Statement of Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris:
“On Sunday evening, in response to concerns about the coronavirus spreading on crowded subway trains, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to “Bike or walk to work if you can.”
The mayor is right to encourage more bike commuting. But if the City’s message is simply to avoid crowded trains, and stops short of making bicycling safe and accessible to all, we will end up with more people opting for cars, and congestion that paralyzes this city. Our roads must remain free for emergency and other essential vehicles.
“If you can” is the key phrase. We know the primary reason New Yorkers choose not to bike is that they fear sharing streets with multi-ton motorized vehicles, followed by a lack of secure bicycle parking. The de Blasio administration has demonstrated leadership in advancing Vision Zero and installing more than 100 miles of protected bike lanes, but there are huge swathes of our city where there are no safe, dedicated routes for cycling. Add to that, half of Brooklyn, most of Queens, and all of the Bronx and Staten Island are left out of the city’s bike share system entirely.
This isn’t New York City’s first crisis, and there are ways to expand transportation alternatives when the subway is not the best option. In order to make biking to work a possibility for more New Yorkers, the mayor should:
- proactively share resources with New Yorkers on how and where to bike and walk safely
- create a zero tolerance policy on vehicles -- City-owned, private, or commercial -- blocking bike lanes, and cease any cycling-specific NYPD ticket stings
- build pop-up bike lanes, like those deployed during the UN General Assembly last September, since the Green Wave plan can’t be implemented overnight
- quickly reconfigure key East River crossings, including dedicated, separated cycling paths on the Brooklyn and Queensboro bridges
- fast-track permitting and construction of sidewalk and on-street bike parking, and require that office buildings allow employees to enter with bikes
- expedite the expansion of Citi Bike in underserved neighborhoods, roll out more stations and bike valets in Manhattan’s Central Business District, and subsidize a Citi Bike discount program to incentivize new riders.
Mr. Mayor, we stand in support of keeping New York moving amidst this health crisis and are ready to help in any way we can."