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Election 2013

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

4:46 PM EDT on October 11, 2013

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.

    • 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.

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