Hundreds of street safety advocates, experts and supporters were on hand for Transportation Alternatives annual gala, the Streets for People Party, at Metropolitan West in Midtown last night to celebrate the year’s achievements in creating safer streets for all, and to plan for the coming year.
“Our shared space plays a tremendous role in what makes New York a dynamic and exciting city,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “While our honorees and supporters have been instrumental in making New York City more pedestrian friendly than ever, we still have so much to accomplish—from a five borough bike share, to intersections that prioritize people walking, to speed safety cameras to protect New York City school kids. With your help, we will continue to fight to give New York City’s streets back to the people.”
The crowd honored three leading New York organizations in creating safe streets:
Vornado Realty Trust and Manhattan Community Board Five were the 2017 co-recipients of the Tom Kempner Street Fighter Award for their leadership creating people-friendly streets in Midtown with initiatives like the Plaza 33 Project, sidewalk widening on 32nd Street near Penn Station and other improvements to promote biking and walking.
A pedestrian-only space directly north of Madison Square Garden, the Plaza 33 project provides commuters and visitors a quiet refuge with outdoor seating off the hectic Seventh Avenue. It hosts music events in the summer, helping to make Midtown West a more inviting and safer space for pedestrians. The project was also made possible by the de Blasio Administration, Councilmember Corey Johnson, Madison Square Garden, the 34th Street Partnership, Transportation Alternatives, Regional Plan Association, Municipal Art Society and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
“The Vornado team is honored to receive the Tom Kempner Streetfighter Award and to have worked with the City, Community Board Five, Transportation Alternatives, and others to make Plaza 33 a part of the New York City streetscape,” said Marc Ricks, Senior Vice President of Development at Vornado Realty Trust. “Improving the public realm around Penn Station is just one of many important steps stakeholders can take to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people that use the station and the surrounding area on a daily basis.”
“We were thrilled to be honored by TA at their Gala last night. CB5 believes that public open spaces are essential to a livable, successful city. We look forward to working with intelligent corporate interests like Vornado and groups such as TA, to make sure smart choices, like Plaza33, continue to be made in our district,” said Vikki Barbero, Chair of Community Board 5.
Transportation Alternatives presented Tracey L. Capers, Executive Vice President of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, with the David Gurin Award for Community Activism for her role in leading efforts to encourage bicycling and walking in Bedford Stuyvesant and fighting for equitable access to and expansion of Citi Bike locally in Brooklyn and citywide.
With support from the Better Bike Share Partnership, Tracey Capers and Restoration forged a collaboration with Citi Bike, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Transportation. The collective effort used tools ranging from neighborhood bike rides, to bike safety programming and helmet fittings, to marketing campaigns featuring local residents, to alliances with hospitals and businesses. In the period from March 2015 to December 2016, memberships increased 56%, outpacing citywide growth by 10 percentage points.
“I am honored to be presented with the Transportation Alternatives David Gurin Award,“ said Tracey Capers, Executive Vice President, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “Biking can be an incredible tool to help achieve community development goals—from shortening a commute, creating a more affordable transportation option or getting more exercise in your neighborhood. My goal is to prove that Citi Bike is a resource for every New Yorker. Now, we must look forward to a truly five borough bike share system, so that residents in the Bronx and Staten Island can have access to all the benefits that Citi Bike provides.”
The annual gala event concluded with remarks from Former Commissioner of New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Kahn and U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. The event surpassed its fundraising goal, securing over 20% of Transportation Alternatives’ annual revenue to fund its diverse campaigns and programs.
For more information on Transportation Alternatives and upcoming events, please visit https://www.transalt.org/calendar.
About Transportation Alternatives
With more than 150,000 active supporters and committees of activists working locally in every borough, Transportation Alternatives works to reclaim New York City streets for biking, walking and public transit. Since its founding in 1973, TransAlt has paved the way for remarkable changes in New York City’s transportation infrastructure and culture, including the extraordinary growth of commuting by bicycle and the launch of Citi Bike. Through consistent and focused advocacy, TransAlt has advanced “complete street” redesigns with protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes and public plazas, and has also worked for more equitable Vision Zero traffic enforcement across the five boroughs, including speed safety cameras to protect children at every school. Learn more at transalt.org.