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Speaker Adams Wants Streets Plan ‘Tracker’ to Make Sure Mayor Adams Follows the Law

"Laws and policies are only as good as their implementation. A prime example is the Streets Plan," the Speaker said during her "State of the City" address.

Photos: NYC Mayor's Office/DOT|

Mayor Adams is erasing the spirit of the Streets Master Plan.

She's getting the Streets Plan back on tracker.

The Department of Transportation would be required to give monthly updates on its progress on hitting Council-mandated benchmarks for bus and bike lanes, and public space under a plan to create a project "tracker" put forward on Wednesday by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.

"Laws and policies are only as good as their implementation. A prime example is the Streets Plan," she said during her annual "State of the City" speech, referring to the four-year-old law that requires the city to build 50 miles of protected bike lanes and 30 miles of dedicated bus lanes every year.

"To help increase transparency, the Council will pursue legislation to require DOT to create a capital tracker of Streets Plan projects, from conception to finalized construction, that will be updated monthly," she added.

Adams's proposal has yet to pick up a sponsor in the 51-member council, but the idea seems to be an attempt to get more information out about what the DOT is working on each year and why it has failed in two consecutive years to hit the legal mandates.

Right now, the law only requires DOT to update the Council in an annual report that is due on Feb. 1 but has been released later in February the last two years. New Yorkers are otherwise in the dark about how many miles of bus and bike lanes are proposed to be or are being installed each year.

In 2023, the agency installed 32 miles of protected bike lanes — a record number, but still short of the 50 mile requirement. And the DOT built just 5.2 miles of protected bus lanes, also far short of what is required. It has also built 1 million square feet of plazas over the past two years, which was the benchmark in the Streets Plan.

In the absence of an official tracker, non-governmental groups like Transportation Alternatives and Riders Alliance have stepped in. Both groups celebrated the idea of mandated monthly updates on the street improvement projects.

"To meet our city’s climate goals and shift trips out of cars, this administration needs to meet the mandates of the NYC Streets Plan," Transportation Alternatives tweeted. "Speaker Adams's proposed Streets Plan tracker will provide accountability to ensure NYC follows the legal requirements."

Riders Alliance Senior Organizer Jolyse Race also praised the effort at "real accountability from City Hall."

"Riders have yet to see the results we need and deserve," Race added. "Speaker Adams's methodical approach to enforcing the law will help us achieve the fast, reliable service we've long been promised and know we can win."

The idea of adding oversight is an escalation from Speaker Adams. In February, she said she was open to suing the Adams administration for not following the letter of the law, but that was only under questioning from Streetsblog.

A project tracker wouldn't fix the largest issue that plague the implementation of the Streets Plan, namely City Hall's hostility to its goals. Mayor Adams has empowered unelected functionaries like his adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin and longtime bureaucrat Richard Bearak to slow down street projects, and the mayor himself told DOT employees he didn't consider mileage figures for bike and bus lanes as a part of his legacy.

The DOT declined to comment until it can review an actual bill.

"We look forward to reviewing the legislation," said spokesperson Vin Barone.

Barone also pointed out that the DOT is meeting the current requirement for keeping the Council updated. A more frequent "tracker," as Adams is recommending, will be challenging because street redesigns don't precede in the linear fashion. Multiple projects sometimes come together in a very short period during the construction season. He dismissed the idea that a regular tracker would very useful because of the irregular pace of these projects.

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