Council Members Rally With StreetsPAC (and Bicycles) on City Hall Steps

Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Ben Kallos, and Carlos Menchaca raise their bicycles outside outside of City Hall this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Ben Kallos, and Carlos Menchaca raise their bicycles outside City Hall this morning. (Kallos rode Citi Bike to the event.) Photo: Stephen Miller

This morning, five City Council members joined StreetsPAC and dozens of bike commuters on the steps of City Hall to celebrate Bike to Work Week and push for Vision Zero traffic safety policies before today’s transportation budget hearing.

One group rode from Brooklyn Borough Hall and another from Union Square, meeting up just before 9 a.m. for a rare City Hall photo op involving bikes, which required coordination with police and City Council staff. Council members Brad Lander, Ben Kallos, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, and Helen Rosenthal were on hand.

“It was a short ride from Borough Hall to City Hall, but it has been a long ride to move the city forward on issues of safe streets and a more livable city, and we have a long way to go,” Lander said. “Every week, somebody is killed on our streets, and that means every week, we’ve got to be doing more to make everybody safer.”

After concluding his remarks, Lander spotted two members of Mayor de Blasio’s staff, deputy press secretary Wiley Norvell and policy analyst Ben Furnas, walking into City Hall. Lander called out to them and introduced them to the group. “The mayor is the author of the Vision Zero plan, but he may have had a little help,” he said to cheers from the advocates.

The event also offered an opportunity for council members to talk up various policy initiatives.

Reynoso brought up the mayor’s housing plan. “That’s a lot of work, and a lot of development that’s going to go on,” he said. “The city’s infrastructure is going to be the foundation of how we map that.” Earlier this month, Borough President Eric Adams came out in favor of denser development along the Broadway elevated train line in Bushwick, but Reynoso has been more cautious. He told Streetsblog this morning that a community-based process to start rezoning the area will begin this year.

Kallos said he is working with Bike New York to make Roosevelt Island a model bike-friendly community and urged DOT to install better bike lanes on crosstown streets. He is hosting a forum on beautifying pedestrian islands along the First Avenue bike lane tonight, as well as a forum in June focused on working with restaurants and delivery cyclists. He also urged Streetsblog readers to fill out a survey on his website to help identify livable streets needs in his district.

Those needs include completion of the East River Greenway, a long-delayed project that could get a boost from a surprising source. “I would be willing to dedicate West Side discretionary funds to the East Side bikeway,” said Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side. “It really doesn’t make sense that somebody can’t ride their bike the full loop of Manhattan.”

Lander said he was pleased that NYPD is now complying with the city’s open data laws by improving its publicly-available crash information. Next up: More information on NYPD’s traffic enforcement efforts, which Lander acknowledged is a more complex task. “The problem with the summonses is, they don’t have the locations on the summons form, so it’s not just mapping and sharing data they already have. They have to start collecting the data in a new way,” he said. “We need to be able to evaluate different enforcement approaches.”

“Vision Zero is a very important part of the agenda, but broadly, livable, complete streets in sustainable neighborhoods where we all want to live is a bigger agenda,” Lander told the crowd, voicing support for more robust Bus Rapid Transit, as well as public funding for bike-share expansion and plaza maintenance. “That’s why what we’re riding to today is the transportation hearing that is also about the money we need.”

Streetsblog will have coverage of that hearing later today.