For the fifth year, New Yorkers can vote via participatory budgeting on which projects should receive discretionary funds earmarked for their City Council districts. This time around, a record 30 council members are asking constituents how to spend their discretionary budgets. Voting began this past weekend and runs through Sunday.
Instead of the old, opaque, scandal-prone method of distributing discretionary funds, under participatory budgeting residents in each district can choose from a list of projects that council staff approved to be on the ballot. You can find your district’s voting locations and ballot items on the council’s participatory budgeting website.
There are transit and street safety projects on ballots across the city — mostly small-scale capital improvements like curb extensions or bus countdown clocks. Funding these projects through participatory budgeting can expand or accelerate related work that’s underway, or create momentum for initiatives that haven’t been a high priority for city agencies. And a strong showing for streets- or transit-related projects demonstrates the public appetite for these types of changes in general.
Here’s a look at some of the bigger street safety projects on PB ballots this time around.
Meeker Avenue Safety Improvements
For almost a year, members of Transportation Alternatives’ Brooklyn activist committee have been advocating for safety improvements along Meeker Avenue, the service road slicing through north Brooklyn beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. DOT has a proposal currently on the table at Community Board 1 to improve pedestrian crossings around Macri Triangle Park at Union and Metropolitan Avenues. On the PB ballot for residents of the 33rd council district, represented by Steve Levin, is $400,000 for “continuing safety improvements along this high-speed corridor to decrease crossing distances and improve pedestrian safety.” This funding would cover pedestrian safety improvements beyond the scope of the current DOT project, though exact locations have yet to be determined.