City Council District 43 Candidates on Streets and Transportation Issues
Tomorrow’s Democratic primaries 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.
For the 43rd District, centered in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, we received a response from one candidate, Kevin Peter Carroll. Justin Brannan, Vincent Chirico, Khader El-Yateem, and Nancy Tong are also running for the seat. Below is the Q&A with Carroll. Scroll down for candidate responses to the StreetsPAC questionnaire and a Brooklyn Daily query about Citi Bike.
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?
Kevin Peter Carroll: I would like to see more bus lanes and stronger enforcement of motorists and cyclists staying out of bus lanes which will help buses more reliably run on schedule since they will not have to compete for lane space. Additionally, I would allocate funds for bus countdown clocks so people can plan and, if necessary, change their travel plan.
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?
Carroll: I would first like to see more enforcement of existing laws regarding bicyclists, namely that riders must follow stop at red traffic lights and stop signs; this will help reduce the chances with an accident with motorists and pedestrians. As to bike lanes, I am not opposed to expanding them provided that the community board has given its approval to the lanes proposed since they know the district the best and understand on which streets they would and would not work, factoring in how parking is nearly impossible in some parts of the district.
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?
Carroll: 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?
Carroll: No because it is a regressive tax on people choosing to live in the outer-boroughs.
Of the five candidates, Brannan and Carroll submitted responses to StreetsPAC’s candidate questionnaire. Below are
Do you support the Move NY fair tolling plan?
Carroll: In general, but more study and community discussion
needs to happen before I can commit. [Editor’s note: also see response above.]
Do you pledge to oppose efforts to limit New York City’s Right-of-Way Law, including opposing exemptions for bus drivers or other professional vehicle operators, such as New York City Council Intro 663?
Carroll: More study is needed on this issue. I think the law is fine the way it is currently written, but I want to hear from supporters of Intro 663 as to why they think a change is needed.
Will you pledge to support efforts to allow the Department of Transportation to operate speed cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year?
Do you believe that Community Boards should have veto power over projects proposed by the NYC Department of Transportation?
In interviews with the Brooklyn Daily, all five candidates were asked to comment “on Citi Bike coming to Bay Ridge.” Here are their responses.
Brannan: I don’t think it’s really needed for transportation, for getting from one place to another, because it just doesn’t make sense. Recreationally, I think it would be great, down by the pier, by the waterfront, I would love to put it there.
Carroll: I support the idea of Citi Bike coming in to Community Boards 10 and 11, however, there needs to be greater community participation … I think before any bikes are placed anywhere, the community really should be looking at it and saying, “Is this the best spot for it?”
Vince Chirico: I don’t think the current design would work well in my district. One of the biggest problems in my district is parking. If our community boards heard that we’re taking away four to five parking spots every couple of blocks to put those stations in, they would have a fit. Biking is a great alternative, it’s a success, but you need to do it in a smart way that would work in each community, and I think you need to consider alternative designs. There’s a lot of room for discussion. I would love to see Citi Bike come out there.
Khader El-Yateem: We have a transportation system in southwest Brooklyn that is not serving the hardworking families that live there. As a Council member, I will go to Albany, I will work with elected officials there, I will advocate. We have the Bay Ridge Avenue station closed down, we’re spending $24 million for the station to do cosmetic changes … not going to help the trains come on time. And we have in our community people who are one delayed train away from being fired from their jobs. For Citi Bike in my neighborhood, it’s a congested neighborhood, parking is a nightmare. If we are going to bring Citi Bike to the district, I need to make sure it’s done in a smart, creative way where it isn’t taking away parking spots, that is the only way I can support it.
Nancy Tong: Actually Citi Bike is very good, for the congestion with the traffic and all that, but we should have instructions for people who ride the Citi Bike for safety. This is very important, just like when we drive our car. And also now where are you going to put the Citi Bike? Bay Ridge is very crowded and you’re going to take up their parking spaces, so you really have to see where you can find that place. They should have a poll and ask the residents do you want the bike there.