De Blasio inks bill mandating master plan for street safety improvements

PHOTO: MARK HALLUM/AMNEWYORK

Over 1 million square feet of pedestrian space would be built in the plan’s first two years.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed off on a law Tuesday that sets a decade of road safety improvements into motion, cementing the legacy of the Vision Zero program.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was the prime sponsor of the legislation, which requires the city’s Department of Transportation to implement a master plan for street design every five years, and install bus and protected bike lanes throughout the five boroughs.

“This law helps us make alternative transportation options more viable, which is necessary in our fight against climate change,” Johnson said. “Today would not have been possible without the hard work of transportation and street safety advocates, including families who lost love ones on our dangerous streets. Their persistence and passion led to a plan that will ultimately make New York City a more enjoyable place to live, work and play. New Yorkers for generations to come will be safer because of them.”

Contained in the law are specific priority areas for protected bike lanes, accessible pedestrian signals, transit signal priority and stop upgrades for buses, and new pedestrian public space. The DOT would be mandated to install 50 miles of bus lanes and 30 miles of protected bike lanes every year.

Over 1 million square feet of pedestrian space would be built in the plan’s first two years, according to the Mayor’s office.

“No other American city has ever changed its streets at the pace that DOT has undertaken in the Vision Zero era,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “The Master Plan sets key benchmarks, but DOT’s work has already begun: prior to drafting the first plan and as part of Green Wave and Better Buses efforts, we will be busy getting ourselves ready for a dramatic surge in our work.“

The bill came with support from other elected officials such as Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez who serves as chair of the Transportation Committee.

“For too long, our city has taken a piecemeal approach to street safety—making individual improvements on a case by case basis,” Reynoso said. “Speaker Johnson’s legislation is a break from the past, and will finally offer a first of its kind comprehensive plan for how to make our City’s streets safer for pedestrian and cyclists while improving traffic flow for our City’s buses.”

Danny Pearlstein, Policy Director at Riders Alliance, also welcomed the bill being signed into law for the benefit it will have on bus riders, primarily low income commuters.

“City bus riders are overwhelmingly low-income New Yorkers of color. By putting bus riders first on busy city streets, the Streets Master Plan is a powerful force for equity in New York City,” Pearlstein said. “Thanks to the great work of our friends at Transportation Alternatives, Speaker Johnson, and Mayor de Blasio, the most affordable way to get around New York will now become a much more effective transportation solution as well.”

De Blasio’s signature on the legislation puts the law into effect immediately with the deadline for the first master plan from DOT set for Dec. 1, 2021.

Mark Hallum