Next Week: Testify at City Council About NYC Bike Policy

Heads up on an important calendar item for next week. On Thursday, the City Council Transportation Committee will hold an oversight hearing on bike policy, which is expected to focus on bike lanes and how they’re implemented. The public is invited to testify, so if you can spare the time to help explain to council members why new street designs are making the city safer and more livable, your voice can make a difference.

The City Council will exercise its oversight powers next week to examine projects like the Prospect Park West bike lane. Photo: NYC DOT

“I want to look at bike-riding policy in NYC, the opportunities it presents and the challenges it presents,” committee chair James Vacca told Streetsblog. “I do know that there were instances where people thought that bike lanes could have been put in different locations, or that they could have had more community consultation.”

He said he expected the Prospect Park West bike lane, which has stirred up a small but well-connected opposition, to come up in testimony at the hearing. So it seems like the PPW bike lane malcontents — the “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” — have had some role in spurring this public forum.

Vacca didn’t name other specific projects but said he’s interested in hearing about the following topics:

  • DOT’s plans for the future.
  • The effect of bike riding and bike infrastructure on traffic speeds. Vacca has been vocal about wanting to slow down speeders and called this aspect “very much of interest to me.”
  • The process of presenting bike projects to community boards. Vacca suggested that even a majority vote in favor of a project could still be a red flag. “If you see a vote on the community board that is 15-14, that indicates the the CB passed it but that there are some lingering concerns.”

Having spent many evenings at community board meetings observing presentations and votes on plans for bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements, public plazas, and bus enhancements, here at Streetsblog we’re looking forward to a forum that makes the extent of DOT’s public outreach clear. Given the bombastic headlines that tend to follow even the tamest news about street safety improvements, however, it’s going to take a very strong showing from supporters of better cycling conditions to keep this hearing from turning into another bruising round of bike policy press.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. next Thursday. With a big turnout expected, Transportation Alternatives is encouraging people to show up at City Hall at 9:30 (with photo ID in hand).