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Mayor Adams Puts Nearly $1 Billion Into Street Safety 

Mayor Adams and Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez led a pack of activists on an Earth Day ride through Downtown Brooklyn and over the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday. Photo: Mark Gorton

Mayor Adams on Saturday announced an historic nearly $1 billion investment towards funding the long-awaited Streets Master Plan, just days after dozens of advocates and pols rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand he spend what’s needed to create a safer, and more bike-, bus-, and pedestrian-friendly New York.

The City Council’s specific $3.1-billion, five-year budget ask apparently worked (somewhat). The city will put $904 million into building out hundreds of miles of protected bike and bus lanes and car-free plazas over the next five years — a critical step in addressing the massive spike in traffic fatalities, a 44-percent increase in the first quarter of 2022, the deadliest start to any year since Vision Zero launched in 2014.

“We’re making a historical announcement to continue to keep our streets safe. Too many New Yorkers have lost their lives, and we’re committed to stopping this increase,” said Adams after pedaling from City Hall to Downtown Brooklyn using the new Brooklyn Bridge Bike lane.

In 2019, the City Council passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to create a so-called master plan every five years, with an estimated cost of $1.7 billion over 10 years, or $170 million annually. DOT officials claimed last year that the agency did not have the money to fully implement the Streets Master Plan.

But on Saturday, Adams not only revealed enough funding to carry out the goals of the scheme, but also upped the ante, pledging just under a billion in half that time, less than the Council ask — but one pols say is still a big win.

“This is a big, big, big day for street safety in New York City. This investment, 900 million plus dollars over the next five years, will save lives,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler (D-Brooklyn), who represents swaths of Downtown and North Brooklyn.

Part of the investment includes money to ensure that DOT make good on a promise made even before the new administration took office to bolster 50 percent of bike lanes that are technically protected, but merely secured with plastic or paint. DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez had promised to do all 20 miles or so in the first 100 days of his term, but that didn’t happen.

But DOT is still on track to complete its goal of 10 miles by the end of 2022, and 20 miles in 2023, announcing on Saturday the five new bike lanes will get physical upgrades this year, including 20th Street, between 7th Avenue and 10th avenues in Brooklyn, Northern Boulevard between 41st Avenue and Honeywell Street in Queens, 60th Street between First and York avenues in Manhattan, and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, and Grand Street in Brooklyn, the limits of which have yet to be determined.

“Today, we are announcing $904 million to reclaim space from cars on our streets. We will be building even more bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes as well as new plaza and other public space,” said Rodriguez. “We know we have a lot of work to do to address reckless driving, at the same time we announce this investment. Help reduce dependency on dangerous cars. The future of our city depends on alternative forms of transportation.”

Adams also promised to step up the enforcement of reckless drivers. starting with convening a “series of meetings” with precinct commanders.

“We want to lean into the enforcement aspect of it … and really push back on the number of traffic crashes we’re seeing, and take a stronger approach,” he said.

And advocates are pleased.

“Mayor Adams is sending a strong message to New Yorkers that our city’s path forward is on streets for people,” said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “The ‘NYC Streets Plan’ will be transformational for New York and give New Yorkers safe, equitable, affordable, and sustainable options to get around with more bike lanes, bus lanes, and pedestrian space. We applaud the mayor for this historic funding commitment and look forward to working together to fast track its implementation, especially to our neighborhoods most in need.”

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