A Presidents’ Day Interview with Brooklyn Borough Prez Antonio Reynoso
Streetsblog sat down with Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso to not only discuss transportation, but also the Beep’s goals for 2023. The highlights? A completion of Brooklyn’s waterfront greenway, which just got funding from Sen. Chuck Schumer, a new charging station hub for deliveries, and ensuring that the city better tackles traffic violence through improved street design and new legislation.
Specifically, the Beep says he’s advocating for two bills by Council Member Lincoln Restler: Intro 417, which would create a more streamlined process to inform community boards of any street project, and Intro 501, which would create a new $175 ticket for drivers who block bicycle lanes, bus lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, or fire hydrants and award civilians who spot the infraction 25 percent of the resulting ticket.
Here’s the full chat:
Julianne Cuba: So what are your top priorities for this year that you didn’t lay out during your State of the Borough address?
Antonio Reynoso: Intro 417, seeing that move forward, which was the one to change the approval process of bike lanes and major transportation projects in the community boards. One of our commitments is to support him through this process and advocate alongside him and see if it’s something we can get done this year. It’ll shorten the delays. That’s one of the top priorities for us is getting that passed this year.
The other thing is building out protected bike lanes and a comprehensive bike network and one of them is the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. We’re getting closer to connecting that. We know there’s some concerns over Red Hook and Sunset Park — how we can achieve that but it is also something we’re having a conversation with the DOT on and we can get closer to finally having a greenway all through Brooklyn.
We’re gonna keep having these conversations. We’re excited about Schumer’s over $7 million in funding. Excited about investing in implementation of the greenway.
When we were in the City Council I introduced an Idaho stop resolution and Lincoln Restler is taking that up as well. It was dead on arrival when I brought it to the Council because it wasn’t something people wanted to comprehend. I think every single year we go by we’re gonna get stronger with transportation advocacy and more allies. So I hope that Restler has a better shot here than I did in pushing the Idaho stop.
JC: What about Intro 501, which despite garnering a majority of Council members as co-sponsors, has not had a hearing?
AR: I 100 percent support that legislation. Those are two pieces I’d love to see pushed absolutely.
JC: How do you respond to what happened to 37-year-old Sarah Schick, who was killed by a truck driver on Ninth Street near Second Avenue, and what would you like to see done there to better protect cyclists and pedestrians?
AR: A big part of my transportation philosophy is allowing the DOT to give us their recommendations first. I will say, you hope that tragedy isn’t what sparks the initiative. But obviously I want something to change there.
JC: Will Brooklyn get more open streets this summer?
AR: We’re talking about having more expansive summer streets. Some folks are pitching the marathon route, that makes sense, so we’re looking into those ideas and thoughts if they make sense. (The city) says they want to do it. Obviously the Queens Borough President and I have already written letters saying we would support it. How far along they are and the fact that we’re already near February makes me feel that the communication, the outreach, and a lot of the work that goes in takes a lot longer than four to five months. I’m worried that even though they might want it, they say they want it, and we want it, the timeline may not be here especially if we want meaningful community engagement so obviously i’m concerned.
JC: What’s happening with the plaza outside Borough Hall? Have there been any issues with people parking there?
AR: Nobody is parking there, we shut down the plaza as fast as we could. We don’t allow anyone to park there, it’s been like that ever since. It is a park now, it’s been that way for more than a year. And it’ll stay that way for as long as I’m borough president.
JC: How do you commute to work?
AR: Recently, I’ve commuted primarily by bike, second by public transport, and third by my vehicle. I wanna say 70 percent on bike, 20 percent train, and 10 percent car.