Gerson Looks to Rein In Runaway Safety Improvements

gerson_1.jpgNot long ago, Alan Gerson spoke in favor of giving pedestrians more space at Petrosino Square.
Alan Gerson's office has more on what we suspected was a bill intended to give the Lower Manhattan City Council member and his colleagues more power over DOT implementation of new bike infrastructure. Judging by this comment from Gerson communications director Paul Nagle, the new law would not be limited to bike lanes, but would mandate a "review" of basically any outrageous new project designed to improve conditions for transit users and pedestrians.

[T]here will not be a DOT "bike lane" bill introduced by Gerson [on Tuesday]. Gerson is working on a bill with lawyers to create a better process of review for both Council and Community input into street reconfigurations, which can, but don't necessarily, include bike lanes. In our district alone this bill would refer to the "bus bumps" on Lower Broadway, the "stripes" on Rutgers Street, the Grand Street traffic islands and the Chatham Square reconfiguration. This last fiasco has the community up in arms, as DOT came to the CB3 hearing last week and basically announced no major changes to the plan could be made no matter what the community said at the hearing.

So after decades of cars-first transportation planning, which has been particularly unkind to Gerson's constituents, now that DOT is acting in the interests of cyclists, pedestrians, and transit patrons -- i.e. the overwhelming majority of street users -- it's clearly time for City Council and community board oversight.

We put in a call to Transportation Alternatives to get their take on Gerson's initiative. Here's what Wiley Norvell had to say:

Street designs by their very nature will never achieve consensus. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about truck routes, whether we're talking about bike lanes, whether we're talking about parking.

Safety is not the job of community boards; it's not the job of council members. It is the job of the Department of Transportation.

More on Gerson's bid for streets reform reform as it develops. In the interim, think it's time to rain fire yet?