designs we want! There are plenty of examples of better designs to draw from to better highlight what these great principles actually look like. Here are a few:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/912f3bb5381b988553b91e49fe0f7e41ae2fbfcf0987e81450bfd5d86e0ccab0.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d936688be40bbe7bd320a0dde3087b1c75873605cdbe87878fd3a83759d307c0.jpg

  • J

    This is what offset bus lanes look like in practice in NYC:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/435faea6cfc06bba05c114d12fbf58687bbb555a84ca4c1dc81b3fb68599c85d.png

    Here’s what “Mixing zones” look like in practice:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d9717d6d3075b88150a6f9f7cd81320278fc55b5e7ee46189a93fa489e1964da.png

    I think everyone knows what unprotected bike lanes look like.

  • A relatively minor editing note, but one worth paying attention to: you have the name of Antonio Reynoso as “Reynosos”.

    Considering that this guy is the best Council member on the interests of bicyclists and pedestrians, you should make extra effort to spell his name correctly.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    To not have a protected intersection design is bizarre. The one in the image doesn’t even have a protected corner at the upper left where the two lanes meet. The lower right corner isn’t a protected lane at all, its got a loading zone on the wrong side of it.

    They’re strong on politics but frighteningly behind on design with this one.

  • J

    Surprised to see Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is not on this list.

  • van_vlissingen

    What’s the attribution on the above image. Would love to share/tweet

  • Samuelitooooo

    I love the idea of median bus lanes. The problem with that though is that dealing with the state-owned MTA would be a big fat hurdle. We would need to get buses with doors on the left side. On top of that, I don’t think many are willing to sacrifice more seats for more doors (which would now be on both sides). I know of only one manufacturer that even offers doors on the left side for articulated buses (and it’s not the one in your pic of offset bus lanes).

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