City Council District 2 Candidates on Streets and Transportation Issues
The Democratic primaries on Tuesday will be the decisive vote in most City Council districts, determining who will represent New York City neighborhoods for the next four years. In some races, the outcome is likely to come down to a few hundred votes or fewer.
Two weeks ago, Streetsblog sent four open-ended questions to the candidates in eight contested City Council races. We’ll be publishing the responses we received, as well as supplementary material from StreetsPAC questionnaires, in a series of posts this afternoon.
In the 2nd District, which spans the East Village and Lower East Side, there are seven candidates to succeed term-limited Rosie Mendez: Ronnie Cho, Erin Hussein, Juan Pagan, Carlina Rivera, Jasmin Sanchez, Mary Silver, and Jorge Vasquez.
Streetsblog received a reply from Sanchez. In addition, Rivera, Silver, and Vasquez attended last week’s Transportation Alternatives candidate forum on the L train shutdown and other transportation issues, and Hussein, Rivera, and Silver answered StreetsPAC’s questionnaire. Below is the Q&A with Sanchez, followed by highlights from the StreetsPAC questionnaire.
New York City bus service keeps getting worse. Average speeds are the slowest in the nation, and ridership continues to drop. New York City government can improve service by prioritizing buses on city streets. What policies do you support to make bus service faster and more reliable? Where would you like to see bus improvements in your district?
Jasmin Sanchez: I would like to see more select bus services in train stops, two way streets and avenue bus routes. I would also like to see subway “time arrival” clocks placed on bus stops which notifies riders when their buses would arrive.
How would you make bicycling safer in your district? Do you support the expansion of protected bike lanes, even if street space has to be reallocated from traffic lanes or parking spaces?
Sanchez: I would have more islands separating bikers from vehicles on avenue bike lanes. I am not in support of planning or protecting bike lane barriers on side streets if it means narrowing an already narrow street. I am for avenue bike lane protections.
How can the City Council best use its powers to reduce traffic deaths and injuries and ensure all New Yorkers can safely walk and bike to get where they want to go?
Sanchez: New York City needs to patrol and enforce bike traffic & safety laws in bike lanes the way the city enforces and patrols vehicle traffic & safety laws. Implement a “vision zero” for bikers policy.
Congestion pricing has been in the news as a potential way to reduce traffic jams and fund the transit system. One option is the Move NY plan, which would toll all East River crossings and a cordon across Manhattan at 60th street while reducing tolls on outlying MTA crossings. The revenue would fund the MTA capital program, accelerating transit improvements and reducing the need for future fare hikes. Do you support this plan?
Sanchez: I’m opposed to congestion pricing because it will be a tax on the poor as it only taxes those entering Manhattan and not exiting it. Most people live in the outer boroughs because they cannot afford to live in Manhattan, taxing them just because they’re coming to work and need a vehicle is ridiculous. I also believe that the revenue collected from congestion pricing will be misused and misappropriated just as the money the MTA receives each time they hit New Yorkers with a fair-hike. If an agency has proven year in and year out that they are ineffective and incompetent, then it doesn’t make sense to continue to pump money into it until the administration and capitol changes are made.
Erin Hussein, Carlina Rivera, and Mary Silver all responded to StreetsPAC’s questionnaire. Here are highlights from their replies:
Do you believe the NYPD does enough to enforce vehicular traffic laws in New York City?
Erin Hussein: I believe that every time a car crash results in injury to a pedestrian or biker, the driver of the car should be taken to the police station and not released at the scene. There should be a presumption that the car driver was responsible and that it wasn’t just an accident. I also believe that the NYPD should do more to educate bikers about the laws that apply to them and they should consistently ticket bikers who don’t stop at red lights or who ride the wrong way.
Carlina Rivera: I believe they have improved but lack the resources to be on the streets and in spaces where residents gather and travel. They can do better, it is the Council’s responsibility to hold them to task and give support.
Mary Silver: The NYPD must investigate serious traffic accidents more consistently and more thoroughly, and prioritize enforcement of speeding and failure to yield violations.
Would you support adoption of an “Idaho Stop” law, which would permit people on bikes to treat stop signs like yield signs and traffic lights like stop signs?
Hussein: I understand this makes biking safer, but I worry about the senior citizens trying to cross streets. They rely on a red light to feel safe enough to cross the street. I would need to see more data on this.
Do you support the removal or repurposing of on-street parking spaces if such removal can improve safety for pedestrians (such as with the implementation of curb extensions) and/or cyclists (as with protected bike lanes)?
Hussein: I do support this, but there has to be impeccable consistent enforcement so that trucks or cars with placards don’t park there anyway.
Do you support creation of a transit-priority corridor along the route of the L subway line during the 15-month shutdown of the Canarsie Tunnel beginning in April 2019, as envisioned in Transportation Alternatives’ “PeopleWay” proposal, which would ban or limit private automobile traffic while providing dedicated bus lanes, protected bike lanes and expanded sidewalks?
Hussein: I agree with limited private automobiles. My District encompasses part of 14th Street, and I worry about the effect on smaller residential side streets of
completely banning cars.
Rivera: Yes. [Editor’s note: At last week’s L train forum, Rivera gave a different response, saying, “We have to think of a better way for traffic to move from east to west without completely closing the street down.”]
Silver: I strongly support a pedestrian and mass transit-friendly plan to help commuters during the L Train shutdown. We need more community input before finalizing a plan that addresses the safety concerns for streets bordering the “People’s Way” that will have to deal with increased car traffic. More work must be done to ensure that this plan is both safe, and efficiently moves commuters between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Do you support the Move New York fair tolling plan?