Street smarts: Corey Johnson’s new street plan law aims to bring strategic thinking to roads, bike lanes and sidewalks

New York Daily News Opinions 2 weeks ago

Five years after Mayor de Blasio kicked off his Vision Zero strategy to radically improve street safety, New York City cyclist fatalities are way up and the mayor, while saying many of the right things, is eschewing strategic thinking.

Last week, his own Department of Transportation laid out plans to close two lanes of car traffic on Fifth Ave. near Rockefeller Center during the holidays to create more room for packed pedestrians. De Blasio shot them down. Meantime, new bike lanes and intersection redesigns tend to be piecemeal, reactionary products of tragic street deaths rather than the result of proactive design.

Kudos, then, to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for getting legislation passed last week mandating a new master plans for city streets every five years.

Bicyclists thrill at the plan’s requirement the city develop long-overdue plans for a network of connected bike lanes. We join the applause, not because we want to “break the car culture,” as Johnson does, but because we must rationalize what is now a haphazard and disjointed lane maze.

Each successive plan requires street redesigns, new parking policy ideas, more ramps and walking-friendly spaces, bus stop upgrades and priority signals for buses, so they stop creeping along.

Bicyclists get the headlines, but pedestrians are far larger in number, and far likelier to fall victim to cars and trucks. Johnson’s plan gives them significant attention, requiring thousands more square feet each year for pedestrian-friendly spaces and mandating accessible intersection signals. Good.

Yellow light: The first blueprint won’t emerge until December 2021, when de Blasio has a big foot out Gracie Mansion’s door. Delaying the due date was key to getting his support. When the mayor signs the bill, talking about bold and ambitious ideas, remember that: He insisted on a two-year punt to his successor.


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