What Should NYC’s Sustainability Plan Tackle Next? Vote Today


New York’s citywide sustainability initiative — PlaNYC 2030 — is getting an update next Earth Day, and the public outreach is already underway. A series of “community conversations” about what comes next continues this week with a workshop in Manhattan tomorrow. Meanwhile, one place you can make your voice heard without even getting up from your desk is a new website where you can submit your own ideas for improving sustainability and vote for those you like best (or vote at the top of this page, where we’ve embedded the same program).

Since the sustainability plan debuted on Earth Day 2007, major transportation initiatives like the launch of Select Bus Service, the expansion of the bike network, and the creation of pedestrians plazas have been pursued under the PlaNYC rubric. The 2011 reboot could reinforce those initiatives and add new ones, like carrying out off-street parking reform or implementing a world-class bike-share system.

The new site, launched by the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability and powered by the “All Our Ideas” voting software, works by pitting two different ideas against each other — say, “Increase access to EBT at farmers markets” and “Make delayed green lights for motorists so pedestrians can cross safely.” Click on one or the other, and your vote is logged. If you like both, or neither, there’s also an “I can’t decide” button. You’ll then get two new options. Continue until you get tired; there’s no limit to the number of votes you can cast.

Among transportation-related initiatives, four were tied for first place as of this afternoon. Those were: implementing congestion pricing (got that, state legislators?), building more safe bike lanes, shipping farm goods on commuter rail tracks during off-peak hours, and the vague-but-admirable “Invest in multiple modes of transportation and provide both improved infrastructure and improved safety.”

Overall, the most popular idea is currently to enforce recycling rules in large buildings.

The transportation suggestion with the fewest votes was countdown clocks on crosswalks. That idea, which is already being rolled out at 1,500 locations, had a score only half as high as the earth-friendly but constitutionally dubious “Mandatory Meat-free Monday.”

Important suggestions that could be incorporated into public policies, like “reduce the amount of parking built into new developments,” “develop more bus-only lanes for new Select Bus Service lines,” and “provide better transit service outside Manhattan” ranked somewhere in between.

If you want to make your voice heard in more traditional ways, the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability is accepting ideas for the update through an online form available here. Or show up in person to one of the community conversations, which will be held in Lower Manhattan, the Bronx, and West Queens over the next three weeks.

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