‘Master plan’ for more bike and bus lanes motors ahead

Speaker Corey Johnson outlines his Streets Master Plan surrounded by transit advocates. (Alex Mitchell)

‘It’s not about punishing cars,’ Speaker Corey Johnson said.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is moving full speed ahead with his Streets Master Plan, which aims to both address and cure the many transit woes that make commuter tempers boil.

Surrounded by rallying transit advocates, Johnson was also revved up at City Hall Tuesday while breaking down his plan to fix up the city’s bus and bike lanes ahead of Wednesday’s full City Council vote on the bill. 

“It’s not about punishing cars,” the speaker said about the near 1.4 million drivers in the city, noting that his plan rather focuses on improving pedestrian and cyclist safety. Many of the bill’s supporters present on Tuesday had lost loved ones to pedestrian collisions.

Expected to pass a full Council vote Wednesday, the Streets Master Plan will be phased in over a two-year span, implementing 30 miles of protected bicycle lanes; an additional 30 miles of protected bus lanes a year; 1 million square feet of new pedestrian space; transit signal priority for more than 1,000 intersections to help buses move faster; and target placard abuse especially with cars parked in bus lanes, which Johnson calls “corruption.”

But the nuts and bolts of this master plan, he explained, would be determined under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s current administration and implemented under the next mayor of New York City. Johnson is one of the already-declared candidates.

“This is really basic,” Johnson said in regard to the plan’s simplicity, though he warned that it would require a dramatic re-envisioning of the city’s Department of Transportation and its “piecemeal” approach to street improvements.

“We are going to totally reshape the Department of Transportation … they’re going to have to hire more staff; they’re going to have to build new facilities; they’re going to have to increase operational bandwidth,” he said.

Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group which focuses on pedestrian, cyclist, and mass transit needs, also gave the speaker unrelenting support on his Streets Master Plan.

“This legislation not only helps to undo the harms of the past but will usher us into a new era of sustainable, equitable and safer streets,” said Marco Conner, a deputy director for the group.

Conner along with other Trans Alt personnel worked with the city on a bill called the Vision Zero Street Redesign. Expected to pass this Friday, it would implement more followthrough on future projects and safety implementations.

Mary McAnulty holding a photo of her late husband who as killed by a motorcycle almost four years ago. (Photo by Alex Mitchell)

Mary McAnulty lost her husband of 45 years to a motorcycle crash near their Upper West Side home almost four years ago. Today, she raised her voice in support of Johnson’s master plan.

“There must be more accountability,” she said, adding that the man accused of killing and dragging her husband lawyered up and avoided heavy punishment.

While attending Tuesday’s rally, she represented the group Families For Safe Streets, of which many of its members have experienced personal loss through fatal collisions.

“It’s hard to get up and be alone now,” she said.

Alex Mitchell