BREAKING: Trottenberg Resigns: Streetsblog Gives City Hall its Spin

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and her now former boss. Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and her now former boss. Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has resigned, which the New York Times broke early on Monday.

Successes were many — scores of miles of protected bike lanes were built, restaurants were given curbside space during a pandemic and overall road deaths have slightly declined during her tenure.

And shortcomings were many, too: The last two years have been particularly bloody, many initiatives have stalled, and some ambitions were too narrow. Vision Zero, the city’s signature street safety initiative, was supposed to reduce road deaths to zero by 2024. More than 200 died last year. More than 200 will die this year.

We’ll have lots to say Trottenberg’s record later in the day, but for now, let’s give City Hall its spin, with the de Blasio administration’s official highlights of the DOT record since 2014 (caveat: the press release does not even mention the NYPD, which has been a poor Vision Zero partner of Trottenberg’s during her entire tenure):

Pandemic Response
DOT has served among the city’s lead agencies addressing the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. New York City’s urban landscape has been dramatically transformed through major DOT initiatives, like Open Streets, Open Restaurants, Outdoor Learning and Open Storefronts. The Open Restaurants Program, with over 10,700 participating restaurants, is among the largest in the world.

Expansion of Cycling
Under the de Blasio administration, DOT has grown the city’s on-street protected bike lane network from 36 miles to over 120 miles, with a commitment to more under the Green Wave plan, creating key commuting connections and extending further into traditionally underserved communities. In recent years, one of every five protected bike lane miles in the country have been built in New York City, and cycling’s popularity has continued to grow rapidly.

Under Trottenberg’s leadership, Citi Bike is now one of the largest and most successful bike share programs in the world. Citi Bike is on a path to double its service area – including bringing docks to the Bronx for the first time – and triple its number of bikes to over 40,000 by 2023.

Better Buses and Mass Transit
As part of its Better Buses plan, the administration worked closely with MTA New York City Transit, committing to expanded access to buses, including an additional 64 more miles of dedicated bus lanes around the City since 2014, for a total of nearly 138 miles. The 14th Street Busway, begun in 2019 and made permanent this year, has received international attention for increasing ridership and decreasing travel times. This year, DOT has created a record number of bus-priority projects, including along Jay Street in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island, and East 149th Street and E.L. Grant Highway in the Bronx.

Trottenberg served for five years as a Mayoral appointee on the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she served as a voice for New York’s subway and bus riders and advocated for greater system accessibility.

Street Safety and Pedestrianization
Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, New York City was the first American city to adopt Vision Zero. DOT has served as the lead agency since 2014 for a multi-agency effort to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities through enforcement, engineering and education. Traffic fatalities in New York City have been recorded since 1910 — and six of the city’s seven safest years have happened since 2014.

As part of Vision Zero, Trottenberg was instrumental in successfully advocating for the State legislation that allowed the city to lower its default speed limit to 25 MPH and expand its speed-camera program to 750 zones and 2,000 cameras, making it the largest such program in the world.

Since 2014, New York City has undertaken over 700 street-improvement projects, making streets safer for all users. DOT has continued adding car-free pedestrian plazas citywide, over 70 plazas now covering over 20 acres of former street space.

Technology and Micromobility
In 2018, DOT instituted a major change that allowed parking payments for all 80,000 metered spots citywide to be made by cell phone via the ParkNYC or ParkMobile apps.

DOT has piloted or is currently piloting a range of other innovative and shared micro-mobility transportation options, including: electric-powered cargo bike delivery on city streets; dockless bike share pilots in neighborhoods outside of Citi Bike’s service area, including on Staten Island; beginning the first-ever on-street car share, which allowed spaces on streets and in municipal lots, relieving the need for city residents to own their own cars; electric scooter share, for which an RFEI was recently released; and a new connected vehicle pilot that will enhance safety by using technology to avert crashes.

Repaving, Signals, Bridges and Ferries
Since 2014, DOT has repaved and striped streets at an unprecedented pace, making them safer for motorists and cyclists. Nearly half of the 19,000 lane-miles of streets around the five boroughs have been completely repaved by DOT under the de Blasio administration.

Since 2014, New York City dramatically expanded traffic signals as a tool for safer and more efficient streets, through the use of: leading pedestrian intervals, which serve as head starts to protect pedestrians from turning vehicles; signal progression, where street signals are retimed to keep traffic moving at safer speeds, including 15 MPH “green wave” timing to favor cyclists on certain corridors; and transit-signal priority, which speeds MTA buses, as they communicate with DOT signals, holding green lights longer and changing red lights sooner.

DOT has continued to maintain and keep its 794 bridges in good working order while also constructing completely new bridges, including to City Island and along the Belt Parkway.

The Staten Island Ferry has maintained its strong safety and on-time record and pre-COVID-19 had reached record daily ridership of 70,000. The ferry has continued to serve Staten Islanders 24/7 during the pandemic, prioritizing the safety of passengers and the workforce with rigorous mask and social distancing standards. During the de Blasio administration, three new ferries were also commissioned, two of which—the Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis and the Sandy Ground — are expected to be delivered in the next year.

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NYC’s Next Transportation Commissioner Is Polly Trottenberg

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Bill de Blasio has appointed US DOT Under Secretary for Policy Polly Trottenberg to lead the New York City Department of Transportation. Trottenberg is a veteran federal policy maker, whose resume includes stints working for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the 1998 federal transportation bill and for Senator Chuck Schumer. At the Obama […]