19 NYC Electeds Call for Separated Bus and Bike Lanes on East Side

electeds_headshots.jpgState Assembly member Micah Kellner, City Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Dan Garodnick, Council member-elect Margaret Chin, and State Senator Bill Perkins are among 19 local electeds calling on DOT and the MTA to implement "true BRT" and "complete streets" on First and Second Avenues.

A group of 19 elected officials has urged NYC DOT and the MTA to think big as the agencies design a Bus Rapid Transit corridor for First and Second Avenues. With the right configuration, the project could improve bus speeds dramatically, relieve crowding on the jam-packed Lexington subway line, and enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians on a corridor that’s currently roiled by wide rivers of traffic.

In an email to constituents this week, Assembly member Micah Kellner shared this letter [PDF] sent to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and CC’d to MTA Chair Jay Walder. Kellner and other electeds representing Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are calling for a design that outdoes New York’s pilot Select Bus Service route on Fordham
Road. It’s a significant display of political support for physically separated bus lanes and bike lanes on the East Side:

We call on DOT to take advantage of this rare opportunity to overhaul street-level transit in a progressive and innovative manner that reaches well beyond SBS. DOT should institute changes to the First and Second Avenue route that include not only prepaid off-board fare collection, signal priority, and a dedicated rush-hour bus lane (all present in the Fordham Road SBS), but also a physically separated busway, a physically separated bikeway, level boarding, safer crossings for pedestrians, and real-time arrival information. It is our understanding that buses running via a true BRT system on the current M15 route from beginning to end would be approximately thirty-three percent faster, on average, than SBS buses on the same route. 

Such a plan would elevate the City to even greater national and international prominence for
sustainable urban development initiatives that innovate and endure, and we believe there would
be substantial public support for BRT — significantly greater support than we expect the SBS
plan to generate. With a sensible "complete street" design that keeps cyclists and pedestrians out
of harm’s way, this project would also save lives. 

The list of signatories includes City Council members, state legislators, and U.S. representatives (see the full roster after the jump). They want to see "true BRT" and "complete streets." Will DOT and the MTA deliver?

Details of the East Side configuration remain in flux, but according to a Daily News report last month, DOT is considering separated bus lanes "along some stretches" of the corridor. In public meetings so far, DOT has only shown an "off-set" bus lane as a potential design option for the East Side avenues — a configuration that would not deliver the same benefits for bus riders as physically separated lanes. 

Streetsblog asked DOT and the MTA for updates on the status of the East Side project. "We expect to have a plan to propose in January and we are heartened by the support for BRT from these elected officials," said DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow.

The MTA declined to comment.

Here’s the full list of electeds who’ve signed on:

Brian Kavanagh  

Liz Krueger
State Senator   

Carolyn B. Maloney
U.S. Congresswoman

Jerrold Nadler   
U.S. Representative  

Nydia M. Velazquez
U.S. Representative  

Thomas K. Duane
State Senator

Bill Perkins    
State Senator   

José M. Serrano
State Senator   

Daniel Squadron 
State Senator

Jonathan L. Bing  

Deborah J. Glick

Richard N. Gottfried 

Micah Kellner   

Adam Clayton Powell IV

Daniel R. Garodnick
Council Member

Alan J. Gerson
Council Member  

Jessica Lappin   
Council Member  

Melissa Mark-Viverito
Council Member

Margaret Chin
Council Member-Elect 

  • Awesome. With political will, there is a way! Let’s hope the list of pro-BRT electeds keeps growing.

  • I got this letter in the mail as an attachment to a response from Dan Squadron’s office, and I could not believe the number of signatures on it. It was astounding, promising, and a positive result for the great efforts by Transportation Alternatives’ East Side Committee!

  • Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, where are you on this issue? You mention BRT on your website; wouldn’t this be the best test case?

  • drosejr

    Talk is cheap. Put some money behind this letter, and all of these electeds will have a better chance of seeing their BRT desire fulfilled.

  • J

    As I understand it, the money’s there, now it’s all about getting the political will to design the street effectively, which may mean removing travel lanes. Looks like it’s there.

    I’m a huge bike advocate, and I’d personally benefit much more from a protected bike lane, but I honestly think that getting BRT right on this corridor is much, much more important than protected bike lanes. This is by far the most visible test case for BRT, and will set the stage for all future BRT projects. If we get this right, hundreds of thousands of daily riders stand to benefit. Arguments against BRT in parts of the city that are currently resistant may evaporate when faced with incredible benefits. However, if we do half measures, than the project will look like a massive waste of time and money. dealing the entire BRT project a huge blow. Protected lanes, on the other hand, already have successful and highly visible test cases throughout the city.

    This level of support is unprecedented for such a transformative project, such as BRT. Usually politicians go for compromises and show lukewarm support. Let’s not blow this kind of momentum for BRT. If we can get BRT & protected bike lanes, than it’s just gravy, but I’d happily sacrifice protected bike lanes for true BRT.

  • Albert

    And where’s the formerly pro-public-transportation John Liu?

  • Danny G

    Hellllllll yes!

  • The Dynamic Mumeshantz

    This is as dynamic and diverse a support group for BRT as one could hope for, well done!!! I can’t see how DOT and NYC could look the other way with this kind of “I GOT YOUR BACK” from local and regional pols.

  • They want to see “true BRT” and “complete streets.”

    This would be spectacular especially, if they went full out with a public bicyle system along this corridor; even better, a small vehicle transit system.

    The Park Avenue median would provide plenty of extra capacity for an elevated system for a truly advanced replicable system to demonstrate to the world.

  • glenn

    This shows the power of inperson advocacy. Handwritten letters are very effective!

  • J

    I think my first post was a little rushed. The letter calls for protected bus lanes AND protected bike lanes. Remarkable. If they do true BRT, it will likely be put on the subway map, and that’s really saying something. Very very exciting.

  • Frankly speaking

    I would like to see ALL these elected officials on a bike.


Electeds: Separated Bus Lanes Would Make East Side Plan Even Better

From left to right: State Senator José Serrano, Assembly Member Micah Kellner, Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, Borough President Scott Stringer, and Council Member Jessica Lappin. East Side electeds continue to express support for the MTA and NYCDOT’s redesign of First and Second Avenues while pushing for a more complete corridor. In exchanges with Streetsblog this […]

Forum: The Future of Transportation on the Upper East Side

The East Side Democratic Club invites you to . . . The Future of Transportation on the Upper East Side Among the issues to be discussed are congestion pricing, infrastructure issues, the Second Avenue subway, accessibility, bus rapid transit, gridlock, bicycles, and fare hikes. The forum will be followed by conversation and cookies. Speakers: Assembly Member […]

Electeds React: East Side Plan Should Do More for Buses

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, and State Senator Liz Krueger want to see the MTA and DOT take their plan for First and Second Avenues further. Elected officials gave plans for redesigning First and Second Avenues positive reviews today, tempered by the desire to improve the initial outline presented by the MTA […]

This Week: Vote! Plus, the Big Reveal for Woodhaven BRT

On Wednesday DOT and the MTA will present their proposal for Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens. These extremely wide streets present the perfect opportunity for better busways that won’t get clogged by cars, and the local City Council members all want to see a design that puts transit […]