Transportation Alternatives Testifies to City Council Transportation Committee in Opposition of Intro. 412
September 26, 2011
Testimony Submitted by Paul Steely White
There is no not-for-profit organization more dedicated to Community Boards' success than Transportation Alternatives. We encourage hundreds of ordinary New Yorkers to attend their board's meetings. We have authored and distributed dozens of primers over the past thirty years detailing how Community Boards function. We are the ony not-for-profit organization in this City that puts significant effort into encouraging New Yorkers to become Community Board members. We do this work because we understand that community input is a necessary element of all successful large-scale streetscape redesign.
Transportation Alternatives opposes Intro. 412 because it is less devoted to encouraging community input than it is to singling out bicycle lanes and slowing their implementation at the expense of New Yorkers' safety.
This bill prescribes mandatory hearings -- and months of delay - for the City's most minor, routine and boring bike lanes. If enacted, Community Boards will have to host extra hearings for "share the road" sharrows on the edge of roadways, for bike lanes that leaves space for cars unchanged, and for space for bikes within parks. This delay will not accomplish the legislation's stated aims, but will instead keep New Yorkers less safe.
According to Local Law 90, if a proposed project is longer than an avenue block, and also redistributes space previously devoted to vehicle traffic or parking, DOT is required to provide notice to the Community Board and Council Members, consult with them, and respond to their input. These steps are appropriate when the City is conducting a major transportation project.
DOT is not required to wait months whenever they install a crosswalk, or create more space for vehicle traffic, or paint sharrows on the road. In truth, even though it is not mandated DOT does consult with the Community Board even on these minor projects.
This is the appropriate balance. Neither Community Boards nor DOT have the capacity -- nor the interest- in complying with the notice and comment process for every routine and "minor" transportation project. Such dialogue should be encouraged, but not required, or else there will the pace of street safety improvements in the City will slow, and New Yorkers will be less safe.
The Effect of Intro. 412
This bill does not advance community outreach goals:
This bill does not advance motorist's goals:
This bill will not allay your constituent's concerns about bicycling in your neighborhoods:
There is no question that biking is more popular in some neighborhoods than others. But New Yorkers in every neighborhood bike- about 10% of New Yorkers ride their bike several times a month or more. Those New Yorkers who complain about changes to their neighborhood have a neighbor who would prefer to bike in safety. This bill will keep New Yorkers less safe.
The most comprehensive study on bike lanes in our City examined the 225 cyclist deaths that occurred between 1996 and 2005. Of those 225 deaths, only one occurred in a bike lane. In fact, because bicycle lanes help make traffic more predictable and orderly, streets with bike lanes have about 40 percent fewer crashes ending in death or serious injury; and that's for all street users,
For these reasons, Transportation Alternatives respectfully opposes this bill.View testimony as a PDF.