The 2015 NYC Streetsies, Part 3

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There’s just a few hours left in 2015 and you know what that means — this is your last chance to contribute to Streetsblog’s year-end pledge drive. We count on reader donations to keep us going, and your gift will enter you to win a versatile Tern Link D8 folding bike. Please support our work if you can!

Have a great New Year, Streetsblog readers, and enjoy the third and final installment of this year’s Streetsies. We’ll see you back here on Monday.

Activists of the Year

New York wouldn’t make progress on safer streets without the thousands of people who give their time and energy to the cause — organizing, speaking up, demanding change. Streetsblog’s Activists of the Year have been at it a long time, and you can trace some of the most important developments in 2015 to their efforts.

Lizi Rahman and Lisa Sladkus. Photo: Paul Martinka
The indefatigable Lizi Rahman and Lisa Sladkus. Photo: Paul Martinka

Lizi Rahman lost her son Asif in February, 2008, when a truck driver struck and killed him while he was biking on Queens Boulevard. “We have to get a bike lane on Queens Boulevard,” she said shortly after the crash. “It might not bring my son back, but I will know that my son gave his life for a good cause. For him I’ll do this, and it will help save other bikers in the future.” Lizi has continued to work for change, most recently with Families for Safe Streets, and to be the most prominent public voice for transforming Queens Boulevard in particular. She never took “no” for an answer and the city’s redesign of 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard in 2015 is a testament to her perseverance. Lives will be saved.

Lisa Sladkus has been tenaciously advocating for safe streets on the Upper West Side since before I started reporting for Streetsblog. It can be grinding, frustrating work, especially when certain members of the local community board seem intent on foiling even the simplest changes, like adding bike racks. She never wavered, and the streets of the Upper West Side are better for it. This year, DOT finally put forward a redesign for Amsterdam Avenue that promises to calm traffic by narrowing the motorway and adding a protected bike lane. Lisa and many other dedicated neighborhood residents deserve a ton of credit for their persistence and effectiveness.

Thank you Lizi and Lisa for making streets safer for all of us.

The Video DMV Should Make Everyone Watch in Driver’s Ed

In Drive Like Your Family Lives Here, people speak in powerful, wrenching detail about losing loved ones to traffic violence. DOT, the TLC, and the MTA show it to their drivers. But really, everyone who drives city streets should sit down, watch this video, and absorb the devastating consequences of poor judgment behind the wheel.

Best Turnaround

Over the summer it looked like Assembly ways and means chair Denny Farrell might torpedo a road diet for Broadway in West Harlem. Thanks to some stellar advocacy work by Upper Manhattan volunteers with Transportation Alternatives, the project now has some serious momentum behind it and DOT may add bike lanes to a design that conspicuously lacked them.

The “Robert Moses Spins in His Grave” Award

It’s far from a done deal, but the MTA is seriously studying the addition of biking and walking paths on the Verrazano Bridge. That’s no mean feat and a testament to the effectiveness of the Harbor Ring Committee. Fixing Moses’s oversight is within reach.

In the meantime, those new bike racks on Verrazano buses are a nice interim step.

Best Part of World Series Game Four

Assembly Member Francisco Moya said a protected bike lane and road diet on 111th Street by Flushing Meadows Corona Park would lead to carmageddon during Mets games. So volunteers with TA and Make Queens Safer went out and got video of the street while the biggest crowds of the year were heading to Citi Field — games three and four of the World Series. Even for those sellouts, traffic never backed up. Moya’s opposition was based on a fiction.

Fastest-Growing Addition to the Bike Advocacy Landscape

In a matter of days, the Queens Bike Initiative grew from a discussion forum thread to a bona fide campaign for a better bike network in the borough. So far, more than 2,500 people have signed the Queens Bike petition — most of them offline.

Best News for Neighborhood Public Spaces

NYC’s plazas succeed when they have the backing of a big Business Improvement District to maintain the space and program events. But not every plaza is in a neighborhood with a well-funded BID. Without some other source of funds to keep them inviting and in good condition, these new public spaces might not last. City Hall’s Plaza Equity Program will fill the void, helping to maintain and manage 30 plazas in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Best Prop

Can’t get the governor to ride the train and give some straight answers about transit? That’s when you turn to Cardboard Cut-Out Cuomo.

Favorite Streetfilm

In the United Kingdom, the campaign for non-lethal driving speeds is truly sweeping the nation. Clarence showed us how it’s all coming together with 20’s Plenty: The Movement for Safer Speeds in the UK.

Streetsblog Hall of Fame

Steve Athineos, who died this month at 59, left an indelible mark on New York City by preserving the right to bike on Midtown streets.

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