A new report from Transportation Alternatives calls for the adoption of a new blueprint for how New Yorkers get around that would convert 25% of public space currently set aside cars into space for people to walk, bike and ride the bus by 2025.
With up to 6,300 miles of streets accommodating cars that only serve a purpose for a fraction of New Yorkers, Transportation Alternatives believe they have an approach that will project New York City into a future with up to 1,000 miles of open streets.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had not seen the proposal on Monday morning, but said a focus on a future of surface transportation without cars is a necessary direction the city needs to go in the coming years.
“It’s time to reimagine our largest public asset — streets — and make them work better for all New Yorkers,” Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, said. “There is a huge inequity in how New York City’s public spaces are allotted and who they serve. A supermajority of New Yorkers walk, take public transit, or ride a bike to work, but most of New York City’s streetspace is still designed for cars. In this moment of overlapping crises, the question for New York City’s future leaders is not whether we can afford to build streets for people, but whether we can afford not to.”
The study which advocates for the majority of New Yorkers – as only 22% of people in the five boroughs commute by car, according to city data. The mayor told Streetsblog during the press conference that he believes the city has made strides in that direction over the years.
“We’ve had very good experiences, opening up more space, obviously open streets, open restaurants. We’ve had a tremendously positive experience, and as I announced during the State of the City we intend to go farther [making] open streets permanent, open restaurants permanent. More and more bike lanes and bus lanes, obviously the changes we’re making on the Brooklyn Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge. This is all moving in the right direction,” de Blasio said. “I haven’t seen this proposal I’d have to think about, and talk to folks with specific expertise, but the direction that we need to lean more and more into opening up public spaces, getting out of our cars, focusing more on public transportation. This is the way of the future, unquestionably. So let me get a look at this plan and I’ll have more to say as I assess it.”
Not only do streets provide access for up to 4.4 million cars from outside the boroughs, the city also provides up to 1.5 million free parking spots to motorists on side streets alone. Through the elimination of street space devoted to cars, Transportation Alternatives says up to 500 miles of new protected bus lanes could take their place as well as another 500 miles of class one protected bike lanes.